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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Spat Over The City of Briarcliff Initiative

Over on the North Druid Hills - Briarcliff Patch, there is a nasty spat going on between our old friend RandyRand, LCA head Mary Kay and a spokesman for the City of Briarcliff Initiative, Herman Lorenz. (You can find their conversation here.) I know Herman to be a well spoken, upright and respectable gentleman, whereas RandyRand . . . well, a mutual friend claims he is a decent guy in real life, which is hard to believe given his irrational posting, but we all know how Internet anonymity allows all the crazy to come out.  Anyhow, the dispute revolves around the City of Briarcliff Initiative's origins, its puzzling relationship to its predecessor, and the old news City of Lavista Hills.  This was my attempt to weigh into the conversation, but the Patch's new commenting software has proven inadequate to my purposes.  So, here it is for all its worth.


Allow me to help resolve this spat over the Lavista Hills map.

1. Don Broussard and Rhea Johnson were a two man team who had been working towards their proposed City of Briarcliff for quite some time. Their group was known as the North Druid Hills Study Group.(There is a history behind their efforts of which I have very little knowledge.) At that time Herman Lorenz and company were merely interested bystanders.

2. On Sept. 12, 2012, the DeKalb County GIS Department produced a map titled 'Proposed City of North DeKalb.' (I have no immediate knowledge of who requested this map.) This map noted City Taxes as being: General Millage - 5 mils; County Public Schools - 2 mils; and Commuter Tax - 1% of W-2 up to $100,000. The estimated population was noted at 130,000.
 3. Around this same time frame Kevin Levitas (now on the LCA board) first started his efforts towards incorporating a city in this area. His blog, titled 'North DeKalb Cityhood Blog', first posted on November 13, 2012. (I understand that he and Don Broussard worked together for a short time before they had a falling out.) His blog does not include any map whatsoever.

4. On March 28, 2013, Sen. Jason Carter dropped his placeholder bill for the City of Lavista Hills at somebody's request or perhaps of his own volition. (Who knows?) There was no map attached to his Bill. As far as I know this was the first public mention of Lavista Hills
5. Herman Lorenz and company continued to be interested bystanders.

6. On April 11, 2013, the DeKalb County GIS Department produced a map titled 'Proposed City of Lavista Hills', which was essentially identical to the previous 'Proposed City of North DeKalb' except that it excluded the first map's sweep into southwest Tucker, included an Estimated Appraised Value line ($9,734,048,959), and changed the estimated population to 92,824. The proposed City Taxes were also revised as the General Millage rate went downward to 3 mil, and the Commuter Tax was renamed the Commuter Carbon Tax.
7. All during this same time period, Broussard and Johnson had their own map for the City of Briarcliff, also prepared by the DeKalb GIS Office, but in a different format from the Lavista Hills and North DeKalb maps.

8. On April 21, 2013, Rhea Johnson emailed this 'Proposed City of Lavista Hills' map to the City of Tucker Initiative blog. This map was forwarded unsolicited. At that time I was unfamiliar with either Rhea Johnson or Don Broussard, or their role in Briarcliff.

9. The map was promptly posted to the blog as it was the first iteration I had seen of the brand new City of Lavista Hills, which had first surfaced in Sen. Carter's bill, and was seemingly a THIRD proposal rivaling both Broussard's City of Briarcliff and Levitas' City of Lakeside. Permission was received from and credit was given to Rhea Johnson for providing the map

10. On April 22, 2013, Jonathan Cribbs of the North Druid Hills - Briarcliff Patch took the jpg version of the map first posted to The Tucker Initiative and reposted it to the Patch. RandyRand was quite vocal in his condemnation of the Lavista Hills map, presumably because of the tax proposals, but mainly because it was a credible threat to the LCA proposal.

11. A few hours later Don Broussard disavowed the map created by his associate Rhea Johnson, claiming the map was not authorized by his group because it included tax proposals that were not supportable. He further claimed that he had no knowledge of what map Sen. Carter was using for his City of Lavista Hills.

12. Not knowing what was going on, I removed the map from the City of Tucker Initiative blog and replaced it with my own version.  At that time I continued to mistakenly believe that there was a secret third group pursuing the City of Lavista Hills.

13. Still, during all this time, Herman Lorenz and company continued to be interested bystanders.

14. I know that Herman is sincere in stating the time frame behind the formation of City of Briarcliff Initiative. From what I've been told from an unimpeachable source, neither Don Broussard nor Rhea Johnson are formal members of COBI, regardless of their previous history regarding Briarcliff. COBI has its own map for the Proposed City of Briarcliff, which coincidentally matches the scope of the previous map for Lavista Hills.

15. So, COBI seems to be the successor advocacy group to Broussards North Druid Hills Study Group, and inherited much of their previous effort. However, they did not buy into the tax proposals of the early maps, and can rightfully claim no responsibility for them.  As the earlier North DeKalb and Lavista Hills city maps were almost certainly produced by Broussard and Johnson, and are the only maps with the controversial tax proposals, they are the only ones who can take credit for them.


  1. I hate to do it, but I'm about to impeach your "unimpeachable source." Don Broussard is listed on the COBI web site as a member of "Our Team."

    1. My source merely advised me that Don was not on the COBI Executive Committee. As far as I know, that is still true. But as we all know, that can easily change. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. The Briarcliff group has a leader aka interested bystander in Herman Lorenz. As an interested bystander Herman does not even know his cityhood maps origins or that these maps were created by Don Broussard and Co. who is listed as a board member of the Briarcliff group. Herman Lorenz sounds a lot like Sergeant Shultz’s from Hogan’s Hero’s, “He knows nothing, He sees nothing”. Perhaps Herman is simply a well spoken upright and respectable gentleman who is also the Briarcliff puppet leader! Does that sound about right?

  3. We agree on many things but does this tone reflect an upright and respectable gentleman? From the Patch, "Herman Lorenz June 26, 2013 at 10:42 am: A phenomenal performance by the people of Tucker to stop the rape of their parks and commercial space by Lakeside." Cityhood efforts are now Rape?