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Logic and Reason Do Not "Reside" in DeKalb County

Here are minutes from the DeKalb County Elections Board Meeting held Feb. 11, 2016.  Save Tucker! comments are numbered below the minutes, corresponding to the highlighted areas by color. 

Challenge of Tucker City Council Candidate Katherine Atteberry – The Board was provided with a copy of an e-mail from Ms. Cheryl Miller stating that she wished to challenge the candidacy of Tucker District 2 City Council candidate Katherine Atteberry, and alleged that Ms. Atteberry did not live at her registered address.  Upon checking Code Section 21-2-6, it was determined that another elector can only challenge a candidate within the two weeks immediately following the qualifying period and that time has expired.  However, the Board has the authority to challenge a candidate up and until an election.   Ms. Daniels and Mary Frances went to the candidate’s address and saw no indication that the home was abandoned or vacant, as alleged.  Further, Ms. Daniels checked the Tax Commissioner’s records and Ms. Atteberry has Homestead Exemption at that address, plus Ms. Atteberry’s father forwarded power bills, mortgage notices, etc. since Ms. Atteberry is currently out of the country.  In light of all of the aforesaid documentation, the staff recommendation is to not challenge Ms. Atteberry.  After some discussion, Mr. Coveny made the motion to follow staff recommendation to not challenge the candidate.  Ms. Perry seconded the motion.   Mr. Tillman stated the motion was made and seconded.  The question was called and the motion was approved. ......


Katherine Atteberry
#1  What they did not say is that they went there after several unsuccessful attempts to reach the candidate by phone.  They said they saw "No indication that the home was abandoned or vacant, as alleged."   Really?  Did they see a car in the driveway or garage?  No.  Isn't that a sign of  vacancy, even if you only believe the vacancy to be temporary?  It's still a sign of vacancy.   Did they knock on the door or ring the doorbell? Yes.  Was anyone home?  No.  That's a sign of vacancy, too.  Did they note the open and half knocked over mailbox as reported in the email received  from the voter?  Yes.  Did it have mail in it?  No.  Another possible sign of vacancy or at least a sign that the voter challenging the candidate has reported the home's condition accurately.  Did they speak to anyone who could tell them the last time they saw someone enter or leave the home who appeared to live there?  No.  And, another question... were they there to actually look for signs of vacancy or were they there to try to shoot down the accusation?  Because "finding no signs of  vacancy" could have also been reported as "we found no signs of occupancy, either."  But, they did not choose to report the facts in that manner.  What was reported was a very subjective opinion with nothing backing it up.  What signs were they looking for?  What did they see?  We are not given a report, or photos or any other evidence that the opinion offered by Ms. Daniels and Mary Frances is reasonable at all. The very fact that they tried to reach the candidate and were unable to determine her whereabouts in time for a personal statement from her should have raised some red flags when added to the voter's statements.  

#2  A homestead exemption is a statement on paper affecting one's taxes.  It is not, by itself, proof that a person actually resides in the home, only that they are claiming to do so for tax purposes.  There is no doubt that the candidate is claiming to live at the address on record.  Ms. Daniels has not proven anything, nor should it be her job to do so.  Why isn't the candidate making these defenses for herself?  Answer:  Because she could not be reached because she was not residing in the home, the county or even the country at the time of this inquiry.

#3  Her father forwarded power bills and mortgage notices because she was out of the country? Did they miss this very clear sign of vacancy?  She's not even in the country!  How can she even campaign for this position when she isn't even in the country?  Did Ms. Daniels inquire about the length of time the candidate had been out of the country or how long she might be gone?  Did she question why the candidate's father was responding to voice mails rather than the candidate herself?  Doesn't this little fact concern anyone besides the voter asking for the residency to be challenged? 

Daniels, Elections Supervisor
#4 Documentation?  What documentation?  The documentation of bills being in one's name proves only that the candidate has utilities in her name.  Did the bills show actual usage of the utility?  How many watts of electricity were used?  Was the bill recent?  These things were not documented at all.  There is no evidence of the candidate living in the home now and no documentation of a year's prior residency.  No information is provided at all, except that there are bills in her name.  And even that is something learned second hand because the candidate cannot be reached or does not wish to comment on the situation herself for fear of the trouble she could be in if she were to make false claims to the elections board.   

Remember, this was not a case of a board having to find guilt or innocence. This was only a decision about whether or not to hold an actual hearing to give the candidate a chance to prove her residency status in response to a documented challenge from one of her constituents.  There seemed to be some good reasons to hold the hearing, such as the fact that the candidate could not be reached by phone and did not appear to be home when an attempt to locate her was made.  But the "staff" recommended that the board should not concern itself any further.  Why?  We believe the staff recommended what was best for the staff, not what was the right thing to do on behalf of the voters.

Is this how government looks out for its taxpaying citizens?  Or is this a case of government protecting their own?  (Ms. Atteberry is employed by a  very well known government contractor, Jacobs Engineering and was recently an employee of the Gwinnett County Government.) 

Samuel Tillman, Board Chair;
Michael Coveny, Board Member;  
William Mercier, Board Member;  
Leona Perry, Board Member; 
Baoky Vu, Board Member; 
Maxine Daniels, Director; 
Mary Frances Weeks, Administrative Assistant; 
Bennett Bryan,  Assistant County Attorney; 
Viviane Ernstes, Deputy County Attorney.

*  Also, good to note: Ms. Daniels' bio on the DeKalb County website mentions that her prior experience working for BellSouth is what made her a good choice for the job of elections supervisor.  Yet another connection between the new cities in Georgia and the telecomm industry, but who's counting?  Besides us, that is.


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