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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    Ending months of wrangling over billions of dollars in aid for victims of hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, Congress struck a deal Thursday with President Donald Trump on a $19.1 billion aid package, which includes extra relief money for Puerto Rico, but not several billion for border security efforts sought by the President. 'We have been working on this package for several months, and I am pleased to say that help is finally on the way,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), as the Senate voted 85-8 to approve the plan, and send it back to the House for final action. The plan includes $600 million in food aid for Puerto Rico, along with an additional $304 million in housing assistance for the island, as President Trump backed off his opposition to extra aid for the island. 'Puerto Rico has to be treated fairly - and they are,' Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters. The compromise plan also includes over $3 billion to repair military bases in Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska which were damaged by disasters, and over $3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair damaged waterways infrastructure. The details of the final agreement were just slightly different from a disaster aid package approved earlier in May by the House - that $19.1 billion plan was opposed by President Trump and a majority of GOP lawmakers. 'Now, let's get this bill to the President's desk ASAP,' said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), whose home state has been hit hard by flooding. Ironically, the vote took place in the Senate as a severe storm rolled through the city, setting off alarms inside the Capitol, as police told tourists, reporters, and staffers to shelter in place. After the vote, Republicans praised the agreement, and the work of the President.  “For Florida, this is a big day,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), as the bill included $1.2 billion to help rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, which was leveled last year by Hurricane Michael. “I just want to tell you how grateful I am to the President,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), as Republicans repeatedly said Mr. Trump had 'broken the logjam' on the disaster bill. Democrats saw it much differently, as they argued if the President had stayed out of the negotiations, the disaster aid would have been agreed to long ago. “He's an erratic, helter-skelter, get nothing done President,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.   “If he stays out of it and lets us work together, we might get some things done.” The eight Senators who voted against the bill were all Republicans - Blackburn (TN), Braun (IN), Crapo (ID), Lee (UT), McSally (AZ), Paul (KY), Risch (ID), and Romney (UT). The bill would also extend the life of the National Flood Insurance Program, giving lawmakers several more months to consider reforms to the program, which has run up close to $40 billion in losses in the last 15 years. The bill also has specific language to force the Trump Administration to release $16 billion in already approved funding for disasters, but which has been withheld by the White House for months - it includes $4 billion for Texas, and over $8 billion for Puerto Rico. The compromise bill still needs a final vote in the House - that could take place either on Friday, or might have to wait until early June when lawmakers return from a Memorial Day break, as the House had already left town when the disaster deal was struck.
  • In the midst of an escalating trade fight with China which has caused financial pain for many American farmers, the Trump Administration announced on Thursday that $16 billion in trade relief payments would be given to farm producers starting this summer, to help farmers deal with economic impacts of foreign retaliation for U.S. tariffs. 'The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,' said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The $16 billion would be in addition to $12 billion in trade relief offered last year by the President to U.S. farmers, who have endured lost markets, lower commodity prices, and financial losses as a result of China and other countries retaliating against tariffs authorized by President Trump. Perdue said it would be better to have a trade agreement with China to remove the need for these trade payments, but such an agreement does not seem to be on the horizon. 'We would love for China to come to the table at any time,' Perdue said, adding that President Trump will meet with the Chinese Premier in June. 'It's really in China's court,' Perdue added. The funding for the latest farm bailout would come through the Commodity Credit Corporation, but Perdue and other USDA officials said the increase in revenues from tariffs would offset the cost. 'The President feels very strongly that the tariff revenue is going to be used to support his program, which will come back out and replenish the CCC,' Secretary Perdue said. Those tariff duties are not paid by China - but rather by companies in the United States importing items from the Chinese, as those businesses can either eat the extra import costs, or pass them on to American consumers. Democrats in Congress have grabbed on to the issue of rising costs for consumers in criticizing the President's trade policies - even though many Democrats do support the idea of being much more tough on Beijing over trade matters. Caught in the middle are farmers, who have been more readily - and publicly - voicing their concerns in recent months with the President's trade policies. 'The Farm Bureau believes in fair trade,' said American Farm Bureau Federal chief Zippy Duval. 'Eliminating more tariffs and other trade barriers is critical to achieving that goal.”  A recent poll by the Indiana Farm Bureau found 72 percent of farmers surveyed in that state felt a 'negative impact on commodity prices' because of the current trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Farm County is also mainly Republican - and the continuing pressure on farmers has filtered through in recent polling. The collateral damage for U.S. farmers could increase even more in coming months if there's no deal between the U.S. and China. President Trump has already threatened to raise tariffs on an additional $325 billion in imports from China, which could draw even more trade retaliation from Beijing - with U.S. agriculture being the most obvious target.
