Delegation Meets With Key Players Missing

A number of legislators and one cityhood group cite prior commitments as discussion of new cities continues.

Tucker 2014's Frank Auman speaks to legislators about cityhood efforts.
Tucker 2014's Frank Auman speaks to legislators about cityhood efforts.
Updated 3:30 p.m.: This story has been updated to clarify Rep. Mike Jacobs' appearance at the Merry Hills Neighborhood Association last night. And his comments also appear below the story.

The DeKalb Legislative Delegation scheduled a public hearing Wednesday night with two challenges:

  • Fitting in comments from the interim CEO, the school superintendent and school board chairman, cityhood groups and the public.
  • Holding a hearing after the Legislature is already in session and the issue of cityhood very much up in the air.
The result? The comments lasted for 2 1/2 hours. However, a large number of legislators did not hear them as they had prior commitments. One legislator and one cityhood group split their time between the hearing and another long-scheduled meeting with the Merry Hills Neighborhood Association.

And one cityhood group did not show up at all.

"We learned late Monday evening about this meeting, via email newsletters from our respective representatives," Lakeside City Alliance's Mary Kay Woodworth emailed Patch before the meeting. "We were not contacted by either the House or Senate chairs of the DeKalb Delegation regarding the meeting, nor asked to make a presentation. We have a previously scheduled community meeting at Beth Jacob Synagogue (at the request of the neighborhood), so LCA will not be making a presentation at the DeKalb meeting."

The neighborhood association invited LCA and the City of Briarcliff Initiative to their meeting Wednesday night. Some Briarcliff board members stayed briefly at the county hearing before heading to the Merry Hills meeting.

The delegation scheduled the public hearing after the Jan. 9 "DeKalb Day" meeting at the Capitol, in which all three cityhood groups -- Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker -- made their case for their cityhood plans. Stonecrest, which pulled back on its plans for this year after a feasibility study found it not financially viable, also made a presentation that day to the legislators.

Some cityhood leaders were visibly miffed by changes in the format at Wednesday's county hearing. The original schedule for the meeting called for a 15-minute presentation followed by people speaking in support or against the cityhood proposals. That 15 minutes was trimmed to five. COBI board member Don Broussard also was concerned that audio-visual was not provided and told the legislators that he could not show everything he wanted them to see.

State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who is sponsoring a bill supporting Lakeside cityhood, spoke briefly on behalf of LCA, saying they had made a full presentation Jan. 9 and had a "prior commitment." He said the group wasn't "ducking a meeting."

Millar told the audience that Lakeside and Tucker representatives had met as recently as Wednesday. As he recently told another legislative gathering, Millar said earlier efforts to form a "megacity" of 90,000 combining Lakeside and Tucker did not work out.

He told the audience that there is no final map or final version of his bill at this stage, "but I do anticipate it will go forward."

State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who left the hearing to attend the Merry Hills meeting, told that audience that the Lakeside bill is the most likely to move forward. An earlier version of this article misstated what he said.

In comments appearing below, Rep. Jacobs wrote: "What I actually said was that Lakeside is most likely to move forward, not that it is the most "viable" in other uses of that term. It is a near certainty that Senator Millar will get the Lakeside bill out of the Senate, and then the House will have to address the proposal. I don't see how the other proposals have a path forward as of right now, but that could change. My apologies for cross-posting an article from another publication, but the Brookhaven Reporter pretty much captures what I said at Beth Jacob last night: http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2014/01/23/fate-proposed-new-dekalb-cities-unclear/. As an aside, I was at Beth Jacob because I represented Merry Hills for 8 years and they requested that I speak on the subject. I did tell MMO (Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver), their current rep, that I would be doing this speaking engagement. "

Tucker 2014's Frank Auman spoke at the county hearing about the history of Tucker and why the community should become a city.

A number of residents spoke up against cityhood or against specific aspects of the proposals. A number of speakers said the rush to cityhood was moving too fast.

Check back with Patch later Thursday for more of what they said, along with comments from interim CEO Lee May and schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond.

