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What Ferguson Means in DeKalb County

First read this: 

From Yahoo News:  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday he wants to ensure the U.S. isn't building a "militarized culture" within police departments, while maintaining federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment that were used to dispel racially charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri. 
Instead, the president is asking Congress for funding to buy 50,000 body cameras to record events like the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown and look for ways to build trust and confidence between police and minority communities nationwide. He announced the creation of a task force to study success stories and recommend ways the government can support accountability, transparency and trust in police. 
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday new Justice Department plans aimed at ending racial profiling and ensuring fair and effective policing.
"In the coming days, I will announce updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement, which will institute rigorous new standards — and robust safeguards — to help end racial profiling, once and for all," Holder said in Atlanta.  *(Read More)
This is the photo on the main page of the Lakeside website, now updated to be called "Lavista Hills."
The focus is, clearly, about more  police.  But, is THIS the right time to be pushing for MORE?

Now, ask yourself: 

  • Is this really the right time to start a city that wants to, in their 
    own words, put "more boots on the ground?"     

  • Is this really the right time to take tax dollars away from the rest of the county?  

Interim CEO Lee May has stated that a new city being formed would most likely lead to tax increases for those residents left behind.   Or, it would mean a mandatory decline in their service delivery.

So, if we incorporate, we pay more money by way of franchise fees, fines and even the potential for local income taxes to be levied or we will need to have residential community improvement districts (RIDs) similar to Commercial Improvement Districts (CIDs), if we want to have the basic services kept up to date that we have always enjoyed?

We can either

  • A) pay more to live in a city, or 
  • B) pay more voluntarily by taxing ourselves or 
  • C) pay more if we choose to stay unincorporated but cities form all around us by those who choose option A?

Did we suddenly lose our collective minds here?  

Where is the option where we all vote NO to this ridiculous plan and we collectively decide that we don't need more government?   

Many of us are actually quite satisfied with the service delivery we get right now.  And we sure as hell don't want to reduce the police force for other communities or bring harm to them when we know they are struggling to make ends meet already.  Who would do that to another person?  

The entire Briarcliff city group pitch was based around their supposed connection to the Emory and CDC area.  Well, guess what guys?  You just chased them right out of DeKalb County.  Great job!  Now, what's your plan?  

Oh, that's right, you are no longer calling yourselves that, are you?  Now you are called something different and now you are using a different name and a different map and a different reason for us to believe you?  

Well, how about explaining  your actual plan if you really want people to support you?  

How about some transparency to your planning instead of "playing your cards," as Mary Kay Woodworth described it when she addressed the DeKalb delegation last month in Brookhaven. 

  • How will your plan for police impact those who are not included in your city?  

  •  Does that mean fewer police to patrol the areas that are plagued with the most crime?  

  • What exactly do you want to change by controlling the zoning in our neighborhoods and in our business districts?  

  • Do you have an actual plan or are you just using the same excuses to start a city that were used five years ago?  If we still have the same problems as we did back then, maybe the city plans aren't working and it might be time to try something new.  

Is it about more police presence?   We've already pointed out that our area received many more patrols when the North precinct was closed, so why do we have to endure this entire city ordeal again for another year when it appears Lakeside is already receiving everything they have asked for?

Is NOW really the time to start demanding MORE police?  With the Fergeson protests still going on and the President calling for a demilitarizing of our local police, is now really the right time?  With the Attorney General in Atlanta telling everyone that this country needs to stop racial profiling and treating minorities unfairly, are we really going to continue this forced march toward cityhood?

Is this really about crime in the community of Oak Grove?  One reason this is a questionable, at best, motivation is that you can review crime stats online and easily see that the areas that would be incorporated are hardly what you would consider crime ridden.   We have some of the safest communities in the entire metro, according to Lt. D.L. James who spoke at a meeting in August at the Brockett Heights neighborhood meeting in Tucker.  Lt. James heads up a new  unit of the Dekalb police called the "Fusion Unit" and they have done remarkable work in finding criminals who commit crimes in different neighborhoods, leaving clues at each scene that can be linked together to give police the big picture and enough evidence to locate and arrest the criminal.  This is a major crime fighting tool that we would lose if the city phenomenon continues because cities are independently run police operations and they don't share their data with one another.  The fusion unit has made a real dent in crime in this area.

  • How will LaVista Hills accomplish what the Fusion Unit has done?  Do they even know anything about what real crimes are taking place in the non gated areas outside their own kingdom?  
  • How will they match the resources?  Central Dekalb is very fortunate right now to have the very large and very responsive North / Central combined force AND the Tucker precinct both in our general area of the county.  Where will they even find a location that would match the protection we have with the Northlake Parkway HQ that is located right in the same building with the new, improved 911 call center?   Or, do they plan to take this territory by annexation if their city passes a voter referendum?  It was on their original map, but many of our Tucker residents are left out of that map and many of those served from this location would be left out as well. 
  • How many of the added patrols will be used as traffic cops?  The AJC recently reported that the cities in parts of DeKalb and Fulton has used their new police force to do something more than protect and serve.  They are used to write traffic tickets and bring in money to fund the city administration.  The cities have been accused of setting ticket quotas on their officers, who are looking for traffic violations along 285 as well as interior streets, not unlike Lavista and Briarcliff Roads which are used as thoroughfares.   They not only use these tickets as a way to earn money for their administrative expenses, but they create a disturbance at peak commute hours on the Interstate adding to miserable commute times. 

Is this about local control? Because we don't see a plan for giving the public more control over anything.  They deny us our opportunities to speak.  They refuse to answer questions.  They won't show us what their city charter proposals look like.  They won't tell us who these lobbyists are that are listed as working on our own behalf or who is paying for them to be there.  They won't disclose who their financial backers are.  These organizers are not telling the public much of anything and we are tired of asking the same questions without getting any answers.  Who drew the map for Tucker because it does not look like the Tucker where we live right now?

What can we do about it?  Who can help?

Does your government, Republican or Democrat, want to know what you think?  Do they actually care to represent you?

We were told yesterday that the former Tucker 2014 President was posting in neighborhood groups a message that now is not the time for Tucker residents to be contacting the state legislators about what is taking place.  She actually suggested to people that they disengage from this process and do not speak up about the boundary decision that the committee will be asked to  make by the end of the year.

Our position is quite the opposite.   The government is here for the people.  That's us.   There is no other reason for it to exist and it is absolutely your right to communicate with your government as often as you would like and no one should be telling you otherwise.  Your right to vote and your right to be represented fairly in all matters, especially those where your own tax dollars and property rights could be impacted, has never been  more important.

  1. Please try to attend tomorrow's hearing at the Coverdell Legislative Building from 1  -  2:30 p.m.
  2. Please email the committee (email addresses will be posted in the comments section) and let them know that you expect for them, at the very least, to protect the boundaries of our Tucker community as it is the only real community that exists today and it is the only area that has a real shot at success, but not if our commercial areas are drawn out and large residential areas are added in.  We won't vote to protect something that isn't real or feasible.  And we don't believe the residents in the Lakeside map will vote to destroy us by creating a city that will leave Tucker as a non viable entity set up for failure. 
  3. And PLEASE get out and vote in the Runoff Election if you live in District 1.  Your choice will be between a Dunwoody supporter who was part of the former school system and who accepted campaign contributions from the Lakeside City leaders or an independent candidate who has no political ties. We will leave that decision up to you, but hope you will show up and vote so that the city groups know that we are all paying attention! 

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