  • For the second time in three days, a federal judge rejected arguments by lawyers for President Donald Trump, refusing to block subpoenas issued by a U.S. House committee for financial records held by U.S. banks which did business with the President's companies. 'I think the courts are saying that we are going to uphold the rule of law,' said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has subpoenaed information from the Mazars USA accounting firm. Wednesday's ruling from federal Judge Edgardo Ramos, put on the bench by President Barack Obama, related to subpoenas by two other House panels to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, for records related to Mr. Trump's businesses. Lawyers for the President, the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump's family had asked that the subpoenas be quashed - the judge made clear that wasn't happening, and also rejected a request to stay his ruling to allow for an appeal. As in investigative matters involving the President's tax returns, and other subpoenas from Democrats, Mr. Trump's legal team argued that there is a limit on the investigative power of the Congress. 'Congress must, among other things, have a legitimate legislative purpose, not exercise law-enforcement authority, not excess the relevant committee's jurisdiction, and not make overbroad or impertinent requests,' the President's lawyers wrote in a brief filed last week. But as with a case in federal court in Washington earlier this week, that argument failed to sway Judge Ramos, who said Deutsche Bank can turn over in the information sought by the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. In the halls of Congress, Democrats said the legal victories were clear evidence that the resistance of the White House to Congressional investigation could only succeed for so long. 'The White House has attempted to block Congressional oversight, but the law is on our side,' said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT). And Democrats also were pleased by the quick action of both judges this week, amid worries that multiple legal challenges by the President could cause lengthy delays. 'We should not be slowed down in our work simply by a clock that goes through judicial processes,' said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). The legal setback for President Trump came several hours after he cut short a White House meeting with top Democrats on infrastructure, saying he would not work with them on major legislation until the House stopped a variety of investigations. 'Get these phony investigations over with,' the President told reporters in the Rose Garden. Mr. Trump seemed especially aggravated by statements earlier on Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused the President of resisting subpoenas and other document requests for a reason. 'And we believe the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up, in a cover-up,' Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.
  • Angered by investigative efforts in Congress pressed by House Democrats, President Donald Trump on Wednesday cut short an Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders on an infrastructure bill, walking into the Rose Garden to tell reporters that he would not work with Democrats on major legislative initiatives until Congress ends investigations related to the Russia probe and more. 'Get these phony investigations over with,' the President said, clearly aggravated by comments made earlier in the day by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused Mr. Trump of engaging in a 'cover-up' by ignoring subpoenas and refusing to turn over documents in a series of investigations led by Democrats. 'I don't do cover-ups,' Mr. Trump said with a distinct note of frustration in his voice, as he again said the Mueller Report should have been the last word on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 'As President Trump has always said: No Collusion. No Obstruction,' the White House tweeted soon after his impromptu Rose Garden remarks. Returning to the Capitol from the White House, Democrats said the scene seemed like a set up. 'It's clear that this was not a spontaneous move on the President's part,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, as Democrats accused the President of doing everything he could to avoid bipartisan agreements on issues like infrastructure, which was the subject of today's sit down at the White House. “I pray for the President,” Speaker Pelosi said afterwards. Just last night, Mr. Trump had sent Democrats a letter asking that infrastructure efforts be delayed until after approval of the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement - which still has not even been submitted to the Congress for a vote.
  • Facing pressure within Democratic Party ranks to open an official impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday vowed to 'follow the facts' of any investigations related to the President and his administration, bluntly accusing Mr. Trump of doing all he can to block oversight related to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 'We believe it’s important to follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law including the President of the United States,' Pelosi said after a closed door meeting of House Democrats. 'And we believe the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up, in a cover-up,' Pelosi told reporters. Pelosi's advice to her House Democratic Caucus has been to hold off on starting any official impeachment effort, and instead focus on holding hearings, getting documents, sending out subpoenas, taking their document fights to the courts, and increasing the pressure on the President with those actions. The Speaker touted the success of one of those efforts on Wednesday, as she noted that the House Intelligence Committee - after using its subpoena power - pressured the Justice Department into providing the panel with more counter intelligence information which was generated by the Russia investigation. 'The Intelligence Committee talked about the documents that the Justice Department is now willing to convey,' Pelosi said, using that as one example of how Democrats are slowly getting information from the Trump Administration - without the need to take a step towards impeachment hearings. 'We have to be patient as we plow along,' said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, who said now is not the time to start an impeachment effort by that panel. 'We've got to have evidence,' Johnson told me. 'We can't just take the Mueller Report.' But Democrats have encountered numerous hurdles set up by the President and the White House in terms of getting the underlying evidence of the Mueller Report, getting testimony from Mueller, hearing from former White House Counsel Don McGahn, and more. 'The potential reasons to cite impeachment have been growing,' said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). 'I believe the facts fully justify an impeachment inquiry,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who was joined by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) in calling for a start to official proceedings against the President. For now, Speaker Pelosi is still resisting that course - but making it very plain that she agrees with fellow Democrats about what they are seeing. 'It was a very positive meeting; a respectful sharing of ideas,' Pelosi said.
