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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kevin Levitas Tries To Keep It Up - Even MORE Sophomoric Ranting! (Sigh . . .)

Kevin Levitas Just Can't Stop Digging That Hole of His

On his personal blog, ex-Representative, ex-Democrat, and ex-LCA-co-chair Kevin Levitas continues to expound upon his epic failure to pass the LCA sponsored Lakeside incorporation bill in this past legislative session, and persists in blaming everyone but himself. In this particular article he is focusing on Tucker's proposed map, and what he seems to think was the motivation behind its proposed border. He couldn't be more wrong. 

I am reposting his article here, in its entirety, as a service to the Tucker community. My personal response follows.

Perusing his blog, I have three suggestions for Mr. Levitas:
1.  Man up and grow a pair!
2. Get some help on your graphics. (All images below are from his blog article. Don't blame me.)
3. Keep trying! As we all know 'Practice Makes Perfect!'

Enjoy the repartee, after the break!


Kevin Levitas
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ever-Shifting Sands of Tucker2014...2015...

The tortuous path that has led the Tucker "cityhood" groups on its quixotic quest to occupy Northlake has been remarkable.

Initially, the Tucker groups put forth the argument that Tucker was defined by something called a Census Designated Place (CDP), which is defined as "a concentration of population identified by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes." Yep, that's what a CDP is: a statistic. Not a city, not a town, just a statistic. 

Then came the problems. First, one of chief spokespeople for the Tucker group as well as all the people in the Smokerise Community (including a DeKalb County commissioner) were outside of the CDP and, according to the groups' territorial claim, outside of the Tucker community.

Second problem: the CDP does not include any territory inside I-285, dispelling the already specious claim of the group that Northlake is somehow part of Tucker.

So then came the zip code argument, my personal favorite. Tucker is entitled to Northlake, the rationale goes, because there are "Tucker" zip codes in the area.

By this logic, Northlake Mall, with its "Atlanta" zip code, should belong to Mayor Reed & Co., and the city of Decatur might be surprised to learn that the Oak Grove United Methodist Church, located 5 miles from its northernmost city border is nonetheless part of that city. And the aforementioned commissioner and Tucker spokesperson? They reside in a Stone Mountain zip code and, thus, the city of Stone Mountain.


Take a look below at how much the proposed city of Tucker falls in zip codes with names of other cities. [Note: the map on the right is an older version of the Tucker map, but almost all of the areas depicted remain part of its proposed boundaries]:

Using the Tucker zip code as a boundary-defining line, Tucker's latest map includes the road that runs right along the Briarlake Baptist Church, the site of tomorrow's Northlake Community Alliance meeting. I wonder if area residents will be surprised at the meeting tomorrow to learn that if they look out a window, at the adjacent side street, they will--in Tucker's eyes anyway--be looking at Tucker property. 


Using the Tucker zip code as a boundary-defining line, Tucker's latest map includes the road that runs right along the Briarlake Baptist Church, the site of tomorrow's Northlake Community Alliance meeting. I wonder if area residents will be surprised at the meeting tomorrow to learn that if they look out a window, at the adjacent side street, they will--in Tucker's eyes anyway--be looking at Tucker property. 


Response from The City of Tucker Initiative

Mr. Levitas

Given your role in the incorporation movement this past year, and your previous life as the area’s representative, it’s remarkable just how little you understand Tucker, its motivation as a community, and its reaction as a community to your efforts on behalf of Lakeside.  This missive alone is particularly revealing of that ignorance as it is remarkably deficient in demonstrable facts while filled with outright disinformation. 

You suggest that several Tucker groups argued that Tucker was defined by its CDP. This is a total fabrication as no formal Tucker group EVER made use of the CDP as the primary geographical narrative of the community. In fact numerous Tucker supporters routinely derided the use of the CDP as the sole device to be used in creating a Tucker map, and where numerous residents in the area expressed their long held belief that they, too, were a part of Tucker despite their being outside of the CDP limits. In fact, it would be more accurate to state that almost all of Tucker would agree with you that the CDP is simply a Census Bureau fabrication defined for its use in statistical analysis. (FYI - A CDP is a delineated geographical area, NOT a statistic.)

A simple glance at the Tucker map posted in your article is sufficient to demonstrate the consistency of the Tucker case as it is the FIRST map produced by a recognized Tucker group, and was the ONLY map used by the Tucker groups until close to the end of the legislative session. Compare that to the seven iterations of the Lakeside map. Consistency and communication are not the LCA’s strong suit. I suppose you would also like us to discount the simple fact that the Census Bureau was so dismissive of the concept of a ‘Lakeside’ community that they never bothered to create a CDP in your area.

So, both of the problems you reference simply never came to pass. Another example of the LCA penchant for fallacious arguments. The TCA is a Tucker BASED community and business organization, welcoming all who care about Tucker and Tucker’s future. And you should know as well as anyone that Smoke Rise was, is and always will be an integral part of the Tucker Community as its residents are regular and active participants in and supporters of all Tucker events and organizations.

Your Zip Code argument is equally specious. As with the CDP, no formally recognized Tucker organization has ever used Zip Codes to define the community, no Tucker organization has produced a City of Tucker map based on Zip Codes, and all in Tucker agree that Zip Codes are irrelevant in its case for incorporation. While there may be valid arguments with regard to whom Northlake ‘belongs’ to, Tucker organizations do not base their arguments on the 30084 ZIP Code but more in the fact that the Northlake business community has joined with the Tucker business community in the Tucker-Northlake Community Improvement District, in its firm commitment to the future success of Northlake and the CID and in its belief that the commercial district should not be split in two.

