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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An Embarrassment in the Georgia Senate

Georgia Senate Votes to Approve SB 270, 32-17

No surprise there, given how few of our Republican Senators are capable of thinking for themselves. Or who will place the interests of Georgia citizens above their own. Kudos to the three Republicans who voted against SB 270.

A recording of the entire 52 minute Senate debate is available, after the break.

March 2, 2014 - Edited to add - The video of the Senate afternoon session is now available, after the break.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

First and Ten on the Forty, and Briarcliff . . . PUNTS?

The City of Briarcliff Initiative Changes Its Map

With the General Assembly deep into its 2014 session, the City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) took a hard look at its options and opted to redraw its map. Perhaps in response to pressure from its legislative sponsor, Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D)  House District 82 (who also lives in Decatur), COBI chose to defer to the existing cities of Decatur, Avondale Estates and Clarkston and their supposed annexation plans, and redrew its southern border to totally avoid conflicting with those proposed areas.

Let's hope we no longer have to hear their tiresome refrain of 'Logical Borders.'

We should also question why COBI didn't also pull back its eastern border so as to avoid conflict with the proposed City of Tucker in the Northlake area. As that area has been a subject of contention for all these several months, where neither side demonstrated any true desire to compromise, this would have been a particularly positive gesture to its kin in Tucker.

In moving their proposed southern border to the north, COBI also removed considerable commercial and industrial properties from their map, which could seriously impact the expected financial situation, as studied in the Carl Vinson Institute feasibility study.

As posted in the blog, both Decatur and Clarkston have studied annexation options in various areas surrounding their respective cities.  Decatur's interest in growth goes back several years, and has typically targeted commercial areas immediately adjacent to the City's existing borders. They have also avoided any large scale annexation of adjacent residential areas, specifically due to the potential negative impact on the City's school system. Annexation efforts pursued by Decatur in 2007 and 2012 were unsuccessful, largely due to resistance from the targeted areas, internal differences within Decatur itself and/or the failure to realize legislative sponsorship.  Annexation has been a low and failing priority in Decatur in the past decade, so its difficult to believe that the situation has improved markedly just because of Briarcliff.

A new map, after the break.

Play It Again, Sam

The City of Decatur Proposed Annexations - 2007-8, 2012 & 2014

Once again, the City of Decatur is looking at annexing various areas surrounding the city. But this time, their interest in annexation is compounded by the proposed City of Briarcliff, which had proposed its city limits to include all of unincorporated DeKalb County north and east of the Cities of Decatur and Avondale Esates.

The City of Decatur, first established in 1822, has a long history of annexation, growing from the original 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile square centered on the main square. Decatur didn't take on the prototypical circular form for its city limits until 1900. Decatur continued to grow in at least 4 documented additional stages until 1937. There were additional annexations after that year, but are mysteriously undocumented by the City.

The Optimistic Cartographer

The City of Clarkston Proposed Annexations

Partially in response to the new incorporation proposals for the Cities of Tucker and Briarcliff, the City of Clarkston prepared a study, Annexation Study - Phase I and Phase II, of possible annexations of adjacent areas of unincorporated DeKalb County. This study was prepared and submitted to the Clarkston City Council in the summer of 2013. Its current status in the General Assembly is currently unknown as no bill as been submitted as of today. Clarkston's current representatives in the General Assembly are Rep. Karla Drenner (D), House District 85, and Sen. Steve Henson (D), Senate District 41.  Rep. Michele Henson (D), House District 86, may also play a role as the some of the proposed areas for annexation are in her district.

The study focuses on 5 separate areas surrounding Clarkston. All five areas are primarily industrial and commercial, chosen to increase the tax base for the city while minimizing the need for additional city services. The overall map included in the study is deceptive in its scope, as it includes significant residential areas not proposed for annexation and not a part of the financial study. In fact, other than an optimistic cartographer, there is no real suggestion anywhere in the study that these residential areas are under serious consideration for annexation at all.

