UPDATE: DeKalb County, Residents in “Abusive Relationship”

The editorial staff at DSW is reprinting the article below in its entirety.  We believe it makes an important point concerning the corruption in DeKalb County that is driving taxpayers to separate and create honest local government.  It also is analogous to the corruption and incompetence in the administration of DeKalb County Schools, aided and abetted by the inept DeKalb Board of Education, driving taxpayers to demand the right to separate and create honest, competent and successful city-based school systems.  Our kids can’t wait!    

Reprinted with the author’s permission from North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch
OpinionBy Virginia DuPre      
Within the professional circles that work with domestic violence, the definition of emotional abuse includes: making the abused feel crazy, playing mind games on the abused, controlling what the abused does–who they talk to/limiting involvement and access to others, making light of the abuse, not taking the concerns about the abuse seriously, saying the abuse is not happening, shifting responsibility from the abuser to the abused–blaming the abused for the wrongdoing.

DeKalb County is guilty of all of the above in its actions toward its citizens. House Bill 22 introduced by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver of Druid Hills illustrates and exacerbates the problem because it only locks the doors on those neighborhoods ready to take the initiative of trying to find their way out of the abuse.

In an abusive relationship, it takes a lot of courage, effort, and persistence to leave an abuser. Leaving takes a plan and it takes supporters from outside the family system who are willing to help provide safety for the victims and a way for them to get on their feet and support themselves. Very well intentioned people who want the best for the abused say, “Stay…work it out…itʼs better for the family and the children to stay together.”

DeKalb residents need a pathway to get out from under their abusive county government. Representative Oliverʼs bill does just the opposite. House Bill 22 locks the door on Dekalb residents who, after years of trying to make it work, now dare to take the risk and make the investment in trying to leave the county by incorporating themselves as a city.

Rather than addressing the problem of the abuser–DeKalbʼs dysfunctional government—this bill demands residents to stay and ʻwork it outʼ with their abuser. It locks the doors for a minimum of two years on any neighborhoods working on leaving the county by annexation or incorporation and it requires those who want to leave to get permission from the county before they leave. Getting permission from the abuser to leave is a very dangerous thing that can result in death in actual domestic violence situations.

The primary concern driving this bill, Iʼm sure, is concern about DeKalb County government losing tax dollars to the new cities. But this bill merely places protection around the corrupt govt and not behind the hard working, taxpaying citizens of DeKalb County. DeKalb governmentʼs loss of the tax dollars of the communities that want to leave is a consequence of its own misuse of power and the resulting lack of trust by her people. It is DeKalb Countyʼs elected officials problem to figure out, not the people who have been pummeled by this govt over and over again who want to organize and pay the cost of leaving the county.

Some would say this is a race issue. Certainly, generations of racism and classism play a part in where we are as a county now, but this is not ultimately about race or class. To boil it down to race is an attack on black individuals as well as black communities who are just as fed up with the corruption of DeKalb govt as other citizens. DeKalbʼs corruption and abuse is about a misuse of power and about corruption in the executive branch — not about race or class.

People of Georgia, DeKalb residents need your help in getting a safe pathway to local independence. Hereʼs how you can help: please tell your representative to vote against House Bill 22. DeKalb residents, let Mary Margaret Oliver [mmo@mmolaw.com] know that you want her to support any of her constituents who are ready to make the effort and pay the costs of freeing themselves of the abuse of the DeKalb County Govt .

Virginia DuPre is a resident of unincorporated DeKalb County.

UPDATE:  The author just sent us an update which we are including here:  “Further word has it to contact Representative Amy Carter [call:  404-656-6801;  e-mail: amy.carter@house.ga.gov] and ask her to stop the bill (HB22) from going further.  The bill has not made it to subcommittee and can be stopped by the chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee; Carter is chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee.”                          DSW Note:  Amy Carter is also a teacher for Lowndes County at Lowndes High School.

