Former LaVista Hills co-chair joins fundraising group, new maps revealed, WABE story contested

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 28, 2015


Things have cooled off a bit since the end of the 2015 Legislative session when lawmakers approved a referendum to incorporate a new city of LaVista Hills.

Heading into summer, things will be heating up again before the November vote on whether to create the new city.

Last month, former LaVista Hills YES co-chair Mary Kay Woodworth resigned her position, saying she needed a break. Not long after that announcement, Woodworth formed LaVista Hills Alliance, Inc. with LaVista Hills political consultant Steve Schultz, according to records filed with the state Campaign Finance Commission.

So what is LaVista Hills Alliance?

“LaVista Hills Alliance is a placeholder group,” Woodworth explained. “If a fundraising group is formed, it could be utilized to separate fundraising from the information-sharing function, LaVista Hills YES.”

In other LaVista Hills news:

The city’s advocacy organization didn’t care for a recent WABE story that tackled the demographics of the proposed city. According to WABE, “Anyone attending these cityhood meetings can see it ─ Greenhaven and Stonecrest supporters in the south of the county are majority African-American, while LaVista Hills and Tucker, in the north, are mostly white.”

The article also notes LaVista Hills is 64 percent white, “while only 16 percent is black.”

LaVista Hills YES pushed back against the article on its Facebook Page, with a strong rebuke from former co-chair Woodworth.

“C’mon, WABE… You can do better than this,” Woodworth wrote. “The proposed city of LaVista Hills is one of the most diverse areas in DeKalb County, and racial segregation has NEVER been part of the motivation or discussion to create a new city. This fear-mongering tactic is a red-herring and woefully tiresome.”

Decaturish reader Rhea Johnson has been busy creating maps of the proposed city using data from the DeKalb GIS Department.

Johnson has closely followed the cityhood process. LaVista Hills YES Chairman Allen Venet said the organization did not have a hand in producing these maps but isn’t disputing them either.

“I see the DeKalb GIS mark in the corner, and I have no reason to doubt that they produced this map, or that it is accurate, but I don’t know anything except what I see,” Venet said.

Here are all of the maps Johnson has provided so far …

ProposedLavistaHillsBoundary7-4 ProposedLavistaHillsBoundary7VoterPrecincts ProposedLavistaHillsDistrict4-9 ProposedLavistaHillsDistrict5-9 ProposedLavistaHillsDistrict6+ ProposedLavistaHillsDistrict6-10 ProposedLavistaHillsZoning7-5

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  • Details

    Anyone who reads the feasibility study can see that residents will pay more than if they remain unincorporated. The millage cap may place the city in a position where it can not incur debt. Why is the idea still being pursued at this point?

  • Mike

    Aside from the basic question of whether you’re right about the taxes, I’m one who would say “if I have to pay a little more tax to get honest local government, count me in.” I wish I didn’t have to; but it’s like a ransom you have to pay to get out from some third world prison.

  • notapunk

    May I ask — what’s the relevance of RAJ’s maps?

    • Russell Carleton

      They are pretty. You gotta give him that.

      • notapunk

        Agreed, Russell Carlton. Very colorful.

        • RAJ

          Probably a punk!

      • RAJ

        Your post shows and incredible lack of character. From past posts I know you can do better than that!

    • RAJ

      Yes you may ask! …..I don’t normally suffer fools lightly, but in this case I will make an exception since I assume you have several racially tainted Ph.D”s from Emory. Just jolking, I have one degree from a well known SEC football University. I think LVH is more than 35% minority and after all we just all live together anyway. LVHY does not want to talk about this but I may produce some maps just to help you out. Disclaimer: I am not an “Official” member of LVHY and can not(and they do not want me to)speak for them but I probably know more about them than they know about them. So I have a yard sign and help them in any way I can and thank you Allen for your kindness, but my maps are the “Official” maps from the “Official” source and better than any one else produces. I have more maps on the way, these are available in 36″x48″ for $25 at cost, lead time depends on efficiency of DeKalb County Government(?) and my nap schedule. This is NOT paid advertising. Anyone have more ideas for more maps of LVH let me know as I am a linear thinker and not a cloud thinker. I can sort out by “girls with purple toenails” and stuff like that but it’s VERY expensive! Best to stick with “Tree Canopy”, “Infrared” or “Man Hole Covers”. Guess I did not answer the question, so…let’s think politics, Districts 4,5,6(us)and the next months till November. Yes or No, Pro or Con…..We see that neighborhoods may be able to form into Community Councils(NPU’s)to consider City-hood(or not). You may find a person to serve as your City District Council person or just meet a lot of neighbors!

