Impressive, DeKalb County Commission District 5!

After not having a representative for two years, DeKalb County Commission District 5 could muster up only 6% (4,557) of some 95,000 registered voters in a costly special election held yesterday, June 16, 2015.

The votes, with all 36 precincts reporting, were cast as follows:

1. Mereda Davis Johnson received 1,239 votes (27 percent)
2. George Turner received 726 votes (16 percent)
3. Jerome Edmondson received 490 votes (11 percent)
4. Kathryn Rice received 427 votes (9 percent)
5. Gina Mangham received 424 votes (9 percent)
6. Gregory Adams received 351 votes (8 percent)
7. Harmel Codi received 311 votes (7 percent)
8. Vaughn Irons received 278 votes (6 percent)
9. Gwen Russell Green received 185 votes (4 percent)
10. Kenneth Saunders received 115 votes (3 percent)

As far as we can tell this special election and the vote is only available behind the paywall at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Typical. So get the story at On Common Ground News:

Meanwhile, you may be interested in this story aired on March 5, 2015 by WXIA. Mereda Johnson was paid more than $73,000 since 2008 from campaign contributions to her husband, US Representative Hank Johnson.  This while she apparently continued to work full-time as a lawyer in her law firm and even when her husband, Hank Johnson, had no opposition for re-election.  Hank Johnson said she “earned every penny” and that she was “more accessible” than he was. Can you spell “Friends-and-Family”? Do we really need more of that in DeKalb County?

You may also want to read this article about George Turner in Atlanta Progressive News, June 2, 2015.  It is eye-opening!  Lots of interesting information there that would cause a reasonable person to re-think voting for Turner.  The article mentions that Turner has been a legislative aide to District 43 for seven years.  Ron Ramsey — yes, double-dipping Ron Ramsey) is the state senator for District 43.  Can you spell “Friends-and-Family”?  Do we really need yet another F & F connection who is beholden to Ron Ramsey?

Good going, District 5!  Not only did so many people selfishly run for this office that it was hard even for stalwart voters to identify one who would make a decent candidate. A costly run-off was almost assured.  It doesn’t matter who wins.  The winner will most assuredly be the lesser of two evils. You get what you deserve, District 5. But the rest of us are sick of it!

Impressive, District 5.  Really.

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28 Responses to Impressive, DeKalb County Commission District 5!

  1. How much walking around money from Hanks campaign payments of $70+ k per year went to walking around money for the MRS. Then how much walking around money went to Turner from the other Friendes and family, member and new Birth. The new Marty president is already running circles around what Turner did. Q

    We clearly have black stupid in the 5th and we have Republic stupid when we read Plantiff Kings comments to the NY times yesterday on the King vs Burwell about the ACC. Comes to find out he admits in the interview if he looses ACA coverage it won’t matter much to him, he is a Vietnam vet and can go to the va for the next year until he is 65. He also lied about standing. Justice Ginsburg was questioning standing. It turns out he wasn’t vetted and appears he now admits he doesn’t have it since he has VA coverage. He also does like that Obama would name the law after hi
    Myself that is why he is suing. Obama did not name the law after himself, it is the ACA, Affordable Healthcare Act, aka Ronmneycare in Mass. The Republicans started to call it Obama care to drum up the raceiest hatters.

  2. At least IRONS was no where close to winning. That would have been a sin.

  3. Procopius from Constantinople says:

    I suggest that for a Sunday drive you visit District 5. Pay attention to the businesses, homes, yards, debris, trash, noise and then draw your own conclusions. Many folks in district 5 have a daily struggle and voting for a county commissioner is not high on the list of things that need to get done. It’s sad because the quality of life in that part of Dekalb in the 70’s and 80’s was actually pretty darn good. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to the quality of life these days.

  4. howdy1942 says:

    We experienced the same voter apathy on May 20, 2014, when 90% of residents in District 4 (where I live) chose not to vote in electing our school board member. Given what had happened in just the two years prior to that election, one would have thought that voter participation would have been the other way around.

    Dekalb County has the government it has and the school system it has because so few of our residents choose to exercise their most basic, most precious, and most sacred right – the right to vote and to choose the government and school officials that serve us. I recently visited the grave of my father and again saw the markers – Bronze Star, World War II, the Korean War, the Veterans’ plaque. I regularly pull out the pictures that he took of Dachau on the second day after it was liberated when he entered that camp and remember the quiet times we spent together. I learned firsthand what happens when people just let things happen.

    It is true in District 4 as it is in District 5 and everywhere – there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for one not to vote. It was not convenient for my father to spend over 2 years of his life fighting the Nazis, it was not convenient for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to spend so much of his life fighting for voting rights, and it remains as true today as it ever has in the past that a good, honest and moral government and school system is essential if we are to preserve our freedom.

