Rules from radicals: Win by causing chaos.

Or, if you can’t beat them, beat them by joining them and muddy the waters.
Or, cynical politics at its finest.

If you follow the state legislature closely, you may recall that before the last session, a bill, (HB22) — sponsored by Mary Margaret Oliver, 82nd; Michele Henson, 86th; Howard Mosby, 83rd; and Dar’shun Kendrick, 93rd — was introduced to halt the incorporation of any new cities in DeKalb. More accurately, it rendered any new city movement dead on arrival because of new, onerous requirements. That idea fell flat.

In March, during the session, SB270 — sponsored by Fran Millar, 40th — was introduced to provide for a referendum on the City of Lakeside. A group from that community came together, held meetings, took donations and completed a feasibility study. A study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government* (at UGA) showed that a City of Lakeside is feasible with no tax increases.

HB22 was going nowhere fast. Enter HB665, allowing for the creation of a City of Briarcliff or Tucker or Muddy Waters. Oddly enough, HB665 was sponsored by Mary Margaret Oliver-82nd, the same legislator who submitted HB22 that would have halted all new cityhood movements. Even stranger, HB665 just proposes to create “a new municipality”. Contrast that with SB270 which states clearly a proposal for the City of Lakeside.

Why would anyone who felt strongly enough to file a bill to halt new cities in DeKalb file another bill to start “a new municipality” in the very same session?

Folks, this is cynical politics at its best. HB665 was a Trojan Horse that used the hope for a new city as the “gift”. Once inside the cityhood debate, Briarcliff could be pitted against Lakeside. Throw in a dose of conflict with Tucker and, from the outside, it looks like chaos.

Now, with Operation Muddy Waters firmly underway, the AJC published this article: “Calls growing for pause in cityhood movement.” That was the plan all along. That was the stated goal of HB22 and the unwritten goal of HB665. That sure is some interesting maneuvering.

*For more than 85 years, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government has worked with public officials throughout Georgia and around the world to improve governance and people’s lives. From Georgia’s early days as a largely agrarian state with a modest population to its modern-day status as a national and international force in business, industry, and politics with a population of almost 10 million, the Institute has helped state and local government leaders navigate change and forge strong directions for a better Georgia.
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25 Responses to Rules from radicals: Win by causing chaos.

  1. DT says:

    Why not call her out by name? It was Mary Margaret Oliver. See here from a post from a year ago;

    http://dunwoodytalk.blogspot.com/2013/02/mary-margaret-oliver-dekalb-ga-house.html

  2. ursokm16 says:

    Interesting, but why put that on DeKalb School Watch? Are we watching new cities here too? All we hear from proponents is “cityhood has nothing to do with forming new school systems”. Obviously it does–so why keep saying that? This is the problem with cityhood–its not the cities, the people behind them just can’t keep their stories straight. School Watch–you guys have enought to think about here–don’t open this can of worms on this site.

  3. It is illustrative of what is wrong with politics and DeKalb in particular. I know that you can take the “politics” out of politics but I think we can discuss the ridiculous inconsistency of some of the politicians. Sadly, our school systems are political machines. They are job machines. They are tax machines. And many in Georgia are not successful. The power players trying to muddy the waters of the cityhood efforts, in our opinion, are only trying to ensure the controls stay in the favored hands. We’re talking billions of dollars — in fact, school systems account for half the entire state budget.

  4. ursokm16 says:

    We can probably think of dozens of things that are illustrative of what is wrong with politics–are we going to post all of those things on a school blog?

  5. howdy1942 says:

    @ursokm16 – Yes, some of the reasons for forming new cities in Dekalb may be attributed to school systems. But there is much more than just that single reason. I live in Tucker and I’ve been to virtually all of the Tucker2014 meetings and only once have I heard a question concerning schools come up and that was regarding the impact that the formation of the City of Tucker would have on the Dekalb County School System. The answer to that question was that the DCSS and the City of Tucker would be two separate entities. I’ve also been to a number of the meetings of the Lakeside City Alliance where the same question was asked and the response clearly stated that forming a city at this time needed to be separated from the schools because there is, as yet, no mechanism by which a separate school system can be formed.

