Tag Archives: Politics

COVE Report – February 23, 2015

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February 23, 2015

Ask for County Reform!

dekalb_seal_hi-resBills have been dropped in the legislation for hard fought reforms to the county government in the areas of ethics, auditing, and county purchasing. There are individuals attempting to counter these best-practices solutions for political reasons and dilute their effectiveness. Voice your opinion today to help move these through into law!
Kathie Gannon Explains and Template Letter
COVE Report “Demand Good Governance Today!”

Cityhood Letters

There is still an opportunity to write the three State representatives who have great influence over the outcome of city legislation. These are Ed Rynders, John Meadows, and David Ralston. Click for more





From Carl Lange

Last week Wendy Christopher posted an urgent alert about the downed tree on Houston Mill and resulting traffic blockage. An automated alert went to all VE Nextdoor users, saving me the hassle as I was about to drive down Houston Mill. Thanks Wendy!

Giselle Martin posted about a suspicious door to door person in VE. Rapid replies resulted in a call to the police as well as a determination of the person’s intent. Thanks Giselle!

DeKalb Police have been posting regularly about arrests in the county on Nextdoor to our neighborhood.

If you are not already a member, sign up! It’s Free!    nextdoor.com

“Cityhood & Annexation: Just the Facts” Meeting Cancelled

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and Leadership DeKalb meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning has been cancelled in anticipation of poor weather. The meeting has not been rescheduled.

COVE Membership Dues

Join Now

Look soon for the annual membership dues notifications coming to Victoria Estates residents. If you’re not already a member, please join! For those who have already renewed, thanks!

Click “Join Now” to pay online for a new membership.

Cityhood/County Initiative Links

Blueprint DeKalb

Seeking comprehensive solutions as big as our problems. Governmental transparency is a must. Citizens’ voices count.

DeKalb Strong

DeKalb Strong supports a moratorium on city hood and annexation proposals in DeKalb County to give citizens time to participate in a deliberative, comprehensive, and equitable process for improving DeKalb County governance.

LaVista Hills Yes

LakesideYES and the City of Briarcliff Initiative have collaborated to create a one-city solution for our area of North/Central DeKalb County.

Together in Atlanta

Together in Atlanta is a grassroots effort by neighbors who are seeking annexation into the City of Atlanta.

COVE Report – October 22, 2014

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Blueprint DeKalb Needs Your Support!

 Blueprint DeKalb


Blueprint DeKalb is a citizen led group providing specific recommendations for reform in DeKalb County government in ethics, auditing, purchasing, elections…. This is a real opportunity for reform and requires your support.


Victoria Estates residents Pat Killingsworth and Martha Pacini, along with other citizen representatives have developed position papers outlining best-practice reforms that should be implemented. As the county government is chartered by the state, these reforms require action in the 2015 legislative session.


Here is what you can do:

  1. Go to the Blueprint DeKalb website and endorse the blueprint.
  2. Spread the word and ask your friends and associates to sign on.
  3. Ask the DeKalb legislative delegation to support the blueprint.
  4. Use the “please come speak to us” form to schedule meetings with your local groups


The DeKalb legislative delegation’s response in a recent meeting held in Brookhaven was positive. This is real chance for reform in DeKalb government, make some noise!


Next DeKalb Delegation Meeting to Voice Your Support

October 28 – 7:00 PM – Porter Sanford Center, 3181 Rainbow Dr., Decatur, GA 30034

Summary of the Recommendations in the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb

The Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb proposes initial reforms for rebuilding citizens’ trust and confidence in DeKalb County government.  Until the cloud of corruption and lack of transparency in government operations are eliminated through effective reforms, all County actions and decisions will be suspect.  Citizens must demand that DeKalb County government move to the ethical and transparent high ground. Three of our four recommendations represent best practices that have been proven to save tax dollars, ensure transparency and prevent corruption. The key concepts in the Blueprint are:

  1. Modify the Organizational Act to create an independent, sustainable, professional and comprehensive internal audit function. Many local governments have this function to improve operations, investigate abuses and recommend solutions. The chief audit executive must be independent from the CEO and Board of Commissioners and should report to an independent body, such as a citizens oversight committee.  To be sustainable and comprehensive, the internal audit department’s budget should be mandated funding expressed as a percentage of the annual county budget (0.1%).  The internal audit function should be professional and demonstrate consistent use of best practices by following the practice guidelines outlined by the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Local Government Auditors.
  2. Modify the Organizational Act to strengthen the Board of Ethics. In recent months, nearly every DeKalb County citizen has recognized the importance of this Board and the ways the appointment process has disrupted the Board’s ability to operate.  The Board cannot be appointed by the Board of Commissioners and the CEO without becoming a pawn in the political process.  To restore public trust in County government decisions, the Board of Ethics should (a) be independently appointed by a panel of civic and professional organizations; (b) be comprised of individuals with experience in ethics, law, finance or relevant subjects; (c) be protected against budget constraints by mandating funding as a percentage of the annual county budget (0.05%); (d) educate all individuals subject to the Board of Ethics jurisdiction regarding ethical behavior.
  3. Modify the Organizational Act to establish checks and balances over the management of the procurement process. Currently, all procurement policies are under the sole jurisdiction of the CEO, which allows for unilateral changes to procurement procedures without consulting or notifying anyone, including the Board of Commissioners. This broad assignment of power can lead to abuses. DeKalb County spends more than $200 million annually on contracts established by the procurement department–an enormous sum of money to lack appropriate oversight by the legislative branch of county government. The process for awarding these contracts must be fair, consistent, transparent and efficient. Both a recent highly critical third-party study and the Special Grand Jury have called for reforms in this crucial area. The Organizational Act should permit the Board of Commissioners to adopt the procurement procedures in county ordinances to provide clear, enforceable law.
  4. The final recommendation for Board of Commissioners and Board of Education term limits is admittedly controversial. The Blueprint suggests placing a straw poll on the ballot to advance the discussion. Consider that an incumbent DeKalb County Commissioner has not lost an election since 1992 when Elaine Boyer beat Jean Williams.  The reason:  incumbents have an enormous advantage both in terms of name recognition and fundraising.  These advantages are barriers to those wanting to enter public service.  In short, DeKalb County benefits every time a well-qualified, talented leader steps up and the power of incumbency is a deterrent.

Most of all, DeKalb County needs engaged citizens. Ultimately we the citizens of DeKalb are responsible for our government. The Blueprint DeKalb team encourages you to become involved in your local government. Please endorse the blueprint on our website (www.BlueprintDeKalb.org) and contact your elected officials to insist on effective reforms. Primarily, get involved and help us begin to restore trust and pride in DeKalb County.


Neighborhood Picnic – Thomson Park, Sunday, October 26, 4-6 pm





The Mason Mill Civic Association has rescheduled the neighborhood fall picnic to Sunday, October 26, from 4 – 6 p.m. Please RSVP again by replying to MasonMillCA@gmail.com with:

Name _________________________________

There will be (#) __________ of us at the picnic.

We will bring (main, side or dessert) ______________________

(#)_________ of us can help set up (~3-4pm).

(#)_________ of us can help clean up afterwards (~6:30pm).


Some reasons to attend the picnic:

  1. Meet up with the cool people who live around you.
  2. Enjoy the fall in beautiful surroundings.
  3. Meet the person who keeps sending you these emails.
  4. Take a step out of your social comfort zone.


We hope you will be there!




Mark it on your calendar: the Victoria Estates Civic Association’s annual Halloween party will be held in the Rainier Falls cul-de-sac again this year in late afternoon and early evening. More details will be forthcoming. This event is always fun, so we hope you will join us.


Cityhood – Initiatives and Schools

A letter from VE resident Jen Tipping

Jen Tipping 

Hi all,


I’m interested in cityhood initiatives and how the various options might impact our local school options. I would like our neighbors to consider not just the taxes and services implications, but also the impact on the schools that would serve VE under the various cityhood possibilities.


I attended a meeting on Thursday, October 16th at Briar Vista Elementary. A number of topics were on the agenda, including an Ebola update and academic benchmarks. I was there to hear from Marshall Orson and Matt Lewis about the ramifications of last week’s withdrawal of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC) petition.   Alex Wan also attended to field any questions about annexation by City of Atlanta of all or some of the attendance zone served by Briar Vista Elementary. He confirmed that City of Atlanta wishes to expand, the only way to do this is via annexation, and the city will say “yes” to anyone who wants to be annexed. Parents and neighbors attended with what-next questions, given the number of cityhood initiatives underway that impact our attendance zone in different ways.


Matt Lewis has led the DHCC petition initiative and offered these two primary reasons for the withdrawal:


1) It became clear the county would not approve the petition under any circumstances.

2) There are a number of cityhood, annexation, and alternate charter proposals underway, any of which would divide individual school and the DHCC attendance zone. Withdrawal of the petition allows communities the freedom to act to preserve their school community.


Link to official withdrawal letter here. The petition was withdrawn without prejudice, leaving open the possibility that it could be re-filed when conditions are more favorable.


Briar Vista includes neighborhoods that cut across the proposed “map lines” drawn by the various cityhood groups. Marshall, Matt, and Alex encouraged the BVE community to organize around the school community. They suggested going back to our neighbors and asking them to consider the elementary school as an organizing principle when considering cityhood initiatives.


The Druid Hills Civic Association has a proposed map for annexation to City of Atlanta; the map includes the attendance zones of Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary. You can see it here, scroll down for map:


The map includes Emory, as well as Druid Hills High School. Open question: what middle school would students in the attendance zone attend?


Everyone present at the meeting felt strongly that most of Dekalb County (at least northern Dekalb County) will be part of a city. Marshall expressed his opinion that annexation to City of Atlanta is the best way to keep BVE and Fernbank communities together. He would very likely be out of a job under this scenario.


Without question, this outcome would make BVE and Fernbank part of the Atlanta Public School (APS) system. APS has demonstrated an openness to innovative strategies (e.g., KIPP schools got a charter cluster and the new superintendent hired KIPP director as her deputy, http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jul/10/atlanta-school-chief-turns-kipp-charter-school-net/). It’s possible that the school communities of BVE, Fernbank, and Druid Hills High School, could organize as a “charter cluster” in APS.


A couple of notes/assumptions/disclosures:


  1. I have 3 kids as BVE. We are thrilled with how things are progressing there – I believe we’re on par with Fernbank and nearby “blue ribbon” schools, just waiting for the reputation to catch up to the reality.


