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Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Voice Urging Restraint

From an email sent out by Tom Doolittle (You can learn more about Tom here.)

Subject:  Legislation Surrounding Creation of Cities
Neighborhood leaders of groups are very important to this meeting (while not minimizing the input of individuals)
The meeting is only tangential to favoring cities in this area vs objecting to them. This is about whether the current legislated process is uniformly relevant to the entire state, is applicable to areas with no historical unity of purpose and follows current constitutional imperatives, such as home rule and the direct regulatory relationship between state and county governments. (Obviously, a person can be interested in state law without favoring or not favoring cityhood referendum results).
This meeting is very important to the entire state, not only North Metro counties that have been targeted for transitioning county services (power) to local groups (DeKalb and Fulton).
The current legislated process only works where there is a clear division between enabling state Republican legislators and Democrat-led county governments. That is the common denominator in Fulton and DeKalb and the reason there appears to be a "domino" effect of areas forming cities.
Evidence: There will be no cityhood movements beyond North Metro Counties. In county governments with Republican leadership. There will be very powerful pushback against any small local group attempting to form cities by petitioning Republican legislators. (Gwinnett's calculus is more complex in this regard).
The current situation in Druid-Toco-Briar-Tucker producing four separate stakeholder bills is obvious symptom of short-sighted, failing, local legislation that was designed for very specific communities (those of clearly established single-minded purpose and political persuasion . Brookhaven almost failed because of this limitation and will continue to be dogged by division as a city.
The Toco-Briarcliff-Tucker area then becomes a battleground and litmus test for the current process. The process is a "quick route" with no emphasis on proving that an established (historical) community exists with clear boundaries. The area has a 40-60 Republican/Democrat ratio south of Shallowford Road and a 60-40 Republican ratio along the Henderson Mill arc and Tucker. These areas are split between Democrat and Republican state leaders.
In short, this is not a clear Republican battleground, so it would be incumbent on the community to establish documented UNITY (as Sandy Springs and Dunwoody have over the past 40 years) very clearly before voting on cityhood. That would take any partisan issues out of the equation. That takes far more time than current legislation prescribes.
That's where responsible law-making has been missing. 
(1) Law must have a process which has a higher bar to cross for proving that communities are established (30% of electorate must sign petition before a placeholder bill can be filed--the placeholder bill becomes as rigorous a test as the referendum and a true step-wise procedure toward incorporation.
(2) Placeholder bill requirements would be "cleaned up"--obviously there are currently few rules.
(3) Placeholder bills would require more than one state representative and one senator in an area to file--the representatives must represent over 75% of an identified area 
(4) Law must work with counties, not rapidly formed community leadership groups--forcing the issue to be focused on transitioning services.
(5) Law would focus on counties, forcing them to form new cities (across the entire county) of agreed-upon boundaries over a longer period of time. 
(6) Counties that are providing "city-like" services inefficiently and not returning tax receipts to productive areas (generally over 500,000 people) would be subject to the law.
(7) The law would be combined with comprehensive land use plan legislation.
(8) Referendums would not be allowed at any time but general elections.
These laws would take into reduce or eliminate many of the "imperatives" in counties with State/County partisan (and race) splits. The laws would be much more uniformly applied and accepted accross the state honoring the intent of state laws over localized legislation.
Most importantly, new legislation is needed to set the bar as high as it should be for forming completely new taxing jurisdictions in areas with debatable unity of opinion.


  1. Tom
    Is this your idea of what the meeting should be like or the actual state purpose? I'm not being snide or anything, it's just that it seems different than what I understood it would be like. Certainly possible than I didn't realize this before. Thanks for posting either way.
    Marv Peck

    1. Tom's email was pulled from another location, which I understood was available for general distribution. I do not know if Tom frequents this blog.