Several areas in the map, including significant residential communities not seriously proposed for annexation, are included in the proposed city boundaries for both Tucker and Briarcliff.  While Clarkston may be a great town with a long and proud history, it does not have a particularly strong reputation locally and is therefore not a favorite of the adjacent communities, particularly those north and west of I-285 and north of US 78. There can be no reasonable hope or expectation that those areas would ever voluntarily choose to join with the City of Clarkston. Of particular interest in this regard are those neighborhoods off of McClendon Road, and south of Lawrenceville Highway, which include the Emory Northlake Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital, and the new John's Homestead Park enthusiastically adopted by the Tucker community. COBI has unfortunately chosen to redraw their map to totally disassociate themselves from those areas in the Clarkston annexation map, even those areas with no reasonable expectation of annexation. I suspect that the residents off of McClendon Road are sorely disappointed with this pusillanimous decision on COBI's part.

Maps of the proposed annexations, and the Annexation Study, follow after the break.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner

Quick Facts About the Star Spangled Banner

  • Made in Baltimore, Maryland, in July-August 1813 by flagmaker Mary Pickersgill
  • Commissioned by Major George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry
  • Original size: 30 feet by 42 feet
  • Current size: 30 feet by 34 feet
  • Fifteen stars and fifteen stripes (one star has been cut out)
  • Raised over Fort McHenry on the morning of September 14, 1814, to signal American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore; the sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner”
  • Preserved by the Armistead family as a memento of the battle
  • First loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in 1907; converted to permanent gift in 1912
  • On exhibit at the National Museum of American History since 1964
From the Encyclopedia Smithsonian, found here.

A hauntingly beautiful, and totally unique, rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, after the break.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The LCA Rapes the Tucker Community. Again.

The LCA Embarrasses Itself Once Again

The Lakeside City Alliance, through the despicable backroom dealings of St. Francis of Dunwoody in the Georgia State Senate, has spit in the face of the Tucker community with their most recent Bill, approved today in the State and Local Government Operations committee of the Georgia Senate.  While the Bill was fully expected to be briefly reviewed and approved in this committee, the LCA revised their map, once again, to rape Tucker of many of its long-standing neighborhoods. This in spite of the strong efforts of Tucker Together and Tucker 2014, and the passionate and unremitting voices of hundreds of Tucker residents.

The new Senate Bill 270 can be found here.

The new map for the City of Lakeside can be found, here. After several months of debate within the community, the arrogant and overconfident LCA chose to expand their map to include new additional areas well beyond the area studied in the CVI feasibility study, with a new population approaching 80,000 residents.

Following are all four versions of the Lakeside proposed map.

ETA: On February 26, 2014, at the vote for SB 270 on the Senate floor, St. Francis of Dunwoody produced a FIFTH version of the proposed City of Lakeside map. Was not vetted by the Governmental Affairs Committee, was not released to the community prior to the Senate hearing, and was not even truly presented to the Senate itself as it was solely on a single printout that floated across the chamber.

ETA: Before the HGAC meeting on March 12, 2014, St. Francis of Dunwoody revealed that a new map had been agreed to between Tucker2014 and the LCA that split the contested areas between. This agreement would have supposedly led to Lakeside being approved by the General Assembly for 2014, and for Tucker to be approved in 2015. That proposal was tabled on a motion by Rep. John Meadows (R) Calhoun, who also is the powerful Chairman of the House Rules Committee. That new map is Lakeside No. 6!

ETA: St. Francis issued a new map for Lakeside and Tucker that changed the line in the Pleasantdale area. Sigh. This is getting old. Lakeside No. 7.

Are we going to see a Lakeside No. 8 during the Monday, March 17, HGAC meeting? Stay tuned for a St. Paddy's Day surprise!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Elephant in the Room

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 25, 2014

This article is reprinted from the AJC, January 25, 2014, addressing the issue of race and politics within the new cities in north Fulton and DeKalb Counties. A response to the AJC article from Oliver Porter follows.

New cities reignite debate over race
Updated: 10:01 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014  |  Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014


Advocates urging the Legislature to allow new cities in DeKalb County point to the success of those recently created in bringing government closer to the people and lowering taxes.

But one impact of new cities in metro Atlanta has gone largely unspoken: all have led to elected governments that are alost entirely white in counties where whites are no longer a majority.

The incorporation of new cities in metro Atlanta has had one impact that has gone largely unspoken: all have led to elected governments that are almost entirely white in counties where whites are no longer a majority. 
Almost a decade since Sandy Springs set the incorporation template, seven cities in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties have been created. Today, 45 of the 46 elected officials in those cities are white, the lone exception being a Hispanic councilman in Johns Creek who steps down next week.

And in the history of those cities, of the 66 people elected since their inception, just one was black, a councilwoman, also in Johns Creek.