(UPDATE) – Email from former mayor blasts two candidates in Nov. 3 elections

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 30, 2015
Decatur City Hall

Decatur City Hall

An email written by former Decatur mayor Bill Floyd has been making the rounds and it is unsparing in its criticism of two candidates running in the Nov. 3 elections.

Floyd sent the email to friends offering his personal views on the upcoming election. It was forwarded along to other parties by Mayor Jim Baskett and eventually was forwarded to Decaturish.

In the email, Floyd takes aim at candidates John Ridley, who is running against Tony Powers to replace Baskett, and Eric Tumperi, who is running against incumbent city Commissioner Scott Drake. Drake joined the Decatur City Commission in 2013, winning special election to fill a vacancy created by Floyd’s resignation.

“I have watched the campaign for the commission seats with interest and concern,” Floyd wrote. “The team of John Ridley and Eric Tumperi are running on the same negative and divisive platform. There is nothing positive in their comments or positions. The most disturbing thing is their attempt to divide this community by driving a wedge between the schools and the city. They have chosen to ignore the positive strides that the city commission and the school board have made over the last few years in coming together toward a common goal. We now have a joint public works facility and the Beacon Municipal Complex contains the Police Department, Active Living Department and the CSD Administrative Offices. Because of the joint effort of the school board and the city commission both the police and the school’s administrative personnel have facilities built to their needs that will be adequate for years to come.”

Floyd told Decaturish he sent the email to “friends of mine” and, “I was simply letting people know my feelings.”

“I feel strongly about every election that comes up in Decatur and this one, particularly about the bond vote, I think that’s critical and the email I sent had some information about my opinion about that,” Floyd said. “This election is a little more contested and a little more political than most Decatur elections are, so I think that drew my interest also.”

Decaturish reached out to the candidates for a response. Tumperi said it’s, “Sad to see that Mr. Floyd and Mr. Baskett feel a need to use such strong arm and negative tactics to try to influence a local municipality election.”

Ridley sent the following statement in response to Floyd’s email:

Many of you have read or heard about the disparaging comments made towards me by former Commissioner Bill Floyd and soon to be former Commissioner Jim Baskett.  Following this statement is the email being circulated by Commissioner Jim Baskett on behalf of ex Commissioner Bill Floyd who resigned because of a financial conflict of interest. It does not surprise me that Bill Floyd supports my opponent, as he is the paid lobbyist (Pendleton Group) for developers who recruited Tony Powers to run against me and has participated in fund raising efforts to defeat me. As an influence peddler, Mr. Floyd wants to see people elected to office that will be beholden to and servants of the special interests that employ him. It does surprise me that he would use his position as an ex commissioner to make such hurtful and untruthful remarks about me that my offering new, innovative, positive, and cost effective policy options was somehow divisive. It also surprises me that soon to be ex commissioner Jim Basket would sign this email with his ceremonial title as Mayor when by law he has no executive or administrative authority and cannot legally speak as Mayor on behalf of the City Commission without a legal and formal passage of support for a resolution from the City Commission. By his own definition of his ceremonial role on the City Commission his use of the ceremonial title is not lawfully authorized and inappropriate.

I have lived in Decatur for thirty years and this community is of the utmost importance to me.  I have served publicly as both a neighborhood association president and as a Decatur City Commissioner. The current city commission and staff has repeatedly acted in a disrespectful manner towards the school system. My intention is to give the school system the support it needs. I have nothing to gain personally by running for Decatur City Commissioner at Large, my only motivation is doing what is best for Decatur. It is time to put our children’s interest ahead of special interest. Mr. Floyd and his sidekick Mr. Baskett apparently have very different agendas.

I am not the only one who has noticed the issues that our city faces. Every day I receive calls and emails from citizens who are concerned about issues like school overcrowding, traffic congestion, and reckless development of high density apartment complexes. These issues have been repeatedly raised at City Schools of Decatur board meetings and Decatur City Commission meetings. The current city commissioners and staff have ignored many of these concerns, and has responded to these issues by misrepresenting my views and the views of other citizens as divisive. This is the type of dirty politics that discourages many good people from participating in our political system.

