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Kemp outlines plans, previews budget address

Kemp outlines plans, previews budget address

 Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled plans Wednesday to create a new state anti-gang task force and devote $69 million in one-time funds for school security grants, as he began to outline more specifics of his first-year agenda days after taking office. The Republican also promised to deliver an “historic and well-deserved” pay raise for Georgia’s public school teachers at his State of the State address on Thursday. Kemp said he would hike teacher pay by $5,000 during the campaign, but he’s likely to divvy up the raise over several years. His remarks came at the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast, the second in a series of events this week where Kemp will lay out many of his priorities. At the events, he has pledged to work across party lines after a divisive election that he narrowly won.  His school safety plan will include $30,000 for each of the state’s 2,294 public schools to use as they see fit for school security – such as hiring officers, paying for cameras or metal detectors or more data analysis. As another part of the plan, he said he would put a mental health counselor in all 343 state public high schools to “engage with struggling students and help provide the resources needed to prevent disruptive, aggressive and potentially violent behavior.”  “The classroom should be a safe haven for students - not a hunting ground for school shooters,” he said. And his anti-gang initiative will include $500,000 in initial funds to form a task force with a “highly qualified group of experienced law enforcement personnel” to work with district attorneys and law enforcement officials to target gang violence. Each of the initiatives were staples of his campaign for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams. It’s another reflection of how Georgia Republican leaders are promising to focus on pocketbook issues rather than fights over social divides that energize the GOP’s rural base, after stinging electoral setbacks in Atlanta’s dense suburbs. To reinforce that point, House Speaker David Ralston announced a new initiative – a House panel focused on arts and entertainment – that aims to grow Georgia’s film industry and other creative businesses. During the campaign, Kemp said he would pour a total of $90 million into school safety initiatives, with plans that also included financing a school safety division within the Georgia Department of Education.  It’s the latest in a series of efforts by Georgia Republicans to address safety initiatives after mass shootings at schools without delving into a debate over new gun control measures.  Case in point: House and Senate lawmakers last year allocated $16 million in school safety funding after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. school left 17 people dead. A range of gun-related proposals, meanwhile, stalled in the Legislature.  The November election heightened the divide. Top Georgia Democrats bucked years of pro-gun positions last year to embrace new restrictions, such as a ban on assault rifles and waiting periods.  And leading Republicans, including Kemp and just about every other high-profile GOP candidate, pushed to aggressively expand where people can carry firearms.  Since his election, Kemp has said he would continue to champion Second Amendment rights. But he’s been notably non-committal about a plan he supported in the campaign to let people carry concealed firearms without a permit. Gang violence Kemp’s “stop and dismantle” program also played a central role in his run for governor. He first unveiled it in April as part of a broader push to emphasize crackdowns on crime and illegal immigration.  The plan would create a statewide Gang Strike Team to help local authorities combat the crime and give the state Attorney General more power to prosecute gang members.  Kemp would also pour an unspecified amount of state funding to improve a database created in 2010 to track gang members and launch a public awareness campaign on the dangers of gang-related crime.  The proposal dovetails with Kemp’s campaign-trail rhetoric, which echoed President Donald Trump’s focus on targeting MS-13 and other violent gangs as a linchpin of his criminal justice policy. 

Former football standout to lecture today at UGA

Former football standout to lecture today at UGA

Former Georgia Bulldog football star Mohamed Massaquoi is back on campus today: Massaquoi, a receiver for the Bulldogs and a captain on the 2008 football team, speaks at 5 o’clock this afternoon at the University’s Richard Russell Library. His remarks are part of UGA’s Diversity and Inclusion Lecture Series.  From the University of Georgia master calendar… A Charlotte, North Carolina native, Mohamed Massaquoi was the second round pick for the Cleveland Browns in the 2009 NFL draft where he recorded two 100-yard receiving games his rookie year. Before joining the NFL, he earned his Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Georgia where he was named the 2008 team captain, selected as a first-team All-Southeastern Conference and Academic All-SEC member, and received the team’s Leon Farmer Award. In Spring 2017, Massaquoi was involved in an ATV accident resulting in the amputation of four fingers. Since retiring from the NFL, he has worked as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley and is currently a speaker and advocate for fitness, athletes in business and amputee causes.