    I think most residents in the proposed city areas are satisfied with police services, fire protection services, waste pickup services. emergency services, and even tax services. However, so many of our residents, including myself, are simply fed up with the endless corruption in our government as well as our school system. The previous administration of Vernon Jones royally alienated residents in our community and, I think, those in other communities in North Dekalb. For example, despite overwhelming opposition from our community, the CEO and Commission forced us to accept strip clubs. To rub salt into that wound. the CEO vetoed a 4-3 decision by the Commission that would have prevented the extension of operating hours for these bars and strip clubs until 4:00 a.m. – a time when many of our residents are beginning to get on the road to go to work. I’ve seen the results of that decision first hand – a drunk racing down Brockett Road didn’t make a curve, left the road, swerved in front of a driver and careened across the road and into a massive pine tree – the result was gruesome – he was decapitated. Suppose there had been a school bus coming the other way or another car or even you? Moreover, good business simply closed, especially those located close to strip clubs and bars. Several were broken into, others were littered with trash. So corruption and arroganice were issues. Another issue – Zoning is a big, big issue and that is one of the three services Tucker proposes to take over. We think that residents of Tucker can best decide the interests of Tucker community when it comes to zoning – certainly much better than Dekalb County has done. Many of the strip clubs and bars have now closed and both residents and businesses in our community are talking about repairing the damage that they did.

    Let me come back to the issue of corruption. The current CEO has been indicted by a grand jury and will shortly be tried. We have had extensive corruption in the Department of Water Management. Poor project management and oversight allowed shoddy work on a sewage treatment facility. Because this facility must now be, for the most part, torn down, the $7 million spent by taxpayers will largely be wasted and additional millions will need to be spent doing this work over. Moreover, there has been endless wrangling between the CEO and Commission. There have been an endless string of “resignations” after wrongdoing has been reported in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. This has now reached such a point that the Interim CEO Lee Mays, to his credit, is now conducting community meetings to measure the desire to change the form of city government.

    Finally, those of us in Tucker want to see our community preserved. Tucker has a long history. We have Main Street, we have Tucker High School, we have the Tucker Post Office, we have Cofer Brothers and Ace Hardware that have been instrumental for years in the development of our community. We have Tucker Square, Tucker Middle School, and Tucker Cement Company (now TUCCO). We have Tucker First Baptist Church, Tucker United Methodist Church. We want our community to remain intact and not see parts of our community splintered.

    I also want to be straightforward with you – until the governance and management of the Dekalb County School System can take steps to clean up the administration, to start being honest and open with our people, to get the emphasis off adults and into the classroom, to start treating our teachers with respect and not suing them in court, to keep its commitments to our teachers, to listen (not just hear) our community – yes, yes I will support the development of new school districts. Again, I think that the Tucker community can govern and manage a local school system much, much better than the Dekalb system. The most recent example of what I’m talking about was the manner in which the school board dealt with the Druid Hills Cluster petition. Residents of that community were seeking an alternative that did not mention cityhood and would have continued to be within the jurisdiction of Dekalb County. The primary reason that the school board slapped this petition down was that, in the words of Michael Thurmond, it took funds from the County. I’ve been following the Dekalb County School System for years. Our two daughters each spent all 12 years in the school system and are graduates of Tucker High School. Our youngest graduated 20 years ago and I know what the quality of Dekalb schools was at that time. We were ranked in the top 5% nationally. Now we are the only school district in the nation on probation. Why? I don’t fault our students nor do I fault their parents nor do I fault our teachers. I’m just fed up with indicted and convicted superintendents, indicted and convicted officers of the school system, with four superintendents in four years, with endless promises not kept, with administrators wasting SPLOST funds to buy administrators new cars while having the audacity to tell us that we voted to authorize such a move, and on an on. In short, the majority of this school board and the administration are oblivious to those of us who live here in Tucker and I think in other communities in North Dekalb. They don’t listen. They remain oblivious to our concerns. They see “race” when minorities are already an overwhelming majority in Dekalb County and their decisions reflect that. They promise us that they will find out who leaked confidential information about other candidates for superintendent who were in the running with Dr. Atkinson, but have yet to deliver. They “terminate” Dr. Atkinson and yet condition a lucrative severance package on a promise that she would not talk. The public has a right to know what happened and Dr. Atkinson has a right to speak. I’m not trying to defend her because I don’t know her and there are others who can better judge her performance. If she wasn’t performing, she should have been fired with no severance package. If she was performing, then just why was the board so anxious to see her gone?

