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    Fulton County, Georgia’s largest, certified its election results on Tuesday. The county said 424,991 Fulton residents voted in the mid-term, the largest midterm participation this century. That equaled a turnout of 60.4 percent of the voting-age population.  The numbers were led by early voting, which totaled 224,998, said Rick Barron, the county’s director of elections and registration. That eclipsed voting the day of the Nov. 6 election, which totaled 180,086 people.  A total of 17,913 people voted absentee by mail.  “The early voting this time was close to a presidential (contest), Barron said. The news comes just a day after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg  on Monday ordered the state to review provisional ballots to make sure none are improperly rejected and to delay certification of the midterm until Friday.  Fulton received 3,549 provisional ballots, 1,555 of which were rejected, Barron said. A total of 972 of the rejected votes were tossed because they were from “out of county” voters while 581 were from people who were not registered.  Two people who attempted to vote could not prove citizenship.  “We can’t count ballots that are voted out of county,” Barron said.  He said some voter registration drives on college campuses failed to turn in applications, leaving some would-be voters unregistered.  Barron said he did not think any of the judge’s ruling would affect Fulton’s count, but said he did not think this is the last he would hear about it.  “I’m sure because of that ruling we’ll get questions this week,” he said. 
  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has signed an executive order rejecting any future ICE detainees from being held in the Atlanta City Jail. She is explaining her actions in a news conference at City Hall.  WATCH LIVE COVERAGE BELOW.
  • A proposed deal for practice soccer fields and a corporate headquarters for Atlanta United FC would cost DeKalb County an estimated $12 million, 41 acres of government land and tax considerations, according to a pending agreement. The $30 million soccer complex would be built near the intersection of Interstate 285 and Memorial Drive, behind the DeKalb Jail. In exchange, the team owned by Arthur Blank would build a 3,500-seat stadium, three outdoor practice fields and a corporate headquarters. Additional fields and an indoor training facility could be built later. Ownership of the land and facilities would revert to the county after 30 years. The proposed agreement, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, is scheduled for a vote of the DeKalb Commission on Tuesday. The $12 million contribution from the county includes an estimated $7 million paid to Blank so the county could locate its parks department in new offices in the stadium. Another estimated $5 million would be required for demolition and land preparation. In addition, Blank won’t have to pay property taxes, and all permitting fees for the soccer complex would be waived. The county would pursue funding for a pedestrian walkway from the complex to the Kensington MARTA station. Blank would pay the county 15 percent of revenue for naming rights and branded events held at the complex. The fields and the stadium could be used by the county when they’re not needed by Atlanta United, which will begin its first season in 2017. Atlanta United will share space with the Atlanta Falcons for its games in a new downtown stadium, which is under construction.
  • Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is calling for “restraint” in ongoing unrest in Baltimore and defended Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s handling of protests that quickly turned violent this week.Parts of the city erupted in chaos Monday night amid tensions over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died on April 19, a week after he sustained injuries during an arrest. An investigation into his death is ongoing. His death highlights an ongoing national discussion about policing tactics in minority communities.Rawlings-Blake has since faced criticism for her handling of the protests and ensuing riots, with some saying she was too slow to ask Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for military back-up on Monday.Reed, speaking to reporters after an event on Tuesday, expressed sympathy for Gray’s family and defended Rawlings-Blake.Reed said he knows the Baltimore mayor well, describing her as “competent, capable and passionate” individual. The two, who traveled to Panama together with Vice President Joe Biden in recent years, exchanged text messages Monday evening, he said.“I think that everybody in the country and everybody who cares about the people of Baltimore should encourage restraint and I think that we should leave it to local leaders to manage and handle,” he said, later adding: “I think they need to be given the time and space to work through what is clearly a very, very difficult time.”Reed said Atlanta has faced its own set of difficult civil protests, such as the Occupy Atlanta movement in Woodruff Park that lasted for several weeks in 2011.But none in recent years have resulted in the scenes that played out in Baltimore on Monday, when some of the protests turned violent. Several police officers were injured during the riots. Cars were burned and stores were looted.Reed said that unlike other cities, Atlanta has long benefited from the work of local civil rights icons including Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian.“I think that certainly influences the way that protests are handled in our city,” he said. “While I don’t deserve the credit for it, I think our city has shown an ability to navigate through pretty difficult times.”