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18 Responses to UPDATE: DeKalb County, Residents in “Abusive Relationship”

  1. DeKalbMama says:

    It’s certainly easy for MMO, a resident of DeKalb’s most successful city and home to what is arguably the best public school district in the state, to refuse the rest of us the right to incorporate our communities. I wish the entire county could be dismantled and reassembled.

  2. WL says:

    MMO is a resident of unincorporated DeKalb.

  3. educator90 says:

    In Praise of Godzilla by, Kevin Levitas in Atlanta Business Chronicle

    One thing you can say about Godzilla: He is up front about his purpose. When the giant lizard attacks a city, he breathes fire, crushes buildings — does the whole monster thing right out there for everyone to see. Would that the legislation introduced by our elected leaders was always as direct.

    Rather than breathing fire and crushing buildings like the monster of Japanese film fame, many bills introduced this time each year propose instead to blow smoke and to crush dreams. House Bill 22 is such a creature [“Proposal aims to slow formation of new cities,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, Dec. 21, 2012]. It is designed to strip away the fundamental right of citizens to determine for themselves the form of government that best serves them. Anyone opposing the creation of a new city should do so directly and on a case-by-case basis, but not by attempting to twist Georgia code to make it virtually impossible to create any new city.

    Among the many legislative booby traps set by HB 22 are the following:

    1. Limiting a new city to one comprised of the entire unincorporated area of a county or, alternatively, requiring the sponsor of any bill creating a new city to be responsible for drafting a plan for the rest of the county. Specifically, the plan must provide “for the remaining unincorporated area of the county to be incorporated through annexations to existing municipalities, the creation of one or more additional municipalities, or a combination of annexations and new municipalities.” The former concept of creating a countywide city, such as the “city of DeKalb,” is decades old and has remained unpopular during all that time — for good reason. Furthermore, the latter scheme requiring the sponsor of a cityhood bill to develop a countywide development plan is inappropriate since those are decisions for the residents in those areas to make for themselves. In addition, the latter scheme imposes an undue and unnecessary burden on the sponsor of bills to establish new cities. Of course, HB 22’s requirements are not intended as serious proposals. Rather, they are so-called “poison pills” designed to destroy cities before they can be given life.

    2. Prohibiting any change to the boundaries of a proposed city during the legislative session when it would be voted upon. The purpose here? To block potential compromises, thus bettering the odds that any cityhood bill would be defeated.

    3. Mandating a needless, massive, costly and unfunded “study” of not just the proposed municipality, but also every inch of unincorporated territory in the rest of the county. In other words, the bill demands a study of hundreds of square miles for a city that may be comprised of around 10.

    4. Creating a barrier around existing cities and requiring their permission for new cities to form near them. Under HB 22, no city could have a border within three miles of the city of Atlanta without its consent, potentially walling off and leaving stranded huge swaths of unincorporated DeKalb and Fulton. The bill would ensure, however, that existing municipalities have plenty of land to annex.

    5. Dictating to committees how they must run their meetings when considering a cityhood bill and requiring certification from the chairs of those committees that they have complied with the multitudinous and improvident dictates of the bill. These needless requirements are intentionally designed to further retard a cumbersome process.

    With HB 22, it is the hidden path of destruction that should be of concern to those who value self-determination and transparency in government. Georgians deserve better than this. Unlike combating Godzilla, however, countering HB 22 requires only the exercise of common sense by legislative leaders to reject the bill and its imprudent proposals.

    Levitas is a former member of the General Assembly who served as a state representative from 2007-2010.

  4. DeKalbMama says:

    I’m sorry you’re right that MMO doesn’t live in Decatur. That just happens to be where the base of her support rests and where she owns a business.

  5. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Orson is a huge supporter of MMO.

  6. bettyandveronica1 says:

    That figures.

  7. thedeal2 says:

    You would think that relating living here to abuse was a gross exaggeration unless you actually live here. So sad.

