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Holcomb: Current Cityhood Process Not the Best Approach

The District 81 state representative believes communities such as Lakeside should come together with other areas to discuss their concerns before incorporating.

State Rep. Scott Holcomb said he'll abide by his constituents' wishes if communities in the North Druid Hills and Briarcliff communities want to form their own cities, but he believes the current path to cityhood is flawed.

"We need to bring those communities that want their own cities together and find some common ground," Holcomb said Monday during a town hall meeting in Brookhaven. "The ad hoc approach that we've been pursuing is not the best approach."

Holcomb represents District 81, which includes much of the North Druid Hills and Briarcliff communities.

Holcomb acknowledged several communities in his district are exploring municipalization.

"But communities have to realize they are not getting a divorce from DeKalb County," he said. "I live in the Northlake area, and Brookhaven's cityhood affected me but we didn't get to have a voice in that decision."

On another topic, Holcomb said he is optimistic a federal judge will validate the Georgia law allowing Gov. Nathan Deal to suspend members of the DeKalb County school board.

"But we're still looking at a process that, best case, will take at least two months to sort out," he said.

Earlier in the day, Deal announced that he is signing an executive order that accepts the State Board of Education's recommendation that six DeKalb school board members be removed.

However, in a legal move late Friday afternoon, the school board filed an emergency motion in federal court, hoping to stop the governor from taking any action.

Over the weekend, a federal judge issued a restraining order that prevents the suspension of six DeKalb school board officials by Gov. Nathan Deal. The order does not prevent Deal from suspending the school board members, but does prohibit their actual suspension until a hearing is convened on Friday.

"I'm sympathetic to the fact that it's difficult to remove officials who have been duly elected," Holcomb said. "But when you allow people to remain in office who have failed - and this board has failed - against the greater good of the community, it's not a hard decision.

"I have not heard anyone advocating that this board should be given more time."

See Also:

Lakeside Cityhood?

Gov. Deal Suspends Six DeKalb School Board Members

Judge Grants Restraining Order Against Suspension of DeKalb School Board

School Board Files Emergency Motion Motion to Stop Possible Suspension

Replay Patch's Live Coverage of the State Board of Education Hearing With the DeKalb School Board

