Monthly Archives: February 2014

COVEReport – February 28, 2014

COVEReport Logo



The Senate Approves Lakeside

Lakeside map

The Senate approved SB270 to form the city of Lakeside with Emory and Victoria Estates removed from its borders.


Lakeside near VE

SB 270 – Act to incorporate the City of Lakeside in DeKalb County

How Senators Voted

Jason Carter Speech on the Senate Floor Referencing Victoria Estates

City Of Lakeside Passes Senate

February 27, 2014 – Dave Williams – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Lakeside, which could become Georgia’s newest city, made a big leap forward yesterday after passing the Senate by a vote of 32-17.

The Georgia Senate voted along party lines Wednesday for legislation that would set up a referendum on a proposed new city in northern DeKalb County.

Under the bill, which passed 32-17 and now moves to the state House of Representatives, voters would decide May 20 whether to form the city of Lakeside.

Unlike legislation the General Assembly has passed during the last decade that led to the creation of a series of new cities out of unincorporated portions of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, Lakeside essentially is competing with two other cityhood bills before the legislature. [more]


Legislation Update – Lakeside Faces Battle in House


February 28, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth  

Yesterday was not an official business day in the General Assembly.  Day 30 – Crossover Day – is scheduled for Monday (deadline for bills for 2014).  Calendars are attached below.

At the Town Hall meeting last night at Hawthorne Elementary school, Representatives Mary Margaret Oliver, Steve Holcomb and Michelle Henson filled in some of the gaps on the status of the cityhood legislation.  SB 270 has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs committee (GAFF), and Chair Amy Carter plans to give the proposed cities of Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker each the opportunity to make a one-hour presentation to the committee.  There is a great deal of pressure being placed on the three city groups to participate in a mediation to resolve their border disputes, but nothing has been scheduled to date.  It is the current projection of all three legislators that, unless the boundary disputes are resolved, the only city likely to be signed into law is Tucker.

With regard to the school board,  HB 979 passed yesterday.  It reduced the number of school board districts to seven, and kept the current districts in place.  It abolished the two at-large school board seats. Qualification to run for office begins March 3rd.

HB 677 (creation of a new unnamed municipality) is on the House Governmental Affairs Committee (GAFF) agenda for consideration.  This is the placeholder bill for Tucker.

HB 675 is the placeholder for Briarcliff, and is not on the agenda.

HR 1330 (Dekalb Study Committee on Municipalities) is on the GAFF agenda for consideration.

Georgia House of Representatives Daily Report – Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – LD29-Wednesday_February_26_2014

SENATE RULES CALENDAR – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2014 – Rules-Calendar-2014-Legislative-Day-28

House Governmental Affairs Committee meeting Agenda THURSDAY, February 27 – GAFF Agenda_02_28


Voice Your Opinion on Cityhood

Make the call

Monday the Georgia House will continue consideration on cityhood bills that impact Victoria Estates. Your feedback is crucial to impacting a potential vote.

Calls and emails should be directed to:

House Speaker Ralston – 404.656.5020

House Governmental Affairs committee (GAFF) Chair Amy Carter- 404.656.6801

GAFF Members

Rep. Buzz Brockway, Vice Chair – 404.656.0188

Rep. Darlene Taylor, Secretary – 404.656.0178

Rep. Dustin Hightower – 404.656.0152

Rep. Howard Mosby – 404.656.0287

Rep. Barry Fleming – 404.656.0152

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver – 404.656.0265

Rep. Tyrone Brooks – 404.656.6372

Rep. Larry O’Neal – 404.656.5052

Rep. Hugh Floyd – 404.656.0314

Rep. Jay Powell – 404.656.7855

Rep. Rusty Kidd – 404.656.0202

Rep. Alan Powell- 404.463.3793

Rep. John Meadows – 404.656.5141

Rep. Bruce Williamson – 404.656.0152

Rep. Alisha Morgan – 404.656.0109

Rep. Mark Hamilton – 404.656.5132

Dekalb State House Reps


DeKalb Zoning Code Update


February 27, 2014

The latest version of the Zoning Code Update has been put on the county’s website:

Those interested in this topic should download it from the site.  Comments from Druid Hills on the last version: SUMMARY LIST OF UNRESOLVED ISSSUES in the PROP ZO Nov 24 2013



COVEReport – February 25, 2014

COVEReport Logo

Lakeside Bill is Voted on by Senate, Wednesday – Write and Call Senators!

Make the call



Cityhood or Moratorium

The cityhood bills will have to be moved forward by Thursday to move to referendum this year. If you are for a city, a moratorium, or no cities, acting tomorrow is critical. The Lakeside bill will move to the Senate Floor tomorrow (Feb 26). Your feedback is crucial to impacting a potential vote.

Here are sample letters. Copy and paste the email addresses listed below as a group in your blind copy BCC or, time permitting, use this list “Senators” to send to individual senators. The vote could occur as early as tomorrow morning:

Support Lakeside

Subject: Support SB 270

Dear Senator,

My neighbors and I are asking you to allow us to vote on how we want to be governed by voting for Senator Millar’s SB 270 (formation of the City of Lakeside) when it comes to the floor.

The Lakeside City Alliance has held over 75 meetings throughout the boundary area, and voters expressed over and over again that they want the opportunity to vote on cityhood and to put our local tax dollars to work in our community.

We need better police, parks, and public works, and we simply are not getting these things from DeKalb County.

This is our last chance to have a say in how we will be governed.
Please vote for the bill as passed out of committee with no amendments.

Please allow the residents of this community to determine their own future and vote yes for a referendum.

Thank you.

Support Moratorium

Subject: Oppose SB 270

Dear Senator,

I’m asking to you to vote against Senate Bill 270 concerning the proposed city of Lakeside.

My neighborhood was added along with parts of Emory University and surrounding areas to its borders without notice. Our neighborhood has been actively following this initiative and only became aware of this change after approval by the Senate committee.