    Well, I’ve said a lot, but I’ve not seen or heard anything about cities being formed in order to create school separate school system. But if the school board continues to refuse proposed alternatives and continues to relentlessly maintain the status quo without any consideration of any alternatives, then the new cities may well become the vehicle by which alternatives are considered and implemented.

  6. d says:

    I will be surprised if the Constitution is amended to allow independent school districts – which does have a lot to do with the cityhood movement. (I will say, I have been surprised before, though). I think what will kill the new independent school district movement is the proposed language – language that only affects new cities. Why would someone in a place that hasn’t had a new city formed in 80 years care or vote yes to such an amendment? Tell me why someone in Colquitt, Dade, Jeff Davis, Chatham, Lee, Habersham, or Bibb Counties would care about this? They don’t. There is no motivation for them to vote yes. Why would someone in Lithonia vote yes? I am sure there are some in Lithonia that would love to create an independent Lithonia School District but would not be able to. I am curious to see how the cityhood movement plays out, but I think it will be a long time before any new city gets its own school district.

  7. Yes, DT. You — and others — are quite correct in asking for the names of those elected officials who foment chaos and seek to thwart the will of their constituents. (Please see edited article.) And when election time rolls around, remember these names: Oliver, 82nd; Henson, 86th; Mosby, 83rd; Kendrick, 93rd. These people apparently care only about amassing personal power, NOT working with taxpayers to eliminate rampant corruption and improve our quality of life.

  8. ursokm16 says:

    Howdy howdy–well put and you’ve obviously been involved a while. You’ve got some info in there I have seen. It harkens back to the list of problems that SchoolWatch One was keeping. However, to the point of this post and my reply–do you agree with the writer that your Tucker city movement (as well as Briarcliff) is not genuine and part of a delay and obfuscation strategy against the Lakeside City idea? Also, to my point, would you agree that the writer’s complaint of delay and obfuscation belongs on the School Watch blog, opening a discussion that if continued would be a distraction from school quality issues–a distraction based on nothing more than a cynical fringe perspective on what is obviously a much more complex tapestry about cityhood in that particular area of DeKalb? We can “go there” here, but it will dominate the schoolwatch blog I assure you.

  9. @ursokm: We are fine with this post. We often venture outside the strict confines of school discussions if the tangent is relevant. This is just a discussion blog monitored by community volunteers who have jobs outside the schools/government. We have no editor making decisions and really don’t have any intent to add one to the mix.

  10. @ursokm16
    Please re-read the article. The post is not stating that the Briarcliff or Tucker city movements are “not genuine.” The author seems to be suggesting that the people that are genuinely involved in those city movements have been cynically used by Rep. Oliver. They do genuinely want a city but she has no intention of letting another city form in DeKalb. The people working hard for a Briarcliff city are just being used to create chaos so no city gets formed.

    This article is no distraction. The chaos created by elected officials about the city movement has been going on for years in the school system. The same architects are to blame. Outside of Rep. Taylor’s bill that allows for new districts to form, we have seen no serious interest in reforming education in DeKalb. Thanks for your “assurance” but the “complex tapestry” needs to get aired out so we can all quit choking on its dust and mildew.

