Dear Decaturish – Cityhood does not equal prosperity

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt June 23, 2015
An older map showing a proposed city of South DeKalb. Source:

An older map showing a proposed city of South DeKalb, later renamed Greenhaven. Source:

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Dear Decaturish,

Cityhood does not mean economic development. If so, all the cities close to the Hartfield-Jackson airport would be booming. Residents should say no to more government, crime and corruption.  The school problems need to be dealt with by the School Board, the crime is South DeKalb needs to be addressed, and the residents need to get more involved in their community and schools.  Businesses and good jobs will not come in an environment where there is high crime and bad schools, unless you address the basics.Yes, we need to do something, but we do not want to make our situation worse.  It is the job of the Chamber of Commerce and private citizens to create jobs. The government can help create a business friendly environment.  However, if the government becomes the primary business then we will look like Cuba or North Korea.  Some of the proponents of cityhood should be running for a position in the Chamber of Commerce, not in government.Alternatives have not been presented to residents in the affected area. For example: smaller cities, opting out of the city, changing the annexation laws, or court action.  Alternative forms of quasi-cities should be considered. Private residential associations or communities and special districts could also be alternatives to cityhood.

What cityhood will likely bring is more government with rules and regulations, more jails and courts, more crime, more corruption, more traffic tickets, more code enforcement, less businesses, and bad customer service

South DeKalb could look like Clayton County, Miami Gardens, Tuskegee, Ala., East Saint Louis, Liberty City, Gary Indiana, Detroit, Washington, DC, or Ferguson, Mo., if the cityhood bill is passed by the state Assembly and the referendum is passed by the voters. Ask the proponents of cityhood which city they plan to use as a model for South DeKalb or Stonecrest. I do not mean what the feasibility study used. I mean which city do proponents believe South DeKalb will look like with similar demographics and population

Repeat it enough times they will believe it and then it will become fact. Even the DeKalb 5th district commission candidates are repeating the facts incorrectly.

Kathryn Rice backtracks on her statement that South DeKalb will be left paying pension.  First Kathryn and her group said there was a law that permitted the new cities to avoid paying  or sharing in the cost of DeKalb pension plan; almost everyone was repeating it, even State lawmakers and commissioners.

Now Kathryn Rice and her group admits there is no law.  They now use the words “fair”,  “shoulder” and “burden” of the pension costs, a play on words.  The group Concerned Citizens for Cityhood in South DeKalb has repeated so many times that “South DeKalb would be the only area paying the pension” that everyone believes what they have been saying is true.  The factoid meter indicates that this is not true, and that the statement is a stretch of the facts.  It is being used as a fear or scare tactic to get residents to support cityhood.  Rice continues to say if the city of South DeKalb is created that it is her position that the city should make pension payments.  It seems that there is some double talk going on.

According to the county budget department, the new cities are contributing to the county pension plan, though not to the same extent as if they had not become a city. The typical portion that new cities may not be equally contributing to are police and designated services if new cities are providing their own services in those areas.  All the other county funds contribute to the pension.

Articles that cited pension statements made by CCCSD and/or Kathryn Rice: news/2015/jan/30/south-dekalb- city-be-called-greenhaven/ news/2015/apr/10/no- referendum-year-new-cities- south-dekalb/ 2015/01/greenhaven-city- proposal-gets-sponsor/

http://thechampionnewspaper. com/news/local/proposed-south- dekalb-city-named-greenhaven/

http://thechampionnewspaper. com/news/local/proponents- promote-large-south-dekalb- city/ local-news/health/itemlist/ date/2015/4.html ocg03_07_15_b887e2009bde35 local/group-pushes-new-city- south-dekalb-county/nkLx2/ 2014/11/plans-south-dekalb- city-taking-shape/

Ed Williams. Chair
Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb

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  • Hans

    There are legitimate reasons to argue against cityhood, but irresponsible claims unfounded in any sort of data are not the way to go. Incorporation does not cause crime, period. To claim otherwise is to blatantly invent a false argument to fear-monger support for your cause.

    Some cities make economic sense. Some do not. Areas too small, areas with low levels of property ownership, or areas with insufficient density should not incorporate because it is unlikely the tax base will be able to support the additional governance.

    If the areas meet the minimum economic conditions, however, incorporation is a pretty good way to localize control and increase local participation in government. The citizens themselves need to decide whether the additional cost is worth the additional control.

    That is the principal basis for the argument either for or against incorporation. You raise reasonable and legitimate points about the associated costs of incorporation, which you then completely undermine with false claims of causal relationships between incorporation and crime. That is nothing short of a crime itself.

    • Ed Williams

      There are other factors however I believe that hopelessness, unemployment, no opportunities, bad schools, and the lack of morality and values breeds crime. I do not see where cityhood will change any of these problems. The cities I listed already have local control, and so what you see is crime, bad schools, and low property values. What the cities have in common is tsimilar demographics I never said cityhood caused crime, that is your interpretation based on your preception. Crime is a symptom of a larger issue or problem in the community.