The Lakeside Initiative did not communicate their plans to expand the geographic area of the proposed city, despite having clearly identified contacts in our civic associations. It has also misrepresented the wishes of the majority of our neighborhood which has consistently expressed an interest in a moratorium on cityhood.

Independent of my personal preference, all citizen affected by the proposed changes should have advance notice and time to weigh in on the process.  Fair evaluation and hearing of other proposals for cityhood is essential to representative government, and the efforts of Lakeside to drown out other opinions should not sway elected officials from representing all of their constituents.
Address (Victoria Estates)
Atlanta, GA

Senator Email Addresses;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Governor Deal and Lieutenant Governor Cagle

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle 404-656-5030
Web form:

Governor Nathan Deal 404-656-1776
Web form:

Summary of Neighborhood Meeting with Georgia Legislators Concerning Cityhood

cityhood meeting 1February 18, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth


Last night’s meeting at the home of Tim Buchman/Barbara Zehnbauer was impressive with over 70 participants.  Thanks to all for making it a success and special thanks to Tim for opening his home to us. Participants included Victoria Estates residents, some guests from surrounding areas, and speakers State Senator Jason Carter, State Representative Mike Jacobs, and State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver.


This neighborhood meeting was organized by COVE to provide State Representative Mike Jacobs an opportunity to explain the reasoning behind the last minute redrawing of City of Lakeside’s borders to include Victoria Estates, parts of Emory and surrounding neighborhoods, without any prior notice to Victoria Estates. Additionally, the meeting was an opportunity for State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and State Senator Jason Carter to weigh in, for neighbors to ask questions, and for all to hear each other’s concerns.
Mary Margaret Oliver stated that she is prepared to put a substitute Briarcliff charter/map into the Lakeside bill if Senate Bill 270 comes across into the House, but only talked about doing so to block Lakeside, not to promote Briarcliff.  She believes that Lakeside overreached on their new map to give them some room to “compromise” if necessary.
Both she and Carter asked everyone to give HB 22 consideration, as it lays down overreaching restrictions on cities.  There was no mention of HR 1330 as an alternative, which would create a study committee without other permanent restrictions on municipalities. The former bill is a concern for those who would like to maintain the future option to incorporate into a city after a moratorium.
Mike Jacobs took some serious heat from neighbors who expressed anger over the lack of democratic process being demonstrated at the Capitol concerning Senate Bill (SB) 270 and the proposed city of Lakeside. He explained his involvement was to ensure that if Toco Hills was to be included in the city of Lakeside boundaries, that the surrounding neighborhood should be included too. He insisted that he played no part in drawing either the old or new Lakeside maps and, although he did admit that he got a copy of the new map before SB 270 was voted on, could not remember who gave it to him. Jacobs did promise that he would be sure to let the Lakeside Initiative know that, at the end of the almost 2 hour meeting, 95% of those present, by a show of hands, indicated overwhelming support for a moratorium with only a few saying they would vote in favor of Lakeside if it came to a referendum.
A member of the Beth Jacob community indicated his, and many members of the orthodox community’s, request to be added to the proposed Lakeside boundaries was over concerns about recent abduction attempts and related crime. His belief was that the neighborhood would receive better police protection, based on statements from citizens of other recently incorporated cities, and that Lakeside, not Briarcliff, had a chance of passage at the Capitol.
State Senator/Gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter indicated strong support for a moratorium on cityhood. He was quite passionate in his plea for help from DeKalb residents to try to fix DeKalb before doing anything else, and referred specifically to Kathie Gannon’s Blueprint as a guideline. He and his message were well received.
Emory is not demonstrating any interest in either Lakeside or Briarcliff as an option.  Emory declined to send a representative to our meeting, but stated very clearly via email to COVE that they are absolutely opposed to Lakeside taking any of their campus.

cityhood meeting 1cityhood meeting 2cityhood meeting 3cityhood meeting 4cityhood meeting 5








Thank You Letters

Send a thank you letter to Oliver, Jacobs, and Carter for taking time to visit our neighborhood and to better understand our concerns.

State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver
150 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Suite 230
Decatur, GA 30030
State Representative Mike Jacobs
3522 Ashford Dunwoody Road #430
Brookhaven, GA 30319
State Senator Jason Carter
P.O. Box 573
Decatur, GA 30030

Capitol Bills

Update on Legislation

2/25/14 – Pat Killingsworth


Scheduled to be voted by the Senate tomorrow, February 25!   Last chance for calls. There is the possibility that this bill will also be amended once again to rearrange the boundaries, possibly to include all of Tucker.  Anyone who is interested in this bill should express their opinion to Senator Jeff Mullis and Speaker Ralston tomorrow morning.

HB665 (Oliver) – Briarcliff


Proposed City of Briarcliff boundaries have been modified to accommodate the Decatur, Avondale Estates, and Clarkston proposed areas of annexation. There is a moderate amount of commercial property conceded, while a fair amount of low value residential is removed.  It leaves Tucker alone. The revisions should make it possible for Mary Margaret Oliver to get behind Briarcliff as a real city instead of just a method of stopping Lakeside. It also leaves residents in the areas that were deleted from the new map with a choice between annexation with one of the three cities this year, with Briarcliff next year, or not at all.

HB 704 – City of South Fulton

A vote on a City of South Fulton passed quickly and was sent to the Senate.  This bill would have a significant impact on the city of Atlanta, which will in turn affect any future annexations that they might consider including Druid Hills, Emory, and Victoria Estates.  Gov. Deal is working with Mayor Kasim Reed, and may be willing to give Atlanta some breathing room with a moratorium/study committee to work out the details.

HB 905/906 – Chamblee and Brookhaven dispute


This ill to resolve dispute over boundaries between Chamblee and Brookhaven was passed by both chambers and will become law upon signing by the governor

HB 22 – City Moratorium

This bill would place a moratorium on the creation of new cities and would effectively restrict all future cities in DeKalb based upon proximity limitations.