  8. educator90 says:

    Don’s newest blog post is an eye opener of how we were “blessed” with Atkinson. (sarcasm inserted) For those with high blood pressure take your pills before reading. It’s what we suspected, but really worse. I commend Don for speaking out and letting us know the truth!!!


  9. DecaturMax says:

    Doesn’t Mary Margeraet Oliver’s law practice draw much of her income from being a court appointed Guardian.Lucrative work as long as teh county keeps it coming. She has a lot to lose if she does not suupport the Dekalb county agenda.

  10. You go, Don!

    Quite frankly, this is one reason why we think that VERY FEW things should be discussed by or voted on by this Board behind closed doors.

    The Board voting process described by Don McChesney is so very 6th grade! “Hey! Let’s all vote against her!” For this reason, alone, the tally screen of votes at Board meetings should never be shown until ALL votes on an agenda item have been irrevocably cast. Who can forget the time Sarah Copelin-Wood asked the Board chair, we think it was Bowen, to remind her how she was supposed to vote?

    DCSS is serious business — a billion dollar business — children’s futures, their lives, are at stake — and we have the monkeys running the show.

  11. This blog is about DeKalb County Schools — the corruption, the incompetence, the blatant racism and ethnic discrimination, the friends-and-family hiring, the bloated central office (Palace) filled with overpaid, under-talented F & F, the thugs and gangsters, all lining their pockets with our hard-earned tax dollars while stealing years (that can never be recaptured) from our children.

    Late last night, we saw an article in the North Druid Hills Patch that was a perfect analogy to what is happening in DeKalb County Schools. We obtained permission to reprint the article in full — DeKalb County, Residents in “Abusive Relationship.

    Today Mary Margaret Oliver’s Chief of Staff sent DSW a defensive e-mail and asked that we print a rebuttal from MMO. We considered not doing it because, after all, this is a blog about DeKalb County Schools, not about creating new cities or Mary Margaret’s actions in the legislature and we reprinted this post because we very much agreed with the analogy. In an editorial meeting we decided to print MMO’s letter for our readers. However, we would like to first tell our readers that in the 4 years DeKalb School Watch blog has been publishing our findings about DeKalb County Schools, we have not heard one peep from Mary Margaret Oliver — not one. Until today, that is.

    Several of us remember Mary Margaret Oliver when she represented an area of DeKalb that was part of the attendance area for Chamblee High School. And what we want to know is, where have you been, MMO, as the situation with DeKalb County Schools has gone from bad to worse to desperate?” Why are you writing divisive opinions like the one below that only serve to anger those in parts of the county that would not be happy if Dunwoody and Brookhaven broke away by feeding the idea that this move is about money? This is not about Dunwoody and others wishing to take their money away – it is TRULY about the anguished cries for independence and control over the destiny of their children’s futures! We are deeply disturbed that Mary Margaret cannot (or will not) see the taxpayers perspectives. Has MMO ever spoken with Nancy Jester about her portfolio proposal? It’s a good idea and the most fair way to divvy up the tax dollars as well as the control. Why not collaborate with Nancy, who has been fighting the good fight from inside the system? We are having a lot of trouble with MMO’s latest attempt to single-highhandedly take charge of the problems with our school system.

    Response from Mary Margaret Oliver:
    This is Mary Margaret Oliver and I reside in unincorporated DeKalb, not a city, and have for my entire life. I am a graduate of Druid Hills High School and have represented parts of DeKalb County in the State House of Representatives and State Senate for most of the years since 1987.

    The current process by which Dunwoody and Brookhaven have taken choice high dollar value commercial property into new cities, leaving all of the rest of the county with increased financial challenges, is flawed. I believe new cities are coming to DeKalb, and the purpose of HB 22 is to improve the process and add requirements of financial viability and values of economic development that are positive for the entire county population. I may even vote for a new city at some point in the future for my middle area of DeKalb. At present, I am concerned about how we are proceeding, and the energy spent on accusations, instead of the tough economic and planning tasks that are involved in creating a new city.