  1. I selfishly think organizing around our neighborhood school is a reasonable framework for evaluating cityhood initiatives. The local elementary school serving a neighborhood is an important criterion on which home buyers decide where to live; a strong BVE serving Victoria Estates would surely improve every VE homeowner’s property values.


  1. I’m not an expert on cityhood and do not pretend to understand all of the ramifications of VE becoming part of any city – lots of unknowns.


Thank you for reading this. This ultimately comes down to each voter’s personal opinion at the ballot box, but I want this to be an informed choice, rather than something that happens to VE.


Jen Tipping


VOTE! – General Election Candidates & Early Voting Locations

voteGet out and vote!
The contested elections for the Nov. 4 General Election (Victoria Estates) are:

Statewide Offices

 U.S. Senate David A. Perdue (Republican)
M. Michelle Nunn (Democrat)
Amanda C. Swafford (Libertarian)
  1. Nathan Deal (I) (Republican)
    Jason J. Carter (Democrat)
    Andrew T. Hunt (Libertarian)
 Lieutenant Governor L.S. “Casey” Cagle (I) (Republican)
Connie J. Stokes (Democrat)
 Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp (I) (Republican)
Doreen Carter (Democrat)
 Attorney General Samuel S. Olens (I) (Republican)
Gregory K. “Greg” Hecht (Democrat)
 Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black (I) (Republican)
Christopher James Irvin (Democrat)
 Commissioner of Insurance Ralph T. Hudgens (I) (Republican)
Elizabeth N. “Liz” Johnson (Democrat)
Edward T. “Ted” Metz (Libertarian)
 State School Superintendent Richard L. Woods (Republican)
Valarie D. Wilson (Democrat)
 Commissioner of Labor
  1. Mark Butler (I) (Republican)
    Robbin K. Shipp (Democrat)
 Public Service Commissioner
 (To succeed H. Doug Everett)
 Herman D. “Doug” Everett (I) (Republican)
John H. Monds (Libertarian)
 Public Service Commissioner
 (To succeed Lauren W. McDonald)
 Lauren W. “Bubba” McDonald (I) (Republican)
Daniel A. Blackman (Democrat)
Robin Aaron Gilmer (Libertarian)

State Senate

 42nd District Gregory E. “Greg” Williams (Republican)
Elena C. Parent (Democrat)

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”
Kathie Gannon – “This would keep legislators from increasing the currentmaximum state income tax rate.”Mary Margaret Oliver – “This amendment will unnecessarily restrict future Legislatures from dealing with changing fiscal needs for 100 years. The income tax rate has not been changed since the 30’s, there is no discussion for a change, and this proposed amendment was the product of a partisan and non-substantive debate – I WILL VOTE NO.”
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional reckless driving penalties or fees to be added to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative services for Georgia citizens who have survived neurotrauma with head or spinal cord injuries?”
Kathie Gannon – “This is not a tax but a charge added to reckless driving fines.”Mary Margaret Oliver – “This amendment will increase funds available for rehabilitative services for those experiencing brain and spinal injuries – I WILL VOTE YES.”

Proposed Statewide Referendum

“Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”
Kathie Gannon – “This would give privately owned student dormitories and parking decks a tax exempt status because of their contracted obligation to serve the university theyare affiliated with.”Mary Margaret Oliver – “This amendment will allow University System properties to be built with private funds instead of University System bond debt – I WILL VOTE YES.”


Victoria Estates Area Early Voting Locations and Dates
Voter Registration & Elections Office
4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300
Decatur, GA 30032
Monday – Friday, 10/13 – 31, 7 AM – 7 PM
Saturday, 10/25, 8 AM – 5 PM
Sunday, 10/26, 12 Noon – 5 PM

Downtown Decatur – Clark Harrison Building
330 W. Ponce de Leon, Room A
Decatur, GA 30030
Monday – Friday, 10/27 – 31, 7 AM – 7 PM

DeKalb Sustainability – Saturday, November – 8:00 am – 12:30 pm

Tucker High School, 5036 LaVista Road Tucker, GA 30084


DeKalb County’s renewable energy facilities at the Seminole Road Landfill is the first local government in the U.S. to capture methane landfill gas to produce electricity, natural gas and compressed natural gas (CNG) at a single landfill. The operation is equivalent to taking 30,000 cars off the road every year and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 17,000 tons.


Mr. Malone has been certified by SWANA as a Manager of Landfill Operations (MOLO) for 26 years. He is also certified as a Landfill Specialist by SWANA. Billy was elected as the first SWANA Technical Division International Board of Directors Representative for Landfills. He is still serving in that position. Billy was appointed by EPA Global Methane to serve as an instructor and site evaluator for the country of Indonesia. Billy also serves on the Board of Directors for Clean Cities Georgia. Billy has been an active Member of the Nature Conservancy since 1978 and the Wilderness Society since 1979. Billy championed the first Renewable Electrical Energy Project for Georgia Power in 2004 and the Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas and a Public CNG Fueling Facility under a DOE Petroleum Reduction Grant from the Department of Energy in 2009.


Upcoming Work on Roads

From The Mason Mill Civic Association


Wondering what those marks are on the road?  We believe they are related to the following:

The DeKalb County Watershed Management has notified us that contractors will begin installing new underground flow meters.  These meters are devices mounted inside sewers to measure the depth and velocity of sewer flow.  The meters convey data to a server and will enable the county to mitigate sewer overflows.  County easements are often located on or behind private property, and workers will be entering driveways and backyards to gain access to sewer lines.  The project will take approximately two months and workers will be in the area from 7:30 to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Fridays, excluding holidays.  Personnel will be wearing proper identification and driving marked vehicles.  Feel free to call 404.906.1882 with questions or comments regarding this project. This is the first in a series of projects associated with the county’s ongoing Consent Decree with the EPA and Georgia’s EPD.


Brookhaven Receives Applications for Annexation from Executive Park and Children’s Healthcare


October 7, 2014  Posted by: The Brookhaven Post

The City of Brookhaven has received formal annexation applications from parties representing Children’s Healthcare of Georgia and Executive Park.

The properties referenced in the applications are located on the east side of Interstate 85, fronted by North Druid Hills Road.

The city is currently reviewing the applications to ensure compliance with state annexation laws.

Brookhaven City Councilman Joe Gebbia said, “Children’s Healthcare is a world-class organization that recognizes the benefits of being a part of the City of Brookhaven. That is a compliment and an asset. We are willing to consider their desire to join our city.”

LakesideYES Chairperson, Mary Kay Woodworth said, “If Brookhaven were to annex this area, it would have an effect on Lakeside because it would take away some commercial and industrial properties.”

State Representative Mike Jacobs (D-80 Brookhaven/Chamblee) said, “If the property owners are interested in annexing into Brookhaven, I sure would like to see that process run its course before the General Assembly goes into session in January of 2015. Otherwise, it’s clear that the very same territory will be in play in other legislative proposals.”

Jacobs said another Century Center situation would be the last thing anyone in the General Assembly wants to see.

While it is unclear exactly what an annexation map will look like, preliminary chatter is that it could encompass an area between Briarcliff Rd. and the Interstate 85 Access Road. – potentially on both sides of North Druid Hills Road.

More as this story develops.


COVEReport – July 16, 2014

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Announcement: COVE Annual Membership Meeting – July 22, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, 1364 Rainier Falls Dr.


We want to thank our many neighbors who have joined COVE over the past year. You are supporting our efforts to represent our neighborhood at the state, county and local level. Please renew your membership (renew/join online > Victoria_Estates_membership) so that we can continue to move the conversation forward in the areas that matter to our residents. And if you have not yet joined COVE, we could use your support now. Our annual report is here COVE Annual Report 2014.

While we believe we have accomplished a great deal over the past year, there is still much work to do to ensure that Victoria Estates is included in discussions that affect our neighborhood.

Join us for the first anniversary of the formation of Citizens of Victoria Estates—our annual meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 22 at 6:30 pm at the home of Scott and Pat Killingsworth, 1364 Rainier Falls Drive. We will be discussing our next steps both as an organization and as a neighborhood.

Would you like to be on the board or lead/participate in a committee? At the annual meeting, we will be nominating board members and committee chairs for the next year. Consider becoming a part of our effort in any way that works for you. Many hands make light the work.

As always, we welcome your suggestions and insights. Thanks, and we hope to see you on the 22nd!

Martha Pacini   404-285-7042

2014 COVE annual meeting agenda.

Current board members/ officers:

Martha Pacini – Board member / current president
Pat Killingsworth – Board member/ current vice president
Susan Bell – Treasurer
Carl Lange – Board member / current secretary
Erika Birg – Board member
Tim Buchman – Board member
David Woolf – Board member
Emily Koumans – Board member

COVE Dues Policy



Voter-specific SAMPLE BALLOTS are available here: http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/LoginPage.aspx

Candidates appearing on DeKalb County ballots:

On ALL BALLOTS: County Sheriff (Vernon Jones / Jeff Mann)

ON REPUBLICAN BALLOTS ONLY: U.S. Senate (Jack Kingston / David Perdue) State School Superintendent (Mike Buck / Richard Woods)

ON DEMOCRATIC BALLOTS ONLY: State School Superintendent (Alisha Morgan / Valarie Wilson) (per http://web.dekalbcountyga.gov/Voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html)

VE Dog Walkers Watch


July 16, 2014 –  Martha Pacini

More than a dozen neighbors, including a few canine guests, gathered to enjoy Jennifer & Barry Tipping’s hospitality on Tuesday evening, July 8, while learning more about Dog Walker Watch. The Dog Walker Watch program is a national crime awareness program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) to mobilize dog walkers to serve as “extra eyes and ears” for local law enforcement.

We learned a few new pieces of information:

• 95% of police arrests are the direct result of a citizen’s phone call;

• Call 911 whenever you see or hear something that just doesn’t seem right—the 911 center prioritizes the calls so you aren’t diverting resources from a life-threatening emergency elsewhere.

• Dog Walker Watches can be very effective because dogs must be walked every day, several times a day, rain or shine, so it’s as if you have your own neighborhood patrol.

• ALWAYS carry your cellphone with you when walking the dog so that you can snap a picture and call 911 if you see something that isn’t right.

We organized the sign-in sheets by neighborhood section, just as they are grouped in the Victoria Estates directory. Based on this, we could use some more dog walkers (or just people walkers if you walk without a pet) on the upper parts of Rainier Falls and Mason Mill. Please contact Jennifer if you are a regular walker in this section of the neighborhood.