Tom Doolittle January 24, 2014 at 01:51 PM
BTW--on designing their own cities--the cityhood advocacy groups would do themselves a huge favor to run, not walk--away from their legislators. At that point they would clearly establish they are what is known as "getting ahead of their supposed constituents".
Frannie D. January 24, 2014 at 02:32 PM
Todd, exactly my concern. Rep. Jacobs, you say that you are not supporting Lakeside or any initiative specifically, and are driven to keep your Toco/Merry Hills constituency together. Since Briarcliff is a) a more financially sound plan with more economic potential, and b) keeps your constituents together--is there a reason you aren't championing COBI as the solution? If we are truly "represented" and not being sold out, why would Lakeside remain "most likely" if the benefit to the people has been proven to not be as good? It looks fishy from here. But I'll grant there may be more to the story than we civilians are aware of. To give the benefit of the doubt, can you please help allay these concerns?
TruthWillSetYouFree January 24, 2014 at 03:54 PM
This whole thing just got fishy. Jacobs says he is looking out for some people he used to represent. RWF posts his rumor, Frannie/Todd make great points and Jacobs does not seem to be responding to posts anymore. Hopefully its because he is real busy but a continued lack of response would seem to point to some dirty dealing going on. If RWF is correct we now have two politicians that don't represent us making decisions on our community. This is exactly why I am hesitant to support creating more government.
Longerthanu January 24, 2014 at 05:14 PM
Has anyone picked up a phone and called Rep. Jacobs?
Dawn Forman January 24, 2014 at 08:42 PM
We moved to Decatur in July of 2007. I learned of the Cityhood movements this fall. I attended my first meeting on Dec. 20 with a COBI meeting, because the articles and information group leaders have given seem to be the same information regurgitated. Being in both the Lakeside and COBI Cityhood movements, many of the neighbors know little, so if talks were going on since the Aug. of 2008, I haven't heard of them before the fall of this year. Another thing to make one go HUMMM!
Dawn Forman January 24, 2014 at 08:49 PM
Rhea, I'm not anti-cityhood. I've asked questions and do not get the details that I am looking for. When I look into Brookhaven and Dunwoody, they do not appear to the be the utopia that those pushing Cityhood want people to believe. What is wrong with wanting to know exactly who funded the $30,000 study or at the very least, the amounts given? What is wrong with asking what fees each group proposes to add to the citizens living in the proposed cities? Why is it wrong to want to know if the cityhood movements plan to farm services out or have city employees? To me these are questions any informed citizen would want to know. The more I research Brookhaven and Dunwoody and get resistance from cityhood people, or am literally corned by cityhood people because I do not agree with their point of view. The more this average citizen is turned off.
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 08:43 AM
Frannie D.: Welcome to my world. Now add on the fact that we can't even get an article like this one posted on the Tucker Patch at all, and I get daily threats for simply trying to ask questions about reasonable concerns.... we all need to step back and look for the strategy behind this chaos. Clearly, grass roots efforts don't leave citizens miffed about the purpose of public input meetings. And Republican Senators and Representatives don't normally spend this much time trying to help small factions in their districts create MORE government when most Republicans I know say that their party supports limited and scaled back government. And I have been noticing the fact that the real problems that concern residents here are not being addressed or even acknowledged by anyone, except perhaps Lee May and Michael Thurmond. This whole idea of controlling the zoning so we can "attract" more business is really bothering me. What they are trying to say is that they want our area to push out existing businesses (except perhaps in a few areas that have available space, most of our commercial areas are pretty well occupied right now). What will that do for us? It will attract more people. Do we really want MORE people living all around us? How will that be good for anyone? It will be more crowded, worse traffic congestion (just like Dunwoody's exits on 285 on any weekday morning), longer lines at the grocery, more kids being crowded into our already overcrowded schools, more crime.... I'm really having trouble seeing the benefits of any city or recalling what exactly it was that people were saying made them want a city in the first place. The guy who supposedly requested a city bill from Sen. Millar lives in Tucker, I believe. He wanted a city, but wanted it to be Lakeside because he wanted to keep the school zone together. Thurmond has already reassured him that there are no changes on the horizon for a change to school zones. And Livsey is not at risk of closing at the moment. So, why are we still