    While I understand the disproportionate challenges so many of our people face today, those who are downtrodden and face such challenges have the greatest reasons to vote. I greatly admire and respect Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and she is right on when she says the game is rigged. Only by voting can we hope to create one that is not.

  5. R McDonald says:

    It WAS covered by the AJC: “Runoff will decide DeKalb commissioner” is the lead story on page B2, Thursday, June 18.

  6. bettyandveronica1 says:

    oh the summer heat…simmer down, folks. Comments on this thread are outta line and way past the true discussion stage.

  7. Yes, R McDonald, we should clarify. The AJC does not report openly. Everything is behind a pay wall. So only those with $$$ get the info about their community from the AJC. We can find free news from big paper reporters at all major cities for free – except Atlanta.

  8. Mark Niesse says:

    Here’s the AJC’s free version of the DeKalb Commission election story from Tuesday night:

  9. dsw2contributor says:

    If you think this election was bad, just wait for the hilarity that will follow Burrell Ellis’ acquittal….

  10. If Ellis is acquitted again then the DA, needs to just resign. James will be a complete and utter failure as a DA. The Hemy Newman trial overturned. The ridiculous plea deal and siding with Crawford Lewis vs the Judge. Judge Becker was just so disgusted at that plea deal! At least now she can make a decent salary for a few years as a Partner of a Law firm instead of starving on a Judges salary in comparison.

  11. All crap is about to hit the fan in another construction funds scandal in DeKalb Schools. The Pat Reid/Pope replacement at Chief operating officer’s Mr. Williams ( is that his names young black guy). Looks like he thought he would promote a former teacher to a construction contract administration position by the name of Matheni ( I missed the rest), instead of hiring someone with a solid Architecture or Construction Engineering Background ( by the way Pat Reid or Pope did not have a Construction Engineering degree from Purdue University from the time frame Crawford Lewis claimed in a deposition. I know this for a fact because the Construction Engineering Degree was only given at the West Layfette, Indiana Campus at the time, and I was a TA at the program. There were only two females in grad school, and only three or four max in each undergrad class in the program. Every single female was lily white. I carpooled a black girl to DC and back in another major a constant conversation was the lack of minorities except athletes and they sure we’re not in Engineering. This girl’s father was the head of the EEOC in DC at the time, so it was an interesting conversation.)

    It looks like Ms. Matheni did not prove to be a playable fool that the Cheif operating officer had thought she would be. He tried to have her change some contracts, backdate, ect. Then tried to have the secretary order her to gain access her password protected files She refused and told them it was illegal to let anyone have access to her password protected files. The Cheif wanted to make the changes she wouldn’t make himself. She then reported it to Mr. ( can’t pat himself on the back any more) Thurmond. She was then fired for insubordination.

    Today Julie Onionen, filed a Whistleblower lawsuit on her behalf. This was just on the 6:30 new. Sorry, if I did not transcribe this better, hard to type on an IPAD. I am an engineer.

    The Feds need to get involved in Dekalb, DA James is incapable of prosecuting the corruption. Federal Funds are surely in twined in all of this mess.

  12. Holy Crap!!!

    WSB-TV’s 6 PM news included a Richard Belzer report about the latest lawsuit, which claims DCSD terminated Ms. Matheni after she refused to illegally backdate change orders.

  13. To “Another Comment”: FYI, before he became COO, Joshua Williams was Executive Director of Facilities Management.

    You can see how much influence Williams has over Construction by looking at the organizational charts, posted here:

    Click to access organizational-chart.pdf

    Page 12 is the most relevant.

  14. Our point as always: It’s Groundhog Day again. There is really no way to root out the corruption in DeKalb. It has passed the point of no return.

  15. @dswcontributer I have never seen a more F’d up organizational chart in my life. I have over 20 years experience in Design Construction and Facilities Management. I have supervised over 210 individuals in line and direct positions ranging from custodians, groundskeepers, skilled trades persons, which include but not limited to maintenance mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, painters, boiler operators, boiler makers, pipefitters, engineers, architects and various support staff. In addition to managing the contracting of Repair and Improvement projects, outsourced maintenance contracts as well as simultaneously managing new contracts of multimillion dollar new contracts and Master Plans. My facility experience includes retail banking and complex government and healthcare facilities with office and ware house. I also worked for Top ENR General Contractors ( the best of the best by quality and dollar value). I am one of the recognized national experts who has been contributed to two cycles of the AIA/AHA Healthcare design guidelines. I have been an expert witness in Federal Construction court cases. It is very clear that this organizational chart has been drafted as a rather poor attempt to try to justify the existence of existing employees or those friends and family members they wish to employee. Any 4th year Georgia Tech Industrial engineering Student could blindly come up with a better organizational chart than this. The organization I was in prior is ’96 had 205-210 in house employees and had 3 secretaries, with two dispatchers and 1 clerk. That was later reduced as secretarial positions shifted to administrative assistants with more other duties and workforce was contracted out. Throughout the organizational chart, it looks like we are in “Suzy McNamara Private secretary” ( a tv show) era of the 50’s to 60’s . I am sorry but Secretary is a career that office automation has all but eliminated in the past 35 years. Now individuals do their own correspondence and reports, secretaries have to be retrained to administrative assistants do more budget, planning, tracking and logistics work. It is also an opportunity for those who want to get ahead to move up, mine did, I mentored them.

