What’s New On The City Front?

For those curious about the legislative process we’re entering, here’s some general info on the next steps.

In general, a bill has to be entered and passed in one chamber of the legislature before the 30th day of the legislative session (“crossover day”). We’re around day 16 now. After a bill passes in one chamber, it goes to a Committee in the other chamber. For anything to happen, that Committee has to approve a bill; then it goes to the full Chamber for a vote. If the second bill is different in any way from the first bill, a Committeeof the two chambers reconciles the bills and then sends it back to the two separate chambers for a final vote, before the 40th day of the session.

There is no need for separate bills to be entered in the legislature; all of the discussion will be around the first bill to be entered. Other bills will be submitted in Committee as “substitutes” for the initial bill.

The Lakeside City bill has been entered in the Senate (with a new map that’s not on their website). It has gone through a sub-committee hearing and passed. Everybody expects that it will pass in the full Committee, and then in the Senate. The Senate is easy for a starter.


Then the unknowns and fun begins.


The Speaker of the House will decide on a House Committee/ Sub-Committee to consider the Senate bill. The first hint of the outcome will be: Where is the bill assigned?  For example, it might be assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee. That’s a sign that the House leadership has decided to take action this year. On the other hand, Speaker Ralston could assign the bill to the special sub-committee of the DeKalb Delegation.  That’s a sign that the leadership doesn’t want to deal with it this year.

If the House leadership decides that they want to take action this year, then a proposal to substitute the Briarcliff bill for the Lakeside bill will be entered in the committee. (And a Tucker bill will also be proposed, and a moratorium bill.)

The Committee (or Sub-Committee) will hear testimony, and will vote on its modified version of the Senate bill.  That modified version may be the Briarcliff bill; the Tucker bill; or a changed version of the Lakeside bill; or it could be a bill encompassing two separate cities. They really can do anything they want.

This House bill will then be voted on in the full House, and will go to a conference committee of the House and Senate to come up with a final version. That bill will go to both chambers for a vote.


If the modified bill passes in both chambers, it goes to the Governor for his signature; then after another series of events, it goes to the voters in a referendum. (If there are two cities in the bill, there would be two referendums.)


There are a lot of permutations possible in this process. And the leadership of the House could just decide at any point that it’s alltoo complex; or there’s not enough time; or House membersdon’t want to antagonize any potential voters. Then a bill will emerge to delay action for a year.


It’s unfortunate that there’s still no “merger” or combination among the cityhood proposals. There’s still time, and if even two could get together, there probably could be a simple agreement for something. So far that hasn’t happened. This plays into the “do nothing” hand, because much of the House would prefer to spend their time on something else (campaign fundraising).