Also, we want people entering our neighborhood to be aware that we have a Dog Walker Watch. We are ordering dog bandanas—modeled beautifully by Teddy Tipping—and car magnets (which can also adhere to metal mail boxes) with the Dog Walker Watch emblem, which cost slightly less than $5 each. If you are interested in getting a bandana (small or large, please specify which size) or car/mailbox magnet to help us promote awareness of our watchfulness (a deterrent in and of itself), please let Jennifer know so that we can order the correct number. You can pay for them once they are received.

One Special Request: Please send in pictures of you and your pet so that we can highlight our vigilant neighbors—include your name and that of your pet(s).

The handouts from the meeting—

DeKalb Public Safety Resource List –  DeKalb County Police Telephone Resource List

2014 NATIONAL NIGHT OUT 2014 – August 5, 7:00 pm, 31st Annual America’s Night Out Against Crime

Bike Ride Rodeo Flyer Aug 2 – Obstacle Course, Basic Bicycle Inspection, Child I.D. Program, Food & Fun 

Suspect Descriptions -What to look for to give a good suspect description…

Dog Walkers Watch Handout

For those who wish to send Al Fowler a thank-you email, his email address is: alfowler@dekalbcountyga.gov

Victoria Estates Neighborhood 4th of July Party – Thanks Pat & Scott!

fourthJulyPat Killingsworth

As for the party, we had perfect weather and a lot of fun! We had about 30 neighbors and a few children stop by (the kids really enjoyed the pool), with some new neighbors who were glad to have the opportunity to meet us all and start making themselves at home. Scott grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, we put out chips, soft drinks and essentials, and our neighbors brought some fabulous side dishes to share. We had such a good time that we are hoping to make this an annual event.

Briarcliff and Lakeside Present Joint Statement to DeKalb County Operations Task Force Atlanta, GA, July 3, 2014 (Press Release)

Two DeKalb County cityhood groups, The City of Briarcliff Initiative, and Lakeside Yes read a joint statement before the DeKalb County Operations Task Force (OTF) on Tuesday, July 2, at the Maloof Auditorium. The Operations Task Force was created by Interim CEO Lee May and is charged with making recommendations that can be forwarded to the Georgia General Assembly by December 2014.

For months both citizens and legislators have urged the two groups to communicate and work together more. Briarcliff and Lakeside have historically shared many overlapping views of cityhood, but have differed on proposed city borders. Both groups view cityhood as an opportunity to lift up the community and improve the strength of DeKalb County.

The prepared statement from the July 2nd meeting reads: Lakeside Yes Chairman Mary Kay Woodworth read, “Lakeside YES and The City of Briarcliff Initiative appreciate the invitation to present maps to the Operations Task Force. You have received our individual working maps, but we respectfully present this joint statement in lieu of focusing on a specific map.” She continues, “Both of our groups presented maps during the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly. However, because our current maps overlap, Lakeside and Briarcliff have agreed to collaborate with the goal of creating a unified map free of overlapping areas and respecting existing city borders and future annexation plans. We respect the compromise map between Tucker and Lakeside as the starting point of this collaboration, and we respect the inclusive approach of the Briarcliff map. We will continue to work with our sponsors, Representative Jacobs and Senator Millar, residents and business owners in our community to reach the goal of local control and governance for this community. We invite the advocates of the city of Tucker to join with us so that we can present two cities with a clear path to cityhood prior to the 2015 session of the General Assembly.”

City of Briarcliff Imitative President Allen Venet read, “We are committed to working together because we agree on almost every issue except boundaries, and boundaries can be solved. As we refine our map, we are soliciting neighborhood input, and we will work with state, county and local elected representatives of both major parties and with the existing cities of DeKalb County.”

He Continues, “We seek to unite, rather than divide, to improve government operations not just in our region of DeKalb but in the entire county. The residents of unincorporated DeKalb deserve, and with respect we demand, the opportunity to form new cities that will become destinations where business and families can flourish. The time has come for us all to cooperate, north and south, inside the perimeter and outside, city advocates and county officials. We all share DeKalb County, and we all know the challenges we face. Cities are an important part of the solution.” He concludes, “We welcome your questions and your suggestions.”

More updates from the City of Briarcliff Initiative can be found on https://www.facebook.com/briarcliffga and http://briarcliffga.org/. About City of Briarcliff Initiative: The City of Briarcliff Initiative, Inc. is a non-profit corporation chartered under the laws of the state of Georgia. The group seeks to enable residents to form a new city government in central DeKalb County that would serve all people within the community and promote the health, welfare, and safety of the general public.

Media Contact: Keith Hanks Member, Board of Directors City of Briarcliff Initiative, Inc. info@briarcliffga.org

Briarcliff & Lakeside partnership means new map, city name

July 9, 2014, Atlanta Intown, Collin Kelley – Editor

When officials from the Briarcliff and Lakeside cityhood initiatives announced at the July 2 DeKalb Government Operations Task Force meeting that they were joining forces – “dating” (not married or engaged) in the words of Lakeside Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth – there was little detail about how the relationship would unfold. The couple’s first date was an awkward one as representatives from the merged cityhood movements spoke at the July 9 Lindbergh-LaVista Corridor Coalition (LLCC) meeting.

To carry the analogy further, it was basically The Breakfast Club – enemies thrown together in a social setting and warily talking out their differences to find common ground. Whether this will end with someone fist-pumping the air to “Don’t You Forget About Me” remains to be seen, but what is certain is that if the partnership between Briarcliff and Lakeside holds, those names will disappear and a new one will be chosen to represent the merged north DeKalb County territory. It also means going back to the drawing board and creating a new map.

At the end of this year’s Georgia legislative session, the three competing cityhood movements – Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker – found their efforts tabled over boundary disputes. A last minute effort to merge the Lakeside and Tucker plans was – here’s another analogy – an arranged marriage that neither side really wanted, but accepted in hopes of getting any kind of action at the capital. With the dust settled, Tucker is now on its own, there have been shifts in the behind-the-scenes players for both the Briarcliff and Lakeside movements and there is – at least in this early phase – a willingness to get this couple to the altar.

But before there are any wedding bells – or a referendum on the ballot – the combined cityhood initiatives are going to have to convince residents in both territories that the merged groups are viable and inclusive. If the mood of the members of the LLCC, a group comprised of residents from Lindridge/Martin Manor, LaVista Park and Woodland Hills, was any indication, there might be a few bumps in the road.

There was lingering bitterness from some residents in the LLCC neighborhoods who felt snubbed by Lakeside, which, as it was finally admitted, didn’t think the communities were essential to the movement. The neighborhoods joined the Briarcliff initiative, which stalled out at the Gold Dome as Lakeside and Tucker limped forward.

“What we are trying to do is consolidate two visions,” said Briarcliff spokesman Keith Hanks. “These first meetings are going to be raw things as we figure out how to work together.”

Lakeside representative Josh Kahn agreed, calling the cityhood process “messy.” Some of that messiness was the palpable tension between members of the Briarcliff movement as they tried to explain how the process would, essentially, start from scratch again. There was also uncertainty voiced about whether or not a state representative would take the newly merged cityhood movement to the Georgia Legislature for the 2015 session.

“We are two groups trying to get to one map,” Kahn said. “We are going to have to talk to people and see which neighborhoods want to be a part of it.” Going forward, there will be some kind of poll or survey taken of residents in both the old Briarcliff and Lakeside cityhood areas to determine if they still want to move forward with creating a new city and what essential services are most important to them. No timeline was set for when the poll might take place. The LLCC members were encouraged to talk to their neighbors and take the temperature of this new movement.

The couple’s next date has not been announced, but watch this space for updates.

DeKalb County Operational Task Force – July 2 Meeting

PatJuly 16, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth

CITYHOOD – Lakeside and Briarcliff are now “dating,” using the Lakeside map as the basis for further negotiations on the boundaries for a single new city (as yet unnamed). VE, Druid Hills and Emory are out, and Mason Mill remains divided. Tucker has gone back to their original map, which has a fair amount overlap with that of the new couple (“L/B”), and they have not yet been invited to the prom. Mike Jacobs made it clear that he is disappointed with Tucker for not sticking with the boundaries that they agreed to in a compromise with Lakeside at the last minute of the session, although he didn’t seem too upset that Lakeside returned to their prior map as well.

The Task Force agreed that they will consider the proposed boundaries of the new cities in their larger discussion of municipalities in DeKalb, without engaging in a debate at this meeting.

In speaking with some residents of Druid Hills after the meeting, I discovered that Emory is in serious discussions with Atlanta regarding annexation, and is appealing to Druid Hills to join them. Some residents of Druid Hills, unhappy with that prospect, yet sensing the inevitability of being municipalized in some fashion, expressed an interest in the possibility of creating a township in lieu of annexation into any city (Atlanta or Decatur). It would include Emory and surrounding neighborhoods with common interests (Mason Mill, VE and Druid Hills in particular). They want representatives from those neighborhoods and Emory to be included in the discussions.

CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN THE TASK FORCE – The CEO is hugely resistant to naming any citizen representative to the Task Force under the premise that it would make the group too “unwieldy”. Apparently his office has solicited names from the Commissioners and some Task Force members for a single appointment, but he made no promises.

Senator-elect Elena Parent insisted that members of the Task Force be allowed to name at least one citizen representative each to their subcommittee. She also brought up Commissioner Gannon’s Blueprint for a Better DeKalb, which has been actively working since February on many of the issues facing the Task Force, and which is entirely comprised of citizen leaders (myself and Martha Pacini included). She recommended that the Blueprint research and report (due in August) be included in Task Force discussions so as not to reinvent the wheel.

No comment from the CEO, other than to leave it up to the Task Force to decide how they want to deal with Parent’s proposals, if at all. He did not appear to be enthralled with either prospect.

ETHICS – This was hugely disappointing to me! GSU, which has committed to supporting the Task Force on many of the issues being discussed, is not currently planning to do any research on the structure of the Board of Ethics or the matter of ethics in government generally, deferring instead to the recent Executive Order creating the new positions of Integrity Officer and staff, whose duties include providing support to the BOE.

That order does not deal with the fundamental issues of appointment of board members or funding for their work, nor with the legal issues regarding BOE independence from any other agency. Appointment of an Internal Auditor, much less best practices, is not currently on their agenda.

