COVE Report – January 29, 2015

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January 29, 2015

Demand Good Governance Today!

The Georgia legislature is evaluating proposals for changes to DeKalb County that include an independent county auditor, reforms to the ethics committee, and a formal purchasing/procurement policy. These reforms will promote transparency and accountability in the way the county conducts itself. Your emails and calls to state legislators have a significant influence on these decisions!

The Georgia legislature mandates the DeKalb County organizational act, and has the ability to make changes this session that would significant improve chances for better governance. DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May and county commissioners have had a year to develop recommendations, yet as of this week have been unable to provide a unified request to legislators.

It’s time for DeKalb citizens (both in cities and unincorporated) to step forward and demand good governance. We can’t afford to wait yet another year!

Write or call the 22 members of the DeKalb Delegation requesting they take action now. Copy and paste your email to each member individually.

This sample letter recommends key changes based on governance best-practices that could be implemented this year. While another study committee may be required to evaluate the CEO form of government, these most important changes should not be further delayed.

Sample letter:

Subject: DeKalb County Reforms to Achieve Transparency and Accountability

Dear [Representative/Senator ___ ],

My name is ______ and I live in [Victoria Estates near Emory University] in Central DeKalb County.

I am writing to support changes to the DeKalb County organizational act in three areas that will promote transparency and accountability in the way the county conducts itself.

  • Ethics
    • Require that members of the ethics board be selected by outside organizations that will review qualifications to assure that board members hold basic qualifications to serve on this important board.
    • Stipulate that funding for the ethics board be a priority and fixed at a percentage of the county budget (.05%).
  • Internal Audit
    • Mandate that the county establish an independent, objective internal audit capability to be funded at a fixed percentage of the county budget (.1%).
    • Require the formation of an independent oversight committee, the members of which will be selected/vetted by groups such as the Georgia Society of CPAs, the Association of Local Government Auditors or the Institute for Internal Auditors, who will oversee the creation of the annual internal audit plan and reporting of results.
    • Require that the findings of audits be presented to and made available to the public.
  • Procurement/Purchasing
    • Require the county to adopt a formal purchasing/procurement policy.
    • Mandate that the policy follow leading practice in public purchasing/procurement.
    • Require that all county operations/constitutional offices follow the processes outlined procurement policy.

These reforms are crucial steps in restoring the confidence of the DeKalb County citizens in those who are elected to govern, as well as those who are employed by the county.

Sincerely,

Name
Address
Email
Phone

Write to:

GEORGIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – DeKalb Delegation

Stacey Abrams stacey.abrams@house.ga.gov, Karen Bennett karen.bennett@house.ga.gov, Dee Dawkins-Haigler dee.dawkins-haigler@house.ga.gov, Karla Drenner karla.drenner@house.ga.gov, Michele Henson michele.henson@house.ga.gov, Scott Holcomb scott.holcomb@house.ga.gov, Mike Jacobs mike.jacobs@house.ga.gov, Darshun Kendrick darshun.kendrick@house.ga.gov, Rahn Mayo rahn.mayo@house.ga.gov, Billy Mitchell billy.mitchell@house.ga.gov, Howard Mosby@house.ga.gov, Mary Margaret Oliver mary.oliver@house.ga.gov, Tonia Peterson-Anderson mspete16@yahoo.com, Pamela Stephenson pamela.stephenson@house.ga.gov, Tom Taylor tom.taylor@house.ga.gov, Ernest Williams ernest.williams@house.ga.gov

http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx
GEORGIA SENATE – DeKalb Delegation

Gloria Butler gloria.butler@senate.ga.gov, Elena Parent elena.parent@senate.ga.gov, Gail Davenport gail.davenport@senate.ga.gov, Steve Henson stevehenson@mindspring.com, Emanuel Jones emanj@mindspring.com, Fran Millar fran.millar@senate.ga.gov, Ronald Ramsey ronald.ramsey@senate.ga.gov

http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx

Georgia Legislative Report

Mosby

Mary Hinkel – President, Mason Mill Civic Association – January 25, 2015

After attending two small group meetings hosted by COVE (Citizens of Victoria Estate) this past week with Representative Howard Mosby (the leader of the DeKalb delegation) and Interim Chief Executive Officer Lee May, my understanding of the current situation is this:

The first meeting of the DeKalb state legislative delegation happens this Monday, Day 5 of the legislative session.
Representatives from several central DeKalb neighborhoods, including Mason Mill and Victoria Estates, will be present to present results from community surveys. In each case, the resounding message is: The majority of residents in these neighborhoods want to remain in unincorporated DeKalb County.