HR 1330 – City Moratorium

HR_1330_Study Committee_Feb112014

Study Committee on Municipalities/Moratorium was assigned to GAFF on 2/11 and had a second reading on 2/17. This bill, unlike HB 22, would not place a permanent restriction on municipalities.

HB 979 (Jacobs and Oliver) – School Board 1.0

HB 979_School Board Members

This bill provides for the reduction of DeKalb School Board members from 9 to 7. It eliminates the two super district representatives. It has passed in the House and had a first reading in the Senate. Much of the DeKalb delegation does not support this proposal, and has sponsored alternative HB 1054.

HB 1054 – School Board 1.1

This bill is sponsored by Mitchell, Mosby, Stephenson, Kendrick et al.  The DeKalb delegation’s response to HB 979 shows a proposed redistricting map for the School board. The bill was dropped on 2/21 and has had a second reading, but has not moved out of committee.  Proposed redistricting shows narrow districts stretching from south to north DeKalb, with no apparent geographic relationship, and has been publicly criticized.  One of the articles is follows:
DeKalb Board of Education Maps: The Politics of Ridicule — Peach Pundit

SB 399 – School Board 1.2

This bill, sponsored by Steve Henson, was introduced on 2/21.  It will allow the governor’s current BOE appointees to remain in office until 2017, and specifies that the governor be allowed to fill any vacancies during that time as well.  The drama in the delegation is ramping up!

SB 95 – DeKalb CEO

SB 95_Nonpartisan CEO election

(Millar), DeKalb CEO to be elected on a nonpartisan vote, passed the Senate on 2/18, and had its second reading in the House.

Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb Meeting, Thursday, February 20

February 21, 2014 – John Bugge (President, Mason Mill Civic Association)

Dear Neighbor,

Our County Commissioner for Super District 6, Kathie Gannon, is taking the lead on “redefining” how the County government should work.  She has important ideas about what is not working, and she has put together a bold and far-reaching set of principles for reform, accompanied by many practical suggestions on how to go about it, all under the heading of a “Blueprint to Re-Define DeKalb.”  This was the subject of a public meeting last evening at the Decatur Public Library.

As she says, the County has reached a tipping point and something has to be done.

Please see the document she has put together at her web site:

If you find that you are in favor of the Blueprint and want to add your name to a list of supporters, please just email that sentiment to the following email address:

This is just the beginning of what may be a long and difficult process, but at least Kathie has made a laudable beginning.

Note: Several Victoria Estates neighbors were in attendance, including COVE board members Pat Killingsworth, Martha Pacini, and Carl Lange. More details will follow.

Blueprint Meeting Handout

Houston Mill Development

February 22, 2014 – Patrick S. Noonan

The Mason Mill Civic Association leadership has just learned of plans to put a 24-unit townhouse development on Houston Mill Road, above the creek and the waterfall, where the yellow house currently stands. Time for a joint leadership meeting and some action planning?


DeKalb Board of Commissioner’s Budget Hearing – Thursday, February 27

Budget Public Hearing and Vote on the 2014 Proposed Budget
Thursday, February 27th at 10:00 am
Maloof Auditorium
1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA  30030

2014 Budget Analysis

The Board of Commissioners is due to act on Interim CEO Lee May’s budget proposal on Thursday, February 27th.  It purports to be a “no tax increase” budget, but in my reading incorporates several weaknesses that must be corrected, or DeKalb will see a substantial millage increase next year.  I’ve attended numerous Budget Committee meetings, hosted a Town Hall to better understand the proposal and your priorities, and have reached this conclusion:  Overall, the Interim CEO’s budget sets a direction that must be reversed if DeKalb is to stabilize essential service delivery and have any hope for competing for new economic growth to reduce reliance on the residential tax base.   I intend to vote to reserve as much of our budget as possible against future tax increases, continue to push for mechanisms to reduce our structural deficit and address essential service delivery needs.  Some key areas are highlighted below.  I would also encourage you to read the Commission Central Staff analysis, posted on our website on the home page at:

Revenues and Millage Rates
DeKalb’s revenues growth is expected to be flat this year, a great improvement over the past few years, but still 23% lower than our high in 2008.  Even if the tax digest were to grow 4% a year in the future, it would be 2023 before we reached the 2008 high water mark.  The distribution of this decline is not even across the County, and many taxpayers have seen increased assessments in the past year.  This reflects the good news of strong property values, but is bad news for tax bills, particularly for businesses that don’t benefit from homestead exemptions and the HOST rebate.  For those taxpayers, DeKalb has the highest millage rates (21.21) of any unincorporated jurisdiction in Metro Atlanta.

Fund Balances
Our Fund Balance, or Reserves are better than they have been in years, but at $28 M, don’t come close to the one-month’s operating budget target set in County fiscal policies.  Adequate Reserves are important to meeting unforeseen challenges and to reduce the cost of credit, which as a large enterprise, we use annually.  Building up our Reserves should continue to be a goal; we’re only half way there.

Overall Revenues and Expenditures
The Administration proposes to increase the tax-funded budget from $560 M in 2013 to $584 M this year, a 4% increase.  With tax revenues anticipated to total only $575 M, this represents a $9 M gap that the Administration proposes to fund using Reserves.

Many increased expenses are difficult to avoid.  Health care and pension obligations are growing, though at a lower rate than before.  Service demand does not decline when we see lower tax receipts.  In fact, the same conditions that erode our revenues tend to increase demand for services, so increased demand for code enforcement and public safety drive up costs in these areas.  DeKalb has also under funded key systems during the Great Recession, and we must increase our road paving and facilities maintenance budgets, or the County’s capital assets will be seriously undermined.

Proposed 3% Pay Increase
The biggest discretionary expense that the Administration proposes is a 3% across the board pay increase for all County employees, starting July 1.  The County’s fragile financial condition has regrettably precluded cost of living increases for several years, but pay has not been static.  In the past year, the suspended CEO implemented a 3% “living wage” pay increase for low-paid employees, and a 3% bonus for sworn police personnel was approved. In all, over $7.3 million in salary increases have been authorized outside of the budget process over the past five years. We should delay action on pay adjustments until the CEO completes analysis of the current compensation structure (already underway), and a plan for restructuring County service delivery to meet the financial realities in coming years (promised).  Interim CEO May pledges to avoid a tax increase in 2015 (if he remains in the post), but until a roadmap to that goal is revealed, we would be wise to avoid ongoing commitments that will not take us in another direction.

