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National Politics

  • Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is calling President Donald Trump a 'coward' who 'punches down' and says that he is 'tearing apart the moral fabric of our country.' Gillibrand is set to say even more about Trump on Sunday as she stands in front of one of his signature New York properties. In what her campaign is calling Gillibrand's first major speech as a presidential candidate, the New York senator says in prepared remarks that the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan is 'a shrine to greed, division and vanity.' The Associated Press obtained the prepared remarks. Gillibrand is trying to position herself in the crowded field of Democrats seeking the party's nomination. While some hopefuls have shied away from mentioning Trump, Gillibrand has not hesitated to do so. 'He demonizes the vulnerable and he punches down. He puts his name in bold on every building,' Gillibrand says in the prepared remarks. 'He does all of this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not. Our president is a coward.' Gillibrand's speech comes as the nation awaits the key findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, which has loomed over Trump's presidency. Attorney General William Barr is preparing to release the investigation's 'principal findings' to Congress on Sunday. Gillibrand has said that Mueller's report should be made public quickly and that, regardless of what the report says, it's clear that Trump has undermined American democracy. The speech in front of the Trump International Hotel & Tower appears to be a re-launch of Gillibrand's campaign. She announced last January that she was exploring a run, then spent months traveling the country campaigning and raising money. In her remarks for Sunday, Gillibrand praises the bravery of high school students organizing to end gun violence, young people brought to the country illegally as children who are fighting for 'their right to call this country home,' and 'of course, the formerly well-behaved women who organized, ran for office, voted and won in 2018.' 'That is brave,' she says. Gillibrand also talks about her own courage, which she says is evidenced by her ability to win a House seat in a district seen as a Republican stronghold, by fighting for funds to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and survivors of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and by fighting on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and harassment at the Pentagon, in Congress and on college campuses.

Local Politics

  • Seven months after residents’ protests halted plans for a giant tennis center in Roswell’s Big Creek Park, a member of city council has made a formal proposal to leave the park, and its trails, alone. But the lingering aftertaste of city council’s handling of the tennis proposal last August led Mayor Lori Henry and the council to reject the latest plan for the park. Henry said the city’s failure to properly engage residents regarding the tennis center idea didn’t mean Roswell should again bypass the normal protocol. She criticized Councilmember Marcelo Zapata for the way he brought the latest plan forward and called him “disingenuous,” saying his plan to preserve and protect the park needed to go through the city’s normal process for changing a park master plan. Zapata wants the city to reconsider its ultimate plan to build an arts center and aquatic center there, in favor of leaving existing trails. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Henry said. “We have learned from our mistakes and we need to follow the process.” Ultimately, the council agreed with Henry and decided in a 4-2 vote March 11 to defer the matter indefinitely so the parks and recreation commission could determine what the best plan might be. The mayor and the majority of the council’s sentiments didn’t satisfy many residents and business owners, who questioned elected leaders’ trustworthiness as they asked them to move forward with Zapata’s proposal. Roswell leaders came under fire last year for pushing through a plan that would have dramatically altered Big Creek Park, a patch of forest and trails that sits off Old Alabama Road. The 60-acre, $50 million tennis center proposal, which included more than 135 courts, was brought forward without involving the public. Within days of the tennis center idea surfacing, the city withdrew the plan following a revolt by residents angry that a large public space in the city would have been eviscerated. Shawn Brunner, who owns the Fresh Bikes shop near Big Creek Park, told council members last week that he expected them to stick to their word and preserve the park. Big Creek Park and its trails are a popular destination for mountain bikers and hikers. “When you stand up in front of your community and you say you’re going to do something, do it,” he said. In addition to Zapata, Councilmember Michael Palermo said he supported efforts to tell residents the park would be unchanged until a new master plan could be completed. Palermo called the proposal an olive branch to residents who were frustrated by what happened behind the scenes, saying that he did not think the council had earned residents’ trust. “I feel the city has a black eye … regarding Big Creek,” Palermo said. “There was a mess-up in how that occurred.” But Councilmember Sean Groer said the solution wasn’t to ram through a new plan. “I can’t help but point out the irony in the statement that we’re being asked to break a process to regain trust,” he said. “That, to me, just doesn’t seem to work.”

Latest from Jamie Dupree

Georgia Politics

  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is opening a new investigation into allegations that 4,700 absentee ballot requests went missing before November's election. Raffensperger, a Republican, announced the investigation Thursday after the Democratic Party of Georgia had alleged last fall that 4,700 DeKalb County voters sent ballot applications to the county elections office but never received their absentee ballots in the mail. It's unclear how Raffensperger's investigation is different from the inquiry opened after the Democratic Party questioned what happened to the lost ballots in October, when Republican Brian Kemp was secretary of state. Kemp was elected governor in November. “There is nothing I take more seriously than guaranteeing election integrity and bringing free and fair elections to every eligible voter, whether they choose to vote absentee or on Election Day,” Raffensperger said. “My office will exhaust every resource to investigate these allegations.” The Democratic Party tracked the absentee ballot requests to a post office in the same zip code as the DeKalb elections office. It's unknown whether those ballot requests went missing at the post office, at the elections office or at some other point in the delivery process. “We're still extremely concerned that we don't know what happened to the 4,700 DeKalb absentee ballots that went missing before the 2018 election,” said Democratic Party of Georgia spokeswoman Maggie Chambers. “We are committed to continuing our work and doing our part to make sure the issues of last year's election do not repeat in future elections.'  Please return to AJC.com for updates.