seeing a push for Lakeside (and subsequently Briarcliff and Tucker)? That person, by the way, is the owner of a political robo-call/marketing company that has used questionable tactics on behalf of politicians who run negative campaign ads. He might be a nice guy, but he is still closely connected to the polticians, even ran against Jacobs. Mary Kay, lobbyist. Now Fran Aumen, former politician for Smoke Rise (which does care about zip codes enough to get theirs changed to say "Smoke Rise," not Tucker.). Several others involved with parents council and school system ... all politicians on their way up or down the existing ladder. Where are the real people? Certainly not on the ground floor of any of these discussions as far as I can tell. Put aside some of the hard feelings for once and try to understand... I am just a resident who doesn't want her own community to be harmed... I'm not someone you need to be so concerned about because I have said many times that I have no desire to run for office and I have nothing to gain for my involvement. I am simply trying to get the truth out of people who have asked us for money and told us they are acting in good faith, but won't disclose their plans or what they know. And they don't answer questions or really consider any public input. It's not a fair process. It is rigged, in my opinion. We will all end up paying more for what we have now, or maybe even get something worse. Did you read how much the franchise fees can add up to? How many small businesses will have to move out because they can't afford the tax hikes they will get? There is so much lacking in terms of information .... I really cannot believe that this is the route to something better.
Longerthanu January 25, 2014 at 09:46 AM
For all the conspiracy theorists who got their panties Ina bunch over rwf's rumor, there's a very different accounting over at the Decatur Patch: http://decatur.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/delegation-meets-with-key-players-missing-decatur
Tom Doolittle January 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Conspiracy theorizing as a form of speculation and prediction is interesting and fun, as I've intimated in the past. Here's a bit of prophesy I wrote just after LCA was formed and COBI was three months away. Feb 25, 2013: "What will be interesting (and gratifying to me) will be when one civic group comes into conflict with another and forces the state government to make an arbitrary choice or mediate a negotiation between those parties." northdruidhills.patch.com/groups/tom-doolittles-blog/p/bp--legislatures-war-on-home-rule-local-control (BTW--this was not a slam on cityhood or LCA, it was a slam on the legislature's new habit of bypassing county governments with poorly thought-out laws)
Frannie D. January 25, 2014 at 11:24 AM
An honest and straightforward politician will have an answer to this simple question. We've seen each of them chime in immediately to defend themselves for the public record here on Patch. Several of us are asking Rep Jacobs to defend why, based on his stated goals, he is not supporting the more financially beneficial plan for all our behalf- and his constituents in Toco too. For the public record. ..not on a personal phone call. A reasonable request. I still grant there could be factors we may not understand fully, so this is a positive opportunity to inform us.
Longerthanu January 25, 2014 at 11:38 AM
That wasn't aimed at you, Frannie D.
Longerthanu January 25, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Then call Jacobs and ask him to respond here. More straightforward than complaining that he doesn't follow every post here. Maybe he just hasn't checked back in. Hell, we don't know.
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 01:04 PM
When you don't give the public enough information to satisfy them on any particular issue, you leave them no other alternative than to speculate.
Longerthanu January 25, 2014 at 01:45 PM
Yes, you do have an alternative. You can ASK. Maybe they didn't anticipate or expect your particular question. Ever watched a news conference?
Tom Doolittle January 25, 2014 at 03:28 PM
In a news conference, the speaker answers all questions, even with a "no comment" or "next question" or "we'll get back with you on that." These are answers that at the very least convey ignorance--real information in its own right. BTW--Mike has responded on this post so he receives a notice every time someone posts a comment--don't we all? For a public servant to ignore those notices would require a particular (if not peculiar) sense of limited responsibility. This no doubt is the reason most elected officials don't engage on blogs in the first place, except to perhaps write an opinion piece. It's a trait of an inexperienced politician to engage--see the mayor of young Brookhaven--a neophyte and moronic.
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Fran Millar does not have any territory in Toco. He barely has any that can be considered Tucker, but just enough to include his key bill requesting buddy Steve Schultz of Rosetta Stone, "Smearovision" fame.
Longerthanu January 25, 2014 at 05:59 PM