  • On the eve of talks with Congressional Democrats at the White House on financing plans for a major infrastructure bill, President Donald Trump told top Democrats that before agreeing to any plan for roads and bridges, he first wants the House and Senate to approve a new trade deal involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 'Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,' the President wrote in a letter to the House Speaker and Senate Democratic Leader on Tuesday. 'Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,' Mr. Trump added. Prospects for the updated NAFTA agreement - which still has not been submitted to the Congress for a vote - seemed to improve last week when GOP Senators forced the President to roll back tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada, allowing the White House to focus even more on getting support from Democrats for the new trade deal. 'It will benefit farmers, manufacturing workers, unions, and businesses throughout our great nation,' the President added in his letter. On infrastructure, agreement between the White House and Democrats on how to fund up to $2 trillion in new projects remains as hazy as it was several weeks ago when the two sides met, as the simple issue of money has derailed efforts for well over a decade to move large road and bridge packages through Congress. While Mr. Trump has talked about a 'big and bold infrastructure bill,' his letter only talked about how Democrats need to come up with how to fund the cost. 'It would be helpful if you came to tomorrow's meeting with your infrastructure priorities and specifics regarding how much funding you would dedicate to each,' the President wrote - without giving any guidance on the details of his plan. Democrats said the same thing in return. “On Wednesday, we look forward to hearing the President’s plan for how to pay for this package,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in a joint statement. “Three weeks ago, we were pleased to have had a productive meeting with the President, during which he agreed to a $2 trillion plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure and to provide ideas for pay-fors” - that's a term used in Washington to describe how you're going to 'pay for' something. The most direct way to do that would be to raise federal gasoline taxes - but those have not been changed since 1993, and are a difficult sale for members of both parties. Trump White House budget officials said earlier this year that they would let Congress 'fill in the blanks' on the cost of an infrastructure bill.
  • With former White House Counsel Don McGahn defying a subpoena for his testimony in Congress on the findings of the Muller Report, there was a noticeable jump on Tuesday in the halls of the Capitol in the number of Democrats publicly demanding that their leaders take the next step - to start impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. 'The facts laid out in the Mueller report, coupled with this administration’s ongoing attempts to stonewall Congress, leave us no other choice,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). 'It is time for Congress to officially launch an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States.' 'More of my colleagues are coming around, reluctantly, to the reality that impeachment is necessary, unavoidable, and urgent,' said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). 'This week feels like the tipping point.' 'I personally feel like we cannot tolerate this level of obstruction,' said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), as a number of new - and more liberal Democrats - embraced the idea of impeachment more publicly today. 'Failure to impeach now is neglect of due process,' said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Republicans said this was nothing more than political theater. 'Their single-minded goal is political revenge on someone who beat them in an election they thought they had won,' said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). 'The American people don't want impeachment,' said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). 'But the Democrats are so angry that our President is succeeding and so desperate to please their base that they'll do it anyway.' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned her rank-and-file away from impeachment for months, trying to keep the focus more on issues like health care. But after weeks of watching the White House directly tell Congress that it has no power to investigate on a range of topics - from the President's tax returns, to his past financial records, and issues related to the Russia investigation - there is a sense in the Capitol of a building desire to start a more formal investigation into Mr. Trump. 'No one is above law. It's time to start an impeachment inquiry,' said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA).
  • The struggle between Democrats in the House and President Donald Trump over the Russia investigation intensified on Monday with the White House telling former Counsel Don McGahn not to honor a subpoena for  his testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, as Democrats said it was all part of a broad effort the President and the Trump Administration to stonewall Congress about the Mueller Report and other investigations. In a letter to Democrats, McGahn's lawyer William Burck said, 'the President has unambiguously directed my client not to comply with the Committee’s subpoena for testimony.' 'Under these circumstances, and also conscious of the duties he, as an attorney, owes to his former client, Mr. McGahn must decline to appear at the hearing,' the letter added. Democrats said they would still convene the hearing at 10 am EDT on Tuesday, as they held out the possibility of finding McGahn in contempt, just as the same committee voted to find Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to honor a subpoena for an unredacted version of the Mueller Report. Democrats wanted testimony from McGahn because of the information he gave to investigators for the Mueller investigation, in which McGahn detailed repeated demands by President Trump to oust the Special Counsel. While President Trump has sternly denied that he ever ordered McGahn to get rid of Mueller, the evidence offered by the Special Counsel painted a different picture. McGahn testified that the President called him on June 17, 2017 - about a month after Mueller had been named as Special Counsel - and pressed for Mueller to be ousted, an order that McGahn repeatedly ignored. On page 300 of the Mueller Report, 'McGahn recalled the President telling him 'Mueller has to go' and 'Call me back when you do it.''  The Mueller Report described McGahn - who reportedly answered questions for 30 hours over multiple interviews - as a 'credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate.' McGahn also claimed in his testimony that once news of the President's request was reported in the press, Mr. Trump then pressed McGahn to dispute the veracity of the story that the President had pressed for Mueller's ouster. McGahn refused to do what the President had asked. The White House based its refusal for McGahn to testify on a new 15 page legal opinion from the Justice Department, which said McGahn - as a former top adviser - was under no requirement to testify before Congress. 'The President's immediate advisers are an extension of the President and are likewise entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional testimony,' the Office of Legal Counsel opinion stated. In summary, the Justice Department said simply, 'we conclude that Mr. McGahn is not legally required to appear before the Committee.' Democrats denounced the decision, and charged it was just adding more evidence to what they say is a cover up, focused on obscuring obstruction of justice by President Trump. 'This move is just the latest act of obstruction from the White House that includes its blanket refusal to cooperate with this Committee,' said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 'The President is intimidating witnesses and stonewalling the American people and the rule of law. Congress and the American people deserve answers from Mr. McGahn,' said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA). '(T)he White House Counsel serves interests of the American people, not the President, and their conversations do not have the protection of blanket attorney-client privilege,' said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). 'It’s pretty clear what the Trump Administration is doing here,' said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), 'they’re trying to hide the facts from the American people.' Democrats have promised to move forward to hold McGahn in Contempt of Congress - but there has also been discussion of other penalties, from what is known as 'inherent contempt' - which could involve levying fines against those who refuse to cooperate with investigations by Congress. 'The cover-up continues,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 'And we will fight it.