So we’ll see soon.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cheryl Miller February 07, 2014 at 06:06 PM
The Tucker Yahoo Discussion blog has a lot of people involved who are not from Tucker, living in Tucker or representing Tucker. And who is on the board for T2014 this week anyway? New faces pop up in odd places, like presenting in front of the state legislators but they are never identified in any way on the Tucker website or even when I emailed them directly to ask. (frustrating)
rwf February 07, 2014 at 06:12 PM
Frannie D., the incorporation question has been forefront in our community for 14 months. The three incorporation groups have been vying for attention since the spring of 2013. These same groups have been talking at or with each other for at least 6 months. The concept of compromise has been beaten over their heads that entire time. Herman asked me to contact T14 behind the scenes with a compromise proposal right after the New Year, which is when I learned just how little influence I had. After all this time do you really think that the LCA, COBI and T14 are interested in what we have to say on The Patch? That your pleas for a compromise are falling on deaf ears? Do you not understand that all three groups have already made their play with regard to maps and are not backing down because of a few well intentioned comments that you or I might make? Rightly or wrongly, the incorporation groups have made their decisions and are moving forward with or without us. It should be patently clear to all interested in the incorporation movement that their only priority, their ONLY priority, right now are the games being played out currently in the General Assembly. All this excitement on the blogs over the Senate committee vote approving SB 270 is a tempest in a teapot. That committee is composed of 4 white Republican men and 3 black Democrat women. Of course it was going to pass, St. Francis was counting on it, as sure a thing as taxes. That is probably as dysfunctional committee as you will find in the General Assembly. Every vote is either 4-3 Republican or 7-0 unanimous. The two sides certainly don't discuss the issues before them and I'd be surprised if the even say hello to each other. The bill will almost certainly be approved by the Rules committee, and then approved by the Senate. Its approval in the Senate has been guaranteed for months. The real game is in the House, and I can offer you no assurances there. COBI has already stated their confidence that their Bill will get a fair hearing in the House, and if that is true, Tucker will be right there with them. (T14 is certainly not showing their hand.) I am confident that both COBI and T14 have a game plan already set for the House and that Lakeside is not a done deal. Far from it. Now is not the time to compromise, as the overriding issue is to be HEARD and fairly considered. (They don't even exist as far as the Senate is concerned.) If they get that far, and if a compromise becomes necessary at that point to close the deal, then it will be had in a 30 minute conversation. And whatever they come up with will not be affected by what you or I have to say today. They are well past that. All should know that when the Lakeside bill passes the Senate, as expected, that is as good as they'll have it. It'll be all downhill from there.
Frannie D. February 07, 2014 at 07:13 PM
For what it's worth, I was attempting a discussion with the Tucker community, not the Cityhood leaders. I have no illusions that they would care or reply. Was urging my neighbors to nudge their group, for our own goods, because I see us as being on the same coin: our neighborhoods will be split. Will that be the end of the world? No. I have 3 city designations and zip codes within a stones throw, and I don't think twice about what city I'm in when I'm driving around the area. I just have the misguided dream that our representatives --at all levels, official or not--might actually want to hear their fellow citizens, and might just listen if enough of the community speaks up. Kumbaya. Pass the granola. And an adult beverage.
rwf February 07, 2014 at 08:30 PM
@Irishslider - A simple historical tidbit. Fulton County was split off from DeKalb County in 1853. Moreland Avenue was laid out sometime between 1871 and 1895, presumably in a cooperative effort between the two counties. As the county line was established on the n-s line separating Districts 14 and 15, it was also a fairly sharp dividing line between Land Lots and property owners. So, in this particular case, the political line was used to define the street.
irishslider February 08, 2014 at 08:21 AM
@rwf- Regardless of the reason, the street is the dividing line. My response was to the person who stated streets as borders make no sense. You just confirmed that streets as borders DO make sense, which was my point. Thanks!
mikeatl February 08, 2014 at 10:20 AM
rwf: The fact that they posted it word for word means that it was a prepared PR statement that he read. The T14 people normally have a good speech writer/ PR person. Although this particular release seems really overstated and unclear. It's just a statement that those LCA folks are evil monsters gobbling up the countryside. What they should have said is that "now we understand that a large segment of the community really does want a city, and now we're going to get off our asses and figure out how we can do something for real." Their whole goal seems to have been to try to keep anything from happening. Now they're finding out that a lot of people really want to do something, with or without them. There has always been an obvious deal available to them that might save Tucker -- that's working with Briarcliff.