Ignore, Tom? Or just otherwise engaged and not checking/reading email on a weekend? How does any of us know which it is?
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Longer: I have done far more than "watch" a news conference.
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 08:49 PM
Okay, I'll ask again. Who exactly should I ask? A monogram, a Smoke Rise homeowner association member who won't return calls or emails, a stealth-like politician who appeared out of nowhere just in time for photo-op season, a cell tower employee for the company that probably has a hit out on me (just kidding, he is actually pretty nice, but doesn't have answers), or a daycare volunteer who has lived here for 6-7 years, who is married to a SPLOST school builder who apparently lived in Savannah a couple years ago, or their next door neighbor, or their other next door neighbor (all of whom are in the Lakeside annexation plan and have a variety of inappropriate relationships going on with LCA before, during and after this city stuff started. Several of whom have already told me outright lies, so I cannot really trust anything that they say anyway. Take your pick. I've been through them all.
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 08:52 PM
Or, my gerrymandered representatives who haven't even acknowledged that they are aware that I am now in their district?
Longerthanu January 25, 2014 at 08:53 PM
You're asking all the wrong people, Cheryl. You need to cultivate a less obvious source.
Cheryl Miller January 25, 2014 at 08:55 PM
(Acknowledged - meaning returning my emails or calls on the subject, even if just to say, "But don't you want the right to vote on incorporation?" or "Shouldn't everyone welcome a study of the area?"
Rhea A Johnson Jr January 25, 2014 at 09:05 PM
Cheryl....Women like you are the reason us guys go fishing with no bait and no hook.....but we love you anyway!
Roberto January 26, 2014 at 09:25 AM
Observations --- 1.-99.9% of the cityhood posts on the Patch are opinion related and provide no objective information for the general public related to the issues.----2.- 90% of the posts are replies of a personal nature to a previous post.------3.-I can't wait to vote NO.
Rhea A Johnson Jr January 26, 2014 at 09:54 AM
Roberto....See my posts on "Hearing Aftermath" for some REAL facts on City-hood!
Cheryl Miller January 27, 2014 at 06:45 PM
Winding Woods/Midvale ... I just have to make a comment about the false assertions at the beginning of the comments. There is a board member on Tucker 2014 who lives in Winding Woods, so I highly doubt that they have collectively determined in some manner that they now want to be part of Lakeside. Also, Winding Woods in a neighborhood just off LaVista. Midvale is an entire section of Tucker, surrounding an elementary school, including a road named Midvale and it contains many, many of our most devoted residents and nice homes. There are many residents in this entire area who are completely offended that Lakeside would want to include them in a City of Lakeside. Many of them grew up here and attended Tucker High School. This is a high school rivalry, after all, since Lakeside is a school. And, regarding the petition .... yes, we have heard about that one, too, and straight from someone who lives in the area that the "Friends of Lakeside" tried to convince that they should sign. The person attempting to get signatures was telling people that if they signed, they might get a chance to vote on whether or not the city would be approved. If they did not sign, they would have no voice and their neighbors might be able to decide for them. They were saying that the only bill to go forward would be Lakeside and therefore, signing was the only way to have any hope of being heard at all. Sneaky.
Cheryl Miller January 27, 2014 at 06:49 PM
Longer: I am just an ordinary resident. So, who am I supposed to ask if it is not the people who have stepped up to say that they are working on a city proposal or those who are already named as the ones who should be representing us?? This stuff should be transparent! How can anyone claim that they don't like the operations of DeKalb County government and support something like this instead? I find it to be very offensive and highly suspicious.
Longerthanu January 27, 2014 at 07:30 PM
Cher, no you're not an "ordinary citizen." You are a S*** stirrer. YOU asked that Tucker cityhood be considered. Now, you're pretending otherwise because nobody followed your imaginary script. Stop pretending nobody asked for this, when YOU asked for it. Do I need to post the link to your blog post?
Todd Chester January 27, 2014 at 10:49 PM
Longer, it is apparent that Cheryl is upset that she was not asked to be a part of the Tucker Cityhood movement. After seeing the Cheryl commentary on the Patch during the last 10 months, and the hate that she spews towards people she admittedly has never met, or had significant conversations with, I can understand why the powers that be would neglect to involve her in any of the decision making....
Longerthanu January 28, 2014 at 09:27 AM
You're absolutely right Todd Chester.


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