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DeKalb County, Residents in 'Abusive Relationship'

The writer says a bill introduced by state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver "locks the doors on those neighborhoods ready to take the initiative of trying to find their way out of the abuse."

By Virginia DuPre

Within the professional circles that work with domestic violence, the definition of emotional abuse includes: making the abused feel crazy, playing mind games on the abused, controlling what the abused does--who they talk to/limiting involvement and access to others, making light of the abuse, not taking the concerns about the abuse seriously, saying the abuse is not happening, shifting responsibility from the abuser to the abused--blaming the abused for the wrongdoing.

DeKalb County is guilty of all of the above in its actions toward its citizens. House Bill 22 introduced by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver of Druid Hills illustrates and exacerbates the problem because it only locks the doors on those neighborhoods ready to take the initiative of trying to find their way out of the abuse.

In an abusive relationship, it takes a lot of courage, effort, and persistence to leave an abuser. Leaving takes a plan and it takes supporters from outside the family system who are willing to help provide safety for the victims and a way for them to get on their feet and support themselves. Very well intentioned people who want the best for the abused say, “stay...work it out...itʼs better for the family and the children to stay together.”

DeKalb residents need a pathway to get out from under their abusive county govt. Representative Oliverʼs bill does just the opposite. House Bill 22 locks the door on Dekalb residents who, after years of trying to make it work, now dare to take the risk and make the investment in trying to leave the county by incorporating themselves as a city.

Rather than addressing the problem of the abuser--DeKalbʼs dysfunctional government—this bill demands residents to stay and ʻwork it outʼ with their abuser. It locks the doors for a minimum of two years on any neighborhoods working on leaving the county by annexation or incorporation and it requires those who want to leave to get permission from the county before they leave. Getting permission from the abuser to leave is a very dangerous thing that can result in death in actual domestic violence situations.

The primary concern driving this bill, Iʼm sure, is concern about DeKalb County government losing tax dollars to the new cities. But this bill merely places protection around the corrupt govt and not behind the hard working, taxpaying citizens of DeKalb County. DeKalb governmentʼs loss of the tax dollars of the communities that want to leave is a consequence of its own misuse of power and the resulting lack of trust by her people. It is DeKalb Countyʼs elected officials problem to figure out, not the people who have been pummeled by this govt over and over again who want to organize and pay the cost of leaving the county.

Some would say this is a race issue. Certainly, generations of racism and classism play a part in where we are as a county now, but this is not ultimately about race or class. To boil it down to race is an attack on black individuals as well as black communities who are just as fed up with the corruption of DeKalb govt as other citizens. DeKalbʼs corruption and abuse is about a misuse of power and about corruption in the executive branch -- not about race or class.

People of Georgia, DeKalb residents need your help in getting a safe pathway to local independence. Hereʼs how you can help: please tell your representative to vote against House Bill 22. Dekalb residents, let Mary Margaret Oliver know that you want her to support any of her constituents who are ready to make the effort and pay the costs of freeing themselves of the abuse of the Dekalb County Govt .

DuPre is a resident of unincorporated DeKalb County.

L s February 03, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Very well written by an intelligent talented wordsmith. I don't know this writer but am impressed with this article.
Herman Lorenz February 03, 2013 at 02:14 PM
AMEN!!!!
Tom Doolittle February 04, 2013 at 04:20 AM
MMO's law is just bad legislation, whether you think it's sensible to form a city at any point in the future. If MMO takes aim at slowing down the process (really what its about), then the state should primarily regulate the counties' responsibilities dealing with petitiioning civic groups or organizing committees. The law should also mediate negotiations between the organizing committees and the county governments. What the state should NOT be doing is granting a mandate to nongovernmental organizations. That arrangement should have already been challenged in the courts. Legislation in other states normally sets conditions whereby counties and new city interests are not adversaries. Then again, the legislatures in those states don't have the stark racial divides that exist in Dekalb and Fulton to deal with, nor are they motivated so clearly to decapitate black governments. Without that baggage, it frees the legislature to map out and mandate the divisions of responsibilities between county and city, the timeframe for accomplishing such a division and define a "map of cities" for a whole county, not just a domino effect. All that would be required for this would be tinkering with home rule...and this legislature has shown itself more than willing to tinker.
Max Baerman February 04, 2013 at 08:36 PM
I would love to know how much money MMO makes from her lucratuive business as a court appointed Guardian for Dekalb County. It seems that Dekalb county has something big to hold over her head. What persentage of this business goes to otehr firms? Ever been bid out?
Joe Albert February 05, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Good thoughts....but unless you know what HR 22 is, and even if you do, it takes quite a bit of time to understand what the writer is talking about. As a former journalist, I'll share -- unless you have an "engaging" lead paragraph designed to get your attention, your topic should be 100% clear by the 2nd paragraph. Good thoughts, but I hope the writers and readers will accept this minor correction in good spirit.

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