Whatever the Task Force ends up addressing, Blueprint will continue to deal with those issues and present our recommendations to the Task Force, CEO, BOC and Legislative Delegation by the end of August.

Remember, those of you who cannot attend future Task Force meetings can view them on live stream on DCTV (cable only). I have attached the slide shows. Enjoy! operations_task_force (2)

Blueprint to Reform DeKalb Leadership – Letter to DeKalb Operational Task Force

To Members of the CEO’s Operational Task Force and Citizens of DeKalb:

PatmarthaJuly 2, 2014 , Pat Killingsworth, Martha Pacini, and members of the Blueprint leadership

RE: An Update on the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb.

First, to the volunteers appointed to serve on the Interim CEO’s Operations Task Force, thank you for your time and service. As constituted the missing link to the Task Force seems to be the citizens of our communities. The Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb was launched in January 2014 as a citizens’ reform effort and perhaps our work can complement your efforts.

DeKalb County reached a ‘tipping point’ in 2013 and in 2014 matters even further deteriorated: nearly everyone now agrees that fundamental reforms are due. The attached Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb was drafted and electronically distributed in January. In February a group of citizens from across the County reached consensus on its main issues. A diverse Blueprints leadership team emerged and began focusing upon the consensus issues: Internal Auditor, Ethics, Procurement Procedures, Elections, Government Structure and HOST.

This is the Blueprint leadership team’s first Report to the Community. But first it must be noted that there has also been consensus that reform should follow some key principles:

• We need comprehensive solutions as big as our problems. Marginal adjustments will not work.

• Governmental transparency is a must. We cannot negotiate changes so fundamental and so diverse behind closed doors.

• Citizens’ voices count.

We ask the Task Force to consider all of the principles contained in the Blueprint as they move forward. Here is the progress to date:


Internal Auditor: The Blueprint speaks to the need for an Internal Auditor and all that continues to happen in DeKalb County reinforces the need. Many governments use this method to provide independent, technical oversight of government procedures and operations. Best practices are available through the Institute for Internal Audits and others. A white paper is being prepared to include best practices for how an internal audit function should be established with an independent oversight structure. This white paper will be presented to the Legislature in October.

Board of Ethics: A Carl Vinson study of Ethics Commission best practices revealed that these boards should be nominated and vetted by an independent/neutral body comprised of community and business organizations. Recommendations for strengthening the Ethics Commission are being researched and will be proposed in a white paper. If legally appropriate a formal request will go to the Board of Commissioners to adopt a new process, otherwise this will be included in the October Report to the Legislature.


Administrative Procedures: Consensus was reached specifically around Procurement procedures, which are not codified and are subject to change as solely determined by the CEO. Procedures should be vetted by the Board of Commissioners and the State, standardized and codified for accountability. This will require an adjustment to the Organizational Act by the General Assembly.


Term limit change for local election: Many citizens believe that the power of incumbency is a major barrier to new voices participating in local government. The quality of the appointees to the Board of Education demonstrates the depth and quality of leadership available in a county of 700,000 people. Those attending the consensus meeting endorsed term-limits but it has not garnered support from elected officials. The team will request the Legislature to conduct a straw poll on term-limits. Consensus was not reached on non-partisan elections so it is being deleted from the recommendations.


Apportion all of unincorporated DeKalb into equitable boundaries and Charter Commission: As noted, the “Genie” is out of the bottle with forming new cities, and there is no way to turn back. We all agree that 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 and annexations have set off 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 County must have a better understanding of the fiscal impacts upon unincorporated DeKalb of new cities and municipal annexations. The Blueprints effort does not have the resources to conduct such a study, and hopes the Operations Task Force will explore this issue. The motivation for new cities will remain particularly strong as long as corruption or the perception of corruption exists. We hope that our efforts to strengthen ethics, hire an internal auditor and alter the procurement policies will help abate corruption and begin to restore the public trust in DeKalb County.

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


Sales Tax: HOST has been a very successful tool to reduce the burden of residential property taxes, but it fails to fund repairs and improvements to a large, aging infrastructure. The creation of new cities has further limited the viability of HOST as a source of capital funding. The larger community needs to be more informed about HOST in order to accomplish needed revisions. If the Legislature will not change the HOST formulas, as they have already done on two occasions, the Leadership Team will be recommending a long-term, two–year comprehensive approach to changing this law with public education as a focus. AGAIN, the existing cloud of corruption needs to be lifted first to restore our trust in the County government.

The Blueprints Leadership team will continue to meet this summer to research best practices and to draft recommendations to the Board of Commissioners and the DeKalb Delegation to the General Assembly. We will also be working to inform the citizens of DeKalb County. We are happy to collaborate with you in any way possible and hope that you will consider our efforts complementary to yours.

Sincerely, The Blueprints to Redefine DeKalb Leadership Team: Ted Daniel, Robert Glover, Jana Johnson, Pat Killingsworth, Beth Nathan, Brenda Pace, Martha Pacini, Calvin Sims, Gil Turman, Dan Wright

Website coming soon. July 1, 2014

Kathie Gannon Response to the DeKalb County Operational Task Force

about-kathie-gannonJuly 10, 2014

Dear Mr. Irons and Mr. Shelton: Thank you for agreeing to co-chair the Interim CEO’s Operations Task Force. Last week, I provided members of the Task Force an update of the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. It was apparent at the meeting that an explanation about the history and intent of the Blueprints effort would have been helpful. Please allow me this opportunity to provide additional information.

In 2013 before the last legislative session, I worked with CEO Ellis, Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and others to try and develop a more thoughtful approach to the process of forming new cities and enable DeKalb to understand the impact of forming new cities and annexations. In my District, which is half of the county, I was constantly asked about what is the county doing to respond to the city movement and the ethical issues that were continuing to crop up. People in the proposed city boundaries wanted more information. Their legislators were looking for a sensible way to address the issues. Also, many citizens were not in a boundary and therefore were not a part of the discussion.

The plan we advanced was for an interactive model to be developed by Georgia State University that would use the County’s GIS and tax information to create viable financial boundaries in all of unincorporated DeKalb. The data would show the economic impact as precincts moved in or out of boundaries. Professional facilitators and other methodologies would have been employed to explore County service delivery, issues and options.

When CEO Ellis was suspended the new Administration opted to not pursue this direction. At the same time I was talking to our legislators about the need for reforms to the way we appoint our Ethics Board and the inability of the Commission to fulfill the 3 year old resolution for an Internal Auditor. There was interest in helping on those issues, and the Grand Jury Report listed other reform measures.

In January I drafted the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb as a way of “doing something” to respond to my constituents and to disseminate the many reform measures that had already been suggested. It was circulated for endorsements from citizens around the County.

There were five broad principles in that document and they are as relevant today for the Operations Task Force as they were six months ago:

• 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.

In February, a community meeting was held to discuss the reforms in the Blueprint, find consensus on what actions to move forward and turn the process over to the citizens. From that meeting a diverse group of citizen leaders coalesced to conduct further research and advocate for the various reforms.

A major focus of the Blueprints effort is ethics. Please keep in mind this was long before stories broke in the newspaper about the misuse of P Cards by members of the Board of Commissioners. Yet, those embarrassing stories further underscore the need for addressing ethics. It is unclear to me how much work the Operations Task Force will focus on ethics, but the Blueprints effort is pursuing this issue and will recommend changes to the Delegation and the Board of Commissioners in the areas of procurement policies, internal auditor, and the proper establishment of an ethics board.

The original concept to apportion the county and provide for ways to examine problems and options was more than a citizens group could manage without a legislative mandate or funding mechanism.

In closing, I want to reiterate that the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb was started in the fall of 2013. It includes a broad base of diverse citizens, and can hopefully complement your work. They would be happy to cooperate with the Operations Task Force. Three members of the Blueprints leadership team asked to be recommended for participation on the Task Force subcommittees. They have a proven track record and it is my hope they can be included.

It is my sincere belief that until we address the cloud of corruption that is hanging over DeKalb, no progress can be made. The demand for creating new cities will march forward. Our attempts to improve government efficiency will be stymied and our economic development strategy will not achieve the outcomes we wish for and need.

Again, thank you for your service to DeKalb County.

Kathie Gannon, Commissioner Super District 6

CC: Members of the Operations Task Force, Interim CEO May, the Blueprints Leadership Team

Kathie Gannon DeKalb County Commissioner Super District 6 404-371-4909 www.kathiegannon.com

District 5 Commissioner

PatPat Killingsworth, July 17, 2014

Interim CEO Lee May has appointed Lisa Allen of Lithonia, attorney Rosalind Newell, and State Representative Rahn Mayo of Decatur to review candidates for the interim District 5 seat. This is to fill the vacant seat since Lee May became the interim CEO. The county reports that 20 people to date have expressed an interest in applying for the position.

The three-member panel will recommend two individuals to Lee May for consideration, from whom he will choose one to submit to the Board of Commissioners for a vote, which is expected in August.

Applicants who have filed formal requests for consideration include: Markus J. Butts, Geraldine A.Champion, Harmel Deanne Codi, Faye Coffield, Tarnisha Dent, Charles Smith Hill, S. Pierre Louis, Gina Smith Mangham, Randal Mangham, Kamau K. Mason, Melvin D. Mitchell, Angela Moore, Belinda Myers, Joscelyn C. O’Neil, Gwendolyn Peters, Kathryn T. Rice, Kenneth R. Saunders III, Jacqueline Tumbling, George Turner Jr, and Andre R. Whit.

No information has been provided regarding times or dates that the review panel might meet, or whether they will be considering citizen recommendations or concerns in their discussions.

Please contact me if you’d like copies of the candidate applications.

Commissioner Gannon Responds Concerning the Ethics Compliant Filed Against Her

about-kathie-gannonJuly 16, 2014 – Kathie Gannon

In April I sponsored a Resolution to Audit all of the commission’s expenditures. None of the Commissioners are exempt, and in that spirit my budget will be the first one to be audited. That audit is already underway. Its results will be made public and given to the Ethics Board. The Ethics Board has its own process, and the complaint will proceed according to those procedures. Let me be clear: I am confident that all my budget expenditures are legitimate and in due time I will be vindicated. The charges are bogus. Please continue to follow the work being done in District 6 and DeKalb County on my website at http://www.kathiegannon.com/.