Don Broussard February 26, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Rep. Scott Holcomb said he will follow the wishes of his constituents and that is a pretty clear and hopeful sign that he will take an active part in creating a city. So take a deep breath. The ad hoc approach (i.e. Brookhaven) is not the best approach. On the other hand, taking a couple of years to study dividing DeKalb into multiple small cities is not a good idea either because it would inevitably be dominated by the "status quo" forces in DeKalb County Government like new Chairman Lee May, CEO Burrell Ellis and whoever is running the Planning Department this month. BTW: DeKalb has had 7 planning directors in 10 years —and all but one have been political puppets. That is reason number one why we need a new city — and it's a clearer reason than ANYTHING said thus far by the Lakeside City Alliance PR machine.
RandyRand February 26, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Maybe Scott’s claim that the “current path to cityhood to is “flawed” is simply accurate commentary. What path would be absent of some major issues? Certainly the non path we have all been on is as or more flawed. So just like any worthwhile effort or in this case cityhood analysis you move forward because you cannot wait for everything to be perfect or non-flawed. There will always be competing options, issues, naysayers and antagonists, but progress and positive outcomes only occur when people move ahead dealing openly with it! Unless I hear otherwise, I will view Scott’s recent comment more from the perspective of “ hey my plate is full and I have to focus keep the commitments I have already made” . With momentum, most challenges will be small bumps in the road forward and maybe down the road Scott can offer his support.
JSchoenberg February 26, 2013 at 04:08 PM
I was at the meeting last night and Rep. Holcomb did not say he is opposed to cityhood. In fact, he said he wouldn't be opposed even to annexation and/or municipalization efforts that covered the entire county. His focus, though, was that he was in favor of a deliberative process that brought in the widest group of people who would be affected by any decision to incorporate. He pledged to help make the process as open as possible. He also said there's no reason to repeat the mistakes of other new cities where the process has been divisive and money has been wasted.
N.G. February 26, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Look folks, if residents were actually satisfied with the services the County was providing then you wouldn't have all these efforts toward cityhood. This isn't rocket science for god's sake. DeKalb County is broken as a form of government. Why would you want to force dissatisfied tax payers to work with incompetent and even corrupt officials?
Crash February 26, 2013 at 06:03 PM
In the mean time, Scott, can you propose a law that would allow ALL DeKalb county residents to vote on ALL DeKalb County School Board representatives, or should I ask someone else?
Enuff Govt Already February 26, 2013 at 08:10 PM
IMHO, Creating a city for every other block is not going to ultimately lower the cost of govt. The problems of the county will still exist and will still effect everyone. I went through some comment to the editor on The Crier newspaper which serves Dunwoody. "Mayor Mike Davis has become our new Vernon Jones...a complete failure when it comes to dealing with the citizens on local issues. "-Mr. Kelley, "perhaps it is time to cut our losses and beg the no-more-dysfunctional-than-Dunwoody’s DeKalb County government to take us back. Having added yet another layer of government has done nothing to mitigate the unbridled zoning expansion of apartment complexes and developers’ wish granting, traffic congestion or potholes,...creating a city so Dunwoody citizens would have better control has been a failure."-Ms Andre, "These guys are not good for our city and they need to go. So, to the growing drumbeat of voices calling for impeachment or recalls"-Mr Campbell The same problems pre-city are there post city and unltimately once the benefit of services provided by the economy of scale like public safety are gone all of our taxes will rise and our quality of life will fall. Brookhaven city council is just now having its first public spat over money and services," to cut or not to cut".
Tom Doolittle February 26, 2013 at 08:58 PM
J is correct--Rep. does not oppose city-making. He's concerned we're no toghether. Sally--the county never had to cut us up--we've been cut up in terms of policy interests and community associations since the original high school districts were formed. This community never took the time to establish an umbrella group and has relied on "software" (churches, soccer leagues, etc ) as meeting ground. Zoning groups? All divided. No overall alliances. Fact is, people have always used contraversy (crime) to get together. Affirmative visioning and positive action has never drawn people together. Your bogey is Sandy Springs and possibly Dunwoody for establishing civic coehesion. If you start now, you can get people together for a successful vote in ten years.
Tom Doolittle February 26, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Scott--when I saw the title to this article--I hoped you were just as concerned with the legislative process (or moreso) than the young informal organically morphing process taking place locally. As a legislator, I hope you'll use your considerable background to take a hard look at the arbitrary city-making law currently creating a domino effect in DeKalb and has ramifications all over Georgia (the true reason for a state legislature, not a North Atlanta region rule-making). As much as I like the folks starting the conversation here, that's truly as far as civic groups ought to be able to go without working with counties--and having the state mandate a cooperative process. The law creates an inappropriate (and possibly unconstitutionl if tested) "run around" the only legal subdivision of state government (the counties). The law requires a single entity (the Vinson) to study economic feasibility. One group lends itself to questions about political interference--and has not necessarily gone thru peer review. For instance, to make any statemanet about economic viability without future economic conditions, infrastructure needs and demographic projections and qualifiers is beyond irresponsible given the high stakes.