mikeatl February 08, 2014 at 10:37 AM
And I agree with newsy about Jacobs' statement on the Tucker Patch. Jacobs posted his comments on the Tucker Patch, which isn't really involved in the discussion, rather than in the NDH Patch which is obviously an area involved in this question. He could have said "I'm in contact with the people in Brookhaven and they have no interest". But instead he said "I don't have anything to do with it and don't know what's going on, but I know that the rumor is false" That's clearly a politician trying to have it both ways -- deniability on both sides. At his next election he'll be able to say that he made sure that Merry Hills was included in Lakeside, but left Executive Park open for Brookhaven.
mikeatl February 08, 2014 at 10:40 AM
For those who haven't seen Mike Jacobs' comment on the Tucker version of this blog, shortly after midnight this morning, I'll copy it here: This rumor of a Brookhaven play south of I-85 is false. It popped up on the Brookhaven Post and appears to have started here. Anybody who follows the Brookhaven city government closely -- even former opponents of cityhood -- can confirm that I've had no involvement in city decision-making after incorporation, with the lone exception being a request that Brookhaven stand down from the lawsuit with Chamblee over Century Center. I have not had any discussions with the city about any further annexations. I have no preference as to whether Executive Park goes into Lakeside. My guess is that opponents of Lakeside wouldn't like such a map. I also have no involvement in Lakeside's progress through the General Assembly, although I have required that the Toco Hill shopping center stay with the Toco Hill community I represented for eight years. As a trained observer, however, I'd say Lakeside clearly will pass the Senate and stands a decent chance of passing the House.
Cheryl Miller February 09, 2014 at 12:26 PM
So, Jacobs and Levias on both on the same side when they actually ran against each other at one point? Are they both in the same party now and no longer live in separate districts? Why are politicians at ANY level in favor of reducing their own power by allowing MORE government to get involved?? Don't we elect STATE government to take care of issues STATEWIDE? WHy do we need LOCAL government when every time you turn around there is a state politician chiming in an doing whatever they say their "constituents" want them to do. The state is the best showing of LOCAL CONTROL I have ever seen. DOes any other county get THIS MUCH time to share their feedback and influence opinions of STATE LEGISLATORS and even the Governor? Do we ever stop and realize how LUCKY we are to have things THIS GOOD? The DeKalb Police Precict is within miles of all of our homes. DOn't you think Lithonia would need its own police force before we do?? I see cops out ALL THE TIME around here. I bet that's a different story elsewhere. Grass is always greener until you just stop to take time to fertilize and water your own. Then you will see that your's was just as great as anyone else's. YOu just need to pay some attention to what you already had!
Frannie D. February 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM
MANY THANKS to the smart people of Tucker who, sometime over this weekend, began championing the Tucker+COBI unified front on the Tucker Town Talk Facebook page. I will not hold my breath for an apology from those of you who were being unduly derisive when I was the lone voice calling for unity, and saying I was wrong, or being too speculative. It turns out I was right about the *several* proposals for the compromise, that, in the words of some Tucker citizens (who now have this information first hand) that T14 "foolishly turned down." Now. What's interesting to note, is that whenever a Tucker poster suggests this unity, someone from T14 has stepped in to, in one case, suggest that that particular thread be closed down, and on another thread, urged citizens to ignore this call and follow T14's lead, regardless. (despite the fact that they won't offer an answer to why the sensible solution of Unity shouldn't go forth.) To the smart voices of Tucker: keep up the good work! Don't accept T14's plan before at least demanding more information. maybe they have a good reason, but they should NOT be asking you to stay complacent and just fall in line without a few more explanations why.
RandyRand February 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM
Frannie D: How is it you miss the obvious? T14 is not a cityhood effort, it is an not cityhood effort. (as in Not Lakeside). Tucker has demonstrated over and over and over that it has little desire in becoming a city. Why would they ever embrace COBI at this late date? Can you honestly call their recent foray even half hearted as they excluded POLICE from the identified services they plan on providing while claiming ITP Northlake, an area in need of more police focus? For COBI, including all of Tucker represents a milktoast pairing at best. Lakeside represent the prime cut. The NON dreamers in Tucker understand the northern migrating crime problem, they understand the DEKALB County problem, they are already connected to us in school, in commerce, in recreation and a freeway does not impair our connection in the slightest. Somehow you also miss how Scottdale damages Briarcliff/COBI while the OTP Lakeside areas do not raise our crime numbers or lower our property values. The OTP Lakeside area is an excellent fit both because they want to continue to be in Lakeside community and because they are smart enough to know that Tucker is what it is: a place not a city and a COBI Tucker pairing would be just like staying unicorporatated. What's the point?