News

  • Two men are accused to stealing more than $70,000 worth of musical instruments from the University of Louisville’s School of Music, WLKY reported. >> Read more trending news  Alphonso Monrew, 22, and Anthony Abrams, 52, were arrested Thursday, according to Jefferson County Jail records. Each were charged with two counts of third degree burglary and two counts of theft by unlawful taking, the television station reported. According to police, on several occasions the two men stole instruments, including a $10,000 guitar, from the university’s music school, WLKY reported. The thefts occurred over several weeks, the television station reported. All of the instruments have been recovered and will be returned to students, police said.
  • A Texas woman got an early start to celebrating her 105th birthday, joining more than 150 family members for a party at a San Antonio church, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  Minnie McRae, who turns 105 on Tuesday, was the guest of honor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on Saturday, the television station reported. McRae’s nephew, Arturo Ayala, flew from Germany to attend the party for a woman who taught him how to dance by giving him lessons in her living room, KSAT reported.  Ayala said he believes he knows the secret to his aunt’s long life 'She's never shared it, but from my relationship with her, I see her always praying and ... always reading,' Ayala told the television station.  Ayala also said McRae was very spiritual and did work with Incarnate Word. 'She's a blessing and she's a miracle,' Ayala told KSAT.
  • There will be laughing, singing, and music swinging when singer Martha Reeves receives another honor in May. >> Read more trending news  Reeves, 77, the lead vocalist of 1960s group Martha and Vandellas, will be honored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts on May 22, AL.com reported. Reeves was the singer for the group’s hits, including “Dancing in the Streets,” “Heat Wave” and “Jimmy Mack.” Reeves, a native of Eufaula, will receive Alabama’s 2019 Distinguished Artist Award. The award recognizes “a professional artist who is considered a native or adopted Alabamian and who has earned significant national acclaim for their art over an extended period,' according to the council’s website. Other recipients of the award include Jim Nabors, Fannie Flagg and George Lindsey. Vandella moved to Detroit as a child and grew up singing in church, AL.com reported. Her gospel-influenced vocals were evident in the group’s pop and rhythm and blues songs, which gave the Vandellas a string of hits on the Motown label. Reeves was inducted with the group -- Rosalind Ashford-Holmes, Annette Sterling-Helton, Lois Reeves and Betty Kelly -- into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. “Martha and the Vandellas were the Supremes’ tougher, more grounded counterpart,” the Rock Hall website says. “With her cheeky, fervent vocals, Martha Reeves led the group in a string of dance anthems that are irresistible to this day.” Reeves was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995. 
  • A Florida deputy was arrested after an altercation at a Jacksonville nightclub, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported. >> Read more trending news  According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Officer Rodney Bryant, a 5 1/2-year member of the department, was involved in a dispute Friday at Mascara's Gentlemen's Club with his girlfriend and her friend.  Bryant has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He has been terminated from his position in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. According to deputies, the group left the club but the dispute continued in a vehicle. This was when Bryant allegedly pulled over, opened the trunk of his vehicle and pulled out a firearm.  Bryant allegedly pointed the gun at the two women, making threats, according to the Sheriff’s Office.  They were all pulled over long enough for the girlfriend's friend to make contact with her sister, who later arrived at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The girl's sister observed Bryant with the firearm making threats and that he pointed the firearm at her, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  • A Marine killed in action during the Vietnam War nearly 50 years ago was honored in a memorial service Saturday, and a headstone and plaque were erected at his gravesite at a South Florida cemetery, the Sun-Sentinel reported. >> Read more trending news  Private First Class Gregory Carter was killed in action Oct. 12, 1969, in the Quang Ngai province of South Vietnam, according to according to a Vietnam military casualties database on Ancestry.com. He was remembered in a service attended by nearly 200 people Saturday at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, the Sun-Sentinel reported. “It’s like he woke up to the world again,” Carter’s brother, Anthony Owens, told the newspaper. “His life is meaningful. It means something.” “No, I did not (expect this many people). It raised our spirits, big time.” Carter laid in an unmarked grave until the Vietnam Veterans of America discovered him while searching for photographs of Vietnam veterans to place on the black granite Wall of Faces in Washington, D.C., the Sun-Sentinel reported. Carter was drafted into the Marines on July 4, 1969, when he was 19, according to the Ancestry.com database. He already had a young son and a daughter was on the way, but Carter would never know either of them, the newspaper reported. The Vietnam Veterans of America worked with the city of Fort Lauderdale and others to get Carter’s grave marker, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The organization also secured a photograph from a baseball team photograph in the Dillard High School yearbook, the newspaper reported. Gregory Carter now lies with his mother, grandparents, three siblings and other relatives at Sunset Memorial Gardens. “If you die you’re just lost until somebody thinks about you again,” Anthony Owens told the Sun-Sentinel. “So his spirit is probably all around us right now. It’s a good thing. He’s doing good.”
  • The wife of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was bitten by a rattlesnake at their Arizona home Friday, the Arizona Republic reported. >> Read more trending news  Ava Arpaio was working on her computer in her office around 10 a.m. when the snake bit her on the left foot, Joe Arpaio told the newspaper. 'She's tough. If she can put up with me for 60 years, then she can handle a snake bite,' Joe Arpaio told the Republic. Joe Arpaio, 86, said the large rattlesnake was removed by fire crews. 'Must've been a Democrat,' the longtime Republican joked to the Republic. Ava Arpaio likely will be in a hospital for 'two or three' days, her husband told the newspaper. Arpaio served as sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years until losing re-election to Democrat Paul Penzone in 2016. The 86-year-old lawman made national news for his Tent City Jail where inmates were housed in Korean War era army tents, KSAZ reported. >> President Trump pardons Joe Arpaio Joe Arpaio was convicted of a criminal charge in July 2017 for refusing to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. He was pardoned a month later by President Donald Trump.