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State & Regional Govt & Politics
Move over, Washington. Atlanta’s the center of US politics this week

Move over, Washington. Atlanta’s the center of US politics this week

Move over, Washington. Atlanta’s the center of US politics this week
Wednesday’s debate is the main event in a full week of political action in Atlanta.

Move over, Washington. Atlanta’s the center of US politics this week

Hillary Clinton’s coming to town. So is Barack Obama, a swarm of Democratic presidential candidates, and a string of President Donald Trump’s surrogates.

Sure, Washington will be abuzz with the ongoing impeachment hearings. But for at least a few days this week, Georgia will be where the political action is.

It will kick off Monday as presidential candidates begin to arrive in Atlanta — and schedule events to raise campaign cash, meet with voters and huddle with activists and elected officials.

Related: 10 things to know about the debate 

Related: The major issues in Georgia

Related: Where to find the White House hopefuls in Georgia this week

Some of the plans are not yet public, though details are emerging. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., plans to use Georgia as a staging ground for a new effort to win over black voters, starting with an afternoon event at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will host a roundtable on “democracy and voting rights” at an Atlanta museum.

And Monday evening, Clinton will appear with her daughter, Chelsea, at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s book festival to promote her latest publication — and, perhaps, talk about the pressure she has said she’s facing to mount a 2020 campaign.

State and national Democratic Party officials will hold a string of events Tuesday, including a panel discussion in downtown Atlanta on “battling voter suppression tactics” that will be headlined by Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 nominee for governor.

Abrams is also urging candidates to join her Thursday in a phone bank at Ebenezer Baptist Church to call thousands of Georgia voters who might be purged from the rolls because they haven’t participated in elections for several years.

More events are expected to pop up as other contenders arrive in town ahead of the Wednesday showdown at Tyler Perry Studios.

The debate will feature 10 top White House hopefuls at the studio complex, and local leaders see it as a moment to convince the activists, donors and journalists who will flock to the event that Georgia is truly a politically competitive state.

“The choice to have the debate in Atlanta signifies what we’ve already been saying: We are the battleground state, and Georgia represents both the present and the future of this country,” said state Sen. Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

AJC Poll: Georgia voters on the candidates and issues

Related: Voting struggles put spotlight on major elections in Georgia

Related: Georgia anti-abortion law could drive discussion at Democratic debate

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Forbes Arena at Morehouse College on Nov. 2, 2018. ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Racism: Whose fault is it, anyway?

Photo Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in Forbes Arena at Morehouse College on Nov. 2, 2018. ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Even as the candidates prepare to take the stage, Obama will be down the road delivering a keynote speech at an environmental conference attended by thousands of contractors, homebuilders and designers. He’s not expected to appear at the debate, though he could attend party fundraisers.

Since only a few hundred people can cram into the studio for a firsthand view of the debate, watch parties organized by Democrats and Republicans are sprouting up throughout metro Atlanta, giving Georgians a chance to cheer or boo the candidates with some company.

The political spotlight isn’t likely to shift from Atlanta the day after the debate, either, with two rallies planned at historically black colleges.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will speak at Morehouse College about his plan to eliminate student debt. A few hours later, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will deliver an afternoon speech at Clark Atlanta University to honor the women behind the Atlanta Laundry Workers’ strike in 1881.

Republicans, who say the debate will only show Georgians that Democrats are out of touch, plan to roll out the welcome mat with a slate of their own events. Among them: a tea party-organized protest march on the day of the debate and appearances by Kimberly Guilfoyle and Katrina Pierson in Sandy Springs on the eve of the event.

The latter is part of a Women for Trump initiative meant to close the gender gap between the president and his Democratic rivals, and it stars a trio of prominent Georgia conservative women: Alveda King, Ginger Howard and Julianne Thompson.

A former tea party leader, Thompson said national Democrats might be surprised by what they find in Georgia — a solid bloc of conservative-leaning voters who are “tired of the time and money Washington is wasting going from one accusation to the next” in the impeachment push against Trump.

