The more things change, the more they stay the same …

Today’s headline:

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, resigned his seat in the Legislature on Thursday before pleading guilty to one count of tax fraud and no contest to five counts of wire and mail fraud.

(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

No surprise really. Charges have been swirling around Brooks for quite some time. But we would like to remind everyone of the very tightly knit circle that includes Tyrone Brooks. There is direct linkage back to DeKalb politics and specifically, control of DeKalb County schools and its $1.3 Billion annual consolidated budget, and specifically the jobs and contracts within that budget that are controlled by the leaders of the district.

History: Michael Thurmond, Tyrone Brooks, Gene Walker, Cynthia McKinney

Thurmond, Brooks, Walker, Johnson, and McKinney have been working together for decades.

Michael Thurmond (Athens) – Georgia General Assembly, 1986 to 1998

Tyrone Brooks (Dekalb) – Georgia General Assembly, 1980 to present

Cynthia McKinney (DeKalb) – Georgia General Assembly, 1989 – 1993

Gene Walker (DeKalb) – General Assembly (majority whip), 1984 – 1992

The book, “Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America”, depicts these 4 working together regarding redistricting and majority black districts.

Below is a description of the book followed by an excerpt  >>

Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America” By Charles S. Bullock.

The author gives a long history of gerrymandering during the redistricting and reapportionment that happens every decade. The text about Gene and Michael begins on page 147. There, we learn that during the 1990 redistricting, Georgia legislators were committed to creating a second majority-black congressional district. They felt this plan would be approved by the Department of Justice, as had not happened the last two decades. However, the Legislative Black Caucus (LBC) with Gene Walker leading the senate redistricting committee, wanted to ensure that lines were drawn that would secure the election of a second black to Congress (in addition to John Lewis’ Atlanta district). So he set about drawing a very convoluted map that linked black areas of three major urban districts (south DeKalb, Macon and Augusta) in order to bump up the black population in the new 11th district.

…Then, suddenly, near the deadline, a plan was hatched by Bart Ladd (R) that would draw three majority black districts for congress. He gave the plan to Cynthia McKinney and then flew to D.C. to present it to the DOJ. This plan also had 8 majority white districts. The plan was called MAXBLACK, partly due to the fact that they used floppy discs and were limited to 8 character file names. The thought was that promoting black interests would advance the GOP.

…During this time, Michael Thurmond was the chair of the LBC, Gene was chair of the senate redistricting committee and both favored the two majority black districts plan. Cynthia McKinney and Tyrone Brooks led a group that lobbied for the plan with three majority black districts. Gene Walker and Bob Hanner (a white man) met with a DOJ rep and were ‘attacked’ in a four hour meeting. The DOJ thought they were wrong to go with only two majority black districts – and that they were sidelining black voters in SW Georgia in order to draw more blacks into the 11th Atlanta district. The DOJ rejected the two district plan and ended up creating and approving a plan with three majority black districts, moving blacks in Macon from the 11th to the 2nd district while appending Savannah’s blacks with the 11th district. These three districts corralled 61.6% of all blacks in Georgia. The GOP made out better though – increasing their seats in the senate from 11 to 15 – the largest gain by Republicans in the country. The new 11th district was extremely gerrymandered and later challenged in court by George DeLoach, a politician who lost to Cynthia McKinney in a 1992 runoff in that district.


Fast forward to today’s DeKalb County School District: Remembering it was a majority [excluding Pam Speaks and Nancy Jester, who each voted ‘No’] of the former board  – led by Gene Walker – and including three current board members [Orson, McMahan-Vice Chair and Johnson-Chair] – that hired Michael Thurmond in secret – behind closed doors – without public participation or knowledge that our superintendent at that time had not reported for work in weeks and was in fact, negotiating an exit package via her attorney. This was done within just a few days of the Governor removing six of the nine from office. Thurmond said at the time that he was only temporarily ‘here to help’, yet he remains, collecting $300,000 a year and cutting costs in the classrooms in order to ‘balance’ a budget that has always in reality, been plenty of money to run a school district.


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4 Responses to The more things change, the more they stay the same …

  1. Creative Loafing has published a piece by George Chidi dated (April 8, 2015) that begins:

    The dominoes are falling in DeKalb County’s corrupt government.

    Former DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer recently pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and last month went to prison in a high-profile victory for the U.S. Attorney’s office. Her conviction is far from an isolated incident. Other people tied to DeKalb County government who, at first glance, seem like bit players have also struck plea deals over the last few weeks.

    As DeKalb District Attorney Robert James continues to focus on suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, the county’s highest-profile corruption case at the moment, federal authorities who are investigating county corruption have continued mining for cooperating witnesses. Those smaller efforts could lead to more indictments of the county’s higher-level public officials.

    Here’s the link:

    Mr. Chidi is a very insightful writer; I highly recommend reading the full article!

  2. DavidS says:

    I wonder if this means Melvin Johnson will be replacing John Evans with Tyrone Brooks on the Superintendent Search Committee, since, you know, he has more recent criminal activity on his resume.

  3. I would say all bets are on Watson and Sutton going down. In the 90’s Watson tried to peddle himself to the white ENR 100 alternative partner to win Minority goverment set aside projects rather than Herman Russel. Russell had gotten greedy besides getting his 51% for no work, was also requiring partners to hire the other companies that he had created for his sons. For example, he had Kevin ( pronounced KEevan ) with a spray on fireproofing for steel Contruction). If you wanted to partner with Russel on the Airport and other Minority projects or have that consideration, then, you just had to give Kevin Russell’s company the fireproofing jobs without completion on all your projects. Kevin could not even fill out his monthly payment draws. He needed to be called, and I would attempt to retutor him ever month . ( does anyone not wonder why he had his daughters former boyfriend as company president ( the guy now developing the GM plant ) rather than Jerome or Kevin for years?). Watson held himself out as an alternative, the vast majority of the GC’s found out that Watson was too slimy for them to deal with. Then as you have noticed Mitchell became the dejour contractor for partnering up.

    Sutton Barnes knows she is going on. It is too funny that she did a FOIA.

    Did you all catch where the Nobel laureate is pulling out of the Atlanta thing, he made a statement that Kaseem Reed was trying to Bully them into using his vendors.

  4. There are very real issues in Georgia, Atlanta and DeKalb with allowing for growth and new life, thoughts, ideas and cultures to intermingle and flourish. We need to encourage it – not tamp it down. Growth and mobility have been shown to have strong ties to better communities overall – including better schools. Education is key.

    Is America the “Land of Opportunity”? In two recent studies, we find that: (1) Upward income mobility varies substantially within the U.S. [summary][paper] Areas with greater mobility tend to have five characteristics: less segregation, less income inequality, better schools, greater social capital, and more stable families. (2) Contrary to popular perception, economic mobility has not changed significantly over time; however, it is consistently lower in the U.S. than in most developed countries.

    In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

    A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

    Atlanta (defined as the metro area, including Dekalb) is the worst big city in the country in terms of the ability to climb the income ladder. Read how poor public transportation, inferior schools, lack of good jobs near poor neighborhoods, keeping the poor segregated from the middle class, and a high rate of single-parent households, make it very difficult for lower-income households to rise into the middle class and beyond.

    The authors emphasize that their data allowed them to identify only correlation, not causation. Other economists said that future studies will be important for sorting through the patterns in this new data.

    Still, earlier studies have already found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that children escape poverty.

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