The City of Decatur belongs to all of us. We deserve to have our voices heard and we deserve a city government that is responsive to our needs. Let’s work together to find solutions to get our students out of trailers, get on a road to addressing our current and upcoming challenges, and stop this silly talk that discussing differing ideas is somehow divisive.

I encourage everyone to look at the facts and the public record to see who is really making decisions that are detrimental to our city. Look to our current Decatur City Commission and our members of the Decatur Planning Commission which is chaired by my opponent, Tony Powers. If you like trailers, if you like the irresponsible high density development in downtown, if you like the lack of appropriate land use planning and zoning, our lack of effort to insure pedestrian safety, and our lack of greenspace – look no further than to those who have brought this mess to Decatur. I say it’s time for a change. It’s time for new leadership. It’s time for an elected Mayor for Decatur. It’s time for a new partnership with the City Schools of Decatur. We are better than this mess and we can – together – make Decatur an even better place today and in the future.

John Ridley

Here is the full text of Floyd’s email:

From: “Jim Baskett” <jbaskett@bellsouth.net>

I got this message from former mayor Bill Floyd. It is well written and I wanted to share it with you. 

The upcoming election will be important for many reasons.

I have watched the campaign for the commission seats with interest and concern. The team of John Ridley and Eric Tumperi are running on the same negative and divisive platform. There is nothing positive in their comments or positions. The most disturbing thing is their attempt to divide this community by driving a wedge between the schools and the city. They have chosen to ignore the positive strides that the city commission and the school board have made over the last few years in coming together toward a common goal. We now have a joint public works facility and the Beacon Municipal Complex contains the Police Department, Active Living Department and the CSD Administrative Offices. Because of the joint effort of the school board and the city commission both the police and the school’s administrative personnel have facilities built to their needs that will be adequate for years to come.

The conversation about annexation has been intense over the last few years and has involved not just the city commission and the school board but the community as a whole. It is important that we continue that discussion together.

We should not allow Mr Ridley and Mr Tumperi to divide this community. They seem to believe that with the school bond issue on the ballot they might gain some support by dividing the community. I don’t know if that tactic will work but I can promise if we allow them to succeed by making us think that we have to choose between our city or schools, in the long run we will all suffer.

So I am asking you to join me in voting for Scott Drake, Tony Powers and Brian Smith, all of whom have played a big part in building the positive image people have of our community and our schools at home and around the state. They have our best interest at heart and are willing to listen and learn. So I urge your support for these candidates who will work with you to continue to move our community forward:

Scott Drake (incumbent)  City Commission District 1

Tony Powers   City Commission At Large

Brian Smith   City Commission  District 2

We have come a long way over the last 20 years, but there is more to do. Let’s continue to do the hard work of moving our city forward…. Together!!!!


Bill Floyd

Please feel free to share this with your friends if you like.

Jim Baskett

Mayor, City of Decatur

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Please explain

    As someone who has tried to pay attention, including attending a few forums, it’s news to me that Tumperi and Ridley are a team. They seem very different as candidates. What evidence is there that they are an official or unofficial team?

  • Suzanne Miller

    They are not a team from my understanding. Look around Decatur, and you will see lots of yards with Tumperi and Powers signs. I have always respected and admired Mayor Floyd, but I’ve also paid a lot of attention to this campaign and don’t see Tumperi as a divider or separator at all. In fact I see him as just the opposite.

    • Please explain

      So now I’m a little upset with Mayor Floyd who I LOVED as a real down-to-earth community mayor who was a “secret reader” at Clairemont Elementary. It’s fine to be for one candidate and not for another but not so fine to suggest two candidates are in collusion if they are not. Feels purposefully divisive. A little like the 2003-2004 divisiveness over which north side school got closed. Every once in a while I get a teeny glimpse below the surface of the upbeat Decatur community mantra. Hope I can put my head back in the sand soon.

      • Andrew

        My take is that the Mayor was using the term “team” in the general sense, in that both candidates are touting a similar Schools Uber Alles message and both have suggested in various ways that the policies that led to Decatur’s downtown renaissance now constitute some sort of problem that needs to be fixed. It’s essentially an attack on something the Mayor and many others invested many years in accomplishing so it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’d disagree and take offense.