Frannie D. February 10, 2014 at 11:21 AM
Randy, I replied in depth on the other Patch, so please let's keep it to one forum. But the essence is, T14 may or may not want to thwart cityhood. But the citizens of Tucker themselves are beginning to express the call for unity in cityhood. And it is bad PR, and just plain wrong to force Tucker's hand. Incorporate without any OTP at first, and let Midvale work out later which city they want to be in. It's the ONLY conscionable way to proceed. If the tables were turned on you, you'd agree. This is not about "winning", it's about doing what's right, and proceeding with integrity.
Georgia February 10, 2014 at 12:14 PM
I am one of those who doesn't want to be left in control of the "old" Tucker leadership. Consider what Frank Aumen said at the Delegation hearing - talking about the "jewel" of Northlake Mall and the "jewel of Main Street". Have you been down Main Street recently? Families living in empty store fronts and 1 block away a parking lot full of cars for sale by owner. A CID created hurriedly without the "approval" of longstanding, successful businesses such as Cofer Brothers, Matthews, Bikeways? Lawrenceville Highway is rapidly becoming the next Memorial Drive. Regarding Tucker 2014's purported Fran Millar compromise offer and Lakeside's responses; who confirmed that this indeed is what Senator Millar proposed, or that Lakeside responded this way? Has anyone asked him directly? The Tucker 2014 crew are desperate at this point, and now that they've turned on Millar, they are going to learn the hard way about politics.
doddave February 10, 2014 at 01:07 PM
We're gettin to the last chance time for the people of Tucker. If somebody doesn't work out a deal with one of the other groups, there's not going to be enough to make sausage out of the remainder.
doddave February 10, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Georgia -- how can there be a serious Tucker city effort without creating another formal organization?
FredS February 10, 2014 at 06:23 PM
Frannie D. I am a member of Tucker Town Talk and am reading these conversations you are writing about, too. I am curious why you think if one person, not involved with either city effort, knows the offers made is correct? How and why would that person know? And I can honestly say that none of the Tucker 2014 board members are participating in the discussion over there. I wish they would chime in to straighten out some facts but I can also see why they don't. You can be very well spoken and so many times I have cheered for your comments. But I have to say I have lost Faith in COBI. After their press release last week about negotiating with Tucker I called MMO's office. Turns out COBI lied. Tucker did turn in mediation submissions and complied with all that MMO asked. I normally am not one to give out unsolicited advice but I would advise COBI to get themselves to the Capitol and work for support, I would advise them to actually garner community support in another manner than the Patch and Facebook. Looking through comments you are really the only one that staunchly supports them. Besides themselves of course. Their Facebook page has less than 300 likes. Even if by some miracle they make it to referendum how are they planning on actually getting yes votes? These are the questions I would ask your beloved COBI. What exactly are they actually doing besides writing asinine blog posts?
irishslider February 10, 2014 at 06:27 PM
Just throwing this out for discussion. How about the part of "Northlake", if any, in 30345 going to Briarcliff and the part, if any, in 30084 going to Tucker? Or does that mess up the whole ITP/OTP dynamic? Keep bickering and nothing will get done at all, right?
Frannie D. February 10, 2014 at 08:12 PM
Fred, if you have been following my commentary, you know that I am a North Decatur supporter. I was born in Sandy Springs but have lived here most of my life. Raised my daughter here. I just don't want to see the community I know and love split up. Nor do I want to see the same happen to Tucker. And I believe that the everyone in the affected area (all of north Dekalb, not just a subset) should be able to vote for or against any changes or plans being proposed for us. So you look over the proposals. It just so happens that COBI, in concert with Tucker, is the only way to achieve all of these. Regarding the factual issues. I had heard about the negotiation efforts from a neighbor who'd met with ethe COBI group. Then, we see the same scenario posted by 2 (or 3?) other people on the TTT page. Also, COBI put out a public statement indicating they had offered 'several' options to Tucker. You would have to be plumb nuts to post something so verifiable in such a public.way, in print, if it weren't true. Now, I'll grant that I'm interested in seeing the response to the poster who asked the TTT poster (who was also calling for a Tucker+Briarcliff solution) what their source was. If they were lying, if it was just a coincidence that we'd all heard this same scenario, and if it also turns out COBI was lying, I'll eat my (bacon flavored) hat. I'm also interested to see how COBI might respond to your pretty incendiary accusation about COBI and MMO. No plan or politician is 'beloved' to me. But my lifelong home is.