Sally February 26, 2013 at 11:09 PM
There is no way the process can avoid being divisive. This is democracy. It's messy.
Crash February 27, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Our major concern is the lack of integrity in the county schools. The school board representatives elected in South DeKalb have only been interested in serving their area and blocking any progress for the county as a whole. Since city hood won't allow the problem to be resolved, perhaps the county of "North DeKalb" can be formed, that way the county of North DeKalb can have its school system and the county of South DeKalb can have theirs. Either that or allow all school board commissioners to be elected by the county as a whole. Right?
Sally February 27, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Actually, I'm not so sure a new county would be allowed to start a school system either. I'm not fully versed on the state law but what I have heard is that there is a limit on the number of school systems the state can have. And apparently we are already at that limit. Don't take my word for it though. Whatever the law is, there is a movement underway to change it. I feel pretty sure it will be changed given the problems we've had in various places. But, it might not change this year. That said, this area putting itself in a position to better control this area will be one step closer to being able to do it when the state law gets changed.
Sally February 27, 2013 at 01:13 PM
I have gone to meetings of the Board. Believe me, everyone knows what going to happen once they are in that meeting. Those of us left in North Dekalb are never going to be able to influence those in control of the Board of Commissioners because the control lies in South Dekalb. I am sick of my tax dollars going south. Have you been there lately? Beautiful parks, nice sidewalks, an arts center. Who do you think paid for that? We did. While we are lucky to have a sidewalk that isn't crumbling, huge pot holes in the main roads and crime growing everyday. BTW, I was told that at the North Briarcliff Civic Association meeting where they talked about cityhood the presented something that showed that taxes would only rise by about $20. I assure you the NBCA is not in favor of cityhood, even though they claim to not have an opinion. I don't mind paying a little more in taxes if I see the benefit in my neighborhood. I don't think it automatically means our taxes will go up. Certainly not just to maintain the status quo.
Sally February 27, 2013 at 01:17 PM
I don't know if they had to or not. I just know that this area has no one person or group looking out for it that doesn't also have other alliances in other areas. And, has funding to make a difference. I believe if we did we would see a much nicer neighborhood. Scott Holcomb is an elected "leader" in this area. Maybe this article doesn't fully cover his comments. I would hope as a leader of the community he would come with some ideas on how to improve the neighborhood and keep it moving forward.
Tom Doolittle February 27, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Like forming a city too soon is a mistake, forming a city school system would be unnecessary once all of the choice schools and vouchers get into place. This area will have a choice school within reach of every neighborhood along the I-85/Lavista Corridor. Why go to the risk and expense of a new school system. God--the crap people are willing to go thru in a panic over bad press. Another thing. Lakeside cluster is discussing a charter cluster TONIGHT. These are all the flexible options that once advertised by the real estate and econ dev folks makes all of the fear mongering moot.
Tom Doolittle February 27, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Go to the Lakeside Media Center TONIGHT (6:00) and find out how a school system responds to adversity. ...and saves your freking property values.
Crash February 27, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Tom, Do you have a link you can share in order for me to receive the email you got about tonight's meeting at the Lakeside High Media Center @ 6 pm?
Tom Doolittle February 27, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Not a link--it was in the PTA newsletter. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~lakeside/pages/PTSA/newsletters/feb252013.html Lakeside Cluster Leadership Group Meeting Wednesday In light of everything going on in the DeKalb County School District, a group of parents in the Lakeside Cluster (Lakeside, Henderson Middle & the Elementary feeder schools) met recently to discuss what actions could be taken to best support the schools in our cluster as well as those in our county as a whole. The mission of this group is to work together to make sure the integrity of our schools are preserved and, ideally, enhanced. Parent and community leaders are invited to join this group from 6 - 7 p.m. this Wednesday, February 27th at Henderson Middle School in the Media Center for the initial meeting of the Lakeside Cluster Leadership Group. Some of the topics to be explored include the possibility of charter status, alternate accreditation, and reaching out to leaders in schools outside of our cluster. Any additional ideas and thoughts on how to support our schools will be welcome!
Crash February 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Wonderful. Thank you.
Tom Doolittle February 28, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Crash: I had to miss, so write anything down here that helps us know where things are going and what the issues discussed were. Obviously everyone in the area thinks property values are going down because SACS has a problem with stupid board members--or people, is it real education issues you're worried about--show us the data that all the buyers are concerned with. I suppose we need to know that the various clusters are jumping thru hoops to satisfy home sellers.
