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Latest from Bill Caiaccio

    A big-name Democrat throws his hat into the ring in one of two U.S. Senate races in Georgia next year. Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff announced Tuesday he will challenge Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue in 2020. Ossoff became well known in metro Atlanta after nearly winning what was the most expensive U.S. House race in history in 2017. Ossoff narrowly lost a special election runoff in Georgia's 6th district to Republican Karen Handel, but Ossoff says he gained valuable experience in the process. 'What I learned is that I will not be intimidated,' Ossoff told MSNBC while announcing his candidacy. Ossoff joins three other Democrats who are challenging Perdue: Business executive Sarah Riggs Amico, who was last year’s runner-up for lieutenant governor; Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.  The 32-year old Ossoff may stand the best chance in a head-to-head race against Perdue, according to WSB political analyst Bill Crane. 'He would be one of those names that should cause some concern among the Republicans,' Crane said. Ossoff already has the endorsement of Georgia congressman John Lewis. Even if Ossoff wins the Democratic nomination, he would still face many challenges. While Ossoff is well-known in metro Atlanta, 'That won't be the case when you're in the Macon, Columbus, Augusta, Savannah, Athens, etc. media markets,' Crane said. Crane believes Ossoff may also struggle to find votes in rural Georgia. 'His political leanings are well to the left of what most of the state outside of the metro markets will be,' Crane said. Georgia will be in the unique position next year of having two U.S. Senate races. In addition to Perdue's seat, there will also be a special election to fill the remainder of the term of outgoing Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down due to health reasons. Asked why he wants to challenge Perdue rather than run for Isakson's seat, Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal Constitution because Perdue 'is one of the least effective and most out-of-touch members of the U.S. Senate.'  Democrats are targeting Georgia with two Senate seats up for grabs next year. 'The Democratic senatorial commission, and the DNC, really wants to pick off one if not both of those seats,' Crane said. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the U.S. Senate. Democrats hope to regain the majority in 2020, and Georgia will play a key role in determining which party will be in power.
  • With metro Atlanta baking in the August sun, the extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone working outside. In the Southeast Region, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is investigating two fatalities and two hospitalizations related to employees working in the heat. OSHA's Assistant Area Director for the Atlanta West office, Jeffrey Stawowy, tells WSB there are precautions to help protect workers. He recommends 'Providing water, rest and shade at frequent intervals.' The most at-risk jobs are construction, transportation, agriculture and landscapers. Stawowy said you should be able to recognize when someone's body is reacting to the heat and how to take corrective measures.  As the weather gets hotter, he said it's important to increase the frequency of breaks. OSHA offers an app that calculates the heat index for a specific work site. 'It tells you what kind of risk the current weather is,' Stawowy said. The app also includes information on how to stay safe and how employers can protect their workers in extreme heat. OSHA says extreme heat kills dozens of workers every year and sickens thousands more. They advise employers to plan for emergencies, train workers on prevention and monitor employees for signs of illness.  
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he is 'beyond frustrated' and it's 'ridiculous' there is still no agreement on federal disaster aid to help Georgia farmers and others impacted by hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Speaking to WSB’s Scott Slade on Atlanta’s Morning News, Governor Kemp said its time to put politics aside and “get something done.” >>LISTEN TO SLADE’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNOR BELOW. More than 200 days after Hurricane Michael devastated Georgia and Florida, Kemp wonders what’s taking so long. “The longest disaster bill we’ve ever had before was Hurricane Sandy, up in New Jersey. It took a little over 55 days, now we’ve been over 200,” Kemp said. Despite the lack of an agreement, Kemp said Georgia’s delegation is doing its part. “I know Senator Perdue and Senator Isakson have been working for over a month, probably closer to two, to get something done in the Senate,” he told WSB. Kemp and nine other governors in states affected by natural disasters have written a letter to the president and congressional leaders in Washington D.C. requesting “urgent attention” to help their states recover. Kemp vowed “To keep the pressure on them up there and hopefully they can get something done.” Unfortunately, he said “politics is at play there, which is very frustrating to our farmers.” WSB’s Jamie Dupree reports the U.S. House approved a $19 billion measure for disaster relief Friday, but Congress may be no closer to a final agreement because President Trump objects to extra disaster relief for Puerto Rico. It remains to be seen what happens next to the bill. Democrats are hopeful the Senate will approve it, despite the president’s opposition.
