(VIDEO) Potential business partners for LaVista Hills attend fundraiser
An organization working to create a new city held a fundraiser on Aug. 26 at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant at the DeKalb–Peachtree Airport.
As planes took off and landed, potential contractors gathered to hear from representatives from the LaVista Hills Alliance and local politicians. The alliance is raising funds to support creation of a new DeKalb County City with over 65,000 people. It would be bordered on the north and west sides by I-85 and bisected by I-285.
The Alliance held the fundraiser in the “bunker room.” The hostess explained the room was located down the hall, past the dance floor. There’s an open-air patio adjacent to it.
Patti Peach, who helped organize the event, worked the door and gave a reporter a friendly handshake. She checked the list of invitees. She said she’d been expecting Decaturish to show up.
Kevin Levitas, the former co-chair of the Lakeside City Alliance, chatted up Joe Estey, vice president of iXP Corporation. The company has the contract to operate ChatComm, a 911 dispatch used by other new metro Atlanta cities: Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Dunwoody and Brookhaven. The Lakeside cityhood movement merged with the former Briarcliff cityhood movement to become the proposed new city of LaVista Hills.
The suggested minimum donation to attend the LaVista Hills Alliance fundraiser: $500. Peach estimated there were 35 to 40 attendees, but not all of them paid to attend. The LaVista Hills Alliance will file campaign disclosures that will include a list of donors to the cause.
Another attendee: Angela Parker, who until this year was the Community Development Director for Sandy Springs. According to Neighbor Newspapers, she left to become vice president of The Collaborative, a company that has a contract to run departments in the city of Sandy Springs. Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, and Brookhaven are unlike older cities in terms of service delivery. They rely heavily on private contractors to provide basic services. But they also don’t have the large payrolls and costly pension obligations of older cities.
The largest department on the payroll of a new city is usually the police department.
The fundraiser drew criticism from DeKalb Strong, a group that opposes cityhood. The group addressed the topic on its blog in a post written as a response to a presentation LaVista Hills made to the general public on Aug. 24 at Briarcliff United Methodist Church. That event drew over 400 residents interested in hearing more about the LaVista Hills proposal.
“This is pay-to-play,” the post says. “Saying that contractors have to pony up campaign cash if they want to do business with a government is wrong. It violates most government procurement codes, and is the exact kind of behavior we need less of in DeKalb.”
Politicians from local cities who attended the meeting spoke favorably about the benefits of being a city.
“I agree that cities provide a sense of community and a sense of place,” Decatur City Commissioner Patti Garrett said.
Former Decatur mayor Bill Floyd, who is now executive director of the DeKalb Municipal Association, also spoke to the group.
“You’re in for an incredible treat, because you’re about to go through the greatest experience of your life as you see your community change in front of your eyes,” Floyd said. “You’ll see people take an interest in everything that goes on. You’ll see people want to participate in stuff, and you will see things happen that have not happened in the past. … And the other thing is, if you’re a business person in the area, you’re about to go through a great experience also, because you’re about to (do business) in a place that really wants you there and will work with you to make your business the best that it can do.”
Jason Lary, president of the Stonecrest City Alliance – another group pushing a proposed new city in DeKalb County– spoke favorably of the idea, too. The dysfunction of DeKalb County government, which seems to top itself with each new revelation of mismanagement and corruption, is one of the primary reasons cited for creating a new cities.
“It has to change folks,” he said, adding later, “I came here in full support of what you’re doing.”