      • DKVoter

        RAJ, can you tell me if the LVH map was drawn according to census tract lines, census block group lines, or census block lines? I understood it was the first, census tract lines. My side of our street is included in the LVH maps, with a little skinny peninsula of houses dipping down below North Druid Hills into the Medlock Park area. But when I look at the census tract borders, the entire tract includes much more of our neighborhood than the LVH map does. What am I not understanding? The tract map I’m looking at is for tract 022302, at this link:

        You seem to be very informed about this. Could you take a look at this link and check it out? I’m disturbed, because if the map is meant to follow tract lines, there are many homeowners who don’t realize they’re in the LVH boundaries., and won’t be voting in November.

        • RAJ

          I LOVE this stuff!!! Someone finally ask the key question! The LVH map was drawn by census blocks; however the only thing that really counts is if you are “in” the map. This is a different story entirely because when the map was transmitted from the Georgia State Reapportionment Office to the DeKalb County GIS Dept. some decisions had to be made. The GIS Dept recommended to the DeKalb Registrars Office which “split” parcels be included in the LVH map. At this point that info is in the hands of the County Registrar(Maxine Daniels)(?). The Registrar has no time to work on this because of other elections in the County. The voter lists by precinct(hence the relevance of my maps)will be used by the cities(Tucker and LVH)to send out mailers and this is also the ONLY way you will know if you are actually “in” the map if you live on the edge of the map. So NO voter lists unless someone takes legal action against Lee May and DeKalb County.

          • RAJ

            I just hate it when I reply to my own reply, but I just can’t resist this one. My info(I swear)is that if you are a registered voter living in a “split” parcel then if your master bedroom(more than 50% of it)is in the LVH map you are “in” the City. Guess it has something to do with where all life begins(say what Dan),however a petri dish will do these days I guess.

          • notapunk

            See, you can give a straight(ish) answer when you want to.

          • RAJ

            OK Punk….I just ate 1/2Lb of swordfish from Costa Rica(I think), Grilled with olive oil, garlic, Basil, Oregano, served with an OK white wine from Wash St….an off night for for sure, but New Zealand Rack of Lamb with a Bordeaux from the cellar should make up for the off night this weekend. My health coach(Lindsey..tall Blond and Stacy, medium height, rookie Emory Brunet), would be proud of my responsible diet! So…As of yesterday the map is OK(?), however it is not clear if some persons or groups are contesting parcels on the edges of the map. I may have posted this elsewhere, however some parcels have been sent back to the State for “Legal” review thus holding up the release of the voting list. I am very “tight” with some very important people(don’t believe this BS)so I know what I am talking about(the truth). Dan is looking into all this but, on another issue, I just got word this afternoon that Commissioner Stan Watson is under investigation by the FBI for voting on a contract in which he had a financial interest…..probably OLD news!

  • Eva Shaw

    Why can’t we stop talking about black and white? This is a case of a few want-a-be politicians that want to get at the public trough. Future high taxes is not a consideration with this group. They want their little piece of the action NOW. The revenue numbers and the outlandish promises of better protection and fewer “potholes” will be costly. Look around, We are doing very well. Watch the doughnut and not the hole.

  • DHer

    If LaVista Hills is banking on HOST funds, their financial feasibility study is useless. The Operations Task Force studied HOST and determined that the next city would break the HOST distribution formula. There will be less funds for everybody, and the formula will have to be reconfigured. The recommended fix is another penny sales tax, but that requires a voter referendum and has no political support.