    Especially, in the Public sector the contracting, and construction administration / design functions should not be in a line supervision role. In the Federal Government this is expressly prohibited by contracting law. You have a separate Contracting Office, with contracting officers with contracting warrants, they issue the contracts, all contracts and change orders go through then. Then you have Project Managers, who are Project Officers and have completed Project officer training and know the FAR – Federal Regulations. They can be the Construction technical representatives, on construction projects, the Brooks Acts specifically states only Degreed or Registered Architects/ Engineers in 800 positive degree series can sit on a selection panel for an Architect or Design Build Selection for the technical selection which has real weight ( some upper mgmt try to get around it but then you can legally shove sorry, do you meet the Brooks Act qualification). In areas like information technology, then It professionals are the technical representatives on those projects.

    One thing that really sticks out to me is the number of workers comp. adjusters they have three? How many people do they have on workers comp. ? I Have met a couple of teachers from Dekalb who have been injured by student attacks and have back injuries and have been harassed. Why are they persecuting teachers who have been assaulted and maimed instead of disciplining and exposing the trouble makers. Also, why isn’t this outsourced to an HR vendor. The same thing with Payroll.

    Total ineptness and bloat. I am a big proponent of breaking up all of the school districts into single High school Districts with feeder middle and elementary schools. The 3,500 -5000 student local independent school model with some shared vo-tech schools is a model that works in the Top Performing states. Low administrative costs. It was basically what the Druid Hills Charter Cluster was proposing.

  16. We have long wondered why the SPLOST budget as well as the employees connected to SPLOST construction projects are not placed into their own distinct, separate budget and monitored/audited by an outside accounting firm. The employees associated with SPLOST construction should be paid from SPLOST funds – not out of the general operations pot, [where SPLOST funds are admittedly added the same as other collections – co-mingling?] One day, we will no longer collect SPLOST taxes for building construction and the $225-250 million a year collected will go away. The jobs should go away as well, but if they are coddled within the central office, we may find ourselves hamstrung with these highly-compensated people for decades to come.

    Same is true for Race To The Top. Haven’t those funds gone away? If so, why is Beasley and his department still here? He has not made a difference and has never presented data (which he claims to collect) showing the success of his initiatives. In fact, whatever became of the famous “Triage” that Beasley was a part of? That was supposed to fix everything – way back when!

    Saturday, July 16, 2011
    Triage! That’s what they’re calling the plan to improve test scores.

    Or for a more recent untested, unmonitored large waste of money, check out Michael Thurmond’s $70+ million “Bridge” Initiative (wholeheartedly funded by the Board, with NO oversight or reporting required!) >>

    The Bridge: Has it filled a gap? No way to tell–nobody tracked it.
    Posted on April 20, 2015

    Another old example of Groundhog Day >>

    Friday, June 17, 2011
    There’s a Hole in My Bucket, Dear Liza

    And again, rather than rehash our feelings on the subject and our suggestions for a better school district – please just reread our own Vision 2020 – a collaborative effort written by a group of highly involved parents and community members. We still stand behind it and wish it to be heard.

    Monday, February 7, 2011
    “Without a vision, the people perish…”

    In fact, we will go ahead and repost that last one!

  17. former dekalb parent says:

    yes, they give employees tremendous grief if they try to use worker’s comp and have for years….as well as utilizing your EARNED sick time ….

  18. sawyerbrown68 says:

    Another comment,

    Did you know that Millini Matheny, a former teacher, is actually a trained attorney and a trained paralegal. She is showing keen wisdom in retaining Julie Oinonen to represent her. Oinonen has made a pile of money from school systems.

    This won’t end well for Dekalb County

  19. It looks like Mr. Williams and Mr. Thurmond then have surely messed up if she is a trained attorney and did this. Why on earth was she teaching school and working for this ratched school district?