  • In a notable break with the history of their home states, the Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate from Kentucky and a top Democrat from Virginia officially introduced a bill on Monday which would increase the minimum age to buy cigarettes and any other tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. 'Now is the time to do it,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on the Senate floor, as he rattled off negative statistics about cancer related to tobacco use in the Bluegrass State. 'Our state once grew tobacco like none other, and now we're being hit by the health consequences of tobacco use like none other,' McConnell said, noting the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping to those under the age of 18. 'The health of our children is literally at stake,' McConnell added. McConnell offered the bill along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 2016, who also hails from a state with historic ties to the tobacco industry. 'Like Sen. McConnell, I come from a tobacco state,' Kaine said in remarks on the Senate floor, joining the Majority Leader in giving a history lesson about his state, and the influence of tobacco. 'We're backsliding,' Kaine said, nothing the recent increase in youth tobacco use, as he joined in blaming e-cigarettes and vaping. 'We encourage the states to pass their own laws,' Kaine added, as he said the new age limit would also be applied to members of the military services. “Raising the sales age for tobacco nationwide is one of several policy changes that are essential to reach the tobacco endgame of eliminating tobacco use and nicotine addiction,” said Nancy Brown, the head of the American Heart Association, which offered its quick support. McConnell is running for re-election in 2020, and as the leader of the Senate, he could bring the bill up for action at any time.
  • With members of the House and Senate leaving town for a ten day break at the end of this week, the future of billions of dollars in disaster relief for victims of hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, and more remains in limbo in the halls of Congress, as the Senate struggles to finalize a deal, with opposition by President Donald Trump to extra aid for Puerto Rico one of the stumbling blocks. 'Now it’s time for Congress to pass the disaster relief bill,' Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) tweeted on Sunday. 'Our Panhandle communities have waited long enough,' he said, referring to the extreme damage caused by Hurricane Michael last year. But while the House has passed two different relief bills - a $14 billion package in January, and a $19 billion plan earlier this month - the Senate has been unable to come to an agreement, with money for Puerto Rico, and possible extra money to deal with the surge of immigrants along the southern border still in the mix. 'What is happening at the border is tragic, and we hope to address some of that in the supplemental that is coming, the disaster supplemental, to provide some of the resources that are needed there,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. But so far, that broader deal - which would likely push the price tag of the bill over $20 billion - has not come together. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is still holding back $16 billion in already approved disaster aid for areas hit by hurricanes in 2017, including $4 billion for Texas, and $8.2 billion for Puerto Rico. Last week, the feds released $1.4 billion in already approved disaster funding for states hit by disasters in 2018 - but left the much larger amount of 2017 money still on the shelf, even though officials have promised for months that it was about to be released. The 2018 money included $448 million for Florida, and nearly $35 million for Georgia to deal with Hurricane Michael damage - but much larger sums of aid, including money to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base - are caught up in the disaster bill before Congress. And one of the main reasons that disaster bill has been stuck in the Senate since January is President Trump's opposition to extra aid for Puerto Rico. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to have a vote on disaster aid before the Senate leaves town for Memorial Day. 'I'm not going to be sending members of either party home to these storm and flood ravaged states without at least some action,' McConnell said. If key Senators can't reach an agreement, the latest $19.1 billion House-passed bill is ready for action on the Senate calendar. The clock is ticking on any deal - the House is scheduled to leave town by Thursday afternoon.