Police Take Home Vehicles
A patrol car, like a side arm or radio, is desirable personal equipment for DeKalb’s patrol force, and personally assigned vehicles (that the officer would take home, like other equipment) are a benefit to both the public and officers.  The Administration’s proposal initiates a take-home vehicle program, but only provides seed funding. In an unconstrained fiscal environment, take home vehicles would be a worthwhile addition to the fleet.   Unfortunately, today’s weak tax digest does not allow for the full implementation of this capital program without necessitating future tax increases.  Our Public Safety Administration should look for resources other than the tax fund budget to expand the fleet and enhance our capacity to improve the effectiveness of our patrol force.  We should focus the tax funds budget on maintaining the capacity of the Force by maintaining current and newly acquired capital resources, and maintaining our head-count.

Animal Shelter Capital Contributions
There’s been strong support and a strong business case for development of a new Animal Shelter.  In 2013, the County made a commitment to deliver the new facility with development commencing in May 2014.  It’s not clear that all funds necessary for the completion of the new Animal Shelter are committed.  Funding committed last year to the project only constitute about half of the required construction budget.  The Administration anticipates issuing debt to fund the facility, but DeKalb’s capability to issue debt is tightly constrained by state legislation.  Absent a comprehensive and air-tight analysis of a legal means to debt finance the remainder of the Shelter budget, the capital expense should be fully funded in 2014 to insure that the County’s commitment to the project timetable is fulfilled.

Public Defenders Office
The Public Defender requested, but was denied funding to convert an Attorney III position from expiring grant-funded status to permanent County funding status in order to continue managing the diversion of suitable defendants to the Drug Court rehabilitation program.  Given the program’s success in reducing the high cost of recidivism, not to mention salvaging lives from the debilitating effect of addiction, DeKalb should recognize the positive financial and human impact of our model Drug Court program by restoring $80,000 to the Public Defenders budget for this position.

Despite large increases in library space under the Library System’s management, staffing has declined slightly since 2010, resulting in service cuts to patrons.  More troubling has been a nearly complete withdrawal of tax-fund resources for the purchase of library materials.  Bond interest revenues served as a stopgap in recent years, but those funds are now effectively exhausted with the coming completion of the bond funded library improvement program.  The Administration proposed to zero out tax fund contributions in its initial budget.  The Library System’s request for $1,000,000 in tax-fund contributions toward purchase of library materials should be restored.

Thank you –

Jeff Rader

Our mailing address is:
1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA  30030
Copyright (C) All rights reserved.

“Town Hall” Meeting – Thursday, February 27

Reps. Mary Margaret Oliver, Michele Henson and Scott Holcomb have rescheduled their town hall meeting. It will be held Thursday, February 27th, from 6:30-8:00 PM at Hawthorne Elementary School. The full announcement is below.

ATLANTA – State Representatives Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain), and Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) will host a town hall meeting on Thursday, February 27, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Hawthorne Elementary School in DeKalb County. The previously scheduled meeting for February 12 was cancelled.
During this meeting, these representatives will give a legislative update on events that have occurred during the first weeks of session and hear questions from constituents.

WHO: Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain)
Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta)

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting to discuss the ongoing 2014 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly and hear from constituents

WHEN: Thursday, February 27, 2014
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hawthorne Elementary School
2535 Caladium Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30345

North Decatur Rd.  – Scott Blvd. – Church St. Area Land Use Study – Thursday, February 27

Medline LCI Study Community Workshop
Thursday, February 27th 6:30 pm — 8:00 pm
North Decatur Presbyterian Church (Sanctuary)
611 Medlock Road
Decatur, GA 30033

We hope you will post the information on your pages and share it with your network to join us for the Medline LCI study community workshop.

We also invite the public to take part in our community survey which will help us identify issues and opportunities for consideration in the final plan.  Please share the following link to access the survey:
Additional details about the Medline LCI can be found on the study website at

Standing Meeting of DeKalb Delegation with County Commission – Monday, March 3

Scheduled: Mar 3, 2014, 11:30:00 AM to 1:30:00 PM
Location: Room 605, Coverdell Building
Meeting is at noon.

Emory Community Meeting – Tuesday, March 4

Scheduled: Mar 4, 2014, 6:30:00 PM to 8:00:00 PM
Location: North Decatur Building, Room 155
Park in Lowergate South parking deck, second floor walkway

Standing Meeting of DeKalb Delegation with County Commission
Scheduled – Monday, March 10

11:30:00 AM to 1:30:00 PM
Location: Room 605, Coverdell Building
Meeting is at noon.

Standing Meeting of DeKalb Delegation with County Commission – Monday, March 17

Scheduled: Mar 17, 2014, 11:30:00 AM to 1:30:00 PM
Location: Room 605, Coverdell Building
Meeting is at noon.

CDC Campus Plan Public Comments – End Date: April 10, 2014

The CDC has rescheduled this meeting (cancelled due to the snow/ice storm) for Public Comments on the Roybal Campus Master Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).  The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 20, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM, at CDC’s Building 19 Auditorium A.  The revised date for public comment has been moved to April 10, 2014.  For more information, please contact George Chandler

Meeting Reminder

Reminder – Important Neighborhood Meeting Tonight with Georgia Legislators To Discuss Cityhood

Monday, February 17, 2014
6:30 pm
961 Castle Falls Drive
(Home of Tim Buchman/Barbara Zehnbauer)

Whether you are for, against or neutral on the topic of cityhood, your presence at this meeting demonstrates to our elected officials that we are concerned about Victoria Estates and that we expect to be included in processes that could significantly impact us.
This meeting is open to Victoria Estates neighbors and guests. If you can make it and have not responded to the RSVP, you are still welcome.
[more details]

COVEReport – February 11, 2014

COVEReport Logo


Important Neighborhood Meeting with Georgia Legislators- Victoria Estates and the City of Lakeside





Monday, February 17, 6:30 pm @ 961 Castle Falls Drive

marthaDear Neighbors,

Please join us Monday evening, Feb. 17 at 6:30 pm at the home of Tim Buchman and Barbara Zehnbauer for an important neighborhood meeting that may impact our future cityhood. Specifically, Victoria Estates has been hastily and unexpectedly included in a new map for the proposed city of Lakeside that is included in a Georgia legislature Senate Bill that may come up for a vote in the immediate future.


