Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Argue for Cityhood. Others Argue Against

From No

The 2014 legislative session ended, and Lakeside failed to get their referendum on the ballot. What does the landscape look like now for future cities?

Why Lakeside failed
Lakeside board members thought that since they had the support of a powerful Republican in the legislature, they could get their way regardless of what the public thought.

However, an avalanche of calls and emails came in from a public that did NOT want to be railroaded in a low turn-out election into a ill-conceived ego-trip for local wannabe politicians. The strongest voice came from Tucker, a 100-year old community that did not want to get gutted by a land grab. And the legislature listened (it didn’t hurt that a former DeKalb GOP Chairman with a kick-ass rolodex was a Tucker booster).

The first response of the chairman of the board of Lakeside, Mary Kay Woodworth, was to say that they were throwing in the towel.

“We’re done and we won’t be back,” the AJC quoted her as saying on March 18th. “[T]hese people don’t listen,” she also said.

[An aside: in my experience, those complaining about others 'not listening' are in fact very upset that anyone has the nerve to disagree. It the most common grievance of the children in my house]
Bill sponsor Sen. Fran Millar, also, seemed inclined to throw in the towel in the face of adversity. “I don’t think the Senate has any appetite for any cities anymore, nor I do,” Millar said. He was adamant before the House Committee that he would not sponsor any city bills in the future.

A change of heart – for some, maybe
LCA, at least, appears to have changed it’s tune. Days after saying they were giving up, they announced that they were in fact going to try to come back next year. Lakeside claims they have managed to get Rep. Mike Jacobs, who last year spent half his time supporting Lakeside and half his time claiming he wanted nothing to do with Lakeside. Time will tell whether I-love-you, I-love-you-not Jacobs will actually put some energy into an issue that affects NONE of his own constituents, even as his vanity project, Brookhaven, crumbles into corruption, infighting, incompetence , and wasteful litigation with businesses, neighbors and itself.

There is significant question as to whether Jacobs will make it through his primary, as he is facing stiff competition and an influential Republican Web site has painted a target on him.
Meanwhile, former board member Kevin Levitas posted a slightly unhinged, angry rant on neighborhood listservs in which he claimed he was ‘formerly’ on the board. He is still on their Web site; it is uncertain who may still be on their board, or if they are finally just wrapping up their 501(c)(3) and reorganizing under a legally appropriate structure.

Can’t we all just get along?
No, apparently.
Both Lakeside and Tucker claim any compromise from last session is completely off the table, and they plan to continue slugging it out anew. Who can say who will win? My bets are on Tucker, since they managed to rout Lakeside, even though Lakeside had a headstart and one of the Senate’s battering rams on their side. They have a better justification for cityhood, and they definitely were able to bring some power of their own to bear.

Briarcliff is ever the decent, friendly kid who for some reason no one will be nice to (they are the Butters to LCA’s Cartman). Briarcliff was the target of Levitas’ recent rant, which had a long bulleted list (complete with subdivisions and subparts, a good lawyerly rant) about why everyone should show up to Briarcliff meetings and yell at them.

Briarcliff appears to making genuine, good faith efforts to learn from their mistakes, build consensus, and try to be better and stronger and create a jurisdiction that lifts all boats and doesn’t screw outside communities. Time will tell whether their reasonable, non-partisan effort will bear any fruit; given the nature of the GA Assembly, I am not optimistic about their chances.

And at the end of the day, they have some huge hurdles that I don’t see how they overcome. While LCA wants to make a big deal of their lack of a sponsor, I am confused by that–Lakeside lost their sponsor, not Briarcliff, as Mary Margaret Oliver hasn’t gone anywhere. She is a Democrat, though, in a legislature that won’t give anything to Democrats.

The bigger problem is that they envision a city centered around the Emory area, which sounds lovely, but Emory wants none of it. And Emory, as the largest employment center in DeKalb County, has a heck of a lot of clout. I don’t see how Briarcliff ever gets done when Emory makes it clear they are opposed. Druid Hills and Emory know they would likely be better off annexing into Atlanta.
LCA refuses to participate in any event or meeting that they cannot organize and control themselves. They refused to come to a forum sponsored last week sponsored by Briarcliff, because they might have to answer questions they could not vet in advance. They did not show up at the Civic Association Network’s forum this Sunday. The are, however, going to show up at the Oak Groove Festival Sunday, May 4th from 1to 8 p.m. It’s a rare chance to talk with them in a unscripted moment.

County efforts
There are some in DeKalb County who understand that this issue is going to keep resurfacing, and that maybe they can get ahead of it by municipalizing the whole county–choosing a way to divide up the entire county so every citizen has certain services provided on a more local basis.
One would think that those say that all cities are good would think this is a GREAT idea! Of course, they don’t, because they don’t support cities unless they are tailored to suit specific political agendas.
That said, the county may give us all reason to howl, if they create a city map that looks like their the infamous proposed new School Board Map.

And then we get to the nut of the problem, and why I am skeptical of new city processes, especially ones based around arbitrary lines. Who draws the lines? Whoever is drawing them is probably going to be drawing them in such a way as to push their own agendas and power plays. It is possible to analyze data in such a way that political lines can be drawn that don’t serve personal agendas (such as how california revolutionized their house district lines by taking out gerrymandering, and kicking out 25% of their incumbents in the process.