    We must “go there”. See, the chaos of the flip-flop from HB22 to HB665 is exactly the same chaos some elected officials and district administrators have used for years to destroy our schools. They create myths about how “up north” schools are bathed in funding, technology and teachers. They talk in terms of black and white, rich and poor. They create envy with their false representations. Then they run campaigns on how they will bring “equity” to “their” schools by “taking” from others, despite the fact that there is nothing to take. They mislead their constituents and win elections by creating these misconceptions and exploiting them. Cities, school districts – it is the same game. Going there will force us to acknowledge the motivations of some elected officials and their methods. We can also see who benefits (jobs, jobs, jobs) and who loses (children, teachers, the poorest).

  11. dekalbite2 says:

    i’m on Ms. Oliver’s email list. Many months ago when she introduced the Briarcliff City bill, she sent out an email that said she was responding to her constituents who were worried they did not want to be passed by as so many cities were forming. She was very upfront saying that she was not a city hood proponent, but she was acquiescing to her constituents (isn’t that what representatives are elected to do?). She asked for input regarding her decision. Later, I received another email asking for input about her bill delaying the process for city hood consideration.

    Ms. Oliver seems to be torn between the Democratic members of the DeKalb delegation (mainly confined to the southern portion of Central DeKalb and South DeKalb) in which she has considerable influence and the affluent area that elects her to the Legislature. The Fernbank/Emory area is not pro city hood (they have always enjoyed substantial influence in the county), but they don’t want to be left economically supporting unincorporated DeKalb if the county is broken up into political units, especially if there is a chance for independent school systems.

    Mr. Thurmond turning down the Druid Hills Charter Cluster was a blow to the Fernbank/Emory community. The authors of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster figured that allowing Charter Clusters would be an excellent alternative to breaking the county into political pieces. Mr. Thurmond and the old “Lewis crew” (his top advisors) cannot improve student achievement, and the powerful Fernbank/Emory community’s hard work and astute ideas have been rebuffed. This creates an interesting political situation.

    IMHO – why isn’t the state of Georgia setting up a commission that will consider and make a decision on Cluster Charters when the local BOEs don’t approve them? They did this when the charter schools were not approved, went to court (lost), but then set forth a Constitutional amendment that passed. That would be easier than allowing new cities to form independent school systems. Charter Clusters approved by a state commission seems to be a much more expedient law (or amendment) to pass than independent school systems. Charter clusters would effectively move the money from the Central Office and to the local schools. Funneling money to the classroom is what parents, students and teachers want and need.

  12. ursokm16 says:

    Would any changes in the law be required for the charter commission to review charter clusters for its own approval? Seems like that is just a matter of interpreting its province broadly–and it is discretionary–as in when its “convenient”. It certainly wouldn’t be convenient while city school systems are in play–approving charter clusters would take away a lot of impetus for city school systems (a top legislative priority).

  13. concernedmome30329 says:

    Fran Millar has said that they are looking for an legislative fix to the fact that charter clusters can’t be appealed. But the challenge is that the systems own their buildings and the state has no right to take them over. The Constitutional Amendment had to do with start up charters that are independent of school systems to begin with. It didn’t address the overall powers that the Constitution gives local school boards. That was a missed opportunity, I am afraid.

  14. ursokm16 says:

    Actually, I think this so-called “lost opportunity” may not be any kind of mistake. I know its difficult for us to imagine this, but most Republican law makers aren’t trying to emasculate their school leadership like DeKalb’s one Republican Senator and one Republican representative are. At some point, the entire state’s legislature must refuse to write state law because of disfunction in one or two urban counties. I promise you, the Reps in Gwinnett and Cobb understand the implications of a state government running roughshod over locally elected officials and public school leaders.

  15. Dekalbite2 says:

    @ursokm16

    School system “leadership” should improve the rate of student achievement when compared to demographically similar school systems. That has not happened as the rate of student achievement has declined precipitously in the past decade when compard to the rates of achievement in all other demographically comparable metro school systems. It is not enough to just look at your school system. Our students must compete outside of DeKalb County for seats in college and jobs in the overall marketplace. That is why it is important to look at the rates of achievement that demographically similar school systems have – students’ performance in reading and computing make up those rates of achievement. The students of today will be the workers and taxpayers of tomorrow. We must give all of our students an even playing field.

