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local govt & politics

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Georgia woman campaigns for sheriff who shot her

A Georgia sheriff has received an unusual endorsement in his bid for re-election.

Victor Hill, who is running for sheriff against four other competitors, accidentally shot Gwenevere McCord last year, yet she threw her support behind him in a 12-second robocall to county voters late last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported

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“Hi! This is Gwenevere McCord and on May 24 I will be voting for Sheriff Victor Hill because he’s the most effective sheriff this county has ever had. Please join my family and I and vote Sheriff Victor Hill,” the Jonesboro resident said in the recording.

It is believed to be the first time McCord, who was critically injured in the shooting, has publicly made any statement about Hill, who is seeking a third term as sheriff.

McCord was shot May 3 while Hill was demonstrating police maneuvers to her at a Gwinnett County model home where McCord worked as a real estate broker at the time.

McCord and Hill were the only two people inside the home at the time of the shooting. McCord was shot in the abdomen and had numerous surgeries and other procedures. She lost a kidney, spleen and part of her large intestine as a result of the shooting, her father Ernest McCord said previously.

Hill was charged with reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

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The head of the county Democratic party said McCord’s endorsement seems to show there’s no bad feelings between the two.

“She said it was an accident and now she’s proving that by endorsing him,” said Pat Pullar, chairwoman of the Clayton County Democratic Party and a political consultant.

Nonetheless, another political observer called the endorsement “unusual” in a political career marked by setbacks and comebacks.

“It’s unusual that a sheriff would have shot someone other than carrying out his responsibility as sheriff,” said Charles Bullock, professor of political science at The University of Georgia. “And it is unusual that the victim would turn around and say ‘although he shot me, he’s a great person to return to office’.

With four other challengers in the race, the crowded field may “suggest that a number of people view Sheriff Hill as vulnerable,” Bullock said.

Donald Trump in Dayton

Super Tuesday highlights

A look at who won and who lost on Super Tuesday. Staff video by Anthony Shoemaker.

Why students don't have to stand for Pledge of Allegiance in Florida

Compiled from Associated Press and Florida News Service reports.

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Students excused from having to daily recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Florida public schools would no longer have to stand and hold their hands over their heart either, under a bill that is headed to the House floor.

The House Education Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill (HB 1403) that would change how students are notified of their right to skip the daily pledge and what the excused student must do during the pledge.

Current law requires schools to conspicuously post a notice, telling students they don’t have to recite the pledge if a parent asks in writing for a student to be excused. The law also requires excused students to still stand and hold their hands over their hearts while the pledge is recited.

The bill would allow the notice to instead be placed in a student handbook, and excused students would no longer be required to stand or hold their hands over their hearts.

The bill was filed after a parent of a child at a Panhandle school told the school district it was not following notice requirements. A Senate companion bill has not yet been heard in the first of its three required committees.

Mayor didn't have time to hear citizens' concerns, rushed to pizza party

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A Michigan mayor said residents who wanted to plead with the City Council to save their homes couldn't speak because officials had a pizza party planned after the meeting.

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Randy Walker, the mayor of Garden City, and City Council members walked out of a session without listening to the concerns of at least seven former homeowners facing eviction.

Walker said the meeting’s main purpose was to swear in new officials.

“It’s a happy occasion,” Walker said. “We had food waiting. We had pizza coming out of the oven at 7:45 (p.m.)”

“That’s a (poor) excuse,” Nicholis P. Dunsky told The Detroit News. “We felt like we didn’t matter.”

Dunsky's home was foreclosed because of back taxes, and he faces eviction. He brought his family to the council meeting.

According to The News, Walker said those meetings generally don't allow public comment.

Read more here.

Cute photo: Young boy awarded Junior Deputy badge

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A young boy was awarded a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Junior Deputy badge by a SJSO deputy.

Kristine Gill captured the interaction between Deputy Rafael Fuentes and her grandson Emerson in a heartwarming the photo.

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Gill said Emerson was playing in the driveway with his parents and Fuentes stopped to award the boy a Junior Deputy badge.

Fuentes even turned on his siren and lights for him, Gill said.

Gill wrote that it is nice to see "great officers out there."

Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan told WJAXTV that Fuentes "is very involved with children to include Special Olympics and our Police Athletic League. He is currently our Guy White Recipient, which is our Deputy of the Year."

Florida lawmakers will live on minimum wage for a week

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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At least 18 Florida lawmakers plan to live on a minimum wage this week to draw attention to efforts to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Senators Geraldine Thompson and Victor Torres from Orlando and John Cortes from Kissimmee are participating in the minimum wage challenge.              Starting Monday, the lawmakers will live for five days on $17 per day.

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That figure represents what a minimum wage worker has after taxes, childcare and housing are deducted from an $8.05-an-hour paycheck. The lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- will also go grocery shopping with a minimum wage worker at the start of the week.  State Sen. Dwight Bullard and Torres are pushing legislation to increase Florida's current minimum wage from $8.05 to $15 an hour.

An increasing number of cities around the country are moving toward a $15 minimum wage.

State senator resigns immediately

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Quick Facts:

  • Senator Rick Brinkley pleads guilty to federal charges 
  • Thursday morning agencies announced six charges against former senator Rick Brinkley
  • All charges involve an embezzlement case against the senator
  • He resigned effective immediately Thursday morning. 

State Senator Rick Brinkley pleaded guilty to federal charges on Thursday morning.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and tax evasion.

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Several agencies charged an Oklahoma senator in an embezzelment investigation on Thursday. The US Attorney of the Northern District, Danny Williams Sr., held a news conference with the FBI, the Criminal Investigation unit of the FBI and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to announce charges against Rick Brinkley.

FOX23's Lynn Casey attended the conference:

<iframe src="//storify.com/FOX23News/rick-brinkley-faces-federal-charges/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/FOX23News/rick-brinkley-faces-federal-charges.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script>[View the story "Rick Brinkley faces federal charges " on Storify]

Officials announced five federal wire fraud chages involving money from the Better Business Bureau. Brinkley also faces a count of tax evasion for hiding part of that money from the IRS.

Investigators linked the embezzlement to a significant gambling probelm.  Brinkley could face 20 years in prison for the wire fraud and three years on tax evasion. No one else is being investigated.

Brinkley resigned in early August amid allegations of embezzlement at the nonprofit agency he where he once worked. He settled with the agency in an agreement with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.   His resignation would have gone into effect Dec. 31.

The senator resigned effective immediately on Thursday morning. 

The immediate resignation was encouraged by Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones, who said "It's one thing to ive him the benefit of the doubt."

"It's another when he admits guilt," Jones said. "He's not serving his constituents and needs to come off the state payroll now."

Brinkley could still face state charges. 

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