Cats top Dogs in Stegeman sellout

Cats top Dogs in Stegeman sellout

The Georgia Bulldog basketball team fell to the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats 69-49 in a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday night. For the fifth time this season sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton led the Bulldogs in points and rebounds with tonight being 12 and nine respectively. This is Claxton’s 10th double-digit scoring game of the season. Fellow sophomore forward Rayshaun Hammonds posted an impressive point total (11) as well marking his 12th double-digit game of the season. Junior guard Jordan Harris notched a new career-high in boards with seven, the second-leading rebounder of the night. The 69 points scored are the lowest by Kentucky (13-3, 3-1) this season for an offense that ranks fourth in the SEC in points per game with 80.9. After a first half that featured a four-point game, Kentucky leading 35-31, the Wildcats pulled away in the second half on hot shooting. At the half, both squads shot over 40-percent. Leading all players in scoring and rebounding was Claxton with nine and five, respectively. By the end of regulation, the Wildcats shot 43.8-percent (28-64) and Georgia shot 30.4-percent (17-56). In the second half, Kentucky stayed above 40-percent, while the Bulldogs went cold, going 19.2-percent (5-26). 'First off, defensively, we didn't do a good enough job of taking away their strengths,” said Georgia head coach Tom Crean. “They're very much a right-handed driving team and a left-shoulder post team. It's not a complicated game plan. We were going under on [Ashton] Hagans, and if he made a three, so be it. That's not his forte. His forte is getting in the paint, make plays, and get you to chase him so he can throw it out to the shooters. We wanted to stay home on the shooters, but we also wanted to take away their right hand on the drives and their post-ups. We just weren't aggressive enough. We weren't tough enough on the ball. That has been the story when we've struggled.” A strong Georgia (9-7, 1-3) defense blocked two Kentucky shots enabling a jam from senior forward Derek Ogbeide to start the Bulldog lead in the first minute of the game. The Wildcats responded to tie the game but another dunk from Ogbeide secured the Bulldog advantage, 9-6. Kentucky fought to regain the edge, which changed hands over a three-minute span. The Wildcats took back the lead 16-14 at 11:25 remaining, which Kentucky maintained for the half. A layup and free throw from Harris brought the margin down to two rendering the score 20-18. The Wildcats brought it back up to a five-point spread with 6:34 left but a three from Harris narrowed it back to two at 27-25. Claxton helped to tie the game twice at 27 and 29, but Kentucky took back the edge 31-29 with 2:51 remaining. The teams traded shots that resulted in the 35-31 halftime score. Coming out of the break, Georgia forced Kentucky into a shot clock violation, but came up empty on the other side of the court as well. The Bulldogs nearly forced another shot clock violation, however Ashton Hagans beat the buzzer with a three, igniting the Wildcats on a 9-0 run for a 44-31 Wildcat lead. Hammonds scored the Bulldogs’ first second half points at the line and then had a tip-in followed by a Claxton free throw to put the Georgia deficit back into single digits. Kentucky answered with a 3-pointer to grow its lead back to double digits, 47-36, however a transition three by junior guard Tyree Crump dipped Georgia again back below the 10-point threshold. That was the closest Georgia got however as the Wildcats then went on a 8-0 run and kept its double-digit lead for the rest of regulation to seal the 69-49 win.  The Bulldogs return to Stegeman Coliseum Saturday, January 19, at 12 pm to take on the Florida Gators on CBS.   Georgia head coach Tom Crean On the offense... 'On the offensive end, we missed a lot of open shots. A couple of them we would like to have back, but we missed a lot of open shots. Our heads started to get down. It's not lack of character, lack of want-to, and it's certainly not lack of work. But, it's a lack of maturity when the shots aren't going and it affects our defense. It's happened to us before and if we don't mature, it's going to happen again. We just have to have some carry over from practice in this. Our cutting, our rolling, when we post. We definitely had some shots on the perimeter. We had 11 the other day and I though we should have made 7 or 8 more at Auburn. We're going to shoot the ball. They're not bad shots. We've just got to stay confident and knock them down.'   On coming out in the 2nd half... 'We're not coming out with enough spirit. It's baffling, it really is. We know we don't have a true point guard or a true leader. That's not an excuse to come out without a spirit. There's got to be a tenacity and a spirit. I'm going to have to start changing the lineup. There's no one that's coming out, grabbing the bull by the horns, and saying let's go. It's not like we have anyone that's playing that well throughout the game that they're not subject to coming off the bench.     Sophomore Forward Nicolas Claxton On things the team needs to work on after this game… “After a loss like this you got to really individually look at yourself and every aspect. Even if you played well with shooting or on defense you got to really just try to improve everything. When we have practice on Thursday, we’re going to go hard. Try to keep motivating everyone and make sure we get to class on time Wednesday and get ready for Saturday.”    On losing momentum throughout the game… “I think that we just had a pretty decent first half. We were down by four I think. I just feel like in the second half we didn’t come out with the right mentality.”   On going into another sellout crowd on Saturday… “It seems like something we’ve been saying a lot but we got to bounce back and continue to stay confident in ourself. The crowd was behind us the whole game and we just didn’t perform like we were supposed to. We will be ready for Saturday and we expect to have them with us the whole game.”   Senior Guard Turtle Jackson On having rough games playing top teams…  “Like my mom said, if you hit rock bottom, you can always go up. If people claim that’s our worst game then I can see that next time we face them or face another great opponent that we will do much better. We cant really have our heads down and no one in Dawg nation should have their head down even if it was a loss because if you lose by 1 or you lose by 20 its still a loss. And we’re going to take that as motivation.”    On being in a shooting slump… “I think its just staying confident in yourself. Like you said, we’ve been in a little bit of a shooting slump and I have to. Its just making sure you’re just staying in the gym believing in yourself. The coaching staff is always pushing us to make sure we get in our extra reps and pushing us to stay confident and keep shooting.”   On things the team needs to work on after this game… “We need to do a better job of playing defense as a whole. We had some guys who didn’t come out and play very well so we need to do a better job of just stopping them. It’s pretty simple. And we need to make sure we knock down shots. That’s me that’s everybody. We got to look ourselves in the mirror. Its not the coaches, it’s the players, we just got to fight and keep getting better.” 

TSA: “Financial limitations” causing airport screeners not to show up for work

After previously denouncing press reports of higher than normal absences of airport security personnel during a partial government shutdown as “fake news,” the Transportation Security Administration said on Wednesday that more of its employees are not showing up for work because of money issues caused by a missed paycheck last week, as the shutdown entered a 26th day with no resolution in sight.

In a news release, the TSA stated that “many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations,” as the agency said its absentee rate was up from the same day [More]