DeKalb Politics and the Circus. How Can You Tell the Difference?

Reprinted with permission.  Originally posted on October 16, 2014 on Don’s Blog by Don McChesney. 
This is a long read, but well worth your time …

“It is about time for another look at what is going on in DeKalb politics. It’s like ‘The Greatest Show on Earth!’ Outside of Detroit there is little to rival it. You’ve got incompetent clowns and political acrobatic maneuvers that strain credulity. Like any good comedy, there are always a few straight guys (and gals) that get thrown in the mix. Unfortunately, in DeKalb, the voter often misses the normal people because the clowns absorb all the attention. We all need to really study the ‘down ballot’ races to see what we are getting.

The Clown Car Routine or The Burrell Ellis Trial

“This has turned as I predicted several months ago. I always thought it would be a hung jury.[Note:  Don published this on October 16, before the mistrial was declared.] So far I am looking pretty good on that one. Citizens of DeKalb should beware of having to be judged by a jury of your “peers” in this county. How did we end up with this jury? What if you had to sit in front of such a jury?

“Regardless of the veracity of the witness in this case, it is clear the line between political fund raising and the job of CEO was trampled to death. May it rest in peace.

“What does all of this say about our DA? Why is the DA interested in some cases and not others? Do the cases reflect political motivations? Is the DA protecting DeKalb citizens, raising his status in the political world and/or currying favor with certain groups? Let’s all reflect on that.

“Here’s another prediction: When we finally get around to electing a new CEO, they will be cut from the same mold.

Jugglers, Contortionists and Sideshows – The Board of Commissioners race for District 1

“There are only two viable candidates in this race. The rest of the field is rounded out by a candidate that is a cure for insomnia, one that spends most of his life racking up restraining orders, and one that makes me look like a teenager. What’s a circus without a sideshow, right?

“One of the candidates that I thought was viable held up only as long as it took me to research her background. Let’s put it this way – If you liked Elaine Boyer and her tactics, you will love Wendy Butler. Ms Butler was, after all, Elaine Boyer’s appointee to the Planning Commission among other things. Her chief backers all come from the Boyer “friends and family” network.

“Ms. Butler’s job as an attorney was basically to represent developers, especially in their disputes with neighborhoods. She did that in Druid Hills much to the chagrin of the Blue Bloods of that neighborhood. There is still an ongoing court battle, in which she is involved, regarding that issue. Druid Hills won in the Court of Appeals and Ms. Butler’s backer (the developer she helped while a Planning Commissioner) is appealing.

“Butler is a member of the Council For Quality Growth (CQG). That may sound friendly enough until you read more about them. The primary goal of this group is to influence political decisions (like zoning) to benefit developers. There’s nothing wrong with a trade group lobbying governments. It crosses a line when a member of this lobbying group is seeking to become an elected official that is charged with representing the citizens of DeKalb, District 1, often in matters that affect neighborhoods and developers. Ms. Butler’s very job and her membership with the CQG present a massive conflict of interest. Read for yourself, the mission statement from the CQG:

“Since its inception in 1985, the Council has worked as the development industry’s voice, a clearinghouse for critical information on growth and development policy and a forum for education. The Council advocates for its members to ensure that governmental development policy is fair and conducive to balanced and responsible growth. Through constructive leadership and active participation in resolving growth issues based on real-world experience, the Council is a knowledgable and informed advocate for you.

“The Council’s work on behalf of its members has a direct and profitable result on their bottom line. Impact fees, development moratoriums, unrealistic code amendments—it only takes one new regulatory layer and your project becomes unfeasible. The rate of return on your membership investment will prove to be immeasurable as our policy team affects positive change in the political and regulatory web you face daily.”

“Ms. Butler also wanted to continue the tolls on Ga. 400 until 2020 and use that money to expand MARTA rail. As a member of the State Roads and Tollway Authority, she and her fellow bureaucrats did just that. The tolls on GA 400 were only stopped when the Governor intervened, because of the bad press the toll extension was generating during the campaign for the T-SPLOST vote. We just don’t need more bureaucrats around that break promises to the public. We don’t need bureaucrats that are always going into your wallet to fund more, inept government or subsidize their developer friends.

That leaves us with one clear choice in the Commissioner race. That would be Nancy Jester. I got to know Nancy very well while serving on the school board with her. She was a pleasure to work with. She wanted a better life for children and taxpayers. She was indefatigable in pursuing misuse of money or what sometimes appeared to be fraud. She did what a representative is supposed to do. She represented the students and taxpayers. I am convinced that she will be there for us on the County Commission Board. She will spread so much sunshine on what is going on that the rest of those folks will be shamed into operating totally in the open. You won’t find any taxpayer funded portraits in Nancy’s office. She’s not going to charge the taxpayers for her cell phone. I know Nancy will not pay any evangelists for consulting services.

