My [2015 DeKalb Schools] Budget Concerns

Posted by Kirk Lunde at the Tucker Patch, June 12, 2014 at 11:36 AM

I would like to follow up last week’s red-faced rant to the BOE and subsequent post about international teachers with some context from the last five months.

At the February work session, Dr. Bell, the school district Chief Financial Officer, asked the BOE to approve an amended budget. He presented a T Sheet showing the changes to be made. The items listed on the T Sheet did not have explanations attached and he walked the BOE through them. After his explanation, several board members had questions. Not nit-picking, micromanaging sorts of questions, but legitimate questions to gain an understanding of what was being asked.

For example; one of the changes in appropriations listed is “Additional School Based Salary and Benefits Expense.” Mr. Orson asked, “About the additional school-based salary, can you give us an idea on what these positions are that are showing up in this $2mil and change?” Dr. Bell responded, “I can’t give you an idea on the specific positions. No sir. Maybe Dr. Ward-Smith can do that.” Dr. Ward-Smith did not answer.

She didn’t say a word.

Another example of a “data-disconnect” on the T Sheet is the appropriation for “International Teachers.” Last October the BOE approved an additional $1,755,000 for international teachers. As I pointed out in an earlier post, during the current fiscal year, three divisions and fifteen accounts have been used to pay for international teachers. Where was the $600,000 requested in the amended budget going? Why $600,000 when over $3.5 million was already approved?

I could go on. It was a long discussion.

Mr. Mayfield summed up my opinion nicely when he said, “I guess it is difficult in 30 minutes to process all of the adds without really comprehending what all of the implications might be, or the rationales might be, and what the net benefits expected might be.” However, Superintendent Thurmond urged the board to approve the amended budget at that meeting and they did.

In the same meeting, Mr. Mayfield asked Dr. Ward-Smith if there are metrics for the HR initiatives related to teacher retention. Her response was the metrics will be in the strategic plan. However, the strategic plan posted on the district’s web site contains NO metrics.

(Sorry for the tangent.)

My point is, at every work session board members have asked questions about the budget or the financial report that have not been answered. At least not answered publicly.

At the May work session, Mr. Orson asked for more clarity, transparency, as to what the Legal Affairs budget will be used for and what the Legal Expenses budget includes. I think that is an excellent question. Legal Affairs is a division of the administration and shown as a separate budget category. However, Legal Expenses, like international teachers, is not shown in the budget, is not a budget category. Legal Expenses are shown in the monthly financial report, but where the expenses are allocated is not explained.

Does anybody know if Mr. Orson got the information he requested?

There should be a form for board meetings, on which questions are written. Those questions should be posted on the district’s website along with the answers. There should be some accountability.

That statement also applies to the BOE. In fact, Dr. Morley said in the April work session, “If we are going to be a board, we need to be accountable.” It is to that end I want the board to ask questions and discuss the proposed budget.

Dr. Morley’s reversed of her position at the June work session by saying the board shouldn’t ask questions and needs to trust the staff. I disagree with her.

Before the [2014-15] budget is approved by the BOE, they should be able to answer the question, “How is the money going to be spent?” It should also be easy for the public to find the answer to that question.

I believe it is wrong the BOE approves a one-page document as the budget for the district.

There needs to be a way to see how all the different versions of the budget are related to each other. There are 14 categories, or divisions, listed on the Consolidated Budget. How that money is going to be used, is not. There needs to be a way for the public to see what the money is going to be used for at a very detailed level.

The DeKalb County School District administration is not providing that kind of transparency during the budget process and the Board of Education is not requiring it.

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to DeKalb School Watch. Send an email to dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com

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DSW Comment: We are highly cynical of any DCSS-produced ‘strategic’ plan. These plans have been regurgitated over and over, year after year, with the same Edu-Jargon, calls for ‘programs’ and ‘administrators’, yet no results are ever posted, announced or even (as far as we can tell) tracked. That goes for the budget as well. The system administrators continue to write ‘strategic’ plans (with budgets), yet no actual work product or student improvement seems to occur. That said, There is a link on the district’s homepage for the strategic plan. All documents concerning the strategic planning process and work is there. (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/strategic-plan/) Read it and weep for our children to have such rudderless leadership as this.