Local News

  • From the Athens-Clarke County Government website... The Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department will suspend garbage, recycling, and leaf & limb collections on Monday, May 27, 2019 in recognition of the Memorial Day Holiday. If you have residential service & commercial service with us outside of downtown and your pickup day falls on Monday, May 27, 2019, your collection will be delayed by one day. For example, Monday will be serviced on Tuesday and Friday serviced on Saturday. We will resume our normal pickup schedule on Monday, June 3, 2019. Please make sure your trash and recycling roll-carts are out on the curb by 7:00 a.m. on your altered service pick up day. If you have commercial or residential service with us and are located within the Downtown District your service will be picked up on the regular schedule. Annually, the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department will alter collection service for the following holidays - New Year's Day, MLK Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Chris
  • The University of Georgia Press created an endowment to fund a publishing apprenticeship program for students from UGA’s graduate history program. The Peggy Heard Galis History Ph.D. Apprenticeship will allow history Ph.D. candidates to gain insight into and experience in the scholarly publishing process. A giving campaign organized by the UGA Press funded the endowment. UGA Press Advisory Council member Charley Tarver made the lead gift and served as the fundraising chairperson, while Lucy Allen served as the fundraising co-chair and helped connect local and out-of-state contributors with the endowment. Because of Tarver and Allen’s efforts, the campaign received nationwide donations now totaling over $100,000. The endowment honors Galis for her many years of service to the press, the history department and UGA. A resident of Athens, Galis and her husband, Denny Galis, are both graduates of UGA. She is a founding member and current vice chair of the UGA Press Advisory Council. She has long been actively involved in community, cultural and educational organizations, including the Clarke County School District, the Georgia Museum of Art, the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation, the Southern Historical Association and the Southern Foodways Alliance. “Peggy Galis is a human super-connector. We are thrilled to announce this teaching and learning program that honors her intellectual curiosity, her love of history and books, embodied in her deep commitment to UGA students and the UGA Press,” said UGA Press Director Lisa Bayer. The Peggy Heard Galis apprentices will be Ph.D. students in the UGA history department. The apprentices will receive an in-depth introduction to university-press publishing and participate in the process by which scholarly books are acquired, peer reviewed, developed, edited and approved for publication. In addition, they will learn how to communicate professionally with various parties in the industry, juggle multiple tasks at once and manage a project’s status long term. “Peggy Galis is the history graduate program’s secret weapon. She fundraises, hosts and promotes events, and asks astute questions of every speaker who darkens our door. Peggy is a PR department, development office, and Ph.D. dissertation committee rolled into one,” said Cindy Hahamovitch, B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor of History at UGA. “How perfect is it that an apprenticeship designed to teach history graduate students how publishing works will be named in Peggy’s honor?” Apprenticeships like these enhance the UGA learning environment, a primary goal of the Commit to Georgia Campaign. With over $1.2 billion raised, the campaign has already transformed UGA by way of new scholarships, learning opportunities, facilities and more.
  • Today is a mid-term day at UGA: it is the midpoint of the University of Georgia’s May session classes. This is also the last day to withdraw from the University of Georgia’s May classes. The Board of the University of Georgia Athletic Association is holding its annual spring meeting on St. Simons Island.  From Tim Hix, UGA Sports Communications... Reports by University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead, J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity, and an update on current and future facilities projects highlighted the first day of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors annual spring meeting here Thursday. Also on the first-day agenda was a special presentation, led by Deputy Director for Athletics Darrice Griffin, which described in detail the key objectives in the areas of student-athlete experience, compliance, community and academic success. Also presenting were Executive Associate AD Will Lawler (Compliance) and Deputy AD Magdi El Shahawy (Academics and Student Development). In his report, McGarity called attention to a number of athletic successes in the past year, some of which remain ongoing in post-season competition. In particular: • The baseball team, under head coach Scott Stricklin, is headed toward its second straight NCAA Tournament berth. • Other teams whose seasons are still in progress include the men’s golf, and track & field squads. • Also praised by McGarity for their successes were the Gymnastics, Equestrian, Football, Women’s Tennis and Softball teams, as well as the Men’s Basketball program, whose highly-rated recruiting class has generated much excitement in advance of the 2019-20 season. Deputy Director for Operations Josh Brooks updated the Board on three facility projects including: • The UGA Equestrian complex in Bishop, Ga., which will include meeting, sports medicine and locker rooms, as well as coaches’ offices, is projected for a September 2019 completion. • Construction of the new grandstand at the Magill Tennis Complex has begun. Completion of this project is scheduled for February of 2020. • UGA is currently in the midst of the schematic and conceptual design phase of the Butts-Mehre expansion and renovation project. Retired UGA professor Bill Barstow gave a presentation on the ‘’SilverDawgs,’’ a year-old hospitality group that he helped organized and still directs. The group is comprised mostly from UGA’s chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), and provides assistance to visitors at various on-campus events, including home football games, UGA commencement and other athletic contests. Barstow said the group — the idea of which was borne from a similar group that received visitors at the 2017 UGA football game at Notre Dame — had grown from its initial membership of 30 to the current total of 100 for the 2019 football season. In other first-day Board activity, Faculty Athletics Representative David Shipley presented the academic report. His remarks included the following highlights: • The men’s cross country squad compiled a 3.44 GPA for Spring semester, the highest among all Bulldog athletic teams. • The Georgia Volleyball and Men’s Basketball programs received public recognition for having Academic Progress Rates (APR) that placed them among the top 10 percent nationally for their sports. • Ninety-seven student-athletes received their degrees at Spring commencement on May 10. Day two of the annual meeting on Friday will include reports from the Student Wellness Committee, the board’s student representatives and a review of the fiscal year 2020 budget, as well as a fundraising update from Deputy AD Matt Borman.