Crash February 28, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Sorry, no data, but some very interesting information. Lakeside is pursuing other venues of accreditation. It was reported that S.A.C.S. itself has two forms of accreditation, so the thought is that if we don't meet the criteria in one....try the other. Also, it may be possible to become accredited through the Georgia Accrediting Commission. (GAC). Research is being done on both avenues, however the Lakeside Cluster is seeking permission from the School Board, which may not grant it. Secondly, it was reported that there are A LOT of groups out there that are in essence, trying to do the same thing. There is a group called "Restore DeKalb", another called "ELPC", then, "Parents for DeKalb Schools", and "Concerned Citizens for a United DeKalb. The thoughts were expressed that it would be nice if we could figure out a way to email each group and keep in touch with them and share our progress, or lack thereof. Thirdly, and and arguably most interesting is that Julie McKenna of the "Concerned Citizens for a United DeKalb" stated that she attended a county wide meeting of involved citizens and School Board Members, and she reports that it was the School Board members who were fomenting the idea of two racially divided DeKalb's, one north, one south. She says that when the people were talking, everyone was complaining of the same thing, no books, no pay, etc. It seems that the school board members could be pitting the blacks against the whites in order to ensure their job.
Tom Doolittle February 28, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Thanks for attending--that's the kind of encouragement we need around here, rather than the panic and fearmongering. Anyway--somehow info like meeting notes and authors need posts on this website.
Sally February 28, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Why am I not surprised. Generally speaking, whenever an African American is held accountable they pull the race card.
Crash February 28, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Sally, You are proof that the South DeKalb Commissioner's are correct in their argument about North DeKalb. Way to go.
HamBurger February 28, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Here are some interesting thoughts regarding SACS . . . Mr. Elgart, why were you MIA for TEN years? http://tinyurl.com/d9b8g6s Want a special hamburger while you read?
Tom Doolittle February 28, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Hammy: I think you can "triangulate" the answer to that one. Ask yourself--what is the likelihood that the most prolific school certifier in the nation (first the SE) would be HQ in Decatur, GA? Damn I love this place (and this space).
Crash February 28, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Sally, I may have come down too hard on you. If I did, I apologize. Yes, the race card is played. Lord how I know that is true. What Ms. McKenna was saying though. and what I evidently failed to communicate is that it is the politicians who are playing the race card, and are fanning the flames of racism. A politician can pit "us" against "them" and have complete job security. The people will believe the politician and give up trying to accomplish anything themselves and turn the cause over to the politician who will continually argue that he/she is doing the best he/she can. I'm thinking of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, Race pimps. The story I heard was that everyone was in one place, comparing notes, realizing they had the same problems, and then a county commissioner got up and announced to everyone that what DeKalb has, is a race problem. We are letting the commissioners define us, define the problem, and our cause, and the politicians are doing a p**s poor job of it. There's not a thing any of us can do about the color of our skin or who are parents are, but we can be united in the cause of educating our children. The story I heard intimated that if the commissioners got out of the way, the people could discern the proper path. Just sayin.....
Sally March 01, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Appreciate the apology, but knee jerk reactions like that are the reason playing the race card still works. The South Dekalb commissioners are at the end of their rope and they are playing that card right now for all it's worth. Who do you think motivated the NAACP to descend on the Capital yesterday? Where have they been while all the children in Dekalb (children of ALL colors) have been robbed of the education they deserve? From what I could tell in the past month or so, alot of black parents have been voicing just as much concern about this situation as anyone. That was hopeful. And it still is. Now, they (meaning those about to lose their power, not the parents) are calling in all the "big dogs" of the race issue to stir up the masses. Hopefully those black parents who I've seen express concern will stand by their original concerns and not cave to the pressure. Children only get one chance at a quality education. It's not something easily redone down the road. So, while we have the outrageous sideshow going on, time is wasting for all the children currently in Dekalb County schools.
Cheryl Miller March 22, 2013 at 05:30 AM
What do you think the area is lacking Sally? When Scott Holcomb's own car was left unlocked and a 10-year old GPS was stolen, there were at least 20 officers who showed up at a meeting for the community to give them tips and information about how to prevent that from happening and to update everyone on what was being done. We were told to call 911 for anything even remotely suspicious or out of the ordinary... Even if it was just someone "wearing a funny hat." Do you need more protection?? From what?? PLUS, Lakeside City isn't saying there will be more police. They are saying "public safety." That could mean anything from crossing guards to speed traps to stop light cameras. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it and there will always be a cost associated with more government! Here's a link to recent crimes... http://www.crimemapping.com/map/ga/dekalbcounty The icons are extra large so zoom in to get a more accurate feel for the trouble or lack thereof, near you.
Cheryl Miller March 22, 2013 at 05:32 AM
I think he said he did not oppose it.
Cheryl Miller March 22, 2013 at 05:37 AM
Don, what will be the impact of cityhood on the businesses in a particular area? Will the local business owners be chased out due to their business taxes going up? We heard that's what happening and that puts more local residents out of work.

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