Parks Bond Advisory Committee Meeting Outcomes

Jul 10, 2014, Citizens Association Network, Beth Nathan

Last evening (July 9, 2014) there was a joint meeting of the DeKalb Parks Bond Advisory Committee and the Initiative for a Green DeKalb Advisory Council. Following an hour of RPCA staff reports on current conditions/activities vis-a-vis greenspace and parks (see below), the committees discussed their roles and responsibilities (more discussion is likely before and at the next quarterly meeting) and authored/approved unanimously a joint-committee letter to the CEO & BOC on the proposed YMCA purchase. The committees’ letter will state that the joint committees recommend against the proposal but will ask that, if the BOC wants this acquisition, they at least renegotiate the master agreement in ways that would enable all county taxpayers to benefit from the county’s investment.

From the county reports:

– This week the BOC approved acquisition for $125K of 152 acres from the Conservation Fund (which apparently gathers and holds land from estates); tax value of the parcel is/was $794K. The parcel is off Klondike Rd across from Stonecrest Library and has no deed restrictions. Parcel is referred to as “Arabia Hayden Quarry” in the July 2014 accounting of land acquisition funds. I will post that report today to the CAN website’s reference room under the parks grouping.]

-July 2014 accounting of land acquisition funds shows “prospective acquisitions” of nearly $7million “authorized/in process” from 2006 bond funds. No specifics were available but the committees were given to understand that it was likely that the BOC in Executive Session had given authorization to move ahead with this potential acquisition(s) which are likely be in the negotiations stage. Some of the 2006 bond funds were earmarked for specific projects but some of the funding was flexible.

– KaBoom playground at Fairington Park (off Panola) was completed on schedule with 150 workers from the Federal Reserve bank and significant funding from the Federal Reserve Employees Foundation. The county’s cost was approximately $30K in preparation work, trail improvement and fencing.

– Park Pride has grant workshops coming up.

– Summer day camps are serving approximately 1500 kids.

– Pools are operating normally. GRPH district swim meet is coming up at Emory.

– Family Fun Day will be held at Mason Mill Park (1340 McConnell Dr, Decatur), Saturday, July 19, noon-5pm. Free, open to public. Includes food, music, entertainment, information, games, more. [A press release was distributed which does not seem to be posted on the county’s website. Jeff Rader’s July 3 e-newsletter covered this event.]

– Brookside project off North Decatur near 285, between Rockbridge and North Decatur. The old apartment complex has been completely demolished. There is now approximately half a million dollars available for development. Park Pride (Ayanna Williams) is trying to organize a Friends group for this park.

– 5-7 million seems to be coming available from HUD, Housing and Parks to replace the Tobie Grant Rec Center with something more like what’s at Redan Park. The project could be moving by the end of the year.

Beth Nation North Briarcliff resident; parks activist; Blueprints activist

Code Enforcement Advisory Committee – Wednesday, July 24, 2014, 5:00-6:30pm

Clark Harrison Building, 330 Ponce DeLeon, downtown Decatur, in conference room A. The committee requested the following will be in attendance: Interim CEO Lee May, Gordon Burkett of Keep DeKalb Beautiful and the Director of Sanitation.

COVEReport – June 26, 2014

COVEReport Logo





Citizens of Victoria Estates (COVE) Annual Membership Meeting To Be Held on Tuesday, July 22, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, 1364 Rainier Falls Dr NE

Please join us in recognizing our one year anniversary. The meeting will include a presentation of accomplishments, election of board members, review of budget, and next year plans. Look for more details in the coming weeks.

Victoria Estates Neighborhood 4th of July Party, 1-3 pm

PatScott and I are hosting the Victoria Estates Fourth of July pool party at our home this year.  If it rains, we’ll move it to the 5th.  We will provide hot dogs chips and soft drinks, and ask guests to bring sides.  The pool/patio are handicap accessible. Visiting family members are also welcome to join us.

Please notify the neighborhood for us, and let me know if you have any questions.  If this goes well, we’ll make it an annual event!

Patricia Killingsworth
1364 Rainier Falls Dr NE

404.323.3720 (cell)


Dunwoody 4th of July Parade 9:00 am


City of Avondale Estates 4th of July Celebration, 10:30 am

The parade begins at 10:30am. Concert and fireworks in the evening.

City of Decatur Pied Piper Parade, Concert, and Fireworks, 5:30 pm

The parade begins at 5:30 pm. Concert, featuring the Callanwolde Concert Band, begins at 7:00 and fireworks begin at dark (approx. 9 pm).


Dog Walkers Unite! – July 8, 6:30 pm

Home of Jennifer, Barry, and “Teddy” Tipping – 1374 Rainier Falls

dog walker watchDear neighbors:

Please join us for an inaugural meeting to launch the Victoria Estates Dog Walker Watch:

Please RSVP for you (and your pet, if your pet likes to hang out with other dogs) so that we can plan the right number of snacks and milkbones.  Canine guests will have the opportunity to play in the fenced backyard.

We are launching a Dog Walker Watch program, a national crime awareness program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), in Victoria Estates to mobilize the dozens of dog walkers (as well as those who walk without pets) in our neighborhood who can serve as “extra eyes and ears” for our local law enforcement.

Al Fowler, DeKalb County Public Safety’s education specialist, will be there to help us learn about the program and some other useful tips, such as how to identify suspicious activity and what to do when we see something.

To learn more about the program before the meeting, you can visit http://natw.org/dog/

Thank you.

Your co-hosts,

Jennifer Tipping & Teddy (the dog)



Martha Pacini & Beau & Bacwyn (the corgis)




RUN-OFF ELECTION: July 22; Early Voting Starts Next Week 

voteCivic Association Network

June 24, 2014

By: Beth Nathan

Can voter turn-out be any lower than in a Primary election? YUP — in a Primary Runoff. And there’s one coming up on July 22; Early Voting starts next Monday, June 30. Remind your association members and neighbors that the primary isn’t over yet.

Voter-specific *SAMPLE BALLOTS* are available via

*EARLY VOTING**: *8am-5pm, Memorial Drive Complex, Suite 300; 4380 Memorial Drive; Decatur, GA 30032
06/30/2014 – 07/03/2014 (Mon-Thu) & 07/07/2014 – 07/18/2014
(Mon-Fri, Mon-Fri)

/Candidates appearing on DeKalb County ballots:/
*County Sheriff *(Vernon Jones / Jeff Mann)
*U.S. Senate* (Jack Kingston / David Perdue)
*State School Superintendent *(Mike Buck / Richard Woods)
*State School Superintendent *(Alisha Morgan / Valarie Wilson)
(per http://web.dekalbcountyga.gov/Voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html)

Proposed County Funding of YMCA Controversy


DeKalb County is considering spending approximately $5million of the remaining Parks Bond dollars (approx $1M from district-allocated funds and $4M from countywide funds which is ~38% of remaining countywide funds) to acquire the South DeKalb YMCA and then lease it back to the YMCA for 50 years at $1/year.  The YMCA is to devote the purchase proceeds to site improvements.  This YMCA is geographically close to several other DeKalb recreation/health facilities (parks & senior centers). The Board of Commissioners voted 5 to 0 to defer action on the South DeKalbe YMCA proposal until its first meeting in August.

Kathy Gannon’s Response

Fellow DeKalb Citizens,

Please see the attached letter regarding my position on the South DeKalb YMCA. While I appreciate the work of the YMCA and I’m in favor of partnerships, I am opposed to the current proposal. I hope that the YMCA will withdraw so we can consider a partnership that benefits DeKalb County as well as the Y.

Dear YMCA Board Members and our DeKalb Community:

We appreciate all of the work across metropolitan Atlanta that YMCA’s do every day. Whether it is helping their members stay healthy and fit through exercise and recreation programs, or providing early enrichment to Head Starters or the numerous other ways that the Y helps build community – the service of the YMCA staff, volunteers and Board of Directors is of the finest American tradition.

As members of the DeKalb County Board of Commission we believe Partnerships which leverage complementary capabilities are a valuable tool and in the potential relationship with the South DeKalb YMCA, we hope to find one that is transparent, respects the taxpayers and serves the needs of the broadest group of citizens.
With this in mind, we have reservations about the proposed Master Agreement between DeKalb and the Metro Y that would use County Green Space Acquisition Bond Revenues to purchase your South DeKalb Y facility and lease it back to you at a nominal price.

Please consider these FACTS:

  • This Partnership agreement is exclusively negotiated with the YMCA, and nothing similar has been offered to any other non-profit, private organization or governmental partner. No terms or parameters for negotiation were authorized by the DeKalb Governing Authority, and the proposed Master Agreement was only made public when it was placed on the Commission Agenda on April 8th.  Neither the Green Space Bond Advisory Board nor the Development Authority of DeKalb County have had any input to the Master Agreement.
  • The Y brings no new money to the table.  The County has successful models for staffing facilities, and is experimenting with other partnership models. For example the Boys and Girls Club will manage the after-school program at the Redan Recreation center next fall, each entity receiving a benefit.  We should treat partners comparably, and negotiate openly.
  • The South DeKalb YMCA is in an area where significant County investments in recreation and senior services have already been made: the Y is 2.5 miles from Exchange Park Multi-Generational Recreation Center ($7.2million); 2.8 miles from Browns Mill Recreation and Aquatic Facility ($8.9 million); 4.1 miles from Lou Walker Senior Center with a heated indoor pool; 5.7 miles from Candler Road Senior Center, which will have exercise equipment when it opens this summer; 8 miles from Redan Park Recreation Center ($5.4 million); and 8.7 miles from Wade Walker Park and YMCA ($13.6 million).  In 8 square miles of this South DeKalb community, the County has already invested over $35 million in recent and ongoing Parks Bond developmental funds and additional county and federal grant dollars for the senior centers.  Investing in this location is not a good return on the citizens’ tax dollars.  It will duplicate services in this area while many areas of the county still do not have access to any recreation center. DeKalb County taxpayers will continue to pay for the operations of Browns Mill, Exchange, and Redan Centers. No current public expense will be reduced.
  • The Master Agreement provides no benchmarks or guarantees related to the health deficiencies the investment is purported to address.  Indeed, the question may be fairly asked:  why, after 40 years’ service to the community has the Y had so little effect on these deficiencies?  Why will a renovation have a transformative effect?
  • DeKalb County will purchase the existing YMCA for $5 million, using $1 million of District 3 and 7 Parks Bond Land Acquisition Funding and $4 million in County Wide Acquisition Funding.  The agreement diverts land acquisition funding to development, contrary to the Bond Referendum.   The property is appraised at $2.5 million for tax purposes, with the land appraised at $400,000.  The Appraisal provided by the YMCA estimates the value at only $3.9 million.  All appraisals supporting this proposed transaction are made using the “cost” method, which is inappropriate, given the multiplicity of similar facilities in the service area.
  • After the purchase, the County will transfer the property to the Development Authority of DeKalb County (DADC), who will lease the property back to the YMCA for $1 per year for 50 years. At the end of the lease, the property reverts to DeKalb County. The Return on Investment to the taxpayers footing this bill is $50.  The Y will book the lease as an asset, similar to the Wade Walker Y, whose lease is currently valued by the Y at over $10 million.
  • The YMCA will renovate the building to its own plan, and continue to operate the facility as a YMCA, charging a fee schedule of its own choosing, except that special benefits exclusively for residents of three surrounding zip codes, not all taxpayers, shall be provided.
  • Currently the SD YMCA operates with a $300,000 + annual surplus and there is no requirement to use surpluses to the benefit of DeKalb County taxpayers.  The Wade Walker Y likely generates a surplus as well, yet there is no provision in either Master Agreement to account for such surpluses.
  • The YMCA has other options for renovating this facility without using taxpayer funds. Typically YMCA renovations are completed with private capital campaign contributions through the umbrella Metro Atlanta YMCA organization and through fundraising within the service area being served by the facility.
  • The county does not have the funds to renovate the much needed repairs and upgrades at the Tucker Recreation Center, the Lithonia Recreation Center, the need for a real Recreation Center at Mason Mill and the long overdue replacement of a Tobie Grant Recreation Center in Scottdale.  There is no Parks and Recreation Plan Update that assesses the need for another recreational facility in this area whereas there is assessed need for a new Center in Southwest DeKalb County.