  20. Interesting: WSB News online has a separate tab in their navigation menu labeled “DeKalb Corruption”. Wow. That pretty much says it all.

    It’s nested under “Channel 2 Investigates”

    Also, they have a page to submit tips. Please do so if you know something. Don’t trust the school district’s “Whistleblower Hotline”, which may or may not even be functional anymore.

  21. concerned citizen says:

    Did anyone else read the article in the AJC today about the wonderful job Thurmond has done? Who in the world is the author of this piece?

  22. Thurmond helped DeKalb schools through dysfunction By Marlon A. Walker – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [It’s beyond the pay wall of course.]

    Here is the text from the photo cut line, “Thurmond helped DeKalb schools through dysfunction — Michael Thurmond, outgoing DeKalb County school superintentent, said the job was rewarding because, “Here in DeKalb, I ve been granted the privilege of focusing on the next generation.” (DeKalb County Schools)”

    Curious – how can he lead schools through ‘dysfunction’ if the very same administrators that caused the dysfunction are still at the helm? Oh, yes, he can blame it all on the ‘old board’…

    And then there’s this quote, ““Michael Thurmond did exactly what needed to be done,” said Allyson Gevertz, the parent of two students in DeKalb County Schools.” … “The whole county was in crisis. The publicity was so negative. I think the board was strategic in choosing someone who was a politician and who was good with spin. … “It made a huge difference.”

    Oh yes, if Allyson Gevertz says so, well, then…

  23. And this shows the absolute lack of understanding from this writer, Marlon A. Walker – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [perhaps driven by press releases written by Thurmond’s former campaign manager turned communications officer for DeKalb Schools?]

    “His lack of an education background led many to object to his selection, saying he knew little that would help the district. Knowing his limitations, Thurmond said he surrounded himself with people able to build up the district while he worked to balance the budget and restore order to the dysfunctional management structure. It was so bad that Gov. Nathan Deal suspended six school board members and appointed replacements shortly after Thurmond stepped in the door.”

    It was that FIRED BOARD that HIRED Michael Thurmond on their way out!! Thurmond fought hard for his first few weeks to plead with the Governor to save their jobs!

  24. And, we have Ernest Brown’s comment >>

    Ernest Brown, whose four children went to DeKalb County Schools, said Thurmond will be seen as a fixer who got finances and bad management under control to establish stability for the floundering district and allow someone whose strengths are in education to pick up the baton.

    “Did he address academics a lot?” Brown said. “Probably not. But there was a lot of back-office work that he got in order.”

    Well at least that one is more honest.

  25. “Knowing his limitations, Thurmond said he surrounded himself with people able to build up the district while he worked to balance the budget and restore order to the dysfunctional management structure.”

    Really? He did go out and get Mr. Bell as the new CFO. But he didn’t change anything else. He worked with the very same people who caused the educational problems in the first place. The ones who presented plan after plan, even proclaimed a “Triage” – only to never make any progress with test scores. The cuts were made off the backs of teachers and the income increased due to increased property values and not resetting the millage rate – as well as better reporting of FTE credits. We still have Beasley, Tyson, Ramsey, and crew. We have virtually no one in charge of creating and monitoring curriculum and our technology budget somehow gets usurped well before it can be spent on technology for students and teachers in ALL classrooms. Per pupil spending is still all over the board – ranging from highs in specialty programs like DSA and the Fernbank STT program along with Kittredge and Wadsworth, etc. to lows of regular ed schools with large classrooms and crowded buildings requiring pods of trailers. That’s a ‘dysfunction’ about which the board won’t even share the data.

    Yes, Thurmond was able to salvage the budget and stop the madness for a minute. But now it is time to move forward and EDUCATE. Can we get to that now?

  26. concerned citizen says:

    DSW: I agree with your article and appreciate your insight as always, but I feel your last paragraph is much too kind. He did not salvage the budget, and he did not, even for a minute, stop the madness. The F& Fers had a ball with him; they pandered and salivated and fawned over him like fools in an out-of-control King’s court. In fact, Thurmond makes Henry VIII look like Casper Milktoast. His arrogance and high-handed tactics have been insulting and humiliating to watch, and the delightful caricature of him as Superman is totally appropriate.

  27. sawyerbrown68 says:


    Your 11:57 AM-12:11 PM posts are so very true. They speak to “dysfunction at the helm”; they blame the fired board; they shine a bright light on a lack of academic focus; and they rightfully single out Beasley, Tyson, Ramsey, and Crew.

    You ought to be congratulated!

    You should encourage singling out the bullies and the horrible principals who thrive because because of Beasley, Tyson, Ramsey, and crew less we are playing favorites.

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