  • It may be the most anticipated Initial Public Offering this year. Ride-sharing company Uber begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, but should you add it to your portfolio? WSB Money Matters host Wes Moss said, “Investors are really playing Hail Mary economics,” if they decide to buy Uber stock. “It might, might, might work out. Hail Mary’s happen but not very often,” Moss said. The concern for WSB’s money expert is Uber’s lack of profitability. Moss said, “It’s hard to know what a fair price is for a company that’s bleeding money.” He said Uber may be the most unprofitable company to ever go public. While it could turn a profit one day, Moss said “A lot of things have to go right for that to happen.” He said it could take a decade. “If you’re an investor with an iron stomach, this might be for you, Moss said, but if you’re a more conservative investor that can’t handle lots and lots of years of maybes, then I’d probably stay away from it.” Uber announced on Thursday it was pricing its IPO at $45 per share, which was at the lower end of its targeted price range. Uber’s main rival, Lyft, went public six weeks ago with an IPO price of $72, but has lost about a quarter of its value since. Uber has a market value of $82 billion, which is five times more than Lyft.
  • Stacey Abrams decision not to run for the United States Senate in 2020 could have a major ripple effect on Georgia’s political future. First and foremost, it may be good news for the incumbent, Republican Senator David Perdue.  WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane said, “There are probably a lot of Georgia Republicans smiling, with David Perdue possibly having the biggest toothiest grin.” He said Perdue “would have faced a substantial challenge if Stacey Abrams had gotten into the race.” Abrams is considered by some as a rising star in the Democratic party. She narrowly lost the election to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp last year, and she delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. When asked what would have made Abrams a difficult opponent for Perdue Crane said, “Her name recognition, and though we don’t know how lasting it will be, the passion she inspires among her voters.” He said, “Ms. Abrams has an organization, financing and quite a list in place already to make that challenge more formidable.” With Abrams out of the Senate race, it opens the door for other Democrats considering a run but who have been waiting to see what Abrams decided. A likely candidate is former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who said she will make a formal announcement on Wednesday. Crane said others who may get into the race include former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, who is currently CEO of Dekalb County and U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop and David Scott.  No matter who challenges Perdue Crane said, “It is difficult to oust sitting U.S. Senators regardless of their party.” As for what’s next for Abrams, she may still be weighing a run for president or vice-president, but Crane said, “She might be better suited to a rematch against Governor Kemp in 2022.” 
  • Once again, the Masters proves why it is the best golf tournament in the world, and it’s not even close. Some will argue they like seeing pros struggle, as is the case at the U.S. Open or the uniqueness of links golf at the Open Championship, but I’ll take the drama at Augusta National any day. I kept hearing the word “wow” uttered on TV during the CBS broadcast and in the press room during the final round Sunday.  Tiger Woods’ dramatic win may go down as the best Masters since Jack Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket in 1986, but it wasn’t just the fact Tiger won that made this Masters so special. The golf course proved once again why it’s also the star of the show every year, no matter who’s battling for the green jacket. How many times have we seen Masters dreams die on the 12th hole. With all the talk of making holes longer, the 150-yard par-3 continues to confound the best players in the world. The same hole where Jordan Spieth lost the 2016 Masters is where Italy’s Francesco Molinari lost the lead it seemed he would never let go this year. On the par-3 16th hole, the same hole where Nicklaus came within inches of an ace on the way to his 1986 victory, Tiger nearly did the same. And who can forget Tiger’s chip in on that famous hole leading to his win in 2005. I dare you to find a better set of par 3’s on any course in the world, and the par 5’s on Augusta’s second nine aren’t too bad either. Because it’s the only one of golf’s major championships played at the same venue every year, we’ve come to know the holes so well. The same holes that can produce eagles and birdies also produce train wrecks, like the double-bogey made by Molinari on the par-5 15th. As far as Tiger is concerned, two of the biggest moments in his comeback have now occurred in Georgia. He won at East Lake in the Tour Championship last fall and now Augusta National. Some have said this is the greatest comeback in sports, after multiple back surgeries and his well-documented personal problems. While that is debatable, what Tiger proved Sunday is that he could still have a chance at beating Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional major titles. He most certainly has a good chance of matching the record six Masters titles by Nicklaus. His game may not the same as it was in his prime, but what Tiger has is his intelligence, and I believe he still carries an intimidation factor.  It seems by their reactions Sunday some of the best players in the world were affected by Tiger’s presence. How else do you explain four contenders going in the water on the 12th hole on Sunday? Whether you like him or not, Sunday’s scene of Woods hugging his kids after leaving the 18th green was a special moment. Even Woods, not one who gets choked up easily, got emotional when remembering hugging his own father after winning his first Masters 22 years ago.  Tiger Woods is good for golf and good for sports in general. He’s one of only a few athletes who makes most people stop what they’re doing to watch. And the Masters proves once again why it’s must-see TV each April.
