Monday, November 2, 2015

Opposing Views on Cityhood Before We are Off to the Polls

By Marjorie Hall Snook

For months now, residents of north-central DeKalb have been bombarded with the message that. in response to a corrupt and mismanaged DeKalb government, they should create more government.
Additional city governments will not address the problems facing DeKalb County. The county will still provide the major share of services to residents of these areas. What the new cities will do is increase the number of politicians and increase the cost of government, with no guarantee of improved services.

The cost of having a new layer of government is considerable. According to the projections of the Carl Vinson Institute of UGA, the additional administrative costs for a city of LaVista Hills would be nearly $6.5 million dollars annually. Close to 20 percent of tax dollars would be siphoned off to pay for overhead costs.

These expenses tend to grow. Three years ago, a new City of Brookhaven was projected to need $25 million a year to provide services. Their budget is now $33 million — an increase of 30 percent in just three years. City proponents use spurious millage rate comparisons to claim that tax burdens have not gone up. This is impossible. Common sense dictates that when the cost of government increases the citizens pay for it through higher property taxes and higher fees and fines.
The new DeKalb cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven started out with projected surpluses. LaVista Hills’ projected surplus is very small — less than 5 percent of the budget. Later investigations done by independent researchers and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution have indicated that the city might instead start out with a deficit.

There is very little data that additional city expenses result in better services. Small-city police forces lack many of the resources of a major urban force like DeKalb County’s. Dunwoody is particularly instructive; a 2012 study in Dunwoody found that the small police force there was ‘often overwhelmed’. Just last month, the police chief sent a plea to the city council saying their force was ‘woefully understaffed’ and that they had the lowest number of officers per call of any force in the area. Crimes rates have increased significantly.

City politicians are not immune from the problems that have plagued county government. Adding more elected officials increases the opportunities for cronyism and corruption. Many new cities found themselves wrestling with their first scandals before the terms of the first elected officials were up. To make matters worse, the charters of the new cities have no provisions for independent ethics boards to oversee elected officials — meaning these new politicians have even less oversight that what we have at the county level.

The process that put the two current cities on the ballot was badly flawed. LaVista Hills and Tucker were introduced through a broken legislative process that was not transparent and that ignored citizen input. This resulted in a map that divides communities and neighborhoods.
DeKalb is a rich and culturally diverse county. By working together as a united community, we can confront the challenges we face in DeKalb and build a stronger, more ethical and well-run county. We need to find ways to reach across lines, not draw new ones.
Marjorie Hall Snook is president, DeKalb Strong

Tucker. They’ve Earned a Yes.
by George Chidi
I was asked a moment ago why I think it makes sense for Tucker’s voters to choose to become an actual city on Tuesday. After all, incorporation comes with costs.
Well, yes. Good government costs something.

We live in Georgia, where government is a curse word. So we cheap out. We contribute less tax revenue per capita than almost anyone. Starve the beast, and all. And then we wonder why DeKalb County management often can’t find its own ass with two hands and a sherpa guide.
There’s something to be said for having someone close to yell at when things are screwed up. There’s something more to be said when you’ve got someone close who is paid to yell at the right person, because you don’t have time to find out who that person is.

For residents of Tucker, the benefit is planning and zoning control, for one, along with the power of local legislation. It is worth noting that Tucker has been a dumping ground — literally — for corruption problems in DeKalb County related to this kind of control.
The DoJ indicted a state DoT manager a couple of months ago for taking bribes to allow dirty fill to be dumped in restricted areas … of Tucker.

Jerry Clark, who will be serving a sentence in federal prison for bribery, took money to let a shady nightclub operate without proper permits … in Tucker. That’s Lu Lu Billares — now La Vaca — on Chamblee-Tucker Road.

Local government gives someone — someone — direct responsibility to the local community to watch out for this kind of thing. We need eyes on these problems. Good government comes with a cost. Incorporation pays for eyes.