At this meeting, we will hear from Senator/Gubernatorial Candidate Jason Carter, our Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and from Representative Mike Jacobs (who currently represents the Brookhaven community and was involved in the inclusion of VE in this new map). Other legislators, including our senator Jason Carter have been invited as well. Because the Senate bill may move to a vote quickly, time is of the essence.


Additional background:

On Wednesday, February 5, the Georgia Senate’s State and Local Government Operations committee approved SB270_Lakeside_Feb112014 for the formation of the city of Lakeside– with a new map that included Victoria Estates.  We had received no advance notice that we were being included in this proposed map. Upon hearing about this Thursday morning, COVE members immediately set to work to determine who had made this decision and the reasoning for it and invited our legislators and several others known to be involved in this matter to meet with us, explain their process, and give us the opportunity to provide feedback. Because things are moving quickly in the legislature, we asked for an immediate meeting, thus the last-minute nature of this invitation.


We hope we can count on you to join us for this important meeting.

Whether you are for or against cityhood, or neutral, it is a chance to show our legislators that we are concerned and that we expect to be included in processes that could significantly impact us.  This invitation is extended to Victoria Estates neighbors and guests. Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to the Evite Invitation [click here] or email so our hosts can properly prepare.


Legislative Update Including Bill for Independent Schools

Pat February 11, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth

It appears that there may be a connection between bills introduced by Rep. Mike Jacobs and Sen. Fran Miller regarding the incorporation of the new city of Lakeside and a bill allowing cities to establish their own school systems.  Mike Jacobs dropped HR486_ Create City School Systems in the hopper on 2/25/2013, which proposes that a referendum be held to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow cities incorporated after January 1, 2005, to create their own school systems.  The bill stalled out in the House Education Committee last year, but was favorably reported out of committee by substitute on Wednesday, February 5, and I assume that it is in the House Rules committee now.  In an interesting coincidence, Fran Millar introduced SB301_Lower School Construction Standards on 1/21/2014, which allows for less expensive wood construction in new public school buildings.  It was read and reported on 1/22/2014, and favorably reported out of the Senate Education and Youth committee on Friday, February 7.  I assume that it is also heading to the Senate Rules committee.  One might connect the dots to see a vote on a new city of Lakeside, and a vote to amend the state Constitution to allow the formation of an affordable independent school system in Lakeside, on the same ballot, carrying the referendum.


HR_1330_Study Committee_Feb112014, a resolution to create a Study Committee on DeKalb County Governance, was dropped into the hopper yesterday.  It is sponsored by Representatives Mosby, Henson, Kendrick, Dawkins-Haigler, Stephenson and Oliver.


I honestly don’t know what the impact of this bill will be on DeKalb County governance.  HB935_Exempt Disclosure of Public Record for Retirement Systems is a bill to exempt local retirement systems from public record disclosure requirements.  It was dropped in the hopper last Thursday, assigned to the Retirement committee, and had its second reading yesterday.  It is flying through, and that is rarely a good thing in my experience.


HB 905/906, to end the lawsuit between Brookhaven and Chamblee over Century Center (affirming the legislative intent that the area in dispute be incorporated into Chamblee), passed the House last Thursday, and was read and referred to Senate SLOGO on Friday.


Nothing else jumped out at me.  I am attaching the new and improved SB270_Lakeside_Feb112014  for review.  It’s 51 pages – enjoy!



Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb Meeting – Rescheduled to next Thursday

Thursday, February 20 at 6:30 PM

Gannon BannerDecatur Library

Lower Level Meeting Room

The Blueprint is the foundation for a community discussion to address the issues facing DeKalb County.  The Blueprint process has been endorsed by more than 60 community leaders to date. The blueprint addresses the Grand Jury recommendations, ethics, government operations and cityhood.


The complete Blueprint is available at Citizens are encouraged to visit the site, read the Blueprint, sign on to show your support AND attend the community meeting on February 20th in the Decatur Library lower level meeting room at 6:30 PM. Free parking is behind the library located at 215 Sycamore Street.


Davis Fox

Policy and Projects Manager for

Super District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon

DeKalb County Board of Commissioners


MMO Third Legislative Newsletter–February 7, 2014


MMOliverFrom: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 5:26 PM
Subject: MMO Third Legislative Newsletter–February 7, 2014!


Mary Margaret Oliver

Law office: 404.377.0485

Legislative office: 404.656.0265 Coverdell Legislative Office Building


This is Mary Margaret Oliver’s third email newsletter for the 2014 General Assembly Session which convened Monday January 13, 2014, and has completed 20 days of the annual 40 day Session.  I send periodic newsletters on  General Assembly activities, and if you do not want to receive this email newsletter please visit my website at to unsubscribe.

In each newsletter, I ask how you would vote on a pending bill or budget item. I am very grateful for your thoughtful responses and I personally read all your answers, and you can read past newsletters and past questions asked under the Media section of my website . Thank you for your interest and thoughtful opinions!  Also, please follow me on FACEBOOK and TWITTER for daily updates on the 2014 Session!

Weekly question: Would you vote to allow guns to be kept in dorm rooms in Georgia’s universities and colleges by students twenty one years of age or older?    Would you allow guns to be carried into churches and bars?   Should guns be allowed in state parks other than those used by for hunters who are complying with all hunting laws and regulations?