Don Broussard February 10, 2014 at 09:23 PM
@FredS -- if you make judgements based on the number of Facebook "likes" — then no one really should care what you think. FrannieD does not speak for COBI nor does Rep. Oliver. Tucker stated they did not have money to pay for a mediator. That's a "no" in any language -- even YOU can't seriously believe they did not have money — and btw, no one was asking them for money — it was not a requirement.
FredS February 10, 2014 at 10:01 PM
Thanks for chiming in Don. I am pretty sure that no one cares what I think. Just asking questions. I am not in your map so I won't be voting for COBI anyway. I can't speak to the financials of the Tucker group but I imagine they are using their money for lobbying. Since you are here can you speak to my other questions?
FredS February 10, 2014 at 10:05 PM
And can you lay out what exactly was offered to Tucker? Like Frannie, I have a friend of a friend that heard something about it but it sure didn't sound like a concession of anything or that it was an official offer. Tucker has been respectfully tight lipped about it all (someone posted awhile ago that Tucker was honoring a verbal agreement of some sort) while COBI seems to like showing their drawers.
Todd Chester February 10, 2014 at 10:14 PM
Frannie - My thoughts on COBI and the hostage holding. Based on the COBI website, I would speculate that the majority if not all of the COBI board members reside in both the Lakeside and Briarcliff maps. If Lakeside is succesful, they will still reside in a city that will allow for the local control they crave. Of the Tucker 2014 board members, none of them reside inside the proposed Lakeside map. It has been chronicled in numerous threads on this Patch that Tucker's chance of cityhood will be severly diminished, if not completely laid to rest if Lakeside succeds. These thoughts, along with the insane amount of pressure exerted on the Tucker community from Herman Lorenz during the last month have lead me to think that maybe COBI was trying to hold the Tucker community hostage over Northlake. We can all speculate about what happens behind closed doors. I would have a hard time believing that the leaders of Tucker 2014 would have wasted all of their time for the past 9 months attending meetings and delivering presentations to individuals and groups to only block a city movement that none of the board members would be included. I find it more believable that they are in fact trying to secure the most successful cityhood situation for the ENTIRE Tucker comminuty. Other than presenting a unified map, what does Tucker gain by "joining forces" with COBI? Do the leaders of Briarcliff have a pocket full of Republican Representatives and Senators that they are looking to dump on the situation at the last minute? Do they have ANY support under the Gold Dome other than Rhea's occasional attendance at a "power lunch?"
Frannie D. February 10, 2014 at 10:29 PM
Fred, you're applauding Tucker for not being open about their plans, and deride COBI for being open. Then asking COBI to open up more. You're setting up a no win gotcha game. Why not, instead, like many here are doing our best to do, lay out YOUR goals, what YOU'd like to see happen, and the way you think would be the best way to achieve it? Rather than just cut down others for trying, help in a positive way. Don't like my ideas? Add to the idea pool. And yes, in no way do I speak for anyone in COBI. I have never met a soul on their team, though some presumably live nearby.
FredS February 10, 2014 at 10:37 PM
Don't get me wrong Frannie. I wish Tucker would address the accusations of people not involved yet speak like they know. I really do. But if they want to honor whatever agreements were made then I can respect that. COBI has shown that they won't honor that agreement so why not ask for more info? They proffered the generalization that several offers were turned down. Just asking for details. Here is my solution. COBI talks up having the biggest surplus yet they clearly don't have political backing, my solution is give up the overlap to Tucker and hope you can ride their coattails if they'll let you. Todd had a great comment...is COBI really in it to win it?
Frannie D. February 10, 2014 at 11:04 PM
Fred, Mary Margaret Oliver released a statement today on her site to the tune of how she's about to push the Briarcliff bill, and rolling up her sleeves to jump into the cityhood debate. I thought that was promising news for those of us who love N. Decatur. And COBI said straight out that the agreement was not to release the specifics. And they haven't. All else, including my own statements, are second hand at best. But if you read my posts you know that I take care to phrase things so its clear when I'm speculating vs. when.I'm reporting facts. It's really almost heart breaking to see the motive casting, unfounded angers and projections being thrown about. It's unfathomable to me why people don't see the value in banding together to achieve the greatest political weight for an effort that is win win for us all in N. DeKalb. I need to step away from this for a while, it has sincerely dimished my hope for this area. You guys figure it all out and let me know how the whole divide and distrust thing works out for everyone. Catch you all on the flip side. Peace.