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32 Responses to My [2015 DeKalb Schools] Budget Concerns

  1. Jan Cox says:

     The post below is very concerning to me. OF COURSE the citizens elect a school board so that the board can ask questions about the proposed DCSD budget and expect to get detailed, forthright answers before they vote to approve the budget. The DCSD is NOT being very transparent in this process.

    ________________________________ >    > > > WordPress.com >dekalbschoolwatch posted: “Posted by Kirk Lunde at the Tucker Patch, June 12, 2014 at 11:36 AM I would like to follow up last week’s red-faced rant to the BOE and subsequent post about international teachers with some context from the last five months. At the February work sess” >

  2. H.A. Hurley says:

    They know that the masses are apathetic and could care less. The Supers & BOE strategies of silence, ambiguities, fluff, lack of details work well for them. No groundswell, no marches, no demands for accountability, NOTHING! And, it works so well for them.
    Thurmond’s role in DCS is to keep the masses quiet, schmooze, talk about share cropping, pat uncomfortable principals on the back & even squeeze her tight, while passing tiny spreadsheet fluff budgets. After all, it’s only taxpayer $$!
    Outrageous and disgusting! Especially, given the history of corruption, legal $M flying out of the Palace doors, Golden Parachutes for Supers & an old, tired, gutted school system.
    Business as usual!
    The Death of a once dynamic county and school system!
    Is there still a puls?
    Needs Life Support!

  3. howdy1942 says:

    Rarely in my business career of almost 40 years have I heard of any organization presenting a budget and not be able to explain specific items that made up the budget. I know because I have been the receiving end of so many of those questions. And most of the people who had input into that budget were either there to answer question or readily available so that answers could be obtained in short order. I would have loved to have had someone like Dr. Morley who would have just “trusted me”, but that’s not how it works in the real world. You simply can’t “trust” people who have failed on such a magnitude in the recent past, who have “lost” $21 million according to Mr. Thurmond, who have hired people with criminal records that were subsequently discovered by students, who “wrote” books and required students to purchase them without understanding that might be a conflict of interest, who could not manage a contract with Heery, who was getting “kickbacks”, and on an on. In the business world, budgets don’t get approved until they are fully understood and then, when approved, they are managed very closely.

    Were I in Mr. Orson’s or Mr. Mayfield’s position, I would simply tell the staff that the budget will not be approved until you answer my questions. If the budget questions are about Human Resources
    items, then she needs to be present to answer those questions. I cannot get over the arrogance of the administration. In fact, were I a member of this Board, I would really call the competence of the administration into question and make it very, very clear that it (the staff) must do a much better job of preparation and, if they don’t, stop the meeting and tell them to go away and come back when they are prepared and when they have answers.

    I have long said that the Dekalb County School System needs a thorough house cleaning. Messes as big and as broad as that at the DCSS cannot be “developed”, “managed”, or improved without such a cleaning. We have a major problem with competence, arrogance, and motivation.

    NO TAX INCREASE UNTIL CHANGES ARE MADE. PERIOD. THE BOARD NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THAT AND SO DOES THE ADMINISTRATION.

    Vote on July 22.

  4. Well said Howdy. Just to clarify – they are not raising the tax rate – they are increasing property values – mostly in north DeKalb and mostly in the cities – to the tune of about 12%, which when averaged with the rest of the county property taxes being raised just over 0%, makes for an “average” of a 6% increase… interesting math isnt’ it?

  5. Steady tax rate and pay raise proposed in DeKalb

    Updated: 6:48 p.m. Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Posted: 6:16 p.m. Thursday, June 19, 2014

    By Mark Niesse – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    

    DeKalb County isn’t hiking residents’ taxes, but rising property values are bringing in enough revenue to give more than 6,000 government employees a 3 percent raise, according to a mid-year county budget unveiled Thursday.

    Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May’s budget would keep property tax rates flat for residents living outside cities and cut taxes for city dwellers.

    The pay increase for full-time county employees would be their first in seven years. The raise, which will cost the county $4.3 million and take effect Aug. 1, was proposed last spring, but funds for it were held in reserve until an expected bump in tax collections materialized.

    “It’s been too long. I’m happy about that, and I wish we could do more,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton.

    Commissioner Kathie Gannon said the county should follow through on its commitment to give employees a raise, but she warned against spending too much.

    “I don’t think this is the time to spend every penny we can find. We’re not out of the woods yet,” Gannon said.

    Property owners in cities will see a one-year reduction on their county tax bill, worth between 15 percent and 29 percent, because of a decrease in tax rates for general county services, such as courts and the sheriff’s office. For county residents, the cost of police services is rising, but their overall tax rate will remain the same because of the decline in taxes for general county services. Cities generally run their own police departments, and their residents are taxed for police separately.

    Overall, the county of more than 700,000 residents plans to spend $554 million in this year’s general operational budget, a 2 percent increase.

    “We are seeing the first signs of a fiscal recovery. Our property values are beginning to rebound, and we are turning the financial corner,” May wrote in a letter to the DeKalb County Commission.

    The commission is scheduled to vote July 8 on approval of the budget.

    May presented the budget in a conference room packed with county department heads and two commissioners at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort at Stone Mountain.

    The budget also appropriates $195,000 to create a six-person public integrity unit in the DeKalb County district attorney’s office starting in September. The unit, which would cost about $600,000 a year, would investigate allegations of wrongdoing by government officials.

    County prosecutors are preparing for a September trial against suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, who is accused of pressuring county vendors to give campaign contributions, and a special grand jury has called for investigations of several other county employees and contractors.

    “In recent years, the casework for the unit has grown considerably,” District Attorney Robert James said in a statement. “The funding of this unit will help to ensure that public integrity cases in DeKalb are handled effectively and efficiently.”

    DeKalb County 2014 budget figures

    Increase in taxable property values in cities: 13.1 percent

    Increase in taxable property values in unincorporated areas: 0.6 percent

    Countywide growth in taxable property values: 5.9 percent

    Operational budget for tax funds: $554 million, a 2 percent increase from last year

    Millage rate in unincorporated areas: 21.21 mills, the same as last year

    Proposed county millage rates in cities: Ranges from 8.83 to 15.09 mills, excluding city tax rates

    Source: DeKalb County

  6. Re-read this: “rising property values are bringing in enough revenue to give more than 6,000 government employees a 3 percent raise”

    It’s Christmas in DeKalb county government!! Have you had a raise at your job?

    Of course, the ‘option’ would be to ROLL BACK the millage rate so that tax collections remain the same in total. Remember — it was the last school board that INCREASED the tax rate in order to make up for the plunge in property values. Now – the mostly Governor appointed school board is going to maintain that tax rate and rejoice at the windfall that will occur due to the rising home values and the ending of the recession.

    Life Lesson Learned: No Tax is EVER temporary!

  7. This article in ‘Crossroads News’ explains the tax levy well >>

    Hearings into school board decision not to roll back taxes

    in accordance with state law, the DeKalb County Board of Education announces its intention to increase the property taxes it will recommend to be levied this year by 6.54 percent over the rollback rate,” it said.

    The public hearings will take place June 25 at 6 p.m. and at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on July 7 at its Administrative & Instructional Complex in Stone Mountain.

    Across the county, as property values rebound from a 2012 low, property owners have been receiving notices this month from County Tax Assessor Calvin Hicks showing higher tax assessments on their properties.

    In 2012, the values of the county’s 227,694 properties declined $3 billion, or 6 percent, going to $44.2 billion from $47.2 billion in 2011.

    School District spokesman Jeff Dickerson said that the School Board has not increased the millage rate.