  • RAJ

    Special thanks for printing the maps Dan….It looks easy but it’s not…..we have some GREAT people working in the DeKalb GIS Dept…. as picky as I am I know I test their patience. All maps are for free public use by the way!

    • Russell Carleton

      Hey, RAJ, are the council districts finalized, or are these just approximations at this point? Are there more maps to come?

  • Tom Doolittle

    Mike–your argument would be a slam-dunk if indeed we were replacing DeKalb’s government. But we’re not even close.
    In fact, my argument is more compelling. LVH will be little more than a boundary with a name in any significant sense. (only 10% of government services).
    So I’ll vote for it because its a fun little experiment that is revenue neutral at least for a few years. (also plenty to write about) A tempest in a teapot?

    BTW–for this reason, the argument that the new cities have taken so much away from DeKalb’s remaining unincorporated area’s funding is way overblown–If the courts decide we all still have to pay DeKalb’s pensions (which they should).

    • Russell Carleton

      I believe that such a ruling would be approporiate. In the same way that a new city is still responsible for the bond issue from before it was incorporated, cities should continue to pay into the police pension fund in a similar way. However, The LaVista Hills footprint paid a total of $23 million into the police fund last year. It’s understandable that if they would provide their own police force, they shouldn’t have to pay for the active services portion of that, but what portion of the budget for the police is set aside to pension obligations? If it’s 10 percent, then LaVista Hills would need to fork over $2.3 million per year to service those obligations. Their reported surplus is $1.7 million.

  • jo

    LaVista Hills paid $23 million to the “police” pension…NOPE….DeKalb dosent have a police pension it has a pension for all of the employees like the firemen, the Sheriff’s deputies, employees at the court house, etc. I cant decide if LaVista Hills Yes is just uninformed or intentionally misleading.
    The below quote was found in The Brookhaven Reporter and it addresses that new cities performance.
    “I am so over plans and studies. Most just seem to get shelved and never looked at again. Oh, but then we contract out for the “implementation” plan to basically tell us how to read and understand the previous plan. There are Federal, State and County archives of plans. Has anyone in Brookhaven looked at them? The same people we are now hiring at a 6 figure cost probably did them also.
    Citizen Input-A joke
    Steering Committees- A joke
    Boards and Commissions-A joke
    Fiscal Conservatism-A joke
    Limiting Spending-A joke
    Guidelines and Living Documents-A joke
    This is stalling and campaigning at it’s finest. A buddy or two complains, a study is ordered, and a vote is gotten.
    People WAKE UP! It’s your money buying these votes”
    Or another story of not so happy new city residents can be found in today on-line edition of The Reporter Newspapers; the story’s title “At Town Hall Meeting Resident Say They Feel Disconnect With City Officials”.

    • Eva Shaw

      To Jo; Your comment is very well said and very true. This whole movement is designed to benefit a few and disregard the citizens who pay the bills.

      • Jan Atlanta

        Eva, who specifically? You show up on various blogs with these comments. Be specific.

        • Eva Shaw

          Don’t ask a question to which you already know the answer.

    • Russell Carleton

      To clarify, I mean that the LaVista Hills footprint paid $23 million into the county’s police fund. That fund includes the salaries and equipment for the active duty cops, any other police related programs, and the pension fund. I don’t know what percentage of that $23M went to the pension fund.

  • Russell Carleton

    Since LaVista Hills Yes! has a fundraising arm (they have a donation page on their website), in what set of circumstances would it be necessary to separate the fundraising from the information-sharing?

    • RAJ

      Same plan as with Brookhaven…….just makes sense to do this with multiple fund raising and advocacy groups, I already have a” LaVista Hills NOW” e-mail registered and you may see other pro LaVista Hills groups form later. This may come about as a result of some discussions at the monthly CAN pot-luck meeting last Wednesday. More later!

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