    It is difficult to “emasculate” the leadership that has had control of the school system for a decade. That is virtually a lifetime for the students who are getting ready to graduate in 2014. The leadership has set all the policies, procedures and programs of the school system, hired every teacher and allocated every nickel of the billion+ dollars a year of the school budget. They have taken all of the authority, but none of the responsibility or accountability for our students achieving at lesser rates than all of the other demographically comparable metro school systems.

    How do we as taxpayers/parents make them responsible?

    IMO – all of these attempts are a way to bring some accountability to the “leadership” of the school system. Many commenters say this is the way our school systems are set up in Georgia, but if the only reason the school system exists – improving student achievement – is not being realized, then are the students just “stuck with” a system that fails so many of them? Bringing leadership to DeKalb that focuses on student achievement but most importantly knows how to move students forward is the most critical piece of the equation. So far, the power structure in DeKalb has been more interested in keeping the adults employed and keeping the status quo in place. Where are the quantifiably measurable student achievement objectives established by Mr. Thurmond? This should have been and is his main responsibility – moving students forward. If DeKalb Schools was showing a good rate of student achievement, the SACS probation would not be an issue because DCSS would be performing the function it MUST perform.

  16. We elected a board of education (collectively, we did elect them) that was so terrible, they had to be removed from office by the Governor. Why in heaven’s name would we now believe that government “closer to the people” would be able to create something superior than the mess we have already made? Why would we want to give more elected officials more opportunities to steal more of our money and make a mess of our public water supply, utilities, zoning and emergency services? We can’t get one thing right, so now we want to do everything wrong? I just don’t get it.

    If you are thinking, “yes, but it wasn’t OUR board member who screwed things up,” then you are still not getting it…. boards have to work together. The mindset of “us” vs. “them” is unhealthy for everyone. We are all still living in the same county, in the same area and sharing the same resources. Learn to share and act right before you ask to take on more responsibility. It’s like rewarding a drunk who crashed your car by giving him keys to a new one. At some point, we have to stop handing over the keys to the same people and expecting things to end any differently.

  17. howdy1942 says:

    There are a number of good comments that have been made.

    First, I cannot speak to the “genuineness” of Briarcliff or Lakeside, but I am convinced that Tucker’s is genuine. Discussions regarding a City of Tucker go back to a least 2006. We had numerous discussions and a feasibility showed that a City of Tucker was, indeed, viable. I have supported the efforts to become a city both personally and financially and since I am a senior citizen on a relatively fixed income, I would not support such a movement unless I felt it were genuine. I don’t know Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver’s intention nor do I know her motivations, but I do applaud her for listening to her constituents. From my perspective, the issue of genuineness is moot.

    Second, to the point made by GETtheCELL, you are correct when you said that the board did not get along. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the thoughts about how to run a school system are too divergent, too different, and too varied for Dekalb County to have an effectively governed and managed school system. That is not to say that one approach is right and another is wrong. I simply think that a smaller district governed and managed by the people who live in that smaller district would bring more focus, more parent participation, and less controversy while also offering the best possibility of improving results. Before someone points out the article in today’s AJC about performance in Charter Schools, I would also point out that the article speaks very broadly. I think that I know the Tucker Community, I have seen it work together, and I know what the results have been. I’m convinced that we can be successful.

    Third, the point made about a local community not “owning” the school buildings needs to be further substantiated if it is to be considered valid. Tucker dates back to 1821 and is, in fact, two years older than Decatur. Of seven brigades formed in Dekalb County during the Civil War, three were formed wholly from within Tucker. The town of Tucker built the initial and many of the subsequent versions of Tucker High School, Tucker Middle School, and Midvale. Those schools were built on property donated by Tucker residents and were also built by Tucker residents. The materials used to build those schools were donated by Cofer Brothers. Residents of Tucker have paid their fair share and probably much more than the average. I can tell you to the penny how much in school taxes I have paid over the past 39 years and it is huge, at least from my perspective. It would be very difficult to make a credible argument that those buildings do not rightly belong to the residents of Tucker.