    “Under state law, if there is an increase in revenue collections without a rollback in the millage rate, every taxing authority must advertise it as a ‘tax increase,’” he said.

    Dickerson said the board intends to retain a 6.54 percent increase in revenue resulting from higher assessed property values.

    “The district will use the additional revenue to eliminate all furlough days, restore the 180-day school year, give teachers a 1 percent pay raise and bolster the School District’s reserves,” he said.

    The School Board said that the increase in its property tax collections will result directly from an increase in overall reassessments of properties – not from an increase in the millage rate.

    “The DeKalb County Board of Education does not assess property in DeKalb County and has no control over the assessed value of county property,” it said.

    When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, state law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed to produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.

    “Due to the impact of the Great Recession, the DeKalb County Board of Education is considering maintaining its present millage rate in order to fully fund its academic school year and to continue to rebuild its financial reserves,” the board said.

    QUESTION >> Is Jeff Dickerson back as the DCSS ‘spokesperson’? What happened to Thurmond’s campaign manager – ahem – taxpayer paid DCSS communications manager, Quinn Hudson?

  8. Re-read this part >>

    the [mostly Governor appointed] DeKalb County Board of Education announces its intention to increase the property taxes it will recommend to be levied this year by 6.54 percent over the rollback rate

    And Hear This >> This is NOT an across the board 6.54% increase in tax bills. SOME people’s tax bill (due to an increase in their assessment) will increase approx 12% or more and SOME will only increase about one-half of one percent – netting about a 6.5% “average”… See the following article in the AJC >>
    DeKalb County 2014 budget figures
    Increase in taxable property values in cities: 13.1 percent
    Increase in taxable property values in unincorporated areas: 0.6 percent
    Countywide growth in taxable property values: 5.9 percent

    +++

    Crossroads News states >> In 2012, the values of the county’s 227,694 properties declined $3 billion, or 6 percent, going to $44.2 billion from $47.2 billion in 2011. Which means that values are back to where they were (if you average them across the county) – YET – in the interim, while values were low, the school board INCREASED the millage rate – so we will now pay that higher rate on the improved home values. This equates to a windfall for the county and the school system.

    +++

    Go and read your property tax letter again, or download your tax bill at the link below and figure out the percentage of your increase. Let us know what you find.

    http://qpublic9.qpublic.net/ga_search_dw.php?county=ga_dekalb

  9. Public hearings

    The DeKalb School Board is holding three public hearings into its decision not to roll back the millage rate to compensate for higher revenues from increased property tax assessments.

    The meetings take place in the Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain:

    June 25 at 6 p.m.
    July 7 at 11 a.m.
    July 7 at 6:30 p.m.
    

    Don’t worry about them saying that you are voting down a raise for teachers if you are against this tax increase. There is already plenty of money to pay teachers what they are due – our administration just needs to prioritize teachers in the budget.

  10. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – You are correct – no increase in the millage rate! The DCSS is out of “millage rate” – it would take the Legislature to allow them to increase the millage rate and I doubt that will occur anytime soon! But the point you later made is equally true – both the school board and the County government increased the millage rate to make up for lower property values during the recession. I don’t bemoan County workers and school teachers getting this raise – I think that this is their first in seven years. I voiced my thoughts before the Commission when they increased the millage rate is that this increase should have had a sunset date and re-evaluated. If property values had increased, then the millage rate should be reduced to keep the County revenue neutral. It is very difficult for me to understand any logic for a tax increase of any kinds as long as we have so much in legal expenses trying County officials and DCSS management for wrongdoing.

    We need a change in management in both the County and, especially, in the school system. We have the same old names, same people in the same positions, the same structure, the same practices, and we are all arguing and upset about the same issues that we have been for years.

    On a final note, I am waiting for 4th district candidate Karen Carter to explain her vote to DENY the Druid Hills Cluster Petition and I hope that she will choose to present that explanation on this blog. Or she needs to make it known that she has changed her position. In my book, that is a key consideration in my vote. New approaches need to be given an opportunity and not just denied outright. The DCSS is a failed approach and other alternatives need to be tried, for the sake of our kids and our County.