“Folks we have a good one here. Give Nancy Jester a chance to represent you with integrity. Integrity seems to be almost totally missing from our Board of Commissioners right now.

“It takes integrity and careful study to draw a balanced line between developers and neighborhoods. Nancy Jester has that ability. Nancy will be a strong presence for fiscal reform in DeKalb. She will lead by example. She will be accessible to all of the citizens in District 1. I hope that the voters in District 1 will look past the circus that seems to surround all politics in DeKalb and recognize that we have the opportunity to elect a capable and honest public servant.”  

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

At DeKalb School Watch, we believe that Nancy Jester will be the one to establish a long-needed bridge — beneficial to students, teachers, local schools and taxpayers — between the DeKalb County Board of Education and the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.

We said this before and we will say it again:

We liked Nancy Jester when she was on the DeKalb County Board of Education and we like her now. That does not mean that we are in total agreement with every single thing she says, thinks or does. It is not unreasonable for intelligent, educated people to disagree.

However, what we consider MOST IMPORTANT for the upcoming DeKalb County Commission District 1 seat election is Nancy Jester’s honesty, transparency, fiscal responsibility, professional knowledge and expertise, ethics, and accessibility. Nancy Jester has integrity. Remember, Nancy will be replacing a long-term corrupt commissioner.

Nancy Jester is also an incredibly hard worker who does what she says she is going to do and meets deadlines without fail. Nancy Jester’s “close ties with state legislators” are the result of their respect for her. We expect those relationships will benefit ALL of DeKalb County.

We are voting for Nancy Jester for the DeKalb County Commission District 1. We hope you and the rest of DSW’s readers who live in District 1 will vote for Nancy Jester, too.

  • Go here for all early voting sites.  Note:  Saturday voting (10/25) is available in Tucker; Sunday voting (10/26) is available in Chamblee.  If you wait until Tuesday, November 4 to vote, you must go to your assigned poll location.
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About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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5 Responses to DeKalb Politics and the Circus. How Can You Tell the Difference?

  1. dsw2contributor says:

    The MY – not yours- AJC article “Jurors sympathized with DeKalb CEO Ellis”:
    http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/jurors-sympathized-with-dekalb-ceo-ellis/nhqFy/#1934108c.3553591.735529

    That should be a free article that nonsubscribers can access. It is worth reading because it includes comments from the 2nd Jury Foreperson and also includes the jury’s votes for 12 of the 13 charges.

    The jury voted 11-1 for conviction on Count 9 (“Theft by extortion for threatening to pull county business from National Property Institute if NPI’s co-owners didn’t make a political contribution”) so on that charge, it does look like there was one juror who held out for jury nulification.

    On the other hand, the majority of the jury voted for acquittal on four of the thirteen charges — they voted 8-4 for acquittal on Charge 1 (“Theft by extortion for threatening to withhold county work if Joanne Wise at technology consulting firm Ciber Inc. did not make a campaign contribution”) and Charge 2 (“Theft by extortion for threatening to tell Joanne Wise’s boss that she had cost technology consulting firm Ciber Inc. DeKalb County business.”)

    They also voted 7-5 for acquittal on Charges 5 (” Theft by taking for ordering DeKalb’s purchasing director to assemble – while on county time — a list of vendors to be used to solicit campaign contributions”) & 6 (“Theft by taking for having DeKalb’s purchasing director deliver a vendor list to the CEO during regular work hours and for using him to solicit and collect campaign”). That decision I can understand — they didn’t trust the testimony given by the purchasing director as part of his plea bargain.

  2. dsw2contributor says:

    Appeals court overrules sentencing of former DeKalb Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/appeals-court-overrules-sentencing-of-former-dekal/nhrJG/

  3. I have already cast my early ballot for Nancy Jester. I met her one day after a school board meeting. I told her I was not her constituent but that I and been impressed by her comments during the meeting. She took THIRTY minutes to speak with me one-on-one even though she knew she would never get my vote for reelection since I was not her constituent! What kind of politician wastes time with someone who can’t vote for her? Answer: someone who actually cares not about politics abut about people. So I very strongly hope everyone reading this with take my positive recommendation of Nancy and vote for her.

  4. dsw2contributor says:

    Creative Loafing has (very tepidly) endorsed Wendy Butler: http://clatl.com/atlanta/dekalb-county-commissioner-district-1/Content?oid=12497528

  5. dekalbschoolwatch says:

    UPDATE >>
    Ex-DeKalb commissioner Boyer will get full pension benefits

    The FBI began investigating and discovered a kickback scheme. The AJC’s continuing investigation identified the ruse as well, with Boyer using phony invoices to funnel more than $83,000 to evangelist Rooks Boynton, who posed as her legislative affairs consultant.

    He deposited close to $60,000 into the commissioner’s personal bank account and kept the rest for himself, according to court documents. Boynton has not been charged.

    QUESTION: Why Not?!!

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