Proposed HB 875 contains a variety of expanded authorities for gun owners to carry their properly permitted guns. The debate has been ongoing for some time, and there have many hours of hearings conducted this week.    Should Georgia expand its gun laws and ease the current restrictions? You may review HB 875, and all its substitutes, and any other bill including the state budget, on the General Assembly web site, and view many committee meetings and House floor Sessions live on-line.




To reply to the weekly question, please click “reply” or email me at  Thank you!!




A town hall meeting scheduled for the MMO, Representative Rahn Mayo and Representative Howard Mosby scheduled for Wednesday January 29 was cancelled based on the snow storm and another gathering with Representative Scott Holcomb will be held Wednesday, February 12, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Hawthorne Elementary School, 2535 Calladium.  Please come!

[Note: it is assumed this rescheduled meeting will also be postponed – Carl]


MMO enjoyed lunch this week with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers this week who are assigned to assist children in the foster care system, primarily through Juvenile Court interventions.  A huge statewide group gathered at the Capitol to advocate for this great program.  Every day, small and large groups are organized to attend hearings or floor sessions to monitor legislation and budget work, and offer testimony and opinions, aided sometimes by lobbyists, but more often through grass route efforts–democracy at work!  Please come visit any day–all Sessions and committees are open to the public.


DeKalb Cityhood Legislation.  The DeKalb delegation meets Mondays at noon, and on January 27 CEO Lee May presented his legislative package and asking the delegation for a moratorium on creation of new cities and annexations.  This week on February 3, the DeKalb existing cities, all the mayors, visited the delegation and laid out their plans for annexations, and whether they would be seeking local legislation this year.   Also, the proposed new cities of Tucker, Lakeside and Briarcliff are all active and seeking movement.   The Lakeside city legislation SB 270 has passed out of one Senate committee, and may or may not move to the Senate floor for a vote in the near future. I will be activating the Briarcliff city bill HB 665 in the next week, preparing a detailed substitute with a slightly revised new map, and along with Tucker proponents proceeding into the fray and politics of DeKalb County cityhood debates.  Stay tuned!  I cannot predict at this point whether the House and Senate leadership will ask DeKalb to pause and re-group after further study through a moratorium, or we will fight out all options in 2014.


HB 685 At the request of the State Bar of Georgia I introduced HB 685 to close a gap in Probate Court procedures relative to appointment of testamentary guardians that are named in wills when both parents are deceased leaving orphan minor children.   I participated in almost four hours of hearings in last week on this legislation, through the Judiciary sub-committee, full Judiciary committee, Rules Committee and today, HB 685 passed the House floor 157 to 0, and moves to the Senate for further consideration.


HB 993 I prefiled HB 705 to make changes in the Child Fatality Review Commission, and I am grateful the Governor has made this issue part of his legislative package.  HB 993, which I co-sponsor with the Governor’s floor leaders, proposes necessary reforms to the fatality review process and moves the function to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.  HB 993 needs to pass this year, and I will report in the future on its progress.


Appropriations Committee MMO serves on the Appropriations Committee, and specifically the subcommittee Human Services, Aging, Veterans Affairs, Labor, and Behavioral Health. Sub-committees and the full committee have met and the Supplemental mid-year budget has passed the House, and the Fiscal Year ’15 Budget will come to the House floor next week. Again, many hours of committee work. Our revenue growth allows a few new spending items and for the first time in years, agencies were not required to cut programs.  Our state budget remains less than in 2008.


Capitol Visits and Pages If your group would like to visit the Capitol, your child serve as a page on the House floor, please let me know. I want to hear from you and how I may help!  Thank you for your interest.



A Letter to the Capitol

A sample of one of the many letters sent by our neighbors to the Capitol concerning cityhood legislation


Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2014 2:12 PM

To: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Subject: Senate Bill 270 – Proposed City of Lakeside – VOTE NO!


Dear Senators,

Senate Bill 270 for the proposed city of Lakeside is currently being reviewed by the Senate Rules Committee, and may soon be up for vote.  Several neighborhoods, including Victoria Estates, were recently added to these plans.  Our neighborhood has been actively following this initiative and only became aware of this change today.  The Lakeside Initiative did not communicate their plans to expand the geographic area of the proposed city.  Independent of my personal preference, all citizen affected by the proposed changes should have advance notice and time to weigh in on the process.  Because these changes were not done in an open and transparent manner, I urge you to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 270.

E. Bennett
— Mason Mill Rd (Victoria Estates)
Atlanta, GA

Should New Cities Be Allowed To Form Independent School Districts?

Peach Pundit


Peach Pundit – November 27, 2013 13:31 pm

by Buzz Brockway · 25 comments

An independent Dunwoody school system would run a surplus of $30 million according to a feasibility study paid for by the city and a local parents group. Click for more


Blueprint for DeKalb Meeting Postponed

Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, February 20, 6:30 pm at the Decatur Library. Please enter at the lower level.

Blueprint for DeKalb Meeting – Thursday 2/20

A meeting has been organized by Kathy Gannon and others to discuss comprehensive planning for DeKalb County reform. This call to action, with citizen involvement, could be a meaningful step towards creating a blueprint to transform our county.

Thursday February 20, 2014, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM, Decatur Library, Ground Floor Meeting Room.  Enter from parking lot in the rear.

Dear Friends,

Our DeKalb County reached a ‘tipping point’ in 2013: nearly everyone now agrees that fundamental reforms are due.  Beyond that general agreement, reaching consensus proves difficult.   Even listing a Top Ten of the issues, crises and challenges that brought us to this tipping point invariably raises disagreement on one point or another from one quarter or another.  We all seem to be going our separate ways.

To move forward we should consider, “what does reform look like?”  We believe it includes these broad principles:

  • Marginal adjustments no longer suffice.  We need comprehensive solutions as big as our problems.
  • No one change suffices.  We need approaches as multi-faceted as our problems.
  • Many levels of government must be involved.  The Board of Commissioners can and must play a key role, but so too must the Board of Education, the DeKalb delegation in the State Legislature, our municipalities, and our business and private sector leaders.  Each must act, do so in concert, and proceed on a jointly agreed timetable.
  • Governmental transparency is a must.  We cannot negotiate changes so fundamental and so diverse behind closed doors.
  • Citizens’ voices count.

