RE: OPEN MEETINGS, OPEN RECORDS, SUNSHINE LAWS, TRANSPARENCY, ETHICS, DEKALB COUNTY, GA
OCTOBER 3, 2014: TUCKER, GA: A group of residents in Tucker, GA, today filed an Open Government Complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office over the lack of transparency in the city formation process in Central Dekalb County. The group, known as “Save Tucker!” says they are fed up with the lack of information they are receiving from Tucker 2014, Tucker 2015, Tucker Together, City of Briarcliff and Lakeside City, who are advocating a pro-city stance in Central DeKalb while living off public funds in order to do so. And, they are fed up with their locally elected representatives who cannot seem to put their hands on the data either, despite having voted or come close to voting on the subject in committee at the end of the last session at the Capitol.
When they heard the bills were either killed in committee or pulled by the author, they say they breathed a sigh of relief. But, it did not last long. The city groups may have new names, but the faces and mission are the same: divide and conquer.
The leaders of Save Tucker! say that their group started in March 2013 when they learned that a map for a city of Lakeside claimed about 40 percent of the Tucker community as their own, essentially leaving Tucker without hope of every becoming a city. That would have been $22 million more dollars out of the county coffers, according to an estimate provided by the County Commissioner’s office.
Save Tucker! is hoping that the state Attorney General’s Open Government Mediation Program will help them to gain the answers to questions they have about the proposed cities and why the state and the county are rewriting laws just to serve these groups.
“They keep asking taxpayers in Tucker to support their efforts to incorporate, but they haven’t made their documentation public,” says one member. “We have requested copies of a proposed charter document, any updated boundary maps and the feasibility reports to show us whether the tax base can support what they say it can. And we want to see a list of the donors to make sure they are really residents of our communities and not just some attorney’s donation they will expect to be paid back upon taking office."
The group also takes issue with the process outlined by the House committee that directs the groups to meet privately, rather than with a professional arbitrator.
“The residents in Tucker have been clear from the very beginning of this whole mess,” says Cheryl Miller, one of the group’s founders.
“Protect our boundaries. That’s what everyone keeps saying but no one is listening. Clearly, this system doesn’t even have reigns to hand over. It’s that bad.”
The Open Government Mediation Program is a service of the Attorney General's office designed to assist members of the public whose local governments may not be complying with requirements of the Open Meetings Act or the Open Records Act.