    Fourth, it will be difficult to get a Constitutional Amendment passed to allow the creation of new school districts. But I think that there is merit to the argument that the Georgia Amendment is contrary to the United States Constitution and there is some thought being given to challenging it. It is blatantly discriminatory to allow some cities to have their own school system while denying other cities the same privilege if they so choose. Constitutional Amendments should be broad guidelines for making laws and not be so specific as to address such minutia as limiting the number of school systems that can exist within a State. The Dekalb County of 2014 is far, far different from the Dekalb County of the 1940s when this Amendment was enacted. Why should Decatur be permitted to have its own school system and neither Tucker or any other constituency in Dekalb County be denied to do the same?

    Fifth, Dekalbite2 makes a valid point. The present Dekalb County School System’s recent leadership has been indicted and convicted for its corruption. Its governance has led us to the brink of losing our accreditation, an outcome that would devastate our students and especially those who are about to graduate. Graduation rates average 57.8% countywide. That is abysmal. It is very hard to believe that local governance and leadership could do any worse and probably could do much better. Simply put, the DCSS has failed our children and our residents for at least 10 years and that doesn’t seem to be changing much. We have had four superintendents in four years and there is simply no way that any sort of stability could have been possible. There have been two interims, and two full-time. Of the two full-time, one is convicted and the other left under a cloud of uncertainty and controversy. To this day, the DCSS is fighting our teachers in court. Is that any way to run a school system? We owe it to the students of today and tomorrow to provide them with a better school system that would enhance their probability of success in the future. I am convinced that the Druid Hills Cluster deserved the opportunity to at least try, but five of the members of the school board as well as the superintendent, none of which live in that community, decided that they were not worthy. Thurmond could not allow those funds to leave the County even though the County would no longer be educating the students who lived there. That vote was about the County retaining control and not much else. I was there and heard the discussion.

    It is time to move on to a new and better day in Dekalb, one that is less corrupt, better managed, more focused on improving the lives of our children and all of our residents. I had hoped and expected so much from this new school board. I had hoped for new approaches, new ideas, and new directions. What we have had is more of the same and many in Dekalb County want better. I am hoping that the upcoming Legislative session will force new changes on the school board and its leadership that would allow for communities like Druid Hills and others to at least receive approval to try. I also hope that it will also force changes in the very structure of the school board itself. Dekalb County is too large, too populated, and too important to the economy of Georgia to leave the status quo in place.

  18. mmartin says:

    Not all of us want to be forced into a city. There are many of us who intentionally live in unincorporated DeKalb. We like our services, think our taxes are fair enough and are willing to get involved to facilitate change when needed. I, for one, am still not convinced that an entire city bureaucracy can be created out of thin air with no impact on anyone’s taxes.

  19. howdy1942 says:

    @mmartin – you will have an opportunity to vote if one is held. I don’t think anyone wants to force any change on you without your having your input and vote. As for a city bureaucracy, I’m not sure that it could be any worse than what we have now. An indicted CEO, convicted school superintendent, convicted chief operations officer, a school board that has been removed by the Governor, four superintendents in four years, a school system that is on probation, the 2nd highest millage rate for schools in the State, corruption in the Water Department, property values that have remained low while those in other counties have recovered from the Great Recession. I do encourage you to get involved in facilitating change for much change is needed.

  20. June 30′ dekalb school watch wrote “who we are” post on this topic, stating only public education would be the focus, not cities in general.

  21. Actually, this is exactly what it says —

    DeKalb SCHOOL Watch is NOT:

    a general community blog.  We will remove all comments that do not concern the public schools in DeKalb County, GA.
    

    To be really clear – GetTheCellOut, Mary Kay Woodworth and Lakeside Community Association (LCA) – we are weary of your inability to mutually seek common ground for the good of your communities. DSW will no longer be a platform for your arguments. You are welcome to start your own blog for the Tucker/Lakeside debate.

    a gossip rag.  Tell us WHO and/or WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and especially HOW (you know).
    