Here’s another reason: Identity matters. Tucker is fundamentally more than just a neighborhood. Most people already think they’re a city. Actually becoming a city reinforces local identity.
Identity matters because it breeds civic participation … which is the solution to 80 percent of the problems in this county, and in metro Atlanta. Civic participation rates in the metro region are among the lowest in the country, whether measuring voter turnout or community meeting attendance, school board meetings, PTA

That’s not a joke. Georgia ranks sixth in participation in online discussion of politics. Thank you Eric Erickson.

If the word “Tucker” means something to people, they’ll fight to defend it. And it’s the fight that counts right now.

One more: Tucker is about the last bastion of middle-class America left in metro Atlanta. A city of Tucker can maintain that. And that’s something that needs maintaining.

In this, Tucker is fundamentally different from LaVista Hills, which still feels like a 50-year-old marketing VP buying an overpriced BMW — incorporation as aspiration.
But metro Atlanta has the widest split between wealth and poverty in America. Communities are either very rich, or very poor. Buckhead, or Bankhead. North Peachtree or South Fulton. A gated community or a larval favela.

There are few places around here in the middle. There are damned few that also have a healthy ethnic mix, one reflecting America’s future. That social and economic combination of melting pot middle class values can actually breed the kind of leadership that makes sensible politics possible in Georgia.
We need that. We, as in this county and this state, need that. We are rapidly forgetting what that looks like. We will soon forget how to make policies relevant to that.

So. Vote yes. Vote yes on the ethics referendum and yes on Tucker. After acting like a city for about 100 years already, they’ve earned it.


Anonymous said...

You don't think this guy is a idiot in this interpretation of a real city. If this thing passes , I hope he still around to explain the lost revenue and the cost to a city for the special people who think this is the best approach for Tucker.

Anonymous said...

You have to love what these people that are promoting cityhood on the promises of what would happen if we are a city. Then whoever is elected has another agenda for this new city. These few people who got together and wanted a new city would run for some elected post to have the power that they never had and think they are the best ones to run it. I was at a meeting and the promises were beyond belief on what they said would happen if we were a city. I like it when one said be a police car on every street. I guess you can't make this stuff up. They seem to live in a make believe world. Take a good look at Dunwoody and Brookhaven it is far from a perfect world free of crime and everyone plays together.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Decatur for a time. Police response was fast. Fire response was near instantaneous.

The Police resource argument is bunk. Were it not the case, then DeKalb, despite it's greater resources would not have needed the assistance of 3 Doraville officers to capture 3 burglary suspects loose in a neighborhood off of Lavista Road. I, a civilian, assisted one of those Doraville officers while the lone DeKalb Officer who was nearby was unaware that one of the three was slipping through the north west perimeter.

I'm a life ling DeKalb Resident. I'm tired of the standard of leadership we get from 1300 Commerce Drive. The number of things that I have seen over the past 10 years that details an utter breakdown of quality government has long exceeded my patience. From the standard of ability from the County Attorney's office, to the sanitation department's utter incompetence, to Police Leadership and many other things.

Even if I see a 20% tax increase, I'm fine with a 50% increase in performance of leadership from the local government agencies. I can't see it getting any worse than 2 past CEO's having gone to prison and the sorry excuse for Leadership that the county has had for years.

- 43 year DeKalb Resident and a Lavista Hills Yes voter.

Anonymous said...

But you idiot citizens voted them in lol

Anonymous said...

If there was only one Dekalb officer there, who was manning this "perimeter" you speak of?? Sorry, but Doraville doesn't have the manpower to set up perimeters outside of their jurisdiction, so I'm going to put it politely and say that you are lying through your teeth. More b.s. propaganda from the "vote yes" liars.

Anonymous said...

Well at least we'll be close to Recorders Court when we are all operating out of one precinct again. Enjoy guys, I'm outta here.

Anonymous said...

"If there was only one Dekalb officer there, who was manning this "perimeter" you speak of?? Sorry, but Doraville doesn't have the manpower to set up perimeters outside of their jurisdiction, so I'm going to put it politely and say that you are lying through your teeth. More b.s. propaganda from the "vote yes" liars."

Lovely of you to do so. Doesn't make you right though. I was there. You weren't. DeKalb may have the resources but it clearly doesn't have the leadership to use them properly. That's clear from the general content of this blog.