  11. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    I am waiting on Jim McMahan to respond to my question to his campaign website about his stance on if the central office is overstaffed. I posed my question within a week of the primary election and still nothing.

  12. howdy1942 says:

    @frustrated – I share your frustration. To the blogger who jumped all over @DSW, I don’t mean to imply anything about the character of Karen Carter, but we are down to picking the “lesser of two evils” in Dekalb’s 4th. We have a choice of Carter or McMahan. McMahan supported the Druid Hills Cluster and Carter did not. She may have a good explanation or may have had a change in heart, but I would appreciate her response one way or the other. As I see it, that could be the tiebreaker.

  13. Confused with the 1% that I won't see says:

    “The district will use the additional revenue to eliminate all furlough days, restore the 180-day school year, give teachers a 1 percent pay raise and bolster the School District’s reserves,” he said.”
    I thought that was from the Governor’s increase in funding??? What happened to that money?
    Just wondering.

  14. @Frustrated DeKalb Parent: Did you ask the same question of Karen Carter? If so, what was her response? In a runoff, it’s always important to ask both candidates the same questions.

  15. anothercomment says:

    It is a bit Ironic that in both DeKalb and Fulton almost all of the increases in property taxes came in the New Cities created since Sandy Springs ( plus Buckhead and Morningside). Might that signal that people find it much more favorable to have their own police force that arrives in a minute rather than 1 hr. That property values are going up with local control of zoning that is not green lighting every project that will turn into blight in 10-20 years. That people like living where the local officials represent them and are professionals who represent the community.

    We will certainly see more Cities in the next legislative session. The push for Milton will certainly be stronger. I am surprised the Dunwoody and Brookhaven don’t then push to join Milton. Or once Milton is created their isn’t a push for another County of North DeKalb.

  16. Ned says:

    “Dr. Morley’s reversed of her position at the June work session by saying the board shouldn’t ask questions and needs to trust the staff. ”
    If that is accurate, it is simply negligence. The Board has ONE function: oversight. If Dr. Morley doesn’t want to do that job, why is she there? To hear herself talk?

  17. you are superman says:

    Dr. Morley and the rest of the DCBOE are no different than the individuals they replaced. This was evident when they approved the budget upon their arrival two years ago. Thurmond was a Eugene Walker special delivery, championed by Melvin Johnson. Please tell me why anyone who reads this blog is surprised about DCSD. Transparency, accountability, integrity are not recognized as legitimate expectations.

  18. @you are superman: Exactly. We have been saying this for a while. The most blatant example of the new board being the same as the old board is in the area of legal services. Mark Elgart of SACS considered it ridiculous that we paid so much for legal services and employed TWO outside law firms (Alexander & Associates and Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan). But Michael Thurmond has actually added a THIRD law firm – McKenna, Long and Aldridge – to the tune of $50,000 a month (now standing at $600,000 and counting) – for ‘board governance’. Thurmond did settle the civil case with Heery Mitchell, placing King & Spalding off the DeKalb payroll. So, there’s that. I guess he just transferred that savings over to the MLA expense column. Net gain: Zero.

  19. dsw2contributor says:

    “We must also get our fiscal house in order. The days of reckless and unnecessary spending on the taxpayers’ credit card must end. We no longer can be beholden to the special interests.

    Under the failed economic policies of the past, we saw record surpluses turn into record deficits. We now need sound economic policies so that we stop passing down debt to our grand kids. The days of fiscal irresponsibility must come to an end but it’s going to take fresh faces and a will to work together to make that happen.”