  22. We were getting weary of the back and forth petty arguing. However, this current post highlights our belief that ‘some’ legislators in power are desperate to slow the city movement because they know darn well that these cities will each want control of their own schools like Dunwoody does (is there anything more important to a city or to property values?) If Dunwoody is ready and can break away and take charge of their own schools – offering a stronger education to well over 3,000 DeKalb county students — then we say – more power to them and let the dominoes start to fall!

  23. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    FWIW – this is the latest news regarding Stonecrest:

    Study: City of Stonecrest is not viable

    The Stonecrest City Alliance, which had hoped to form its own city, has learned the area is not viable for incorporation.

    The University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government said in a 59-page feasibility study that incorporating the Stonecrest area would cost $45.4 million to operate annually compared to the $31.1 million the city would generate in revenues.

    The Stonecrest group was one of four to present cityhood proposals on Jan. 9 to the DeKalb Delegation, hoping to win support for a voter referendum in May. Stonecrest, however, was the only group that was not deemed viable. Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker got their feasibility studies back in December showing they would be able to generate the revenues needed to operate as cities. Now, however, the three groups are battling over Northlake Mall. All three want to include the mall within their proposed boundaries. The mall would generate more than $1 million annually in property values for the proposed cities.

    Meanwhile, Jason Lary, who heads the Stonecrest group, is gearing up to fight for leadership on another front. Jason-Lary

    “We are in the toilet. We’re holding on to the rim of the bowl,” said Lary. “This study lets us know how badly we have been under-represented.”

    Lary has submitted a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal demanding a special election to fill the Commission District 5 seat vacated by Lee May, who was appointed last July as Interim DeKalb CEO. The governor made the appointment after suspending Burrell Ellis, who was indicted on corruption charges.

    May could not be reached for comment at the newspaper’s deadline, but he has said in the past that his constituents are being served by the Super District seat held by Commissioner Stan Watson, who represents half of the county. District 5 falls within the half Watson represents.

    State Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick, who is an attorney, said the special election may be a matter for the Attorney General to consider.

    “The governor can’t just call a special election. Some legal scholars are of the opinion that the DeKalb County charter allows him (May) to serve in a dual role,” said Kendrick.
    Lary, however, said he doesn’t think it’s right that the seat remain unfilled indefinitely.

    “The bottom line is our area is without representation right now, and we have had problems that have built up over a number of years that must be fixed,” said Lary, pointing to declining property values in the Stonecrest area and the growing demand for police protection.

    According to the Stonecrest study, the high number of 9-1-1 police calls in the study area is costly. The study shows that DeKalb handled 573,547 calls placed to 9-1-1 for police services in 2012. The study projected the Stonecrest area’s share of those calls would be between 50,000 and 75,000 annually.

    “The way we drew the area is too big and would require a lot more police to handle all of those calls,” Lary said. “We learned that bigger is not necessarily better.”

    The Alliance, Lary said plans to look at reducing the size of the proposed cityhood area from 82,000 to 48,000 residents and apply for another study.

    “Obviously, a new study is not going to be completed in time for this Legislative session. That’s why we need the Special Election for the Board of Commissioners to get some representation for our area,” Lary said.

  24. Below is a new post from Don McChesney on the subject:
    What’s behind the call for a pause?

  25. From a recent edition of the Peach Pundit (www.peachpundit.com/): The DeKalb Cityhood Battle(s): Conducted behind closed doors for the most part, some hints and inclinations are leaking about idea of another city or two in DeKalb County. The latest whispers are that Governor Deal’s office is warm to the idea of the proposed city of Tucker -which has stayed quiet and out of the battle between the proposed city of Lakeside and the proposed city of Briarcliff. Why would the Governor care about any cities in DeKalb, even Tucker? Because that 120-year-old community (which is not a city, even though everyone thinks it is) is united behind a map that makes sense, and is demographically and politically diverse. The other proposed municipalities would likely be perceived as specially-carved Republican-only enclaves and a slap in the face to DeKalb County -which is also State Senator Jason Carter’s district. Governor Deal presumably sees no need to energize his opposition’s base.

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