“People like the policies and accomplishments of this administration,” she said, “and they are tired of Congress wasting time and money when they should be working hard for the American people.”


When is it?

9 to 11 p.m.

Where is it?

On the Oprah Winfrey Sound Stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

How to watch


Streaming: msnbc.com and washingtonpost.com

Mobile: NBC News’ and The Washington Post’s mobile apps

Read More


  • A New York City program that relocates its homeless to other cities around the country is drawing fire from Marietta leaders who say they learned it was happening from a newspaper article. >> Read more trending news  Members of Marietta City Council say they want answers about how New York runs its Special One-Time Assistance program, which provides one year’s rent for eligible clients to relocate within the city, other New York state cities or other states. The program is the subject of a lawsuit filed Dec. 1 by the city of Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the destination cities for New York’s homeless. The lawsuit argues the program pressures desperate homeless to accept substandard housing conditions and that slumlords benefit from the city’s program that pays for a year’s rent with no checks on the living conditions. CNN has reported that New York City has agreed to temporarily suspend the program. Marietta City Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said at the City Council’s Nov. 26 work session that she was “astonished” when she read a recent article in The New York Post that cited city records indicate New York City has sent homeless families to 373 cities around the country including Marietta, Kennesaw and Smyrna. According to the Post report, two homeless New York residents have been sent to Smyrna, while Marietta and Kennesaw have received one each. Other metro cities where New York’s homeless were relocated include Atlanta, East Point, Decatur, Stone Mountain, Alpharetta, Loganville, Lilburn, Lawrenceville and Riverdale. The Post also reported that since the program started in 2017, New York has relocated 5,074 families, or 12,482 people, to other areas within the city, state or around the country. Clients must show proof of income and have the future ability to pay their rent based on an amount that does not exceed 50 percent of their income, according to the city’s website. No other details about eligibility, including whether clients have to have family or employment waiting in another city or state, were provided on New York City’s website about the program. Kelly said the cities which have received the relocated families, including Marietta, have not been made aware of the program. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called and emailed New York City officials to get more details about the program, but no one with the city government responded to those requests. Kelly said Marietta and Cobb County do a great job taking care of homeless people who are already living in the county, and taking on “the plight of another state” is something Marietta is not equipped to do. “We don’t want to be the place where people are sending their homeless population,” she said. “We want them to be addressing their own needs, as we are doing ours.” Kelly wants the city to research what options it has, including whether it could ask New York City to alert Marietta when it plans to send a person to its jurisdiction. City Attorney Doug Haynie said his research won’t be a “quick fix,” but he expects to make a recommendation by January for council members to consider. Jennifer Bennett, a spokeswoman with the city of Smyrna, said its homeless population is “known to us” and the city is not aware of anyone from New York City who has relocated to its jurisdiction. Smyrna has about five people they’ve identified as homeless who live within the city limits. “Our police department keeps an eye out for their welfare and checks on them from time to time, especially when weather conditions are unfavorable,” she said. Cobb officials are concerned that the relocated homeless could place a strain on the county’s service agencies. Kaye Cagle, spokeswoman with MUST Ministries, the Cobb-based charity that provides services for the homeless, said no one on the nonprofit’s staff has had any contact with anyone who relocated to the area under New York’s program. Tyler Driver, executive director of The Extension in Marietta, also said his organization has not had any contact with clients who have come from New York. The Extension provides long-term residential treatment to homeless people battling addictions. New York City’s program sparked a debate among Marietta’s elected officials. Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson said the practice of one government sending homeless people to other jurisdictions is nothing new. In the 1990’s, Project Homeward Bound used funding from Fulton County to provide one-way bus tickets for homeless people to leave town as long as they could prove they had family or a job waiting at their final destination. The program initially required recipients to promise they would not return to Atlanta, but managers of the program later dropped that caveat. Richardson said she was concerned about infringing on another person’s constitutional right to move freely. “Stopping this is going to be impossible,” she said of New York’s program, adding she wasn’t sure if Marietta had the ability to require New York inform other cities of its actions. Councilman Reggie Copeland said the issue magnifies the crisis of homelessness around the country since cities like New York and Marietta are all grappling with homelessness. “It’s not just local, it’s global,” he said.