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is not saying when he may sign the controversial “heartbeat” bill, which would restrict abortions in Georgia. The governor supports the bill passed by Georgia lawmakers during the recently completed legislative session. “We value life in our state,” Governor Kemp told WSB’s Scott Slade on “Atlanta’s Morning News.” The governor said he is not concerned about talk of an economic boycott, if he signs the measure. “I don’t believe there will be dire consequences for supporting life in our state,” Kemp told WSB. >>LISTEN TO THE GOVERNOR’S FULL INTERVIEW BELOW. Some in Hollywood are threatening to stop film shoots in Georgia to protest.  Actress Alyssa Milano is leading the effort. She says the measure is “unconstitutional.” As for when he may sign it, Governor Kemp said, “We really haven’t set a date for any of the bills to sign yet.” He told AMN, “We’ve got a thorough review process that we go through on every bill just to make sure there’s nothing in there that we missed.”  While Kemp said he’s “In no real hurry” to sign any piece of legislation, he told WSB the deadline is May 10. The bill would ban most abortions in Georgia, as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat, which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy. “The abortion issue is a very tough issue,” Kemp said. “Even if you don’t agree with the legislation that was passed, you can certainly agree we value life in our state.” After the bill was passed, The Writers Guild of America released a statement saying if Kemp signs the law “It’s entirely possible that many of those in our industry will either want to leave the state or decide not to bring productions there.”  
  • President Trump and his Republican friends on Capitol Hill are declaring victory after the much-anticipated Mueller report found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. WSB political analyst Bill Crane said, 'The president's legal troubles and challenges are not over, but I think he has a lot to kind of claim victory about.' One of the first to see the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller was Republican Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. 'The special counsel’s investigation was long, thorough and conclusive: There was no collusion.' Now that the report is out it remains to be seen how much the American people will get to see. In an exclusive interview with WSB's Monica Matthews, Collins said 'The public should see everything they can see.' Collins said 'This is something that is very important. Democrats talking point is just to dump everything. You can't do that.' Collins said Attorney General William Barr 'has made it very clear he will put out as much as possible, so that the American people can have assurance what Bob Mueller found is the actual truth.' That way 'Nobody can go looking for shadows behind the curtain,' Collins said. Democrats have a different view. U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Lithonia, one of the top Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, says the full Mueller report should be made public. Johnson told the Atlanta Journal Constitution 'There are a whole lot of questions that need to be answered and we certainly can’t answer those questions by relying on the conclusions that Barr says Mueller reached.' Another one of President Trump's supporters on Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Jody Hice of Monroe, tweeted 'We knew this two years ago: Zero collusion.
  • As bad as the damage is in Georgia from Sunday's tornado outbreak, Governor Brian Kemp says we're very fortunate. 'It is a miracle we haven't had a loss of life,' the governor told Atlanta's Morning News. More than 20 people lost their lives just across the state line in Alabama, but so far there are no reports of fatalities in Georgia. A day after touring tornado damage in west-central and South Georgia, Governor Kemp told WSB the State of Emergency will remain in place for as long as needed in Talbot, Harris and Grady counties.  'We see the damage, and some of the folks I talked to that rode the storm out in their home that was devastated it's amazing,' Kemp said. The governor has also been impressed with the way people are pitching in to help those in need. He said, 'A lot of folks there are already serving food and helping their neighbors.' LISTEN TO GOV. KEMP’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH WSB RADIO’S SCOTT SLADE BELOW: Kemp said he's not sure yet if the damage in Georgia will qualify for federal disaster assistance. The governor did speak to President Trump who Kemp said, 'Offered his full support and the help of the federal government.' While folks are cleaning up from this latest natural disaster, Governor Kemp is also concerned about South Georgia farmers who are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Michael last fall. The governor will travel to southwest Georgia Tuesday along with Agriculture Secretary Gary Black to get an update from farmers and provide an update on efforts to get them federal aid. 'This should have been done already.' Kemp said, 'The president continues to offer his full support.' Governor Kemp is calling on members of congress to pass a bill proposed by Georgia Senators David Perdue and Johnny Isakson.  'We're hopeful we can get this done, but we cannot continue to wait. Our farm families need that done right away,' Kemp said.