  • MARTA maps out the route it hopes to take up Georgia 400 to extend rail service to Alpharetta.   Any expansion of rail service is years off, but MARTA's board approved the preferred route after input from residents.  It crosses SR 400 not once, but twice, to reach Alpharetta.   The first crossover will be above the North Springs Station south of Spalding Drive.  The second crossing will be above the Chattahoochee River, although the exact spot has not been selected.   MARTA has yet to secure funding.  The agency estimates heavy rail would cost two billion dollars.  A cheaper option might be to run rapid transit buses along the same route.   MARTA is considering other potential expansion projects include heavy rail along I-20 East and a light rail line from the Lindbergh station to Avondale.  MARTA General Manager Keith Parker tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the priority project is the one that secures funding first.  
  • A planned addition to the new Avalon development is looking to attract even more business to Alpharetta.  The proposed $100 million hotel would include a 74,000-square foot conference center.  David Belle Isle, mayor of Alpharetta tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle it would keep his city as the center of economic development in  north Atlanta.  It's just another addition to Alpharetta, which has already begun a revitalization of its downtown area.  The city council must still figure out how to pay for the boutique hotel. It'll vote on raising its hotel-motel tax later this month.
  • Packed with passengers and freighted with local and national expectations, Atlanta’s streetcar made its inaugural trip Tuesday as scores of political and community leaders cheered. The trip along Auburn Avenue to Woodruff Park downtown took less than five minutes. But its duration belied the sizable aspirations the trip represented. Atlanta officials are betting the $98 million project will reinvigorate tourism and encourage business investment along the route. Nationally, President Barack Obama’s transportation legacy hinges in part on his ability to move the nation toward rail. Atlanta’s streetcar is one of the first completed projects in that effort. Scores of invited guests packed the cars elbow to elbow for the trip, and several hundred people gathered at Woodruff Park for an official ribbon cutting. Check back for updates.
  • A judge today rejected a request to bar Fulton County from collecting money from a recent 17 percent property tax increase – a victory for the county in its ongoing battle with critics who say it spends too much.Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley did not rule the tax hike is legal. But he declined to order Fulton to refrain from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes that six current and former state lawmakers owe because of the tax increase.The judge did not explain his ruling. But the decision could indicate Brantley thinks the county is more likely to prevail in the litigation.That’s a setback for the lawmakers, who claim Fulton violated a 2013 state law that prohibits the county from raising its property tax rate until 2015. They’ve asked the judge to prohibit the county from collecting the new taxes and to declare the tax hike illegal.Fulton officials have argued the General Assembly overstepped its authority when it capped county tax rates until next year. They say the tax hike is needed to protect funding for Grady Memorial Hospital and popular services like libraries and senior programs.The tax increase will cost the owner off a $275,000 house an extra $140 a year. But with property values in some areas rising fast, some taxpayers are seeing much larger increases.
  • Some Fulton County judges say they don’t have to comply with county travel policies, and they’re willing to jail two Fulton officials to make their point. Fulton officials have asked the judges to provide more documentation to justify some travel expenses, and they’ve withheld reimbursements until the judges comply. The judges say they don’t have to, citing new state laws that give them greater control over their own budget. Now Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan has ordered County Manager Dwight Ferrell and Finance Director Patrick O’Connor to show why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating a recent court order to reimburse the judges. She’s threatened to incarcerate them if they don’t. A hearing on the contempt issue scheduled for Sept. 2, and a courtroom discussion of procedural matters in the case is set for Monday. The showdown is the latest fallout from a flurry of new laws aimed at limiting the authority of Fulton County government. County officials also are in court defending their recent decision to raise property taxes, which critics say violates a tax cap approved by the General Assembly last year. Tusan declined to comment on the issue because it’s a legal matter pending in her court. Superior Court Administrator Yolanda Lewis declined to answer questions, including whether the judges believe the county’s travel reimbursement procedures are burdensome. Lewis issued a statement saying Superior Court is “working collaboratively to resolve this matter with the assistance of the county manager and finance director for Fulton County. No further comment will be offered at this time to allow the collaborative process to move forward expeditiously.” Fulton officials declined to discuss the spat with the judges in detail. County Commission Chairman John Eaves said he believes the dispute is “resolvable.” Ferrell and O’Connor did not respond to requests for comment.
