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Delegation Meets With Key Players Missing

A number of legislators and one cityhood group cite prior commitments.

Tucker 2014's Frank Auman speaks to legislators about cityhood efforts.
Tucker 2014's Frank Auman speaks to legislators about cityhood efforts.
Updated 4 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify Rep. Mike Jacobs' appearance at the Merry Hills Neighborhood Association last night. And his comments also appear below the story.

The DeKalb Legislative Delegation scheduled a public hearing Wednesday night with two challenges:

  • Fitting in comments from the interim CEO, the school superintendent and school board chairman, cityhood groups and the public.
  • Holding a hearing after the Legislature is already in session and the issue of cityhood very much up in the air.
The result? The comments lasted for 2 1/2 hours. However, a large number of legislators did not hear them as they had prior commitments. One legislator and one cityhood group split their time between the hearing and another long-scheduled meeting with the Merry Hills Neighborhood Association.

And one cityhood group did not show up at all.

"We learned late Monday evening about this meeting, via email newsletters from our respective representatives," Lakeside City Alliance's Mary Kay Woodworth emailed Patch before the meeting. "We were not contacted by either the House or Senate chairs of the DeKalb Delegation regarding the meeting, nor asked to make a presentation. We have a previously scheduled community meeting at Beth Jacob Synagogue (at the request of the neighborhood), so LCA will not be making a presentation at the DeKalb meeting."

The neighborhood association invited LCA and the City of Briarcliff Initiative to their meeting Wednesday night. Some Briarcliff board members stayed briefly at the county hearing before heading to the Merry Hills meeting.

The delegation scheduled the public hearing after the Jan. 9 "DeKalb Day" meeting at the Capitol, in which all three cityhood groups -- Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker -- made their case for their cityhood plans. Stonecrest, which pulled back on its plans for this year after a feasibility study found it not financially viable, also made a presentation that day to the legislators.

Some cityhood leaders were visibly miffed by changes in the format at Wednesday's county hearing. The original schedule for the meeting called for a 15-minute presentation followed by people speaking in support or against the cityhood proposals. That 15 minutes was trimmed to five. COBI board member Don Broussard also was concerned that audio-visual was not provided and told the legislators that he could not show everything he wanted them to see.

State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who is sponsoring a bill supporting Lakeside cityhood, spoke briefly on behalf of LCA, saying they had made a full presentation Jan. 9 and had a "prior commitment." He said the group wasn't "ducking a meeting."

Millar told the audience that Lakeside and Tucker representatives had met as recently as Wednesday. As he recently told another legislative gathering, Millar said earlier efforts to form a "megacity" of 90,000 combining Lakeside and Tucker did not work out.

He told the audience that there is no final map or final version of his bill at this stage, "but I do anticipate it will go forward."

State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who left the hearing to attend the Merry Hills meeting, told that audience that the Lakeside bill is the most likely to move forward. An earlier version of this article misstated what he said.

In comments appearing below, Rep. Jacobs wrote: "What I actually said was that Lakeside is most likely to move forward, not that it is the most "viable" in other uses of that term. It is a near certainty that Senator Millar will get the Lakeside bill out of the Senate, and then the House will have to address the proposal. I don't see how the other proposals have a path forward as of right now, but that could change. My apologies for cross-posting an article from another publication, but the Brookhaven Reporter pretty much captures what I said at Beth Jacob last night: http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2014/01/23/fate-proposed-new-dekalb-cities-unclear/. As an aside, I was at Beth Jacob because I represented Merry Hills for 8 years and they requested that I speak on the subject. I did tell MMO (Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver), their current rep, that I would be doing this speaking engagement. "

Tucker 2014's Frank Auman spoke at the county hearing about the history of Tucker and why the community should become a city.

A number of residents spoke up against cityhood or against specific aspects of the proposals. A number of speakers said the rush to cityhood was moving too fast.

Check back with Patch later Thursday for more of what they said, along with comments from interim CEO Lee May and schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond.
Betty January 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM
I was there last night, and i wasn't impressed. I truly believe that those that are seeking cityhood has drawn a line in the sand. Either Dekalb County clean house NOW and get rid of corruption and put checks and balances in place. Or the cityhood's will go forward and the Commissioners and CEO will just have South Dekalb to govern. In the State of GA were considered the Most Corrupt County. The County commissioners have deferred the issue of an ethic board 4 times so far. They are also nominating and voting on who serves on it too. So it'll be up to the State Attorney's Office, GBI/FBI and the DA to find ethic violates in the future against the commissioners and the CEO. Since the ethics board will be a puppet board of sorts with no teeth. Make your Votes COUNT get rid of the Incumbents serving as Commissioners NOW.
Marv Peck January 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Thanks so much for covering this meeting. I was unable to attend but was very interested. It really seems like Lakeside knew about this but I'll have to check their website. I'm looking forward to your next report.
Marv Peck January 23, 2014 at 01:43 PM
I've been told that Lakeside didn't know about the meeting until 1/21. Can anyone confirm that? Betty, I'm glad to hear an ultimatum has been issued to DeKalb. That sounds like good news to me. Seems like if they cleaned up the Board, all of this nonsense would go away.
rwf January 23, 2014 at 02:48 PM
I was amused at the meeting when St. Francis of Dunwoody spoke for the LCA, to idly explain away their absence, when a senior member of the LCA's executive board was sitting in the audience. As he has spoken before on behalf of the LCA during one of their presentations, I just assumed he was their representative for the evening. The LCA leadership could have easily asked their politico-wannbe to attend the meeting, as he could certainly use some practice in public speaking. Oh well, our loss.
Roger Kennedy January 23, 2014 at 02:56 PM
I don't think so, Roy. All executive board members of LCA were at Beth Jacob. This meeting was scheduled 2 weeks ago (synagogue). Jacobs made it clear to COBI leadership in attendance that they had no future.
Jay Scott (Editor) January 23, 2014 at 04:01 PM
Folks, I am correcting the story to clarify Rep. Jacobs' position. Thanks!
Betty January 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Marv I was told that the meeting was a thrown together mess of Sen Ron Ramsey, that's one reason why not alot of the dekalb delegation even showed up. But I have been told Rep Howard Mosby will be doing another town hall soon which will be better organized.
Steve Brown February 02, 2014 at 04:59 PM
It looks like the DeKalb CEO, Commissioners and State Legislators are going to get their way. A Bill is coming from Dar'shun Kendrick and Mary Margaret Oliver for a one year study commission. What does that mean another year of an absent independent auditor for DeKalb County, The commissioners will elect an ethics board that caters to them not the voters. The DA will try to bring Vernon Jones and friends to trial over 300 million dollars in watershed bids. And DeKalb County will still be the most corrupt county in Georgia

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