  • A Kentucky teenager has hired a big time Atlanta attorney in a lawsuit over a face-to-face showdown with a Native American at the Lincoln Memorial in January. 16-year old Nicolas Sandmann is suing the Washington Post for $250-million in damages, claiming the paper wrongly accused the Covington High School student of instigating the confrontation. The video of the showdown went viral leading to outrage on social media.  Sandmann is seen in the video standing face-to-face with Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist.  Sandmann stares at Phillips, who is singing and playing a drum.  The lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky. It claims the newspaper wrongfully targeted and bullied Sandmann because he was wearing a Make America Great Again cap. The teen was on a school field trip to the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington D.C. when the incident occurred.   A private investigation has found Sandmann and his classmates did nothing to provoke a confrontation. Sandmann's attorney is Lin Wood of Atlanta. Wood said in a statement to expect similar lawsuits soon. A statement from the Washington Post says they are reviewing the lawsuit and will mount a vigorous defense.  Wood, whose nickname is 'Attorney for the Damned,' rose to fame when he represented Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused in the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996. Wood also represented John and Patsy Ramsey, who were investigated in the death of their daughter JonBonet in Boulder, Colorado.
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  • The father of the Florida man accused of killing his wife, three children and family dog, also had a history of violence, according to court records dating back 40 years. Robert Todt was convicted by a jury in 1980 for a murder-to-hire plot. It bears an eerie parallel to this week, when his son, Anthony Todt, told Osceola County detectives that he killed his wife, three children and family dog at their Celebration home, WFTV reported. Alan Rubenstein is now a judge in the same Pennsylvania community where he was an assistant district attorney in 1980, and prosecuted Robert Todt’s case. He said the Todts appeared to have a picturesque life. Neighbors had great things to say about Robert Todt, who was a special education teacher and wrestling coach at a Pennsylvania high school. Then, he was arrested for hiring one of his students to kill his wife, Loretta Todt, on March 19, 1980, at their Bensalem home, People reported. The student, John Chairmonte, pleaded guilty to his involvement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 1980. At the time, Chairmonte was characterized as a “burglar and a drug addict,” the newspaper reported in a Dec. 13, 1980, Inquirer story. “Who do you expect Bob Todt to hire to kill his wife, Donny Osmond?' Rubenstein told the newspaper. “A shot was fired right into her skull,” Rubenstein told WFTV on Friday. “It landed through her left eye and blinded her. She should’ve died, but, amazingly, she survived.” What originally seemed like a home invasion didn’t add up, Rubenstein said. “Then we did some background checking on (Robert) Todt,” Rubenstein told WFTV. “We found out about his being engaged to this woman while he was married, about his various girlfriends, the fact that he was having a relationship with one of his students.” When Robert Todt was convicted in 1981, “everybody was wailing, especially his family members and Loretta,” Rubenstein recalled. “The calmest person in the courtroom was Robert Todt.” Robert Todt served about 10 years in prison. Investigators said Anthony Todt was in the home when his mother was shot. A local newspaper reported he woke up to his mother’s screams. Many have described Anthony Todt as a loving father and husband, devoted physical therapist and soccer coach to neighborhood kids. Investigators said they found Anthony Todt’s family’s bodies Monday, but believe Todt killed them weeks earlier. The FBI is also investigating Todt for Medicaid fraud, and records show he was being evicted from their Celebration home.
  • Will moviegoers finally find out what’s on Page 47? That’s a possibility as reports of a “National Treasure 3” movie are beginning to circulate. Chris Bremner, who was tapped to write a “Bad Boys 4” movie, told The Hollywood Reporter he would be writing the screenplay for “National Treasure 3.” “National Treasure,” released in 2004, starred Nicolas Cage an amateur cryptologist Benjamin Franklin Gates. The movie pulled in $247 million worldwide for Disney, Variety reported. The cast, including Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel and Armando Riesc, returned for the 2007 sequel, “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.' That film made $457 worldwide, Variety reported. The sequel ended with the characters looking at 'Page 47” of a secret book owned by the president of the United States, but no explanation was given. Jerry Bruckheimer is reportedly producing the upcoming film, People reported. Jon Turtletaub directed the first two films. A Disney spokesman did not respond to the magazine’s request for comment.