        • Ken

          I disagree that “team” was used inadvertently – it’s blatantly intended to create an association between the two candidates in voters minds that “if I’m not voting for both, I shouldn’t vote for either”. Pure political gaming that’s both dishonest and disrespectful to the candidates and the city.

          I don’t hear the message of “Schools Uber Alles” so much as “Schools…it’s time to pay attention to those too”. Many of us in the community see the current application of development policies to be unbalanced in favor of unmanaged development and willfully ignorant of the needs of our school system and the impact of rapid growth on the city in the coming years. Those concerns have been raised publicly for a number of years without being heard. That’s an indictment of the people making and implementing the policies, so I can see how he’d take offense too.

          • Bo Meyer

            I wouldn’t blame him at all if he takes offense at anyone suggesting it was, or is, the Commission’s fault that our schools are overcrowded. Talk about “concerns raised publicly” – were you here 10 years ago to hear the “declining enrollment” nonsense forecast by the BOE and Superintendent? He’s probably sick and tired of the city being blamed for their colossal screw up.

          • Ken

            No, I wasn’t around then, but from my understanding, Decatur was just getting traction on improvements to the school system, so “declining enrollment” doesn’t seem too far fetched. It sounds like the BOE, Superintendent, and the City Commission failed to work together then too. My concern is that 3(ish) years ago when the schools were putting forth real data of growth, and suggesting plans for the DeVry campus and other options, it was the Commission who didn’t act. Ditto for when lots of red flags went up regarding condos and apartments (400+ new, relatively inexpensive residences with an opportunity to get into great schools) and were simply dismissed with “families with kids won’t move into those, they’re too small”.

          • Bo

            It was unbelievably far fetched, and community members brighter than me provided substantial data to that effect. The response from the BOE was a condescending “there’s more to this than counting strollers”. The Decatur birth rate and generational turnover, plus the national trend of urban residents committing to and investing in public schools has been obvious for 10 years, not 3. The apartments have had almost no effect on enrollment thus far except for a few residency “cheaters”.

            Having dealt with this Superintendent and previous BOE, I feel confident the lack of cooperation was mostly on the CSD end. I’m glad the candidate who lists among their supporters two of the architects (or their spouses) of our school crisis lost.

            I know Tony, and his literally life-long commitment to our schools, and know well several members of the “new” BOE. I’m confident that with a new Superintendent and the departure of the worst member (ok second worst) of the former incompetent BOE, (finally) things will improve dramatically.

      • Bo Meyer

        Dishonestly blaming the City Commission for our school overcrowding problems is what’s purposefully divisive, and is probably what has Bill so upset. If you were here in 2003-2004 you know it was the BOE and Superintendent, not the City Commission, that created the mess we’ve had to deal with ever since.

  • Rob

    The fact the Ridley has no local contributions to his campaign tells you all you need to know about how the community feels about him.

  • Hans

    Ridley’s comments about Decatur’s debt illuminate how poorly he understands municipal finance. His comments on the schools shows how little he understands intergovernmental relationships. Glad to see Mr. Floyd taking a stand. I agree.

    • Please explain

      Do you also think that Tumperi and Ridley are a team? Mayor Floyd is the only one who I’ve heard articulate that. My sense is that the Powers/Ridley race is very different in personalities and issues than the Tumperi/Scott/Breedlove race.

      • Hans

        No. I have fewer concerns about Mr. Tumperi than Mr. Ridley, though his comments on parking in downtown were misguided. I accept that he may have meant otherwise in context, though.

        ‘Team’ does seem to be a weirdly specific term to use when no such relationship appears to exist. If I were Mr. Tumperi, I would fight being linked in that manner.

      • Doug Denton

        Ridley and Tumperi are not a team, however after finally reading Tumperi’s Decaturish “meet the candidate” Q&A, I now understand what prompted Bill Floyd to write his appeal to the Old Decatur crowd. Both candidates appear to be open minded with fresh ideals, unbridled by
        special interests, and will hit the ground running (if elected). Good luck to all candidates!

  • G Buck

    With respect to Mayor Floyd, who I admire, I think he misses the point. People who want to change the status quo, and there are many, may vote for Ridley and Tumperi. Being targeted by one of the founders of the status quo might only emphasize their case that something in Decatur needs to change. In other words – if you don’t like the old ways, the architect of the old ways isn’t likely to change your mind.
    (Disclosure, I’m probably voting Powers and Drake.)