Where is the partnership in this proposed agreement? There is a no win for the citizens of DeKalb County, only for the YMCA.  It is clearly the wrong thing to do and should go back to the drawing board.

Please withdraw from this proposal and let us participate in a transparent process that assesses the needs of both partners to the “partnership.”

Commissioner Kathie Gannon, Super District 6
Commissioner Jeff Rader, District 2
June 23, 2014

An easy introduction to the proposal is found on Crossroads News: http://crossroadsnews.com/news/2014/apr/11/dekalb-county-acquire-south-dekalb-ymca/

Many important details are summarized in SoDeKalbYMCA_DetailOverview.pdf, compiled by Commissioner Rader’s office

Source documents on this proposal, the RPCA Master Plan, and parks bond funding are available on the Civic Association Network’s website in the reference materials section.  See http://www.can-dk.org/file-cabinet/parks_gardens/southdekalbymca

DeKalb County 2014 Transportion Plan Complete!

DeKalb Transportation Close UpCarl Lange – June 26, 2014

The DeKalb County 2014 Transportation Plan was unanimously adopted on May 13, by the Board of Commissioners. The development of this plan has resulted from the hard work of many individuals across DeKalb County including all of the stakeholders that sent emails and participated in focus groups, surveys, and public meetings.

Tier 1 plans, which are based on the current DeKalb level of spending through 2040 include improvements to Clairmont, Clifton, and Briarcliff. Houston Mill Rd. is not identified for improvements, which in my opinion can be a good thing as routing of traffic to Emory and CDC is envisioned around our neighborhood, not through it.

1675 – 31 Signal Upgrades on Briarcliff Road./Clairmont Road./Church Street. – Upgrades to approx. 31 signals on Briarcliff (from Sheridan Rd. to Johnson Rd.), Clifton (from Briarcliff Rd to N Decatur Rd.), Clairmont (from LaVista Rd. to N Decatur Rd.), and Church St (from N Decatur Rd. to Bell St.) – $5,000,000

5093 – Clairmont Road Multimodal Corridor Improvements – Corridor improvements to include a median (center turn lane or landscaped) as well as bike and pedestrian accommodations and operational recommendations at key intersections. – $45,000,000

5108 – Briarcliff Road at LaVista Road Intersection Improvements – Intersection improvements, including turn lanes and signal timing to reduce vehicular delay; pedestrian improvements, as needed. – $6,000,000

In one of the early public input meetings I made a recommendation concerning the intersection at Whole Foods, a frequent slow-down obstacle for me. I’m glad to see this included. Check out your frequent travel paths and see what might be improving the quality of your travels too! Plans include public transportation, bicycles, cars, trucks, and pedestrians.

The Recommendations Report, the Appendix, and the Project Fact Sheets document are available on the project website:  www.dekalbtransportationplan2014.com.

For a quick read, jump to this excerpt of Tier 1 projects Pages from DeKalb 2014 Transp Recommendations – Tier 1

Here is the full report DeKalb 2014 Transportation Recommendations

Emory Community Meeting – Emory Point Phase II

emory pointMartha Pacini

A few quick notes from the Emory Community Meeting that was held on Wednesday evening (June 11):

  • EmoryPointPhaseI is fully leased and there is a 50-person waiting list.  They will begin leasing for Phase II in 3-4 months, and are scheduling for occupancy in first quarter of 2015.  More than 90% of those leasing the apartments work or go to school on Clifton Road.  Parkingwillcontinueto be handled separately from the housing as an encouragement to take advantage of Emory’s bus system, etc.
    • Earthfare out of Asheville, NC, is taking 25,000 SF in Phase II.  This is one of four stores they are opening in Atlanta.  They are similar to Whole Foods, but not strictly organic. Earthfare’s emphasis is on strict nutritional standards.  My layman’s way of understanding this is that you will be able to get a Coca-Cola there, but it will be the kind from Mexico that is made with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Should open in May 2015.
    • I asked about car alarms in the parking deck.  There is a full-time security presence there, and they should be handling.  If the alarm continues to go off, we can contact the 24-hour security line—I’ve asked for the number, but some of you may already have it and can share with the group.
    • Noise.  I asked about the noise that rattled windows in our neighborhood the second weekend in May.  Several other attendees said that they thought the noise was coming from somewhere not Emory/Emory Point–like Toco Hills or North Druid Hills Road.  I asked for a contact with DeKalb County School System, because I think we need an early warning system for when things are scheduled at Adams Stadium.  As soon as I receive that, I’ll reach out and see about working out some form of communication with them.

Emory Point Security Number

The  24-hour number for Emory Point’s security to report something/contact someone there:  404-840-5751

Houston and Clifton Property Zoning Approval

Zoning approval at Houston and Clifton

DeKalb Ethics Board

dekalb_seal_hi-resJune 24, 2014

Civic Association Network

By Mike Cooper

WSB-TV reported at 5 p.m. that Acting CEO May “will recommend a huge increase in funding for ethics training and enforcement.”

The report, by Richard Belcher, says Lee May seeks to establish what would be the largest ethics budget of any metro-area government, if it is approved by the Board of Commissioners.

May is to recommend a mid-year adjustment increasing the Ethics Board’s budget to almost $470,000 from the current $118,000. His plan would create three full-time board positions — a Chief Integrity Officer, an investigator and an administrative assistant, WSB-TV’s report said.

Belcher’s report also said May will impose new limits on gifts county employees can accept.

DeKalb Commissioners Ethics Complaint

June 24, 2014

Civic Association Network

By Mike Cooper

The DeKalb County Ethics Board agreed Tuesday (June 24) to accept and investigate new complaints against Commissioners Larry Johnson and Sharon Barnes-Sutton and her aide involving their use of county purchasing cards.

The board agreed to consider the complaints, filed by Rhea Johnson and Viola Davis, after hearing the board’s legal counsel say the board had personal and subject-matter jurisdiction.

Earlier complaints against Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her chief of staff, Bob Lundsten, remain active, but action on them was delayed until the board’s next meeting. The board is awaiting the results of a preliminary investigation by attorney Victor Hartmann, who was chosen by the board to investigate the complaints made by Thomas Owens. Hartmann is expected to present his findings at the board’s next work session.

The board dismissed a complaint against the CEO’s office that questioned why the CEO did not investigate an internal 2011 finance department audit which showed three commissioners did not comply with county policy in their use of county purchasing cards. The board’s attorney was instructed to tell Robert Ballou, who filed the complaint, that he could resubmit it if he made more specific allegations.

A separate complaint by Johnson against suspended CEO Burrell Ellis was tabled until the conclusion of Ellis’ racketeering trial, which is
scheduled to begin in September.

Complaints against Kevin Walton, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Ellis case, and Nina Hall, Ellis’ former secretary, were tabled until the board could obtain a certified copy of grand-jury testimony that
was cited in the complaints. The board’s attorney said that attorney Oliver Halle, who conducted a preliminary investigation, believed it would be better for the board to wait until completion of the Ellis
trial, in which Walton is expected to be a witness. He said trial testimony might be a more “economically efficient” way to handle the investigation.

The board rejected an ethics complaint against Susan Apolinsky, a former member of the DeKalb Historic Commission, that said she should have disclosed in a vote that she lived three houses away from a
property being considered. The motion failed 2 to 3, with two abstentions.

DeKalb Government Operations Task Force

task force charterThe Operations Task Force was created by DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May with the support of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners through an Executive Order in March 2014.

The 15-member committee is empowered to explore and study (1) the financial, business, zoning and quality of life impact on residents and government operations caused by the creation of new cities and annexations; (2) the effectiveness of the current governance structure of DeKalb County and ethics and transparency in County operations; (3) the equitable distribution of Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) proceeds and legacy pension costs between the DeKalb County and it’s cities; and (4) other related matters.


Task Force June 5 Meeting – Report


Friday Jun 6, 2014
Beth Nathan, CAN (Civic Association Network)

Some details became as clear as mud last night about how the CEO’s Task Force is going to operate, but it sounds like a lot of the proceedings and materials will be made available to the public.  Last night’s meeting was simulcast on public television and will be rebroadcast on DCTV. The rest of the meetings are to receive similar treatment. No word on whether they will be web-available for those who do not get DCTV.

In addition, a website has been added to the main county website in a subdirectory named “*taskforce2014*” to carry all of the information given to the Task Force members (they received a loose leaf binder of information last night), beginning with the 40+ slide PowerPoint that Lee May presented covering his Executive Order (2014-1) creating this Task Force.  The PowerPoint was extensive and included summaries of the law on municipalization, history of municipalization with voting statistics and bottom line financial impacts on the county, history of county government (starting with the 1886 creation of 5 commissioners of Roads and Revenue), maps of proposed cities, maps of proposed annexations, collection & distribution statistics for HOST dollars, and more. A place for citizens to email their comments and suggestions may be added but did not seem to be part of the original plan.

