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Bad Apples Don't Fall Far From the Tree in DeKalb

You may have heard recently about the accusation that DeKalb County government is "rotten to the core."


It's an interesting choice of imagery, isn't it?  Since apples are commonly thought of in the context of the school system, this particular statement is a reminder to many DeKalb residents about the close call we had with the school board that was reprimanded by SACS and then removed by the Governor. Why, though, are we not reminded about the particularly bad job our own school board member did at the time all of these SACS violations were taking place?  Perhaps because that particular board member was a very well known PRO-LAKESIDE leader who even threw his own neighborhood under the bus because of something that was going to be good for "Lakeside."  In fact, the one school that was NOT complaining about the school board members, probably because they were fairing pretty well compared to everyone else, was LAKESIDE.

Our  best example of what LAKESIDE leadership would be like if they were able to have their own city is the performance of what is probably the WORST school board we have ever had.  Lakeside was leading the board as vice chair and Lakeside was chairing the Finance committee when millions of dollars was suddenly "missing."  Here is a plea from DeKalb School Watch for voters to replace our distict's  board member:  http://dekalbschoolwatch.com/2012/07/29/district-4-voters-please-replace-paul-womack/.


While, on the surface, it is difficult for anyone to defend DeKalb County or its staff these days, it is more difficult to understand this particular battle that is playing out before the media.  Here's why:

1.)  The FBI was already conducting an active investigation of the county before "Mike Bowers" got involved.

2.)  Interim CEO Lee May hired Mike Bowers to conduct a separate investigation, paid for by taxpayer dollars.   Was he trying to find out the problems before the FBI did?

3.)  Mike Bowers report was issued via the mainstream news media, which was not really necessary or helpful.  He didn't name names.  He didn't really give any specifics.  He just indicated that it would take more money for him to continue.  So, without anything substantial being provided, how can Lee May really know whether it is correct for him to support or oppose the findings?

4.) The commissioners already approved a budget that would essentially defund the investigation.  Before that, they made sure that they, themselves, would not be a part of the investigation.  So, they really don't have much to lose.  But, still Lee May defended the county employees against the accusations,  none of which were personal, and stated he would wait for the final report.

5.)  The final report has no deadline, no specified content and no price tag currently.   So, how does Lee May even know what it is he is waiting for?  And, didn't he talk to Mike Bowers before he offered him the job in order to set the parameters for what exactly he was hoping to achieve?

6.)  So close to a Nov. 3 election for new cities of Lavista Hills and Tucker, the new controversy almost makes one feel like a city is the only way to get away from t his frustrating double talk and corruption.  It's almost timed too perfectly.  And the Laivsta Hills supporters, now on their fifth or sixth name change with the Secretary of State's office, were quick to point that out.

7.)  Even DeKalb Strong sounded a bit defeated by the decision of Lee May to speak out against the investigation, even though he's essentially talking out against the guy he hired himself to do a job that no one was even asking for anyone to do.

8.)  However ... if Lee May is so concerned about the image of a corrupt government that he hired his own separate investigator, why would he then turn around and defend the county as being "not all that bad?"  How can he believe that it was bad enough to hire the investigator, yet not bad enough to actually believe what the investigator has to say, which so far is really very little?  What, exactly, was the end goal of his separate investigation?

9.)  Could the end goal have been to, once again, anger and confuse taxpayers as they head toward an election where they will decide whether or not they should incorporate?  Why would he want to do that?  That is, assuming that he sees cities as a negative, undesirable impact on the county.  But, what if Lee May is actually in favor of the forming of new cities?  He's basically pledged his support toward that end in every public forum he can, including to the legislature.

10.)  In fact, Save Tucker! uncovered something very important during the midst of all this city debate.  We have reported it consistently and discussed it in our closed Facebook small group.  We have reported it on our public Facebook page.  And we will report it again right now:  THE COUNTY AND THE PRO-CITY GROUPS ARE WORKING TOGETHER.  THEY BOTH WANT THE SAME END RESULT ... MORE MONEY FROM YOU, THE DEKALB COUNTY TAXPAYER.  

11.)  How do we know that the county is PRO-CITY?  Because the FIRST TIME the idea of incorporating the entire county was ever considered was in a 2011 "REVENUE ENHANCEMENT COMMISSION" meeting.   You can view the findings here:  http://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/pdf/DeKalbCountyREC-Findings-Recommendations-Final.pdf.
PAGE 6, Diagram 10, Plain as day.... you will see the list of recommendations to consider includes:

"Incorporate DeKalb County to allow county to negotiate and collect franchise fees." 

This was a suggestion made, but not one that the committee nor then-CEO Burrell Ellis were intending to persue.    However, once Lee May took over, the plans started to change quickly and the road to incorporation began to burn up from all the traffic trying to get in front of the legislature with maps and plans that all sounded very similar, even redundant.

Question:  If all the cities and all the people want the same things, then why do we need to divide ourselves into smaller factions in order to achieve exactly what it is that we want?

According to most maps and most stories in the news, the city "fever"has spread across the whole county.  How did that happen?

Well, we recall the Lakeside City group stating that they heard about a plan for a "city of DeKalb" and that didn't sit well with them.  So, they claimed that "Lakeside" was a response to this particular effort to incorporate the whole county into one big city.  Fair enough, right?