    • Andrew

      That’s true, but there’s a nuance. Part of Decatur’s success has been rooted in city efforts that buck the status quo, especially in terms of growth policy, street design, pedestrian friendly infrastructure, etc. Decatur adopted those goals as policy and stuck by them during a time when essentially no one was doing anything even remotely on par. So coming out against some of those policies may buck local leadership in a maverick sort of way but, in practice, it represents a return to the kind of conventional suburban growth policies we’ve worked years from which to differentiate ourselves.

      In other words, “status quo” is a relative term.

    • Bo Meyer

      Something in Decatur needed to change 10 years ago, and it wasn’t the City Commission. Former BOE members who are supporting Eric helped create the overcrowding situation we have today…a situation people new to Decatur or short on memory are being encouraged to blame on the city government.

  • “Vote for my buddies!” says grumpy, out-of-touch old man. This bullshit is exactly why I ran.

    • Steve Vogel

      “Bill Floyd is an asshole”. Now, that’s a nice, positive remark that’s fitting of a wannabe City Commissioner. “this is city leadership at its finest”

      • Don Rigger

        Better yet, go to Mr. Johnson’s website where you will learn next to nothing about why you should vote for him.

      • I call it how I see it, Steve. Also, glad to see from the comments above that you know something about being a “wannabe” commissioner.

    • Bubba Bignutzzz

      Hahahahha, that’s a mature post. If you hate all that Bill Floyd and and his “dynasty tree” have done to make this city the great city that it is then why don’t you move to Tucker. You’re an idiot.

      • Clever, coming from someone named “Bignutzzz.” You sure you live in Decatur? We don’t have a Cracker Barrel or Golden Corral here. But maybe Bill Floyd can change that for you.

        • Why don’t you use your real name, big boy? That way I can make fun of you personally, and then take your wife out for a nice steak dinner.

          • Zawn Villines

            Seriously? Threatening someone’s family? What a disgusting comment to make.

  • Bo Meyer

    The problem with this argument is that our school overcrowding has nothing to do with the city government. It was the former (mostly) school board and superintendent, not the city commission, that made such terrible decisions based on faulty data, as so many parents told them. Our overcrowding issues have been a long time coming, way before any apartments were built.

    I’m far from thrilled with some of the Commission’s decisions, but the candidates that are blaming them for our school issues are misguided, and their accusatory tone is troubling.

  • Lindsay

    I’m really surprised by the vehement condemnation of Mr. Trumperi. I haven’t found him to be negative or divisive. Rather, I feel that he has acknowledged concerns that I have had regarding cooperation between the school board and city commissioners. Running this city isn’t a one man show and we need both bodies to work together to keep our city as wonderful as it already is. I have to say, I emailed Scott Drake about my concerns a while ago. He told me he’d get back to me and never did. That kind of nonchalance is exactly the issue that I have and I don’t feel that I’m alone on that. Giving a voice to those concerns is not the same as running a negative campaign.

    As far as Mr. Ridley, I have personally seen and heard some of his negative campaigning. Mr. Ridley seems to offer criticism with no solution. That’s not what I want in terms of representation.

    However, I think it’s misinformed and reckless to refer to Mr. Ridley and Mr. Trumper as if they were working together when there is absolutely no basis on fact for this proposition.

  • Doug Denton

    That would be 1997*, Bill…the last time a City of Decatur Commission race was truly “contested” and “political”, at least by your definition. Remember? At the midnight hour you courted “Steve” Vogel to run against one John P. Ridley. You gave it your best shot, but fell short. As evidenced by your public email, you and Mr. Baskett, et al, are once again running a Ridley smear campaign. What differentiates your 2015 “political” strategy from 1997 is your platoons readiness. You annointed a well positioned candidate to court segments of Decatur communities. How’s that for “divisiveness”? In addition, you are using specious arguments to discredit candidate(s).