11 of the 15 announced Task Force members were present last night  (absent: Patrick Ejike, Stan Watson, April Atkins, John Shelton) as Lee  May announced that the Task Force had been EXPANDED TO 17 with the  addition of Fran Millar and Mike Jacobs to ensure all areas and viewpoints are represented.  [The list of all Task Force members is now posted on the county web site.]

Phyllis Mitchell, assistant to the CEO, is coordinating organizational matters for the Task Force.  She outlined her proposal on the structure by which the Task Force would operate,  which prompted a good number of further questions from the members. She suggested that the full Task Force meet twice a month at the Maloof to discuss info from two SubCommittees which would meet in the  intervening weeks. She mentioned the date of Wednesday, June 25, for the next full Task Force meeting, at which the members are to elect a Chair & Co-Chair and hear an in-depth report from GSU (subject matter unspecified). The two envisioned subcommittees were designated as (1) Municipalities/Annexation and (2) Governance, but the division of work between those two committees generated several questions for clarification. There was an indication that citizens, many of whose names are already in the CEO’s hands, would be asked to participate on those subcommittees, but no indication of how or when they would be called. Subsequent to this meeting, the Task Force and its Chair are to have full power to run independently and the CEO will step back. Phyllis Mitchell will remain available to assist them.  Citizen comments were taken at the end of this meeting and it was suggested they would be taken at subsequent meetings as well.


Jeff Rader proposed that the Task Force needs an apolitical chair who is also qualified to deal with organizational matters. He expressed hope that the Task Force’s eventual recommendations would be taken seriously by the legislators even though the Task Force is not legislatively-chartered. He spoke of the uneven nature of the cityhood process which has been running in an opportunistic manner reflecting the lack of public support over large areas of the county for current county management practices. The recommendations need to aim to make the county more stable and have less people racing for scarce resources. Transparency and purchasing practices in the Organizational Act need to be amended, allowing citizens to know what’s happening.

Bill Floyd, former Mayor of Decatur, commented that, while HOST may appear to be disproportionately distributed, the data presented to this Task Force in the power point was incomplete and should be clarified to allow the Task Force to figure out what’s best for both the county and cities alike.  Lee May responded that the Task Force was free to challenge any materials/figures presented to them.

Several members asked for clarification on organizational issues, including Vaughn Irons, Sharon Barnes-Sutton, Gloria Butler, Elena Parent and Karla Drenner, who specifically noted the lack of citizen participation on the Task Force.


These were as varied as you might expect. Speakers included Mary Kay Woodworth (Lakeside Yes), Tess Knight (DeKalb Planning Commission), Charles Peigler, Robert Stanfer (Stone Mountain), Joe Edwards (Kings Ridge Civic Association), Debra Jackson (Mayor of Lithonia), Roj Frierson (Hidden Hills Civic Association), Patricia Killingsworth (member of COVE and former Ethics Board chair), Willi Pringell (retired transit worker), and Alan Venet (City of Briarcliff, Sagamore Hills). These comments included a thank-you for service on what looks to be an impossible job, a call to do it right and pull the county’s varied factions together, both that cities are good and that the county should not be broken up into cities, a call for the Task Force to throw away its charge and instead focus on economic development, a call to make the ethics board stronger and make timely appointments of new members, expectations that politics and racism will play big roles, a reminder to use technology to share info widely, and statements that some Task Force members are part of the county’s problems with a call to fix the problems at the ballot box.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 pm.

*The meeting scheduled for June 25th was postponed, and no future meeting date has been published.*


The Meeting Powerpoint Presentation :


Suburban Plaza Development

suburban-plaza-planCivic Association Network

Mon Jun 9, 2014

By Jim Smith


New DeKalb Zoning Code to be Deferred until July 

Civic Association Network

Tue May 20, 2014

By Mike Cooper

DeKalb County Planning Director Andrew Baker told county commissioners this morning that his department will ask for deferral of a vote on the proposed new zoning code, with plans to ask the Board of Commissioners to approve it in July.

Baker asked commissioners for guidance on changes being considered in Article 4 (Use Regulations) and Article 7 (Administration). Meeting as a Committee of the Whole, commissioners agreed to discuss Article 4 at the May 27 Planning and Economic Development (PED) committee meeting
and Article 7 at the June 3 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Baker presented a list of changes he said had been made to the zoning code because of input from the public and the PED committee. He said about 50 people attended last Thursday evening’s public meeting on the new code.

“We did receive a list of written responses and comments from the Good Growth committee, which is made up of people in and near downtown Decatur, but also other representatives from other neighborhoods throughout the county. They provided a list of concerns that they had. And what we have provided for you today actually is our staff response to those items specifically that they raised,” Baker said.

Among the changes made to the zoning code:

– Reinstated the six-foot fence requirement in addition to required buffers

“The community was requesting that we add back the 6-foot fence as part of the buffer requirements,” Baker said. “Staff has made that change to the zoning code.”

– O-I when adjacent to SF zones requires undisturbed buffer separation, transitional height requirements

“There was some concern from the residents about O-I districts when they are next to the single-family neighborhoods,” Baker said. “If an individual or an applicant comes in and requests a rezoning to O-I, the Commissioners can also add additional conditions.”

– Pervious pavement – lot-coverage calculations have been revised limiting application to patios and pools

– Administrative variances

“We have specific criteria that is [sic] used by staff for the applications for variances.”

Additional examples of changes in response to public input:

– Deleted the reference to concurrent variances

“We had concern about concurrent variances,” Baker said. “We have deleted the section on concurrent variances.”

– Zoning petitions denied by the BOC require the applicant to wait 2 years (put back in code)

“We put back into the code the two-year wait period.”

– Provide better notice by posting agendas, staff analysis and recommendations on the web site. Considering larger signs or redesign of the sign copy to improve readability.

– Changes the definition of dormitories and provided clarification in Article 4 Table 4.

“The new code has taken measures to protect single-family neighborhoods,” Baker said. “We think we’ve made this document more protective for the neighborhood resident.”

Baker said planning staff wanted guidance on wireless-tower restrictions in Article 4.

“We’ve had some discussion regarding the wireless communication towers,” Baker said.

“The discussions we’ve had with the commissioners deal with the height of the proposed cell towers, the location, should they or should they not be allowed in residential districts and on public property, as well as the stealth design,” Baker said. “We are requesting additional policy direction on that particular article.”

Baker said questions also remained about Article 7, involving rights to appeal, appeals to Superior Court, as well as who has standing and the definition of an aggrieved person. “We continue to work with the law department,” he said.

Baker said the department would request a deferral at the May 27 County Commission meeting, while maintaining “an aggressive schedule.”

“We need individual meetings on Article 4 for wireless. We can possibly do that one at the PED committee meeting on the 27th,” he said. “We need an additional meeting with PED to discuss Article 7.”

Commissioner Larry Johnson said discussion of Article 7 could take place at the June 3 Committee of the Whole meeting, instead of waiting for the next PED meeting one week later.

Baker proposed that the Board of Commissioners approve the code at its July 22 meeting.

“We will be taking the map, the home rule and the code to the Planning Commission, hopefully on the (July) 8th, and we would like to have adoption on July 22nd,” he said.

He said he wanted to get feedback from commissioners between June 17 through 23, with plans to have a final document back from Pond & Company on July 3 before going to the Planning Commission on July 8.

– Mike Cooper
Community Affairs Representative
Little Creek Farm Conservancy

Community Zoning Review Meeting

BE IN THE KNOW! At the Community Council meetings, the public has an opportunity to discuss zoning or land use map amendment applications that will eventually be decided upon by the Board of Commissioners. After the Community Council meetings, the public has opportunities to comment on applications at public hearings that are held by the Planning Commission and by the Board of Commissioners.

Community Council Zoning Meeting – June 17

From Martha Pacini

Hi all,

I went by tonight’s community council meeting to make sure there wasn’t anything on the agenda that affected Victoria Estates.  Good news—there wasn’t!

Two things were on the agenda.  One involved a person who actually was going through the zoning process for her small in-home daycare off of Woodridge Drive in the Medlock neighborhood.  The council members congratulated her on actually going through the process since so many people ignore it.  Her request was approved.

The second item involved an application to put a liquor store in an existing building out on Lawrenceville Highway.  There were about 100 people from the surrounding neighborhoods wearing red shirts there to speak against it.  I didn’t stay for the fireworks since the 4th is just around the corner.

Public Hearing – DeKalb County Millage and Mid-Year Budget – July 8

The public meetings for the 2014 mid-year budget will be held June 24 and July 8 as part of the public hearing portion of the regular Board of Commissioners meeting.  The public hearing portion of the meeting begins at 10:00 am.  The millage rates will be adopted at the July 8 meeting.

Public Hearings – DeKalb Schools Millage Decision – July 7

Wed, June 25, 6pm
Mon, July 7, 11am
Mon, July 7, 6:30pm

DeKalb School System
Administrative and Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd
Stone Mountain

The DeKalb School Board is holding 3 public hearings regarding its decision not to roll back the millage rate to compensate for higher revenues from increased property tax assessments.

DeKalb County Launches the Vacant Property Registry 

 vacant registryThe Vacant Property Registry Ordinance requires the owners of vacant properties to provide the County with official contact information for party responsible for bringing the vacant property into compliance. Property owners are required by law to register their vacant properties with DeKalb County or face fines up to $1000.

Contact: 404-371-2289 | registry@dekalbcountyga.gov

Thompson Park

Thompson ParkFrom Patrick Noonan

Greetings Neighbors and Friends of Thomson Park –

As we wind down our park volunteer activity a bit during the hot summer months, I thought it a good idea to give you an update on some progress and other recent park news.

— We have one more regular volunteer day planned for the summer: Saturday, July 5, 9am-12noon. We’ll be finishing our work in the wooded area surrounding the tennis courts and upper parking area.

— Thanks to Derek Sampey of McConnell Road and Pack 43 of Twin Oaks LDS Church on Wesley Chapel, we’ve been able to start restoring the trail markers in the park. The Cubs and adult leaders helped give the existing posts a fresh coat of paint, and we’ve started replacing some of the missing posts and filling in other gaps. (As the new ones weather they’ll get painted, and they should fade into the woods and not stand out quite so much. Also, as we are able to add some trail maps at the entrances, we can probably remove a few redundant ones to reduce their visual impact.) A very *rough* initial sketch of the upper trail system is attached. The Cubs also donated a nice redbud tree, which now lives adjacent to the tennis parking area.