We believe there is a broad consensus to proceed on those terms.

Upon what problems should this multi-dimensional, transparent process focus?  Again, we believe a broad consensus exists to address issues in five areas:

OPERATIONS:  Everyone who does the County’s business and everyone who does business with the County should be able to rely on published standard operating procedures for every department. The immediate issue is with purchasing and contracts.
ETHICS:  We must have confidence in the integrity of the people who constitute our government, and that demands an independent auditor, an outside appointment process for ethics boards, and limits on vendor’s contributions to candidates.
ELECTIONS:  A clear contributing factor to our problems has been elections with low voter turnout with the power of incumbency clearly in play.  More voters, new voices and broader conversations are needed.
GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE:  With the proliferation of new cities and land grabs, the nature of structural reforms depends in great measure on what decisions we make on cities, operations, ethics, and elections.  If we are looking for changes as big and as multi-faceted as our problems, then simply convening a Charter Commission and amending our Form of Government is no panacea.  Structural reform is the end goal of the process, not its beginning.
HOST SALES TAX:  The sales tax no longer funds needed infrastructure improvements and misallocates proceeds.  In addition, everyone thinks that those at the other end of the County get a better deal.  This highlights the need to revisit the HOST legislation.

We believe there is a consensus to develop a Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb on this basis.

We believe that the way to maintain this consensus as we add details to the Blueprint is to engage in an open discussion that tests ideas in a non-confrontational, non-adversarial manner.  We need to talk.  It is in that spirit that we humbly offer the following initial details so that all stakeholders can engage and offer suggestions. Here is a starting point:


Administrative Procedures: Businesses and many governments have documented procedures so that those conducting business with them know what to expect.  It is paramount that the Purchasing procedures assure transparency in selecting professional services. The recent Grand Jury called for this reform, and our DeKalb Delegation partners will need to amend the Organizational Act to allow this change to be accomplished.   Compliance with these procedures is a watchdog role that should be performed by a compliance officer outside of County government.  All of our departments need standard operating procedures. It has taken us years to modernize our permitting procedures. This work must continue to make dealing with DeKalb County a smooth and fair business transaction.


Restrict campaign contributions from vendors:  Some groups are advocating the State restrict campaign contributions to $250 from companies and individuals who do business with the government.  Amending state regulations to limit contributions from vendors to elected officials and their special projects would be a huge step towards restoring public trust.

Internal Auditor:  Hiring an internal auditor has been advocated for over 3 years.   It will improve integrity and transparency and provide independent, technical oversight of government contracts and operations.  An internal auditor will also improve the checks and balances between the CEO and Board of Commissioners.

Board of Ethics:  The proposed 2014 county budget contains additional funds for the Board of Ethics, and that is an important step.  One other change is essential, the Board of Commissioners and the CEO should not be appointing the people that will oversee them. There are better ways to fill the Ethics Board.


Change local election rules: Despite the problems DeKalb faces, the same people continue to be elected.  It is difficult to run for county government, especially against an incumbent who has the advantage of access to more campaign contributions and name recognition.  Perhaps it is time to change the election rules.  Term limits should be explored.  The advantage of incumbency could be checked by term limits, encouraging new leaders to step forward bringing fresh ideas and change.


Apportion all of unincorporated DeKalb into equitable boundaries:  The “Genie” is out of the bottle with forming new cities, and there is no way to turn back.  While people have the right to self-determination, the “problem” with cities is the way the state allows them to be formed. The current proposals for new cities have set off something of a panic. We should not form cities based upon our fears, but instead we should form them with an understanding of the benefits and costs for everyone.

The current process is a “first come, first grab” movement that considers only economic feasibility.  If the legislature needs proof that the process is unworkable, they only need to look at the three proposed cities trying to occupy the same space in order to acquire financially important properties. Yet the state only requires an economic study and the studies say they are all financially feasible.

A better method for forming cities would rely upon financial, demographic and GIS data to assess the economic and other impacts to the entire county.  We propose such a model.  A University Fiscal Research Center can model different boundary configurations using a broad array of data.

They can create as many boundaries as are economically viable using tax base per capita and adjust for service delivery efficiencies or other factors.  Using this model of proposed boundaries, all communities can be at the table to explore improved services with more local control.  The boundaries could be used to form a city based upon a set of criteria and not the fear that one’s community will be left behind.

Professional, objective facilitators would conduct a community involvement process within the proposed boundaries.  This process should take place in 2014 and it will broaden the discussion about incorporation and alternatives, including annexation, special tax districts, townships, shared services, and new government authorities with control of certain services. Discussions would inform residents and explore options based on their issues.  This proposal would include the boundaries proposed by the various city advocates and existing municipalities that are considering annexation.

Putting new cities on hold:  While DeKalb sorts through our internal issues a delay on creating new cities would be the best thing the General Assembly could do for DeKalb County in this year’s short session. If we in DeKalb are doing something to face the call for cities, the General Assembly should give us time to solve our own problems.

Charter Commission:  There are many people who question the current form of DeKalb government.  A well-staffed Charter Commission is the preferable method to examine the options for DeKalb. The snowballing issues of cityhood and annexation will probably require changes to County government that we can’t predict.  It is premature to redefine County government when we don’t know what functions it will be performing.  A Charter Commission should be established after we understand the role of DeKalb County and any new cities being formed.


HOST Sales Tax:  The HOST legislation needs to be revisited and overhauled. The legislation has been successful in keeping property tax rates low for homeowners, but it has failed to provide the needed resources to fund capital improvements. Only $5 million is available from HOST in 2014 for capital improvements. The DeKalb budget states that if a new city is created in 2015, there may not be any HOST funding for capital projects in DeKalb. The 5-year capital improvement budget for DeKalb is over $23 million. DeKalb has an aging infrastructure with an inadequate funding source to repair and replace it.  Meanwhile the millage rate for businesses is among the highest in the State of Georgia.