  • Ruiz Food Products is recalling certain El Monterey breakfast burritos for plastic contamination, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The company recalled 55,013 pounds of 12-count, value pack “El Monterey signature burritos with egg sausage and cheese with a best buy date of 1/15/2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Three consumers complained after noticing hard, white plastic in a burrito. There are no reports of injuries. Consumers should return or throw away the burritos if they have them.
  • The House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Tuesday morning -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. >> Read more trending news  The process of marking up, debating, amending and rewriting the articles of impeachment, is expected to begin begin Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee. The charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • Crews spent Tuesday trying to rescue a manatee with a bicycle tire wrapped around its body at a Florida state park, WFTV reported. >> Read more trending news   Rescue efforts at Blue Spring State Park. were unsuccessful, but SeaWorld Orlando officials said they will continue to try to rescue the animal. If it is captured, the manatee would be taken to SeaWorld for treatment. The rescue team comprises the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld, the Save the Manatee Club and the Volusia County government.
  • All Saudi military trainees have been grounded indefinitely from flight training at air bases across the country after a deadly shooting by a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force at Naval Air Station Pensacola. There are 852 Saudi students across the country. More than 300 Saudi military trainees are stationed at three bases in Florida. >> Read more trending news  The restriction includes 140 students at the naval base in Pensacola; 35 at nearby Whiting Field; and another 128 students at Naval Air Station Mayport, The Associated Press reported. Classroom training will continue this week. Flight training for other students will also resume while military leaders examine the vetting process, The New York Times reported. An estimated 5,100 international students training at U.S. military installations will also be part of the review. The order is in an effort to ensure student safety as they recover from the trauma of the shooting. The Saudi shooter killed three members of the U.S. military and injured eight others before he was fatally shot. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Depending on one’s perspective, pigeons wearing tiny cowboy hats is either an amusing sight or a terrible example of animal abuse. What’s undeniable is that two pigeons were spotted in a Las Vegas parking lot, wearing the miniature head gear. >> Read more trending news  Bobby Lee was heading to the grocery store Thursday when he saw the birds pecking the ground in a parking lot near a dumpster, The New York Times reported. Pigeons are not unusual in Las Vegas, but Lee pulled out his cellphone and began recording video when he noticed two birds with tiny hats -- one red, and one gray, KNVT reported. Lee posted the video to Facebook, the television station reported. The video has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter, the television station reported. “The birds have hats on, bro!” Lee, 26, can be heard during the 12-second video he originally posted on Facebook. “It got a lot of attention fast,” Lee told the Times. “The day after, I had a lot of news people texting me and people trying to buy my video.” Who would put hats on wild birds? Lee said he did not know, but he did say the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was in town. But the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which organizes the event, “had nothing to do with the pigeons wearing cowboy hats,” Scott Kaniewski, the editor of ProRodeo Sports News, told the Times. Animal welfare agencies contacted Lee, including Lofty Hopes, a bird rescue organization. The group asked him to be vigilant and report if any more birds had hats, the Times reported. Charles Walcott, a Cornell University ornithologist who has been studying pigeons for 30 years, viewed the video Tuesday and said the pigeons seemed to be OK despite the headwear, the Times reported. “I enjoyed the video,' Walcott told the newspaper. 'I just thought those pigeons with hats were cute. 'I think the thing that I would emphasize is I can’t see that it is causing any great harm to the pigeons. The hats are “certainly light enough. They look like happy pigeons to me. It is hard to know, of course, because they will not talk to us.”