    Voters, and human beings in general, do have the power of discernment, Bill. Please grant them the wisdom to choose a candidate based on their personal beliefs, life experiences, and visions for community…if you disagree. Given the content of your letter, it seems you don’t have faith in people’s ability to make an intellectual decision at the ballot box. Secondly, last time I checked the governing body of the City of Decatur Commission, it was comprised of 5 publicly elected oficials. Understand? Does bringing diverse opinions, outside of your realm of knowledge or inherent rigidity, to the table constitute “divisiveness” and lack of “positive” input? Based on your “watching” and written observations, it seems you consider Mr. Ridley and Mr. Tumerin on par with anarchists. Sheriff Floyd, on November 3rd you and your posse may once again be able to rule over the Administrative branch of the City of Decatur, unencumbered by public interests.

    Bill, please recall once upon a time, that George Fox and members of the Quaker community, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Jesus Christ possessed opinions once considered dangerous and deviant to mainstream society, during their life-times. While I am not comparing the aforementioned enlightened visionaries with Mr. Ridley or Mr. Tumerin, my intent is to underscore that there’s a fine line between the disdain you are showing for freedom of speech and healthy public dialogue, and those who threw members of the world’s relighions into dungeons, publicly humiliated with stonings and whips, and public executions.

    Yours in Democracy,
    Doug Denton

    *While I cannot take credit for John Ridley’s 1997 campaign victory, I was honored
    to serve as his campaign manager.

    • Bo Meyer

      Whoa. “You annointed a well positioned candidate to court segments of Decatur communities”.

      To what segments of Decatur communities are you referring? I hope you mean parents.

    • Steve Vogel

      Baskett had nothing to do with me running the last time. Mr Ridley won by fewer than 70 votes against me as a write-in, in which I received more votes than any such candidate in the memory of DeKalb County.

  • Judd

    This is sad and embarrassing for both Baskett and Floyd. I’ve followed Tumperi’s campaign and have seen nothing negative. Apparently what “divisive” means is posing a challenge to the in-crowd that is used to running the city. But the electorate is shifting around them, and the response is not pretty. Confirmation, if you needed another one, that it’s time for a change.

  • Peripatetian

    Which Bill Floyd wrote this note and what was the motivation? A former mayor sincerely concerned about the future of the city? A current member of the Downtown Development Authority (serving with Scott Drake’s brother) concerned that some candidates might question that group’s eagerness to promote development by recommending variances and exceptions to city ordinances? Or a consultant for The Pendleton Group (a company that says it helps developers by “expediting permits, redirecting local opposition and reducing delays”) concerned about effects on his business? The former mayor cut short his own service because he anticipated conflicts of interest from his new job and left the consequences of the initiatives he promoted to be dealt with by others.

    Claiming that those two candidates are a team is only the first of several misleading statements. The two candidates are clearly not a team nor are their platforms necessarily negative and divisive – unless it’s considered negative and divisive simply to suggest that Decatur might want to look at the effects of the choices it’s made. As far as I can tell, every candidate running is interested in having the schools and the city work more closely with each other. Does the former mayor really equate occupying office spaces in the same building as equivalent to having had a close working relationship?

    Is the former mayor’s skin’s so thin it’s pricked by the slightest expression of doubt about the Decatur growth strategy he helped establish? It must be frustrating to realize he has to rely on the current mayor and a commissioner to get his views out. (Commissioner Boykin also forwarded the email.) I also have to wonder: If the two surrogates who forwarded this embarrassing attempt to influence the election feel so strongly, why didn’t they have the courage to make the criticisms themselves?

    To our former mayor, our current mayor and the commissioner who forwarded the email: Do you really believe that commissioners with different perspectives will be unable reach decisions that are good for the city? Can you not admit that we might have more than one well-qualified candidate running for a position? Do you find it that hard to trust the citizens to make their own decisions?

  • I’d like to remind everyone to be polite, please.

  • Bo Meyer

    Huh. My comments are disappearing. I’ll try one more time…

    letter was a mistake, but I it’s important to remember, or to learn if
    you weren’t here, that our school overcrowding issues have very little
    to do with anything the city commission did under his leadership. The
    former (mostly) school board and superintendent
    that made such terrible decisions based on faulty data are responsible
    for our school overcrowding. Granted, the poor performance of Dekalb Co
    and city of Atlanta schools exacerbated the problem, but our issues came
    long before any infill development, apartments, or talk of annexation.
    It probably gets under Bill’s skin to suggest otherwise. Lay the “blame”
    where it belongs.

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