Another shortcoming in HOST is the distribution of capital funds among the County and the cities. Unincorporated DeKalb has 60% of the population and receives 25% of the funds available for capital improvements ($5m out of $20m). Distribution among the cities is also skewed with Dunwoody receiving $15 per capita and Lithonia receiving $1 per capita. We should revisit the HOST legislation and adopt something to meet the demands of today.

Call to Action:   We call on our Commissioners, our State partners, our citizens and stakeholders to step up to the challenge.  As the legislative branch, the Board of Commissioners can enact several of the suggested reforms. Our partners in the state legislature can enact others. Citizens and business stakeholders must put on the pressure to see that these reforms are dealt with in a meaningful way as soon as possible to give this government transparency and accountability.  We must engage our citizens in the cityhood issue in a meaningful way.  We must explore long-term improvements to our government.  We must step up to this challenge by considering a comprehensive plan to redefine our county.

Our goal here is to begin a conversation.  We understand that not every stakeholder will agree with every recommendation we have made.  We hope to hear from a diverse range of voices:

How would you implement reform in OPERATIONS?
How would you implement reform in PUBLIC ETHICS?
How would you implement reform in LOCAL ELECTIONS?
How would you implement reform in GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE?
How would you implement reform in INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING?

Throughout, we are looking for solutions as big as our problems and changes as multi-faceted as our problems, reached by engaging every level in concert, operating transparently, and inviting every voice to the table.  This is our CALL TO ACTION.

Please come together to advance the conversation:
DATE:     Tuesday February 11, 2014
TIME:     6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
PLACE:   Decatur Library, Ground Floor Meeting Room.  Enter from parking lot in the rear.

Please join us in support of the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb by going to and email us to add your name to the citizen leaders listed below.  Please contact your elected officials, your congregation, your neighbors and friends and ask them to help us advance the Blueprint.

Margaret (Peggy) Anderson
Josiah Benator
Toni Beyah
Isaac Blythers
Beth Bond
Wardell Castles
Jodi Cobb
Justin Critz
Ted Daniel
Bonnie J. Davis  and
Obayana B. Ajanaku
Viola Davis
Jim Durrett
Debra Edelson
Joel Edwards
Becky Evans
Sara Fountain
Kathie Gannon
Robert Godfry
Martha Gross
Harriett Hollis
Noreen Horrigan
Bonnie Jackson
Kathryn Kolb
Brenda Pace
Charles Peagler
Jeff Rader
Jack Sartain
Leroy Smith, Jr.
Majorie Snook
Mike St. Louis
Gill Turman
Gale Walldorff and
Andy Hall
Robert Young

Georgia Senate Rules Committee

Contact the Georgia Senate Today!

Martha Pacini and Carl Lange – February 6, 2014
Politics are moving very rapidly and yesterday’s inclusion of Victoria Estates and surrounding neighborhoods into the proposed Lakeside City boundaries came as a surprise to opponents. Senate Bill 270 is being reviewed now by the Georgia Senate Rules Committee before being sent to the Senate floor for a vote. COVE has remained engaged at the Capitol and the addition of Victoria Estates and surrounding neighborhoods was made with no transparency including any communication to our neighborhood by the Lakeside Initiative. If you wish to voice your opinion, it is imperative that you contact the committee members this morning!

Georgia Senate Rules Committee

Mullis, 656-0057
Tolleson, RossVice 656-0081
Jackson, 651-7738
Chance, 463-1366
Gooch, 656-9221
Hill, 656-0150
Miller, 656-6578
Shafer, 656-0048
Staton, 656-5039
Butler, Gloria 656-0075
Henson, 656-0085
Hill, 656-5038
Millar, 463-2260
Murphy, 656-7127
Tate, 463-8053
Unterman, Renee 463-1368

You may also copy and paste this entire list:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Proposed City of Lakeside Includes Victoria Estates

Pat Killingsworth and Erika Birg – February 6, 2014

Senate Bill 270, for the proposed City of Lakeside, was passed by the State and Local Government Committee (SLGO) yesterday by a narrow margin. The bill was not on the published committee agenda, and it was only yesterday morning that opponents of the bill learned that it would be considered. The approved map shows Victoria Estates and surrounding areas being included in Lakeside. Based on yesterday’s activities, we expect it to be passed through the Rules Committee and sent to the Senate floor for a vote in short order. COVE continues to monitor activities closely for any updates, including any explanation as to the last minute inclusion of Victoria Estates in the proposed city boundaries.

Copyright © 2014 Citizens of Victoria Estates (COVE), All rights reserved.
You are receiving this message as a member of the neighborhood directory or because of your request. Please feel free to opt out if you do not wish to be included.

Our mailing address is:

Citizens of Victoria Estates (COVE)

1548 Mason Mill Road Northeast, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, GA 30329

Lakeside to Include Victoria Estates

Proposed City of Lakeside Includes Victoria Estates

Pat Killingsworth and Erika Birg – February 6, 2014

Senate Bill 270, for the proposed City of Lakeside, was passed by the State and Local Government Committee (SLGO) yesterday by a narrow margin. The bill was not on the published committee agenda, and it was only yesterday morning that opponents of the bill learned that it would be considered. The approved map shows Victoria Estates and surrounding areas being included in Lakeside. Based on yesterday’s activities, we expect it to be passed through the Rules Committee and sent to the Senate floor for a vote in short order. COVE continues to monitor activities closely for any updates, including any explanation as to the last minute inclusion of Victoria Estates in the proposed city boundaries.

Copyright © 2014 Citizens of Victoria Estates (COVE), All rights reserved.
You are receiving this message as a member of the neighborhood directory or because of your request. Please feel free to opt out if you do not wish to be included.

Our mailing address is:

Citizens of Victoria Estates (COVE)

1548 Mason Mill Road Northeast, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, GA 30329