    If I were authorized personally, I would design new cities for all the county that would fairly distribute the population and tax base at one time, and allow citizens to vote on a comprehensive plan–a possible goal of HB 22. In voting for possible new cities, they could vote for a plan in which they decide what services they want new cities to provide and what services they want to purchase from the county. Such a process might encourage all of DeKalb at one time to decide on its governance structures that best suit them personally and all of us together. The process of creating new cities does not have to be piecemeal, and should be done in one big conversation and analysis. This would be my personal preference.

    I am happy to discuss any of these issues with you if you would like to call or email me. Thank you for your interest.

    Mary Margaret
    404-656-0265 Legislative Office

  12. Interesting point, Max. Can you provide us with any documentation that MMO’s law practice is mostly about being a court-appointed guardian? If confirmed that would be very interesting to print. Very telling, too.

  13. WL says:

    How did this become an attack on MMO? Virginia DuPre gives an emotional argument for incorporation that unfortunately has no basis in reality. We all would like self-determination in matters pertaining to our school and decisions that most affect our community. Incorporation doesn’t get us to that place. Granted, we would be able to make some choices that we cannot now make. But our economic well-being would still be interwoven with that of the County, and if the remaining unincorporated areas become starved because we’ve taken away their economic sustenance, then we all suffer. That’s all that MMO is trying to say in her bill. I’ve talked with her, and she’s not opposed to cities. And we’ll need her help, and that of the rest of the DeKalb Delegation, and the General Assembly, if we hope to ever move forward with any of our goals. So how about working cooperatively with her and the others? Talk with her, and you’ll find she’s on our side. Honestly I believe that..

  14. All due respect, WL. Mary Margaret Oliver was NO help during that whacky legislative attempt to sell SPLOST by promising to reduce the size of the school board. She inserted herself in that discussion and really only listened to a select group of her own insiders. Now it certainly looks like she is attempting to prevent say, Dunwoody from breaking away and running their own schools. Conversely to your argument that this move would ‘harm’ other parts of the county, we are outraged at the absolute, irrefutable harm the rest of the county and their elected board members has caused to the Dunwoody schools and students. Same for others. We simply believe that if a community is capable and willing to form and maintain their own schools, they should not be prevented from doing so. Otherwise, you as a legislator and a ‘neighbor’ are essentially holding them hostage to a mismanaged, corrupt, dysfunctional and failing school system. Perhaps Dunwoody and others could sue simply on the grounds that we find it outrageous and a violation of the use of tax dollars to spend so many millions on attorneys — ESPECIALLY if what is rumored is true – that this board intends to sue the state board? That’s so far off the track of their task to educate children that it’s not even believable to anyone with the good fortune of having decently run schools.

  15. ShooShee says:

    If I were authorized personally, I would design new cities for all the county that would fairly distribute the population and tax base at one time, and allow citizens to vote on a comprehensive plan–a possible goal of HB 22.

    So, Mary Margaret, are you also willing to do the same thing statewide? Why not take all the tax dollars collected statewide and redistribute them evenly around the entire state? I think you should think this all the way through. Why is this a good idea for DeKalb, but maybe not so good for the state as a whole?

  16. momfromhe11 says:

    MMO was also a main player in the redrawing of the school board district lines = remember the video of that meeting? This redrawing effectively moved McChesney out of most of his old district, and (strangely enough) the district included more of the neighborhoods who supported Orson in his SPLOST mis-information campaign. MMO and Orson are neighbors…

  17. DecaturMax says:

    I suspect that it is very hard to trace the amount earned as a court appointed Guardian. Most of the money probably does not to come from the county directly. The court assigns the business, but most of the billing probably goes to the party represented by that Guardian.

  18. gmm says:

    MMO and ORSON are democrats – what did you expect?

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