But, hold on a second.  There's something odd about this claim that you would only know about if you were willing to go to multiple city meetings, even those that were being held in other parts of the county, the parts where you don't actually live,  but you still care about.  Luckily, that's exactly what we did.

We attended a cityhood meeting held at Southwest DeKalb High School and it was there that we heard the strangest thing... besides the fact that most people at that meeting had the same sort of confused, baffled questions about what exactly a city would do for them that would be better than what they already had.  We heard Jason Lary, the leader of the Stonecrest movement, stand up and talk about how the city of Lakeside was going to happen and that would really hurt South DeKalb if they didn't do something about it.

But, wait a minute, North DeKalb was being told that South DeKalb was going to force them into a city of DeKalb against their will, which isn't even really possible.  But, then South DeKalb was being told that North DeKalb was going to incorporate and take all the economic development away from the rest of the county and leave them in the lurch.  In reality, neither statement was true and neither side wanted to do that to the other.  It was all POLITICAL BULL.  

Not only did they convince everyone that the other side was going to incorporate first, but they also convinced everyone that Tucker deserved to be a city.  And, maybe we do.  But, what Tucker deserves more than anything elses is to have a chance to actually speak for themselves.  And that hasn't happened.  The Smoke Rise Homeowner's Association took over the battle before most of us in Tucker even understand what was going on.    And while we were outraged that Lakeside would try to take the portions of our zip code that are federally deemed as a part of Tucker, in our own zip code, we turned around and proposed a map that included all kinds of areas that no one has ever considered to be Tucker. 

Does that sound logical to you?  

It's not logical.  It's stupid.  And while the city groups were all busy land grabbing commercial away from us, we responded by approving CID plans that we would share with these Lakeside folks without a single objection to the fact that Tucker will be getting almost all residential additions by way of apartments and condos, while Lakeside and Smoke Rise get to keep their communities in tact.  Don't let them fool you into believing they are against one another.  Our latest Tucker 2015 leader was the DeKalb Republican  Party Chairman.   Sen. Millar, the author of the Lakeside bill was one of the only DeKalb Republicans at the time.  They clearly must know each other.  It's not too hard to even think that they might be friends and they might even agree on where the high density housing should be built - as long as it isn't in Lakeside or Smoke Rise.


But, Tucker deserves to be a city? 

Yeah, maybe... but don't you think after 124 or more years that Tucker would have tried to incorporate before now if that was what Tucker really wanted?  We aren't like these other new cities and that's okay with us because that isn't what Tucker is all about.  But, incorporating as a defensive move is a really bad idea.  If you don't know why Tucker "should" be a city, then don't vote it into existence because there is a whole lot more about what you could be approving that you probably have not considered.

By following the lead of Dunwoody and Brookhaven, we will not be a model for good governance.  Heck, we won't even be Tucker based on the final maps that were submitted.  Tucker won't be the community with volunteer spirit where no one worries about taking credit or funneling money to their friends.

We will grow to mammoth, big city proportions and the government will grow, too.  The charter is already asking for millions for the administrative staff and that's a "bare bones" low ball estimate!   That's money that could otherwise be used to provide our services.  Instead it will be paying nice, fat salaries to a bunch of people who never stepped up to help Tucker when there was this supposed big problem with the way the county handles things.

People in Tucker have a real community that deserves to be preserved; but voting for a city of Tucker will do just the opposite.  

It will change our known borders.  It will put Smoke Rise in control.  It will bring harm to our area and force many of our residents out of their homes  based on the increases to their daily living expenses like utilities.

Tucker won't be Tucker any longer if this map is approved by voters on Nov 3.
Do you KNOW what you are being asked to vote for?
Tucker Civic worked well with the County for decades to keep development slow and maintain the single family neighborhoods the way they were built and the atmosphere as small town as what it was when it was first envisioned by the Henderson family and later by Scott Candler and Manuel Maloof.  Tucker has never tried to distance itself from the county because Tucker WAS the county.  While Atlanta and Decatur were the cities, Tucker residents made up the county.

 And the entire incorporation movement is not good for the county.  It is not good for our wallets.  Our jobs are certainly not going to pay us more just because the area we live in just incorporated.  And the leaders of the city movement were not even those who were around when all the historic decisions were made.  The long time leaders in Tucker and the professionals who live here now were mostly left out of the conversations.  They were not allowed any volunteer opportunities.  Their opinions were never even sought out by the instant leadership that sprang up at Commissioner Boyer's instruction.  

And that's the final thing to be added to this particular post...  Elaine Boyer.   She was elected to serve the county.  Instead, she was assisting the city of Lakeside in their attempt to divide Tucker.  We now know she was involved in other shady dealings as well that were not in the best interest of the taxpayers.  She was a big player in the Lakeside / Tucker battle and Sen.  Millar even mentioned her several times in his address to the state House committee on incorporation.

This idea of forming cities was not created to help Tucker.  It was intended to divide us and trick us into voting for new boundaries, voluntarily giving up our historical claim to land inside the perimeter.
Don't fall for it.  VOTE NO on NOV. 3.   

Enough is Enough.  We don't need MORE politicians to ruin what it has taken generations of hard working individuals to build.

Thanks for following Save Tucker!  We live here.

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