  • Bernie

    Mr. Williams is incorrect in asserting that incorporation of Stonecrest or Greenhaven would bring more traffic tickets and jails. Neither city would have its own police force; neither city would enforce traffic laws; and both cities would use the DeKalb County Jail for code enforcement rather than build their own jails.
    The Stonecrest City Alliance is a biracial coalition of residents and businesses. They believe a new city is necessary in order to create a business-friendly environment which will allow employment centers in the Stonecrest Mall commercial area and the Lithonia Industrial Park to grow and prosper. Unlike Greenhaven, questions regarding funding of DeKalb County’s pension system have never been central to the platform of the Stonecrest City Alliance.
    Determining the governmental structure of Stonecrest would be up to the elected Mayor and City Council, but it is hoped they will look to the public-private partnership model of Oliver Porter for guidance and inspiration.

    • Ed Williams

      So where does this Oliver Porter model exist? These new cities will have the power to enforcement their ordinances regardless if they have their own jail or court . They will likely contract out the services to the county or private entity until they can create their own, but at the moment of inception they would have the powers to create whatever ordinances they wish. People really need to read the cityhood charters.

      • Bernie

        No one is proposing a City of South DeKalb. There are separate proposals for the separate cities of Stonecrest and Greenhaven. The proposed cities would be structured differently, and would have different demographics. Stonecrest would be only approximately one-sixth the size of Greenhaven. And unlike Greenhaven’s demographics, the demographics of Stonecrest would reflect a biracial coalition between Stonecrest residents and the established business areas of Lithonia Industrial Park and the Stonecrest Mall Overlay District. There is no reason to think that Mr. Porter’s model is not applicable to Stonecrest’s demographics.
        For the foreseeable future there is no reasonable likelihood that police services would be undertaken by the City of Stonecrest.

        • Ed Williams

          Call the cities whatever you want, the name does not matter. It is the region and the demographics. Changing the name of South DeKalb Mall to Gallery at South DeKalb did not make a difference, in fact most people still call it South DeKalb Mall. Changing the name of Grady hospital did not change the image.

          As “A rose by any other name would smell as
          sweet” from William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet.”The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

          The biracial coalition is not at issue and does not matter, south DeKalb both Stonecrest and Greenhaven have the same demographics over 90% African American. Both are more residential and have lower personal and business revenue in terms of taxes than other comparable cities with
          similar size populations in the North.

          • Bernie

            The City of Stonecrest region includes an established industrial park, a recently-built mall and surrounding commercial area, and well-to-do neighborhoods with high-end houses. The demographics of the City of Stonecrest include industrial, commercial and residential leaders who are impatient with the County’s neglect of the area, and who intend to move forward with a grassroots effort to fast-track economic development.

            The Stonecrest coalition is biracial and is led by educated professionals who are committed to the welfare of the Stonecrest region. These are inconvenient truths for Mr. Williams. It is disquieting and remarkable to see him claim that the new city is doomed to failure merely because the majority of its residents will be African-American. Notably, he does not cite a single case study to support his novel claim, nor does he offer his own research.

            Questions concerning revenue versus expenses for the City of Stonecrest were resolved by the second Carl Vinson Institute study, which shows that the city will have a comfortable surplus.

          • Ed Williams

            It is the proponents of the city who should provide evidence or model of what you want the residents to buy into. It is not what I believe, vision, or even dream. I am looking for evidence and facts. The Carl Vinson Institute Study used cities with total different demographics to make projections about revenue. This is a limitation and could call into question its validity and findings. I have presented several case studies for the reader to consider. I did the best thing possible I used the real world as the laboratory. I listed cities that had similar demographics and asked the question where is the economic development or growth
            Consider Clayton County, Miami Gardens, Tuskegee, Alabama, East Saint Louis, Liberty City, Gary Indiana, Detroit, Washington, DC, or Ferguson, Missouri . Ask the proponents of cityhood which city they plan to use as a
            model for South DeKalb or Stonecrest. I do not mean what the feasibility study used. I mean which city do proponents believe South DeKalb will look like with similar demographics and population. Would you put your trust in
            someone that does not have a plan and a model of what they are proposing?

            We want to see the evidence.

          • Bernie

            Mr. Williams does not define what he means by economic success, nor does he provide facts to prove that the cities he mentions are struggling economically. Worse, the only reason he gives for their alleged failure is that they are majority black cities. On its face, this claim sounds suspiciously like racial stereotyping which is both factually inaccurate and morally repugnant. Mr. Williams has yet to show through independent research that the racial makeup of those cities’ populations is a cause of failure rather than just coincidence. Until he produces such studies, there is no reason to take his argument seriously.
            The researchers at the Carl Vinson Institute thus far have a 1.000 batting average in predicting the viability of proposed new cities. The point of having them do feasibility studies is to let them, as professionals, select comparable cities and select relevant statistics. Their objectivity was amply demonstrated when they disapproved the first proposal for the City of Stonecrest. CVI’s favorable recommendation regarding the current Stonecrest proposal is another inconvenient truth for Mr. Williams.