And even with all of those resources it still needs the assistance of other town police to effect it's job. Hence the point.

- 43 year DeKalb Resident and a disappointed Lavista Hills Yes voter.
(Great I get to deal with more of DeKalb's crap, corruption and maladministration)

Anonymous said...

dkpd dump lol , that department is finished lol , you have nothing to patrol!!!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

To the 42 year DeKalb Resident who wants to look down at his police department:

I am a DKPD Officer and a supervisor who has proudly served this department for 18 years with the brave men and women of this department. I find your comments insulting. Yes, I would agree leadership is lacking in our county government, but so is Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville, and other Metro Atlanta Cities. Politics is politics and its dirty no matter where its at.

If Doraville assisted us that is great!!! Ask yourself, "How many times have DKPD helped other agencies with a critical situation?" Obviously, you probably do not know. Or why a citizen had to go to the County police for assistance cause the city police department was totally clueless in how to resolve the matter. Or how about the crime in Brookhaven going way up and not having the resource to deal with it.

The fact is 43 year resident just because your bitter and upset with county government, don't throw your police department UNDER THE BUS because of your political drama. THE FACT IS LAVISTA HILLS DIDN'T GO THROUGH AND WE ARE STILL HERE WITH THE INTENT TO PROVIDE THE BEST SERVICE IN FORMS OF POLICING.


Anonymous said...

43 year liar, you're full of it. Doraville isn't going to send all of their assets all the way down to Lavista Rd just to catch a burglary suspect running from us. That kind of call actually happens almost daily in Dekalb. Doraville has their own radio channel and wouldn't even be aware of the call unless a DeKalb ofixer pUT outhe a distress call. So who was manning the perimeter?

Anonymous said...

Now cheating at THE POLLS!!!??? WHEN WHEN WHEN will something be done about this corrupt shit hole Dekalb?

Anonymous said...

Corruption in DeKalb?.... Say it isn't so!

Anonymous said...

To 7:58 AM, I guess we can count on you to move to Doraville, where birds land on your shoulder as you walk down the road,the air is clean, and you can leave your house unlocked each and every day when your not home.

When the plane crashed on the freeway, DKPD and DK Fire handled the scene for Doraville, as they (Doraville) did not have enough manpower working to handle it. We have more resources available than any of the city departments. That story you're telling about the perimeter on the burglary scene is fairy tale theater on your part. More b.s. propaganda. What did you do for a living that makes you such an expert on policing?

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Doc J. said...

Whoa,there cowboy/cowgirl! Dekalb County is definitely going down like the Titantic,but it has absolutely nothing to do with *our* police officers. This handfull of overtaxed,underpaid,overwhelmed men and women are letting it all hang out everyday,24/7/365,for *all* the citizens of this county,including you,your family,and your friends. I did it for 30 years,and I don't know how I did. These officers are fighting and clawing their way through low pay,no raise,no support,unbelievable,unbearable second guessing/scrutiny,and hostility from the very people that they put their lives on the line for,every single shift.Dont forget the increasing pension deductions from what little pay they *do* make, constantly fluctuating mismanagement from this administration,and a constant barrage of undeserved criticism,from not only the press,but from the public,as well. All,I know,for a fact,is that the rank and file officers of this department( sgt's and below),ARE,AND WILL ALWAYS BE,the vanguard of this county. Garbage piling up.Deal with it. Sewers leaking.Deal with it. Dogs and cats running wild.Deal with it. Pot holes.Deal with it. Increasing violent crime rates,outrageous traffic,immeasurable accidents,crimes agaimst persons,crimes against property,these officers have to DEAL WITH IT,while you are sitting on your ass,sipping tea,and complaining at your H.O.A.meetings,with the other soccer mom's and dad's. Next time you are a victim of a crime,as you will probably,most unfortunately,most assuredly be in the future,just call your H.O.A. president. Let us all know how that works out for you. Don't forget your history either. The Tiantic went down because of the CAPTAIN,not the crew.!They kept the ship afloat as long as they could. Even at the expense of their own lives !