  • The Corps of Engineers says the West Bank Day Use Park and the Sawnee Campground on Lake Lanier will remain closed through the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Corps is still working to repair damage from flooding earlier this spring.    The Sawnee Campground at Buford Dam is scheduled to reopen next month. Lake Lanier is expected to be extra busy through the Memorial Day weekend.
  • UGA opened Legion Pool Thursday: the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department says its pools open for the summer swim season tomorrow. The pools will be open through the first weekend of August.  From the Athens-Clarke County Government website… All ACC Leisure Services pools open Saturday, May 25 for the season. Memorial Day pool hours are 1:00 – 5:30 p.m. Pools close for the season Sunday, August 3. During the aquatics season, pools are open Tuesday-Friday and Sundays, 1:00 – 5:30 p.m. Pool hours are noon – 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The Bishop Park pool is open to the public on weekends, only. All pools are closed on Mondays for maintenance.Pool admission is $1 per person (cash only). Individual pool passes are available for $20 and a Family Pass (for up to four) costs $40. Passes may be purchased, cash only, at any department pool.ACC Leisure Services operates five public pools including Bishop Park, 705 Sunset Drive; East Athens Community Center, 400 McKinley Drive; Lay Park, 297 Hoyt Street; Memorial Park, 293 Gran Ellen Drive; and Rocksprings Park, 291 Henderson Extension. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis underwent emergency surgery at Piedmont Hospital in Athens on Thursday to remove a cyst that was on his brain. Mathis, an early enrollee from Romulus, Mich, had experienced severe sinus pain brought on by the change in climate, according to his father, Terence Mathis. The sinus issue factored into the cyst. “I want everyone to know my son is OK and will be back better than ever because of Coach (Kirby) Smart and the University of Georgia medical staff and coaching staff,” Terence Mathis told DawgNation on Thursday night. “The procedure today was a success, and I want to thank Coach Smart and Georgia for the way they treated my son and my family through all of this. Coach (James) Coley is at the hospital with my son right now, in fact.” D’Wan Mathis was in ICU on Thursday night as a precaution, Terence Mathis said. There will be a follow-up procedure, but Terence Mathis’ understanding is that it’s more routine in nature. “D’Wan’s mother, aunt and stepmom is down in Georgia at his side,” Terence Mathis said. “Please help us pray for a speedy recovery. It’s not about football right now, it’s about the DawgNation Family we have in Athens.” Mathis, who attended Oak Park (Mi.) High School, was a former Ohio State commit who signed with Georgia in December. Mathis learned in the days leading up to signing day that the Buckeyes were recruiting UGA backup Justin Fields through former QB Dwayne Haskins. Social media tips off D’Wan Mathis that Ohio State recruiting Justin Fields Mathis completed 15 of his 28 attempts for 113 yards in the UGA spring G-Day Game. He also provided one of the biggest highlights of the spring for the Bulldogs when he caught a double-reverse pass for a 39-yard touchdown from fellow receiver Matt Landers. RELATED: D’Wan Mathis turns heads at G-Day The former 4-star prospect rated as the nation’s No. 11 pro-style prospect on the previous cycle for the 247Sports Composite ratings. That made him the nation’s No. 311 overall recruit. Mathis’ status for fall drills in uncertain. The Bulldogs’ other scholarship quarterbacks are junior college transfer Stetson Bennett IV and All-American candidate Jake Fromm.   The post Georgia freshman QB D’Wan Mathis in ICU, recovering from brain cyst surgery appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ST. SIMONS ISLAND — Georgia football is way ahead of the game when it comes to bringing in money for 2019. The Bulldogs already had collected $33 million in ticket revenue as of April this year as compared to $21.4 million by the same time last year, according to the 2019 treasurer’s report. That report was given to the Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors at the annual end-of-year retreat, which is being held this year here at the King & Prince Resort. That increase is attributed to having a seventh home game this season as well as last year’s ticket price increases, according to board treasurer Ryan Nesbit. Georgia reports $29.6 million in actual ticket contributions, which exceeded the budgeted amount of $28.5 million. Expenses will also be up slightly to $5.3 because of the extra game and an ever-expanding support base. “When you have home games with Notre Dame and Texas A&M, that helps,” UGA President Jere Morehead said. “Our athletic fundraising has been exceptional this year, so I want to commend Greg McGarity and (director of development) Matt Borman and everybody involved,” President Jere Morehead said told the board during his report to open the meeting. Georgia did not reveal its budget for the coming fiscal year, but it is expected to set another record. That has been the case in each year since the advent of the SEC Network bolstered the league’s revenue distribution program. League members received an average of $43.1 million from the SEC in the revenue distribution, which divides profits equally between the 14 members plus the conference headquarters in Birmingham. Last year, the board raised Georgia’s average football ticket price from $50 to an average of $66.42 per game, on a two-tiered system. Games against Tier 1 opponents such as SEC and Power 5 opponents cost $75 per game. Games against Tier 2 opponents are $55 per game. That does not include the required donation for the right to purchase those tickets. Georgia’s budget was more than $143 million last year. It’s expected to approach $150 million this year when it is presented to the board for approval during Friday’s meeting. The Bulldogs approved the architects for its football facility expansion but provided few details beyond it will be started as soon as possible. Morehead used a portion of his opening marks to congratulate McGarity, Georgia’s athletic director, and his administration “for a fantastic year whether it be fundraising or on the competitive field of play.” “We’re continuing to see a great deal of success and accomplishment on and off the field,” Morehead said. The board responded with applause, which is unusual for these proceedings. Seventeen out of UGA’s 21 sports competed in NCAA postseason play this year. That includes baseball, men’s golf and track and field, which are currently active in postseason play. McGarity received a $25,000 raise last year to a salary of $700,000. He has chosen to work on year-to-year contracts going forward. Fifty-six percent of 511 student-athletes recorded a GPA of 3.0 or better in spring semester, according to faculty athletics rep Craig Shipley. That’s below the athletic department’s stated goal of 65 percent but above the national average. Twenty-seven athletes recorded a perfect 4.0 GPA. Men’s cross country led all sports with a 3.44 GPA. Georgia Athletic Association’s is called to order moments before conducting its final meeting of the 2019 Academic Year in the Retreat Room at the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. (Chip Towers/DawgNation)   The post Georgia football is raking in revenue at record rate for 2019 season appeared first on DawgNation.
  • MACON — As the marquee outside the Hargray Capitol Theatre boldly stated to passers by on Second Street, it was the Kirby Smart and Tom Crean Show here on Monday. The Georgia Bulldogs Club’s annual Coaches Caravan made its first stop here in Central Georgia Monday night and it was a quick one. Smart spoke for 7½ minutes and Crean for about twice that before a gathering of a couple or few hundred fans. There was no question-and-answer opportunity for the fans, which typically produces the most entertaining exchanges. No salvos were sent back Florida’s way. Before the program, the coaches did give the local press and team beat writers about 10 minutes for a Q&A backstage. After that, the coaches and an entourage of officers from UGA’s development office led by director Matt Borman adjourned for a private dinner with donors. The group will repeat the process Tuesday night in Augusta. Then that will be it for a while. There was very little in the way of hard news that came out of the session. The most pertinent was that all Bulldogs, current and incoming, are expected to meet academic eligibility requirements. That’s particularly refreshing considering Georgia had “a number of guys” who were sweating out spring semester grades, according to Smart. Other nuggets to come out of the 90-minute affair: Smart said no players other than linebacker Jaden Hunter are currently in the transfer portal. “None that I can think of,” Smart said. Smart congratulated Vince Dooley and praised the university for naming the field after him. “Who better to do it for than for a man who gave his life to the university and did a great job,” Smart said. We’re probably not going to see a lot more of outside linebacker Walter Grant at running back. “A lot of it will depend on the freshmen coming in, Kenny (McIntosh), and other guys at the position and how we feel, and outside ‘backer depth, too,” Smart said. “It was an insurance policy at best. It was kind of a research project to see what he can do.” Crean said he remains in constant contact with sophomore Nicolas Claxton as he works out for NBA scouts and he attended all his events at the NBA combine last week. He interjected that Claxton “could be a lottery pick” if he returned. Crean also said that he expects to sign another player before next season. Headlines from Coaches Caravan QB Jake Fromm will have more ‘offensive input’ in 2019 Kirby Smart expects all players, incoming and otherwise, to be eligible RB Zamir White on pace to be cleared for preseason camp Georgia fans flock to Macon landmark to hear from Kirby Smart           The post VIDEO: Kirby Smart, Tom Crean update fans on Georgia Bulldogs during ‘Coaches Caravan’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Incoming Miami grad-transfer receiver Lawrence Cager had the unique experience of getting to know both Kirby Smart and Mark Richt as head coaches the past few years. Smart has elevated Georgia football into an annual national championship contender in his three years leading the program. RELATED: Kirby Smart ‘proud’ to have worked for Mark Richt The Bulldogs played in the College Football Playoff Championship Game after he 2017 season, and narrowly missed making the CFP last season in controversial fashion. Smart coached a season under Richt at Georgia in 2005 and inherited a program on solid footing in 2016. WATCH: Mark Richt praised by rivals Saban, Spurrier, Fulmer Richt was was 145-51 over his 15 seasons at Georgia, his .740 winning percentage second only to Smart’s .762 (32-10). The differences in the disposition of Richt and Smart, Cager indicted, are like fire and ice. “Kirby was an All-SEC performer, so