          • Ed Williams

            The Carl Vinson institute cannot have a 1,000 batting average, There are not that many cities in Georgia. There are 625 cities in GA, and many of them where around before Carl Vinson Institute was created. None of the cities that have been blessed by CVI had similar demographics. None!!!! It is the proponents who has to produce the proof or have the burden. Just provide everyone some cities that you plan to model South DeKalb and/or Stonecrest after. What types of businesses will you be pursuing and what kinds of tax breaks will they get to come to South DeKalb. Who is trying to get rich by selling the land in South DeKalb and create cities? Is it the Kelly and/or Wright Families? I provided the factors that one should consider in order for economic development and growth to occur and those are School Performance (high graduation rates), Crime, Business (Jobs), Employment/Unemployment Rate, Home Values, Business Climate, Customer Service, Types of Businesses, House Hold Income, Education, Average Age, Racial Diversity and other Demographics, etc. Yes, I do have some studies which speak about the Black Belt and Economics.

  • Ed Williams

    I never said cityhood caused crime. I provided examples of cities for the
    reader to make their own judgement that had similar dempgraphics. I said crime would likely increase. When you have high unemployment, and bad schools which both already exist, cityhood would not address either particularly since neither
    of the proposed cities in South DeKalb would have a police department. and the schools are ran by the DeKalb School Board. The police department were left out , because it expensive to run, and the cities would not have passed their feasibility studies.

    Both layers of governments would increase efforts to generate revenue
    particularly the county to make up.for lost revenue, thus more traffic
    tickets, etc Every city that has ever been created budget always increases.

    Ed Williams, Chair
    Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb

    • Hans

      You said specifically: “What cityhood will likely bring is more government with rules and
      regulations, more jails and courts, more crime, more corruption, more
      traffic tickets, more code enforcement, less businesses, and bad
      customer service”.

      Your exact words. Cityhood will likely bring more crime. Your denials to the contrary are unpersuasive. Either you meant it and are backtracking, or you fail to understand the meaning of your own words. I’m not sure which is worse.

      You also said : “Residents should say no to more government, crime and corruption”, implying that a vote for cityhood would result in more crime.

      The question of incorporation and its impact warrants a robust conversation within the community. I certainly hope a more lucid, fluent, and intellectually honest argument than yours is brought forward. If the best that cityhood opponents can muster is this pile misrepresented tripe then we’ll all be poorly served by the debate.

      • Ed Williams

        What you seem to. be ignoring is the obvious, the evidence. You are stuck on the syntax and words that you do not see. It is like you cannot see the forrest for the trees. Do you understand the word “likely”. Do some research on the cities i mentioned, and provide residents some cities of what proponents believe South DeKalb would look like in 5, 10, 20 years then we can have a meaningful and substantative discussion and debate. Please do not use hope, dream and vision. Those cannot be measured or evaluated in any objective meaningful way.

        Facts do.not lie.

        The debate is not about me, you seem to be stuck. Your cause would be better served if you would provide some evidence and examples. In other words, What are you talking about?

      • Ed Williams

        Look at the statistics and demographics of crime, school achievement, jobs, unemployment, and home values and explain to the residents what cityhood has to do with those issues, or as you imply not have to do with these issues. Then look at the cities and locations I mentioned. Look at the city of Atlanta , Southside in particular and drive down Campbelton Road to Greenbriar Mall, 5 points, Vine City, West End, Uinversity Ave, Stewart Ave/ Metropolitan, Simpson Road, Get the point. All are in the boundaries of the City of Atlanta, and you would be hard pressed to find economic development or growth going on in those communities of any significance.

        The new trend is to change street names in an effort to change the perception of certain communities.. It will not work, because the root problems are not being addressed.

        Schools, Jobs, and Crime

      • Ed Williams

        I do not believe cityhood causes crime. However, crime is a problem in South DeKalb, it is highest in South DeKalb. Creating a city without a police department what do you think will happen? Also, look at other cities with similar demographics and tell me the crime stats. In boyz in the hood at the end movie Ice Cube made the statement “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’ t care”, Do your research and tell us what this proposed city would look like beyond the dreams and vision, and fake skyline used in the Greenhaven logo.

      • Ed Williams

        You can have a correlation without causation. I never ever said cityhood “caused” crime. If you have bad schools, no good jobs, low community participation, very little recreational activities and corruption what do you think will happen? Will cityhood address these issues, how, when and what? We want to know specifics, and what city in US, with be your model with similar demographics?

  • Ed Williams

    Conversation crime is a symptom of a larger societal or community problem. It is bigger than cityhood, however it will breed anywhere the conditions or right. “.many community characteristics implicated in violence, such
    as residential instability, concentration of poor, female-headed households
    with children, multiunit housing projects, and disrupted social networks,
    appear to stem rather directly from planned governmental policies at local,
    state and federal levels.”

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