  • A judge has ruled the group that holds the title on the building at Peachtree and Pine Streets in Midtown Atlanta where hundreds of men, women and children bed down nightly can start the court process to evict the Task Force for the Homeless because it had not made a payment in years. Fulton Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall said in an order Friday that the removal process could begin, but his order did not say that eviction was imminent or even certain. The matter of whether the shelter can continue to operate is far from resolved. For years, the Task Force for the Homeless — led by Anita Beatty — has been at war with the city, Central Atlanta Progress and some of the business community because hundreds of homeless mill around and sometimes spill over into neighboring properties, vandalize and break into cars, businesses and homes nearby. Beatty has accused city officials and CAP of a campaign to cut off donations because they want the homeless out of sight. Once the large donors were dissuaded from helping the Task Force, it became impossible for the charity to pay its bills, including hundreds of thousands of dollars it owned the city for water, she said. The Task Force claims donations that once totaled as much as $1.7 million a year dropped to around $200,000, because the Atlanta business community had poisoned its reputation with donors. Without the Peachtree-Pine shelter, Beatty says, the homeless she serves will have nowhere to go. As many as 650 men, women and children sleep at the shelter each night but there are far more when the weather is bad or it’s cold. Over the years of the dispute, opponents of the shelter have insisted that no one will be left with nowhere to go if the Peachtree-Pine Shelter is closed. Richard Robbins, the attorney for Ichthus Community Trust, said the lender planned to “pursue dispossessory like any other owner in the state. If they (Task Force for the Homeless) want to fight it, they can fight it. However, they have to pay rent in the meantime. “This is not kicking out the homeless,” Robbins said. “It will be evicting the Task force. If the Task Force is evicted, we will transition the homeless to other shelters. If they don’t pay rent, they have to leave and we’ll bring in someone else to run the shelter.” Attorney Steven Hall, who represents the Task Force, said the charity will resist eviction efforts. “We have been fighting for years over the manner in which title was obtained and a foreclosure was conducted,” Hall said. “We’re hoping this will mean the court will hear all issues at one time and we will get a final answer.” The Task Force for the Homeless got into financial straits after it borrowed $900,000 in 1997 to make repairs on the building that it owned at the time. Ichthus bought the note in 2010 for just over $781,000 and soon began the removal process, which stopped, started and then stopped again because of legal issues.

News

  • The brother of a woman shot by her husband at a medical clinic in Potts Camp, Mississippi is honoring his sister’s life. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, state representative candidate Carl Robinson shot and killed his wife – Latoya Thompson – before turning the gun on himself inside the Williams Medical Clinic. The couple had been married since 2014, but court records show Robinson, 43, and Thompson, 33, had filed for divorce in April.  According to legal records, the two filed a joint complaint for divorce April 26. At the time, only one lawyer was involved.  That changed Tuesday morning. Records show that Thompson hired her own attorney and that she changed her mind about a previous agreement she signed about child custody, support and other details July 15.  Now, Thompson’s brother said his family is remembering her for her love of life and passion for singing. “She was a singer, she was our little songbird. Ever since she was a kid, she was always singing something. Beautiful smile, beautiful spirit,” said Kevin Thompson. Thompson said his sister loved her family, especially her 3-year-old son.  His last memory with her is from Saturday, when he traveled in town for their grandmother’s funeral in Lamar, Mississippi. “She was just real happy this weekend, and that’s what I take from all of this,” Thompson said. Three days later on his way home, Thompson found out his sister was shot by her husband.  Investigators said Robinson shot Thompson inside the clinic, where she worked as a receptionist. He then killed himself. Three staff members tried to help Thompson after she was shot.  According to Marshall County officials, staff attempted to perform CPR on Thompson to resuscitate her, but she died before she could be airlifted to a hospital. Robinson was running for state representative in Mississippi, officials confirmed. According to Robinson's campaign Facebook page, he was running in District 5 for the upcoming election. “I was mad at what happened to my sister. I was sad at the fact that I lost my sister, and I was numb because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thompson said. Thompson said he knew her husband, but he did not know the specifics about their relationship. “I knew he had a temper like most of us did. I didn’t know to what extent,” he said. “You may know someone is off but never think they would go to this extent.” Thompson said his focus now is being there for her 3-year-old son. He said he will include Robinson’s family in the child’s life. “We are going to work together to make sure he has the best of both. It would be unfair for us to shield him and hold onto him,” he said. He said a memory he will hold close to his heart is their last conversation – when she told him that she loved him. Funeral arrangements have not yet been planned.
