Group opposed to current cityhood process encourages support for DeKalb County reforms

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt March 2, 2015
Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

A group that’s politicking for a halt to current efforts to create new cities in DeKalb County is asking supporters to contact state senators in the name of reforming county government.

DeKalb Strong sent a message to supporters Sunday evening urging support for three bills: one that would empower the county’s Ethics Board, one that would tighten up its purchasing rules and one that would appoint an internal auditor to keep tabs on county spending.

Read more:

Senate Bill 121 – Establishing an internal auditor

Senate Bill 120 – Strengthening county purchasing rules

Senate Bill 118 – Strengthening the county’s Ethics Board

“There are three bills in the Georgia Senate that are vitally important to reforming DeKalb County government,” the message says. “We are running out of time in this session, and they need to be passed out of the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee ASAP!”

The latest message follows an earlier call to action against a bill that would advance a proposed city of LaVista Hills. That bill is being introduced by Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, who has not responded to repeated messages from Decaturish seeking comment. Taylor does not represent the area that would be in the LaVista Hills map.

That shaking of the branches produced a barrage of phone calls to Taylor’s office. DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook told Decaturish over the weekend that support for DeKalb County reforms is equally important to the group’s members.

The reforms are long-overdue, according to LaVista Hills supporters. Allen Venet, with LaVista Hills Yes, said “On the first day of its existence, the City of LaVista Hills will have in place the auditing and ethics provisions which DeKalb County government has spent years debating without implementing – because too many county officials want to protect the status quo.”

Two of the reform bills are sponsored by state Sen. Elena Parent, SD-42, and one is sponsored by state Sen. Gloria Butler, SD-55.

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  • RAJ

    I’m off to the Capitol; however I will say up front that the ethics “Reform” bill SB118 is a TOTAL disaster, put forward by Lee May”s and Kathy Gannon’s political hacks. It’s a disgrace that the bill will completely destroy the independence of the STRONGEST ethics board in the State of Georgia. The selection of the new board is TOTALLY unfair to the majority of the Citizens of DeKalb County, some of whom are officials that may one day have to face this board in an ethics hearing that may affect their careers and reputation.

    • DH

      “STRONGEST ethics board in the state of Georgia”…. really?

      • RAJ

        Yes! Read the law SB590.

    • Hugh Bean

      I encourage you to speak directly with one of these “political hacks.” I disagree with some of their recommendations, and the way they were developed, but these citizens are no hacks, and I’ve seen no cause to question their motivation or goodwill. They may be inept at times but they’re doing no one’s bidding.

      But how does having the board members nominated by numerous outside parties (like local colleges and universities) destroy the independence of the board?

      • RAJ

        I know these “political hacks” and one of them is a former judge doing the bidding of Kathy Gannon and others to help protect officials from removal from office by the Ethics Board. I know what their motivations are by working with them on a weekly basis. I would suggest you and any other posters on this subject compare the current law SB590 with the proposed ethics legislation, SB218 and note the new legislation supersedes the old. In short order this puts the “new” Ethics Board under the control of the DeKalb CEO by his approval of the Ethics Officer, who is ,in fact a “gate keeper” for complaints going to the Board. Board members SHOULD be nominated by outside parties,however, my point, and this has already been noted in the State legislature, is that the board will not be representative of DeKalb residents. I don’t think excusing ineptness in the name of reform is the answer!

        • DH

          I am curious as to how you work with these folks down at the capital. Are you one of their employees?

          • RAJ

            No. Just do a lot of listening and not much talking!

        • DHer

          The bill before the legislature establishes a better process for hearing ethics complaints. In the past year there were plenty of appropriate complaints but there were also some frivolous complaints that make a mockery of the legitimate ethics complaints. The ethics officer will be hired by the Board of Ethics and report to them. He/she must be an attorney. This ethics officer will provide minimal screening to help prevent ethics charges from being used as political weapons. This provision doesn’t weaken the Board of Ethics, it improves them.

  • DHer

    Ray is apparently not on his meds today.

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