  20. Read this very interesting recent article by Mark Elgart of AdvancEd/SACS.

    It’s Time to Abandon Our Rube Goldberg Accountability Contraptions
    A Rube Goldberg, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation.” We can see these contraptions in operation in school administration in the fetishizing of strategic planning, which has become something of an end in itself, and particularly in how we determine the effectiveness of our schools and their impact on student success. Today’s accountability systems fail to identify the root causes of underperformance and therefore fail to enable actionable strategies for improvement. We have made improvement and accountability of our schools a complicated process with limited impact on student success.

    A wealth of empirical evidence confirms what common sense suggests: Students do better in school when teachers make frequent efforts to check on students’ progress and, if students are floundering, to help them get back on course right away. Simply put, the approach that educators call “classroom formative assessment” works. It can play a powerful part in teachers’ efforts to improve student learning. Less-widely recognized, though, is the role that this strategy can play in the improvement of entire schools.

  21. Refugee from DCSS says:

    “Fetishizing of strategic planning”. Best line in the statement and best description of DCSS ever.

  22. Kirk Lunde says:

    Jim McMahan just sent me the following email after reading what I posted this morning.

    http://tucker.patch.com/groups/dekalb-school-district-observations/p/looking-at-the-fiscal-year-2015-budget

    “Nice article.
    I will advocate for transparency and will not vote to approve the FY2015 budget unless clearer financials are presented.”

    Please don’t tell me district 4 has to choose between the lesser of two evils. Only one of the candidates in the runoff has asked any questions during work sessions. Only one of the candidates prepares for the meetings. Only one of the candidates has consistently asked for more transparency and accountability. One one of the candidates has children in the school district and was active in the schools before the governor replaced BOE members.

    Finally, only one of the candidates has consistently supported charter schools and not done whatever the superintendent wants.

    Jim McMahan is clearly the better candidate.

  23. Stan Jester says:

    Dr. Elgart’s article is disturbing on many levels. It suggests that annual high stakes testing just isn’t enough and the state should take over regular student progress assessment.

    Dr. Elgart says, “Students do better in school when teachers make frequent efforts to check on students’ progress and, if students are floundering, to help them get back on course right away.

    So, a student does better when they turn in homework, tests and quizzes allowing the teacher to see the student’s progress and address it if necessary?? Thank you Captain Obvious for that nugget.

    Allow me to counter Dr. Elgart’s proposal with a proposal of my own. I have posted on FactChecker, Education Excellence Can’t Be Achieved From Above, where I suggest the best form of accountability comes directly from parents and the schoolhouse.

    –Stan

  24. @Kirk: Jim – as well as the rest of the board including Karen Carter – always ‘say’ they ‘advocate for transparency’… however, oddly, the school board itself is one of the most opaque government operations around. These kinds of statements essentially mean nothing. Although we agree that Jim is the better candidate – as much as you don’t agree, we find that he is basically the lesser of two evils. We are very disappointed in District 4. If they can muster the energy to file for citihood, then why is it that they can’t seem to find a highly qualified school board rep? Hey Kirk – why didn’t you run?!

    We will take this one step further against Karen Carter. We have no respect for anyone who was plucked out of a list of applicants and who only had to ‘interview’ with a committee for the job. This pathway to a school board seat was very easy, in our opinion. Running a campaign, debating the issues in front of the public, knocking on doors, collecting money – is all very hard work. Jim did that hard work and deserves to retain his seat when going against another ‘incumbent’. In fact, since Carter is not technically the incumbent for District 4 (she was appointed to the overlay district that was eliminated by the legislature), we do not think she should carry the “I” next to her name in this race. But she now has two advantages in this election (which will probably be decided by a few hundred people) – she has been granted the “I” next to her name – and she will be listed first alphabetically. Both have been shown to garner more votes from uninformed voters (which is the majority of DeKalb county, sad to say). If Jim wants to win, he had better get out there and get his supporters to the polls.

  25. concernedmome30329 says:

    Kirk — when McMahan is there there, he may ask questions. But he asks them with no emphasis or no sense of urgency. Convenient for him to say he will vote against the budget, he knows it will pass. Not saying Carter is so great, but at least she is present.

    McMahan is possibly the better of two evils, but that isn’t saying nearly enough.