— Google finally admitted that they’d been misspelling the name of W. D. Thomson Park on their maps for years (leading to most of the Internet calling it “Thompson Park,” because Google). The County fixed the spelling on their site, too. When you see online references that are misspelled please write to the host and ask them nicely to change it. Now they *can* “Google it” to confirm!

— In addition to the July 5 volunteer day, we are in need of some help over the summer for other projects: Repairing, replacing and adding bridges over the creeks and drainage channels; cutting up and removing some large fallen trees from the paths; repairing the stairway from Mason Woods Drive. If you’ve got the will and the skill (and perhaps a chainsaw, which doesn’t fit that rhyme scheme), please contact me and we’ll coordinate some time to work together on this.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who have contributed literally hundreds of hours of work this past year. If you’d like to support the work of our Friends of Thomson Park group with a donation, you may write a check to the Mason Mill Civic Association and designate it for the “Thomson Park Fund.”

Best regards
Patrick Noonan
Coordinator, Friends of Thomson Park

Past President, Mason Mill Civic Association

Check out the map of the trails:

Upper Trails – rough map 5-28-14



COVEReport – May 19, 2014

COVEReport Logo



Primary Election! Tomorrow May 20!




Polling Place
ATLANTA, GA, 30329
Election Day precinct hours are 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Check Your Ballot!

Check your voter registration and get your sample ballot. It’s fast and easy to do online. [Click here]  Ballots at the polling place have been known to have errors. (This has personally happened to me. I bring a copy for reference – Carl)

Non Partisan Ballot
Republican Ballot
Democrat Ballot

How to Report Voting Problems
If you experience any problem or confusion while voting report the situation to one of the poll workers or election officials immediately! Do not wait until you have finished voting!

In the unlikely event that election officials at the polling place are unable or unwilling to help you, the problem should be reported directly to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. There are no special forms to use or procedures to follow–just call the Civil Rights Division toll-free at (800) 253-3931, or contact them by mail at:Chief, Voting Section
Civil Rights Division, Room 7254 – NWB

Pothole Palooza Repair Drive






May 2, 2014, ONEDeKalb

DeKalb County Roads and Drainage Division filled and repaired 1,074 potholes during the month of April in an extensive effort dubbed “Pothole Palooza.”

Pothole Palooza will continue throughout the month of May. Please contact 404-297-3813 to report potholes.

Click here to view a Pothole Palooza PSA produced by DCTV.

Upcoming Events

Friends of Thomson Park Volunteer Day – July 5

COVEReport – April 10, 2014

COVEReport logo png



Residential Development on Houston Mill









April 9, 2014 – Carl Lange

Per the sign that appeared this morning on Houston Mill, Dunwoody developer Ty White will be constructing four new houses to replace the existing college rental properties, near the intersection of Rainier Falls and Houston Mill. A call has been made to the developer for more details.

The Dunwoody based developer has 20 years of experience in the metro-Atlanta area including homes currently for sale in the Morningside and Chastain neighborhoods. Peachland Homes received a Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association award in 2012.

Example Construction from the Developer’s Website

Sample house






Victoria Estates @ Nextdoor.com Membership Growing

April 10, 2014 – Carl Lange

Neighbors are continuing to sign onto our new social media site. It’s free, private, and secure. Use it to ask for recommendations on a contractor, borrow an item, discuss a topic, report criminal activity, etc. Everyone in VE who has not already joined will be receiving a postcard with an invitation. Check it out!














Comments on CDC Campus Expansion End Today – April 10

CDC Campus Proposed Expansion








April 10, 2014 – Martha Pacini

Today is the last day to respond to the proposed CDC campus expansion. I submitted my comments on the government website and have already received a reply back from Senator Johnny Isakson.

Link to Cove REPORT Article

Martha’s Comments on CDC Environmental Impact Statement

Community Zoning Meeting – April 15

Public Noticedekalb_seal_hi-res





At the Community Council meetings, the public has an opportunity to discuss zoning or land use map amendment applications that will eventually be decided upon by the Board of Commissioners.  After the Community Council meetings, the public has opportunities to comment on applications at public hearings that are held by the Planning Commission and by the Board of Commissioners.  Recent reviews by the Council included the proposed Cabana Grill in front of Krogers on LaVista. COVE Board member Carl Lange will be attending.

Mason Mill Center for Seniors & Disabled at 6:30 pm

1340-B McConnell Dr., Decatur 30032

Proposed Cabana Grill on Lavista – Developer Meeting – April 16

proposed development on lavistacabanagrill







April 9, 2014 – Carl Lange

The developer for the proposed Cabana Grill, to be located on Lavista in front of the Kroger, is providing a neighborhood presentation. This is for the remaining undeveloped green space adjacent to the AAA building.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Intown Community Church (Lavista and Houston Mill Roads) in Room 213.  An attorney representing the developer will be present to explain what is intended for this property. Thanks to John Bugge with Mason Mill Civic Association for the notice.

Two issues associated with this development are street entry and removal of the large oak.

Due to the close proximity of other entries off Lavista, entry to the property should occur from the side (entry to Kroger). In a previous Community Zoning Meeting, development was not recommended as the surrounding property owner, the Shepard family, had not agreed to this easement.

A large oak(s) on the property will also require special approval for removal.

There will be a public hearing for this proposed development on April 22 at the Board of Commissioners meeting.


Cabana Grill Board of Commissioners Item


DeKalb Board of Commissioners Meeting – April 22






Meetings discussing the regular business of the county are typically held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month and begin at 9:00 am in the Maloof Auditorium at 1300 Commerce Drive unless otherwise noted. All regular Board meetings are open to the public. All regular Board meetings are televised live on Channel 23. Commissioners also hold committee meetings, which are open to the public as well. There are currently five standing committees within the commission.

Cabana Grill Variance Request


Neighborhood Watch Training and Tour of DeKalb’s 911 Center – April 22



Tuesday April 22, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

5th Floor Conference Room (Fire Building)
1950 West Exchange Place
Tucker, GA 30084

April 8, 2014 – Erika Birg – COVE Safety Committee

This is a great way to meet our DeKalb police and keep our neighborhood on their radar. Here is the promo:

Neighborhood watch groups are effective because they decrease opportunities for criminals to commit crime. The added bonus is the cohesiveness it provides between members of your community.
This workshop will educate participants on the most effective ways of identifying and reporting suspicious activity and mobilizing your neighborhood watch program: Topics will include why there is a the need for a neighborhood watch program, what is needed to start a neighborhood watch program and a discussion regarding resources to keep you informed and ways to stay connected – ideas, technology and the internet.

COVE Board Member Carl Lange and I attended a previous presentation which has provided us great information on protecting our homes and close contacts with the police department. COVE is scheduling a meeting in VE with the police department for some time in May.

Here is the link to register. https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/m?oeidk=a07e93xswus83f9c621&oseq=&c=&ch=


Briarcliff City Initiative Meeting – April 22

Cityhood Recap Meeting
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 7:00pm
Briarcliff United Methodist Church
4105 Briarcliff Rd NE

C.A.N. Candidates Fair and Forum – April 27









Sunday, April 27, 2014 – 1:30 – 5:30pm


April 10, 2014 – Martha Pacini

Election Day is May 20!  Voter turnout for midyear elections is notoriously low, but there is a lot at stake, so we should all exercise our right to vote.

There are more than 40 Elected Positions on the May 20 ballot, with more than 100 Candidates vying for those positions.  Through its Candidates Fair + Forums, CAN—the Civic Association Network—is making it easier for you to get up to speed quickly about the issues and who is running for which positions and what they stand for.  There will be three moderated topic forums, as well as representatives from candidates for elected office.

It’s a one-stop shop for the voter who wants to be informed.

Event: CAN Candidates Fair + Forum

Host: CAN–Civic Association Network

Time: Sunday, April 27, 2014 01:30PM

Location: Hellenic Community Center, Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Address: 2500 Clairmont Road, Atlanta

Link to forum announcement

COVE is a sponsor of C.A.N. Candidates Fair and Forum. COVE does not endorse, sponsor or donate to any political candidate. 

Campaign Event for Kyle Williams – April 27



Jennifer and Barry Tipping are hosting a meet & greet for Kyle Williams, who is running for the State Senate seat being vacated by Jason Carter.

The event is from 3-5 and kids are welcome.  The link below is just a way to keep track of attendees for light snacks and refreshments.  Please RSVP if you’ll attend.


Jennifer & Barry Tipping

1374 Rainier Falls Dr.

COVE does not endorse, sponsor or donate to any political candidate.


Mason Mill Civic Ass’n, Logan’s Knoll & Victoria Estates Spring Fling Picnic  – April 27



Sunday, April 27, 2014

4:00 – 7:00pm, W. D. Thomson Park Pavilion

After attending the CAN Candidate’s Forum head on over to the Spring Fling Picnic in progress.

MMCA_VE 2014 Spring Picnic flyer


Campaign Event for Elena Parent – April 30



April 9, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth

Scott and I are hosting a campaign event for Elena Parent at our home on Wednesday, April 30, from 5:30-7:30 pm.  Elena is a candidate for State Senate District 42, which was recently vacated by Jason Carter.  We hope that you will stop by to meet this Phi Beta Kappa, University of Virginia Law School graduate who is on track to do great things for our District and this State.  ElenaParentCampaignEvent

Pat Killingsworth, 1364 Rainier Falls Dr.


COVE does not endorse, sponsor or donate to any political candidate.


American Cancer Society Relay for Life – May 16


Adams Stadium (across from the Chick-fil-A at North Druid Hills
Friday, May 16, 2014, 1:00PM














COVEReport – March 27, 2014

COVEReport Logo



Private Social Network for Victoria Estates @ Nextdoor.com

Please join fellow Victoria Estates neighbors at Nextdoor.com. We have a private neighborhood site set up where you can easily connect with fellow Victoria Estates residents. This site is free, private, and secure. Use it to ask for recommendations on a contractor, borrowing an item, discussing a topic, reporting criminal activity, etc. Thanks to David Woolf for setting up our borders on the site. In the coming weeks, we’ll be reaching out to all neighbors to join. Check it out!  – Carl Lange