  • A Mableton man is accused of hiding his 5-year-old son from his wife — who has a temporary protection order against him — before leading deputies on a three-hour manhunt, authorities said. Quantavious Carrol, 27, faces 10 charges after the Thursday chase, which ended with deputies using a Taser on him, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Deputies tried to pull over Carrol’s vehicle, which also had a passenger inside, near Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard, the release said. Carrol, who allegedly knew he violated the restraining order, drove away from the traffic stop on I-75 North. While driving, he’s accused of throwing a stolen handgun of the window. The gun was stolen out of Gwinnett County, the release said. The chase continued onto I-285 and ended on Fairburn Road, where Carrol got out of the vehicle and ran away, the release said. The passenger was blocked inside the vehicle and was captured by deputies. His charges have not been released. Carrol continued to run, and deputies found him after searching for about three hours, authorities said. He allegedly fought with deputies after they located him, which is why a Taser was used. The 10 charges against Carrol include fleeing police, obstruction, not having car insurance, theft by receiving and multiple driving citations, records show. He remains held at the Clayton County jail without bond. The 5-year-old has been reunited with his mother, the release said. In other news:
  • An Indiana man has been charged with endangering the welfare of children after authorities said he took kids to Kentucky and forced them to sell candy for him. >>Read more trending news Shawn Floyd, 54, of Indianapolis was arrested last week in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement. The 12 children involved in the case were taken into protective custody. Floyd is accused of taking 12 Indiana children to Kentucky and forcing them to sell candy for profit, the statement said. The children were allegedly made to sleep in one hotel room with three adults, and had to purchase their own meals and water, according to the statement. The youngest child was 11, the office said. Kentucky labor law requires a person to be at least 14 years old to be employed. Beshear's office was notified July 12 of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors. The office had also received previously reports of Floyd possibly being involved in human trafficking in several Kentucky counties, the statement said. 'I want to commend the work of the Bowling Green Police Department and our human trafficking investigator,” Beshear said. “Their actions prevented any further possible exploitation or suffering for these children. When it comes to preventing such crimes, it requires cooperation across agencies and promoting awareness of such actions in every community.” Floyd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 4 in Warren County, Kentucky, WANE-TV reported. Online records show Floyd has bonded out of Warren County Regional Jail. Anyone who has information on people being exploited for commercial sex or labor can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (or text 233733) for immediate assistance.
  • A California family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter and warning others about the dangers of underwater pool lights. >> Read more trending news  McKenzie Kinley, who was just shy of her 10th birthday, was killed Sunday after she was electrocuted in her family’s backyard pool in Citrus Heights, according to news reports.  The child was killed after touching an underwater light fixture that was not sealed and was under repair, KOVR-TV reported. “As much as we know, she grabbed the pool light, and it electrocuted her,” the girl’s father, Cliff Kinley, told the news station.  Sacramento County rescue crews rushed to the scene, but were not able to save the child. “Thank goodness it didn’t get anyone else, because there were four other children in that pool,” Kinley said. Kinley said the family is talking about the tragedy to warn other people about the potential dangers in backyard pools. “If nothing comes from losing my daughter, at least this could save others,” the child’s mother, Lisa Moore, told KOVR. The family started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
  • A former Atlanta attorney and his son were sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for a banking and investment scam that netted them more than $15 million, authorities said. Donald Watkins and his son Donald Watkins Jr. were convicted earlier this year  of deceiving former NBA star Charles Barkley and using the name of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the scam. Watkins was sentenced to five years in prison, while his son got 27 months behind bars, The Associated Press reported. The elder Watkins was also ordered to pay $14 million in restitution.  During the trial, witnesses including Barkley testified about losing more than $6 million in investments and loans to the former attorney. Barkley said he was friends with Watkins, who split his time living in Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Other athletes who lost money in the scheme included former NBA player Damon Stoudamire and former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas. Rice testified that Watkins used her name to promote an energy business without her permission, the AP reported. She declined to get involved, but Watkins included her name in emails to investors anyway, she said. As a lawyer, the senior Watkins once served in Montgomery as a city council member. He helped defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in a fraud that nearly bankrupted the company, now known as Encompass Health. He has also worked on various civil rights cases. Watkins reportedly only had a net worth of few thousand dollars despite portraying himself as wealthy, the AP reported. He attempted to purchase a major league baseball team and the the St. Louis Rams before the team left for Los Angeles.  In other news: 
  • A couple in Clarksburg, West Virginia, is in jail facing child neglect charges after three children wandered off from their home. >> Read more trending news WBOY reported that Clarksburg Police Department officials said officers received a call on June 1 about three children who were seen in the area and were not wearing clothes. A criminal complaint obtained by WBOY said one of the children was carrying a steak knife. >> Read more trending news According to the complaint, the children were away from their parents for about 25 minutes. Police located the children about a quarter of a mile away from home. Two of the children, girls ages 3 and 2, had no clothes on, the complaint said. A 4-year-old boy was only wearing a diaper, which was full of feces. Police contacted the children's mother, 24-year-old Sarah Nardo. They learned Nardo and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Donald Johnson, were sleeping when the children got out of the house.  Johnson and Nardo were arrested and charged with gross child neglect creating risk of death or injury, WBOY reported. According to North Central Regional Jail records, they were booked Tuesday. They are being held on $50,000 bond.