  26. Kirk Lunde says:

    concernedmom,

    Do you know how many meetings Mrs. Carter has missed and how many Mr. McMahan has missed?

    I prefer someone who prepares for meetings, asks questions and isn’t going to follow the superintendent’s marching orders.

  27. concernedmome30329 says:

    For what it is worth — McMahan voted FOR THE BUDGET after asking two rather inane questions, one of which was clearly prompted by you (I suspect). And he sounded (as always) like an idiot when discussing the risk management insurance policy.

    He missed at least three meetings since the new members were appointed in February. It is especially infuriating because he was/is a big supporter of the slimmed down meeting schedule. When a board meets once a month, you need to be there.

  28. Shame on District 4 voters! You had an excellent candidate for school board — John Oselette — and you did not bother to go vote. Shame on you! Now you get to choose the “lesser of two evils” in the July runoff. You get what you deserve. Unfortunately, your laziness or apathy — so that you could not take maybe 10 minutes to cast a vote for a decent candidate like John Oselette — also inflicts serious damage on the rest of DeKalb County.

  29. Jim usually answers his own questions. He doesn’t just ask and then wait for a response, he goes ahead and pretty much gives the response he is looking for and then says, ‘is that right’? And when the staffer answers yes, he says ‘thank you very much for all of your hard work’. Another McMahan specialty is defending a decision before deciding – in the form of a question. This happened with the purchase of the cars. Instead of questioning the integrity of spending SPLOST money on cars for administrators, he began the questioning with stating how old the maintenance vehicles were and did some kind of weird math showing how much money we saved on those old trucks. No one had an issue with replacing the maintenance trucks! It’s what we all voted for – however, the staff snuck in the cars. And the board approved it as a package after the staffer lied and said that voters had approved the purchases. We did not and never would vote for free cars for administrators and we used to hope that Jim would argue that point. He has been a disappointment. But then again, his opponent is worse. She doesn’t even pretend to have a question. She just rubber stamps everything!

  30. howdy1942 says:

    Kirk – I appreciate your hard work and your thoughts about Jim McMahan. I’ve met both Mr. McMahan and Ms. Carter and they are both very personable and pleasant people. Neither of the is “evil” and both appear to be very sincere. Until I hear from Ms. Carter regarding her position on the Druid Hills Cluster, I will support Jim. I voted for Mr. Oselette because I felt that, based on his response to the 14 questions that I posed, he represented true change in Dekalb. I voted for Jim when he ran for his first term, but was very, very troubled by his voting record in the first months of his tenure. He voted to fund legal expenses for Eugene Walker in fighting the Governor’s decision to remove him. He voted to support new legal expenses for that “governance law firm” when that same service could have been provided by the State at a much lower cost. He voted to hire Michael Thurmond and then voted to make him “permanent”. He voted for those 15 administrator cars. He voted in support of the severance package for Dr. Atkinson, He sat silent as Nancy Jester stood virtually alone in questioning that so-called “4-minute” election of Melvin Johnson. I was left wondering where is the “real Jim McMahan” that I thought that I voted for. If he wins on July 22, 2014, (and I hope that he does), maybe he will show us a different “Jim McMahan” and I hope that I can develop a real excitement about him.

  31. H.A. Hurley says:

    howdy1942~
    Dr. Maya Angelou told us often: When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
    We often cannot believe that the impression we have of a person can actually match the person we know. Most of the time that is the case. It is hard to let go of our perceptions, and hard to believe that some people are so good at manipulating us, all of us, without a conscience or remorse.
    Well, Dekalb County and DCS is crawling with such individuals who would turn on us for being such ‘lousy human beings’ in mistrusting them and their deeds. There must be something wrong with us!
    Many residents who care so deeply about this county would rather give these sociopaths the shirt off their backs than think badly of these shysters…again and again. Sometimes, we need to call them on who they really are. Obviously, schmoozing comes easy in DCS. Very easy!
    Remember, Maya Angelou.

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