Anyone who would support that kind of agendaless process for drawing municipal lines would get my vote. Until then, the smartest thing is to say no.


Anonymous said...

The person behind the No To Lakeside website is Marjorie Hall Snook. She uses the alias of Riot Librarian on various social media sites, including Twitter here:

Her tweets used to be available for everyone to see but now they are protected. However, I copied some of the choice ones down before she hid them:

August 21, 2012

Copper thieves cut a gas line at a house by a school. Police were called, but they called it a 'false alarm' and did nothing.

Gas leaked for six hours, the house flooded, and the thieves got away. Cops have abandoned Belvedere Park.

August 19, 2009

DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown's truck gets broken into in Home depot parking lot. Finally, a car break-in in DeKalb will be investigated.

January 25, 2009

If you don't want to be hassled by police in DeKalb County, GA, stop driving a car and start breaking into them. No revenue, no interest.

Anonymous said...

More from Marjorie Hall Snook on

1. "Unfortunately, based on a lifetime experience with law enforcement, some are heroes, many are power-hungry, lazy jerks who are not very much help to people in trouble."

2. "Although in DeKalb, you're more likely to see cops in Waffle House than a Dunkin Donuts. ATL cops go to Krispy Kreme. None of them respond to crimes if they can avoid it."

3. "No, we didn't get a few hundred bucks of protection. We got nothing, which is approximately the maximum that DeKalb County seems able to provide.

How about gas leaks near schools? Are they also a low priority for DeKalb's finest? I'm guessing somewhere between eating donuts and harassing jaywalkers?"

4. "DeKalb cops are useless, unless you have a burning desire to see people get punished for rolling through stop signs."

Anonymous said...

the whole region is worthless dry stank air.

Theres no way Atlanta would even allow emory/stank village area to annex.

The politics of the city would not even be able to stand.

stank hill/druid hill whatever its called and emory need to relocate the whole profit/ stank emory sector of south atlanta somewhere north where it probably belongs. gwinette county sure as hell aint tolerating it.

Anonymous said...

I always find it interesting how year after year, County Commissioners run upopposed (Boyer was in office how long?) Yet, each time a new city pops up, there's a long line of people wanting to be elected. I seriously question the motives of anyone that swears on everything that they want to help their community by running for city council or for mayor, yet when it comes time for county elections....I guess those just don't count. There is zero accountability. It must be "too hard" to fix the county, so let's just get ourselves a whole new city.

They justify this, primarily by saying that they're not satisfied by the county police's services. Sure, our County Commissioners could solve that and instruct the department, or specific precinct to fit the needs of the complaining community. But...oh right, no one wanted to run for county commissioner. I see DEKALB going the way of Fulton. A county that might as well not exist on paper because almost every square mile of it is "Town of..." Or "City of...". There are too many law enforcement agencies in this County. There are too many politicians in this county. Could you imagine the place this would be if all these stupid showboat cities in which the only useful service they provide is a tiny police agency (that still might try to blame the county for their inability to quell the crime in their area), was all one DEKALB. If all the officers in Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, etc. patrolled the same beat they do now, but wore the same patch, and badge. Imagine what we'd be able to do with crime, with quality of life. Imagine if a 911 call didn't have to go through 2-3 different agencies before someone actually caught it and responded, god forbid you happen to be near a jurisdictional line, maybe like, how it used to be?. You know what? I'm sick of crime in my cul-de-sac, the police hardly ever ride by and make small talk with me. I can see it now. I'll be Mayor Jackass. The neighbors kids can be the city council. My son is a hall monitor in school and we go way back so I'll appoint him Chief of the Warped Reality Way Police Department. Then, once I'm done playing pretend, I'll go watch Tucker, Briarcliff, and Lakeside do the same.

Stay Safe. Stick Together. Stay DKPD.

Anonymous said...

If in fact the writer of the article is MARJORIE HALL SNOOK, then she better learn how to write anything from a third person side of the story.

First, who or what is LCA?

SECOND, she is doing nothing more than flapping her lips telling everyone how she feels about cityhood ?

Third, who cares what she thinks?

Fourth, is she a politician with any cloudt?

Finally, fifth, it will all come out in the wash when the General Assembly meets, when the feds make up their stupid minds, when the NAACP puts their two cents in, and when the voters have their say.

Hopefully, there will be lots of people in a new city, paying new taxes, hoping to have better services, also hoping not to have any crooked politicians in the first group of new city officers.

Time will tell and we will see if cityhood was a better idea than before.

Have a good day everyone !!

Anonymous said...


You hit the nail on the head. The same thing happened in Fulton County. All of these disgruntled North Fulton folks who allowed their county commissioners to run unopposed and had GOP chairs from 1993-2006 speaks volumes. Yes, problems existed but to keep Tom Lowe in office since 1975 tells me they were not too disappointed with the county that bad.

We create new cities and all of these people want to be in charge so they can be control of their areas on a higher level. This is why many of these cities are ran like Homeowner Associations on steroids.