he can relate to you and he’s a player’s coach, he’s a guy you want to play under,” Cager said. “He gets fired up, just like coach (James) Coley.” Coley is the offensive coordinator at Georgia under Smart. But on the front end of Cager’s career, he recruited against his current boss, back when Smart was the defensive coordinator at Alabama. Cager began his career at Miami in 2015 with Coley calling the plays under then-Hurricanes’ head coach Al Golden. But then Golden was fired midway through the season, and Richt took over the Miami after being let go from Georgia following he 2015 season and returned to his alma mater to coach the Hurricanes from 2016-2018. Cager said Richt was much more reserved than what he’s seen from Smart. “With Coach Richt it was like, ‘We’re here to do this and that and handle business,’ ” Cager said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Let’s turn it up!’ Kirby will say ‘Let’s turn it up on them!’ “Coach Richt was more like, ‘Look, we are coming here, it’s Florida State, we know what we have to do, we need to line up and beat them.” Cager said the 43-year-old Smart is personable and comes across as being more invested emotionally than the 59-year-old Richt, who delivered messages in businesslike, matter-of-fact tone. Miami hired Richt to replace Golden after Cager’s freshman season. Cager said most of the players on the Miami football team had a pretty good idea Richt would be the Hurricanes next head coach. “Once Georgia let go of Coach Richt, this is his alma mater and his name kept coming up so we all thought we will hire him,” Cager said. “Once we heard it was us or Virginia, we knew for sure.” Richt changed the culture immediately, Cager said. “Golden came in here from Temple, he was more laid back,” Cager said. “Richt changed everything. We used to wear anything we wanted to practice, but then Coach Richt came in and wanted everyone uniform. It was old school, everyone would look the same, no earrings, the little stuff. “It helped a lot of people in the end. He’s a great guy. We were focused on winning championships, but his mentality was we are here to bring the swag back and it’s all about business.” Now it’s Cager who is all about business. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound receiver is expected to challenge for a starting spot immediately in the Bulldogs’ young receiving corps. DawgNation in South Florida Kenny McIntosh draws comparisons to Sony Michel, Jordan Scarlett Lawrence Cager eager for Georgia touch down ’The Blueprint,’ championship plans for South Florida star The post Fire and ice: Incoming Miami transfer compares Kirby Smart to Mark Richt appeared first on DawgNation.
  • MACON — Jake Fromm grew up and played high school ball 19 miles from the famous Hargray Capitol Theatre in downtown Macon where Kirby Smart was Monday. Fromm’s mother, Lee, works as a nurse in the Coliseum Medical Center, just a mile away across the Ocmulgee River. The Fromm’s family hunting lease is just 19 miles the other side of the hospital over in Plum Creek. So Jake Fromm is a big deal around. Then again, Fromm is pretty much a big deal everywhere these days. So Smart, here to speak at a small gathering of Georgia fans and Georgia Bulldogs Club members, dutifully acknowledged his quarterback and the many other Central Georgia players who dot the Bulldogs’ roster. “We’ve gotten a lot good players from here,” Smart said at the opening of his brief remarks before a crowd of a few hundred. “The guy who takes a snap from center and the guy who snaps it.” Fromm, obviously, is the player who takes the snaps. Trey Hill, who was Fromm’s teammate at Houston County High in Warner Robins, is the center snapping the ball to him. Hill played left tackle most of the time in high school, but did have occasion to snap to Fromm every once in a while. But now he’s the one replacement on Georgia’s heralded offensive line. He must replace graduated senior and NFL draft pick Lamont Gaillard. About that, there’s some question. About Fromm, there is none. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior is considered a All-America candidate and Heisman Trophy as the Bulldogs head into their fourth season under Smart, once again as a Top 5 team. Fromm does so having played in every game, starting all but one and in position to set the school’s all-time record for completion percentage. This year, Fromm will be operating under a new offensive coordinator. James Coley succeeded Jim Chaney in the role after taking over as quarterbacks coach last year. Smart thinks that is a good thing. “I think we’ve got some more quarterback guys around him with Coley working with him and he’s excited about that,” Smart said. “For him, it’s been a transition through the coordinator position where he’s kind of a sponge, he’s got more of an opinion now. He understands what we’re trying to do offensively.” Fromm has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 5,364 yards with 54 touchdowns and 13 interceptions at this point. The thought is the Bulldogs will throw the ball more under Coley, who did that as coordinator at Miami and Florida State. Smart believes Fromm can handle whatever Coley can dish out, and will also have a say-so on what the Bulldogs do as well. “Any time you’ve got a three-year starter,he can give you input on things he likes about the offense, things he dislikes and things he thinks he can be successful,” Smart said. “That input is helpful, it’s always helpful.” The post Kirby Smart expects QB Jake Fromm to have more ‘offensive input’ in 2019 appeared first on DawgNation.