Cheryl Miller February 11, 2014 at 05:23 AM
Maybe if you had not been so quick to judge me, Frannie, we could have made a lot more headway. But, you chose to believe lies, rumors and LCA political hogwash and then you chose to ignore the truth when you were confronted with it. You should step away because you are trying to now act rational about a process that is nothing but smoke and mirrors. None of these folks (or very few, anyway) actually care about living here. They care about politics or their investments, but not us.
Cheryl Miller February 11, 2014 at 05:38 AM
Lakeside = Briarcliff, remember?? Read the early online posts on their yahoo page and other places.... the same players involved now, were involved then. Remember when LCA said they would be dissolved and a new team of lobbyist/activists that were pro-city would be formed? Well.... wa-la... You now have Briarcliff. The good cop. You don't work on this stuff for an admitted five or more years and not have a few decent "tricks" up your sleeve, right? Things are not always as they appear. In this case, we have two small factions of the same group, trying to gain power over what is rightfully Tucker. What exactly is the compromise that anyone thinks Tucker should be making in this case? And WE (Save Tucker!) asked for the placeholder bill, not anyone on Tucker 2014. They attacked us before we knew who they were or what they wanted. Now it is clear. They want to be a part of Lakeside. They let someone else draw a map for us that is destined to fail. They won't answer simple questions and they are doing a poor job of advocating for a city that goes against every public comment anyone made at any of their meetings. Tucker does not need to compromise with anyone about anything that is truly, historically, currently called Tucker. Leave us out. If you can form a city without stealing from Tucker, then form your city. If parts of Tucker want in, let them vote to be annexed. Simple as that. The best thing I can say right now about Tucker is that we have fewer politicians per square mile than anywhere else in Central DeKalb. That alone should make our properties skyrocket, once we find out who the few Lakeside folks really are and help them promptly pack their bags and move.
Herman Lorenz February 11, 2014 at 07:51 AM
Todd: I don't understand the comment that I exerted an insane amount of pressure on the Tucker community. I have stated repeatedly that I support a city of Tucker, and that I don't like the unexplained creeping monster out there. I have come to many Tucker meetings, and sent my photos from Santa Claus' package delivery to members of T2014; and posted them on a web site, congratulating them. I sent some analysis of the CVI/ GSU studies to members of T2014, showing how they work, and the reasons for some of the differences. Last June I stood up at the last Tucker Together meeting and encouraged the people there to move forward. I have also said that I hope Briarcliff and Tucker can work together. None of that was to pressure anyone; but to help emphasize that cities can provide value to their communities.
Herman Lorenz February 11, 2014 at 08:05 AM
Fred: I am not a "member" of the Tucker Town Talk site. Since they don't allow any of the comments to be public, it's impossible for me to comment on anything said there. And even more so, I can't comment on comments made about things that may have been said there. However, I personally would be careful about the use of words like "lie" in a context in which I am not a party to the conversation, and am only hearing about the event second or third hand. Also, if I was not a member of one of the organizations, I would not make categorical statements that something did or did not happen. You may find out that not all actions by T2014 or its members are public; just like not all actions or discussions by COBI or its members are public. These things tend to gradually creep out into the public domain. ***And since there seems to be a lot of confusion about the proposed mediation, I'll try to write something a little more complete about it.
Todd Chester February 11, 2014 at 09:02 AM
Herman. All of the support that you listed in your comment took place up prior to 2014. Lets recap the titles of your blog posts since January 1. "Decision Time" "Kind of Shocking Isnt It" "Does Anyone Notice Obvious Lines" "Montreal 1960" "How Many People Remember Central DeKalb Pre-285" "Where is Tucker" "Another View of Tucker" "Where Are We". The Blog that YOU, Herman Lorenz, maintain on the Tucker Patch and North Druid Hills Patch is title, The City of Briarcliff - My Opinion. This is interesting since the overwhelming majority of the blog posts that you have made since 1/1/14 have dealt with Tucker and its "perceived" (by you) inability to have an identity. Heck, you have more blog posts with the name Tucker in the title than Briarcliff. This is the insane amount of pressure that I speak of. When did these "alleged negotiations" between COBI and Tucker break down? If I was a betting man, I would say somewhere around Christmas. If you were only an innocent by-standard in this situation, I could see the argument that you are trying to educate, but as a COBI board member, your "Opinions" matter just a little more... This is my explanation for the comment "I think that COBI is trying to hold Tucker hostage." I challenge you to make a reasonable argument against it.


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