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are no longer working members of the Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth II announced Saturday in a statement. The Queen said the Sussexes “will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations.” The couple also will no longer formally represent the Queen, the statement said. 'Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family, the Queen wrote. “I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.” The couple will forgo state funding and repay millions of taxpayer dollars used to refurbish their official residence in Windsor, The New York Times reported. The agreement will go into effect later this spring and will be reviewed by the palace after a year, the newspaper reported. “The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family,” according to the statement from Buckingham Palace. The agreement was made to end the crisis that began 10 days ago when the couple announced plans to step back from their royal duties and spend time in North America, the Times reported.
  • Odell Beckham Jr.'s legal problems might be behind him. The Superdome officer who was slapped on the rear by the Cleveland Browns wide receiver after LSU’s championship victory Monday has decided not to press charges, NOLA.com reported. A video of the encounter has gone viral. The website, citing several anonymous sources, said the 48-year-old officer had signed an affidavit saying he did not want to pursue legal action against Beckham, 27, who is from New Orleans and played for LSU. The New Orleans Police Department had obtained a warrant for Beckham’s arrest on a count of simple battery, WAFB reported. New Orleans police could rescind the warrant or continue to pursue it, NOLA.com reported. According to the website, the officer had ordered LSU players to put out celebratory cigars lit in the locker room. While talking with one player, the lieutenant said he was struck in the rear by a man who was identified as Beckham. The Browns issued a statement Thursday and said Beckham’s representatives “are cooperating with authorities to appropriately address the situation,” WAFB reported. Beckham has already come under scrutiny for reportedly throwing cash at players after the Tigers’ 42-25 victory against Clemson, potentially violating NCAA rules.
  • Professional wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted a loving tribute to his father, who died Wednesday. Rocky Johnson, who wrestled for 27 years and broke barriers for black wrestlers, died at age 75. Dwayne Johnson posted a long tribute on Instagram, along with a video. “I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world,” Johnson wrote on Instagram. “I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love. The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deep complex sides that needed to be held and understood. Son to father. Man to man. That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude. Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life’s invaluable lessons.” The elder Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, along with his former father-in-law -- and the Rock’s maternal grandfather -- Peter Maivia. Tony Atlas, who along with Rocky Johnson became the first black tag team champions in WWE history, also posted a tribute on Twitter. “We changed wrestling by paving a new path, knocking down doors while showing what movin’ n groovin’ is all about!” Atlas wrote.
  • Amazon said Saturday it will open another massive warehouse in metro Atlanta that will create 500 new jobs, part of an ongoing courtship of the e-commerce giant that spun out of Georgia’s attempt to land the company’s second headquarters.  The company said Saturday that the 1-million-square-foot facility — roughly the size of an average mall — will be built at the Cubes of Bridgeport site in Newnan. The facility’s employees will pack and ship customer orders for Amazon, the world’s largest retailer. Gov. Brian Kemp said Amazon’s announcement was a testament to Georgia’s “logistics infrastructure, top-ranked workforce and nationally recognized business climate.” The firm did not say when it expected the construction to be complete.  It’s the second major Amazon project for metro Atlanta in the past year. The company announced in July it would build a warehouse in Gwinnett County that would eventually employ 1,000 people, and construction is well underway.  The warehouse is part of a construction spree by Amazon to expand its shipping footprint. The company now operates more than 75 fulfillment centers in North America that employ more than 125,000 staffers, including 3,500 in Georgia.  State economic officials have grown familiar with the company after years of recruiting. Georgia offered billions in incentives and Atlanta made the short list for Amazon’s massive second headquarters before losing out to New York and Northern Virginia in November 2018. Documents released to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that the state offered more than $2 billion worth of publicly funded incentives to lure the corporate campus, including an academy to train its employees and an exclusive lounge at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  Also in 2018, Amazon picked Nashville, Tennessee, for a new operations office where it plans to hire 5,000 workers. The company later scuttled its New York plans, briefly raising speculation that the Big Apple’s loss could be Georgia’s gain. But economic development officials were also focused on enticing the company to bring smaller projects to Georgia. Amazon operates several other fulfillment centers and warehouses in metro Atlanta, including East Point and Lithia Springs, and in other parts of Georgia, including Macon.  The warehouse project will make Amazon one of Coweta County’s largest private employers, joining other major firms such as Yamaha Motors and PetSmart, which also has a distribution center that employs about 500 people.  It’s not immediately clear what incentives were offered to Amazon to lure the project. An AJC review showed that nearly $20 million in tax breaks and infrastructure improvements were required to secure the Gwinnett project.  The company also did not immediately say how much it will spend on the site. Trae Westmoreland, head of the Coweta County Development Authority, said the “significant capital investment” will strengthen the local economy and help other firms bring in new business.