It is anticipated that other speakers will encourage a moratorium on forming new cities and annexing properties until a more reasonable and equitable process can be defined. (See http://dekalbstrong.com for information about this effort and to sign a petition for a moratorium if you support this type of action.) At the COVE meetings, we heard both Rep Mosby and Interim CEO May say they would be supportive of a moratorium.

Also, Lee May will present the recommendations of the DeKalb Operations Task Force. These recommendations, incorporating many of Blueprint DeKalb’s recommendations, are focused on rewriting the County’s Organizational Act and cleaning up and strengthening the County’s approach to Ethics, Procurement, and Internal Auditing.

According to decaturish.com, among the Task Force recommendations are these:
1) Establishing a charter review commission… [click to go to decaturish.com article]

Residents are encouraged to let the local DeKalb delegation know what they think about these recommendations. Email addresses for the delegation are available on the COVE website:
Legislation Email Guide

Interim CEO May will also demonstrate a new financial model created by Georgia Tech that allows the County to better identify the cost of delivering services parcel by parcel, thereby proving a method for computing the financial impact new cities and annexations are having on the County.

Annexation is a local legislative matter. The delegation has sat on previous annexation requests for the past three years because of the proposed formation of new cities, but now existing cities (Decatur, Stone Mountain, Lithonia) are pushing for their annexation requests to be acted upon.

The possible City of Atlanta annexation presents another tricky situation – for the county, the schools and new cityhood efforts like LaVista Hills. So far, no bill has been “dropped” about this annexation possibility. According to Rep. Mosby, only four DeKalb legislators have the ability to drop such legislation: Mary Margaret Oliver, Howard Mosby, Stacey Abrams and Elena Parent. A 50% +1 majority of the house and senate DeKalb delegation would have to agree to this action in order to put the bill on the local calendar for a general assembly vote and then add it to the November ballot for a public vote.

Interim CEO May suggests that we should also watch for any action by the City of Atlanta delegation in this matter. It would be a surprise to have a non-DeKalb delegate drop such a bill, but it is possible.

Any annexation bill has to be dropped before Day 30 of the legislative session. If a bill gets dropped it is reported on the state legislature’s website http://www.legis.ga.gov. Thanks to Pat Killingsworth of COVE for monitoring the site on our behalf. She will notify us if an annexation bill gets dropped and at that time you can contact the bill’s sponsors and other members of the delegations to express your views.

New Cities are a general legislative matter, so as I understand it any bill proposing a new city must come out of a legislative committee. Last year, the House Governmental Affairs Committee reviewed the Tucker and LaVista Hills proposals, and I presume the matter will once again be worked through this committee. Membership in the committee has changed recently to include a new chair (Rep. Ed Rynders from Albany) and Rep. Tom Taylor, a strong local proponent of new cities.

According to Rep. Mosby, LaVista Hills is not having to provide a revised economic feasibility study even though the Northlake commercial area was split between Tucker and LaVista Hills and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Executive Park were annexed by the City of Brookhaven.

§§§§§

No matter what your opinions are about these matters, I encourage you to stay abreast of the legislature’s actions and to monitor the websites of the various organizations and citizens’ movements involved here.

Cityhood and Annexation Meeting

leadership DekalbJoin Leadership DeKalb and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce for a presentation on the facts of the proposed cities and annexation in the county.

WHEN:
Tuesday, February 24
7:30 – 9:30 a.m.

LOCATION:
Georgia Piedmont Technical College
Conference Center
495 North Indian Creek Drive
Clarkston, GA 30021

COST:
$20 – Leadership DeKalb & DeKalb Chamber of Commerce Members
$30 – Nonmembers & Guests

Click here to register.

More information coming soon.

Grand Opening Central DeKalb Senior Center At Mason Mill Park

PLEASE JOIN US TO CUT THE RIBBON
GRAND OPENING

CENTRAL DEKALB SENIOR CENTER AT MASON MILL PARK
1340 McConnell Drive
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2015
11:00 AM-12:00 PM

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