Ultimately, it seems you have forgotten the support you gave the Tucker community back in 2006-7 as it took its first hard look at the pros and cons of incorporation, where the maps used for discussion routinely included the Pleasantdale and Evansdale School districts, the Smoke Rise Community and the Northlake business district, all areas well beyond the CDP. Very much the same map being offered today. No complaints from you then and undeserving of your specious argument now.

And before you get all hot-and-bothered to defend your intellectually-dishonest arguments, I will concede that, Yes, there have been voices from Tucker that have cited both the CDP and Zip Codes as justification for the ‘proper’ Tucker border. These arguments, largely if not solely from our renowned Village Idiot, are no justification for the legitimacy of your argument, as her positions were isolated, often contradictory and were valid only in the vast vacuum of her own vapid intellect.  Even then, her comments were typically targeted AGAINST the official Tucker incorporation groups and were only echoed by a few mindless minions. She does not speak for Tucker and has little if any real support in the Tucker community. But it would seem that by the example posted here you certainly seem eager to join her on her Ship of Fools. Have fun with that.

Oops, indeed.


  1. ". . . valid only in the vast vacuum of her own vapid intellect."

    LOL! Looks like someone finally learned how to use a thesarus!

  2. I'm glad Mr. Levitas and Mr. Cityoftuckerinitiative brought up mapmaking. While Mr. Levitas does seem confused about things, I will also say that Mr. Initiative (if I may call you that) got a bit carried away in his eagerness to defend Tucker and ridicule Lakeside and is not completely honest about things himself.

    So, mapmaking. It still remains a mystery as to why no formal Tucker group (Tucker Together or Tucker 2014) ever revealed who made the map. While many Tucker supporters enjoy pointing out Lakeside's faults and penchant for secrecy, there was very little concern for who made Tucker's map and why. Mr. Initiative's other favorite punching bag raised questions as did a few others but no formal Tucker group, or its defenders such as Mr. Initiative, ever felt the need to be transparent about the map's creation. The semi-confirmed rumors have always been that a certain gluttonous county commissioner and her portly assistant played a major role behind the scenes in pushing certain areas to be included in both maps for Lakeside and Tucker. In fact, it has been speculated that the the stout sidekick is THE mapmaker for Tucker. It is strange why no formal Tucker group will honestly answer these questions. However, their silence speaks volumes.

    The study from 7 or 8 years ago did concentrate on Tucker's CDP. It also said that to be financially viable Tucker would need Northlake. Since the push for Tucker cityhood began last year, the formal Tucker groups have ALWAYS wanted ALL of Northlake. As time went on and they refused to budge, some Tucker supporters expressed a desire for Tucker 2014 to compromise with Briarcliff or Lakeside in order to get a bill passed. And while T2014 reiterated throughout almost the entire process that they would not give up on anything or anyone, they eventually Tucker did compromise with Lakeside with the 30084 zip code as a boundary. So the justification that Tucker based its claim to Northlake on a recently approved CID expansion cannot be taken as seriously as Mr. Initiative wants it to be, since the formal Tucker groups have ALWAYS wanted Northlake.

    While Mr. Initiative seems adamant about asserting that Tucker is an organic entity oblivious to CDPs, zip codes or roads, the truth is all those are factors in what makes Tucker, like it or not. Even more important than all that is money. Yes, we know Tucker is supposed to be all about the people, but $$$ talks. All that retail and office and industrial in Doraville looked good to Tucker. So does everything at Northlake, so much so that T2014 was willing to leave behind 30084 residents in the Northlake area so long as the new city got its loot. And then we all know what Tucker thinks of the Stone Mountain CID: JACKPOT!!! T2014 won't show up to a CID meeting but it sure will take that tax money. T2014 wants all of that money so bad they are willing to go right up to Stone Mountain city limits and take in a bunch of high-crime apartment complexes just so they get every last dollar. Well, almost every dollar since they have left out a few businesses in the CID south of Ponce. But that is oversight is expected since no one from formal Tucker, or anywheresville Tucker, tends to visit that far corner of their future city. That may seem like a good strategy now, but let's revisit it in a few years when Tucker is forced to create its own police department. I can see it now. The Tucker Town Talk crowd will be livid that their tax money doesn't give them proactive patrols but instead subsidizes coverage for all the apartments off Juliette, Pleasantdale and maybe even Brockett, seeing as how that corridor is up for grabs again now that Clarkston's overture was rejected.

    1. There is no mystery about the first formal Tucker map as your cited rumors were essentially correct. (The real mystery is WHY you are so mystified by it all.) The insinuation behind your tone that there was something sinister behind the map is complete nonsense. For whatever personal reasons they may have had for not being formally identified, the leadership of Tucker Together was generally known to most active Tucker residents, and were, and still, a rather insular group. These same folks have a close relationship with Elaine Boyer, their elected County Commissioner, and with her senior assistant, Bob Lundsten. (And Gary, your insults directed their way are truly unnecessary in this forum.) Her office was a quick and easy way to access DeKalb County's GIS group, through which they could get all the maps they wanted, for free.( I even prevailed upon Mr. Lundsten to get have a map made through GIS to my specifications, at no cost to me.) So, the ONLY scenario I can envision is quite innocent, if you know, as I do, just how illiterate almost all the folks in TT or T14 are when it comes to making maps. Someone (who knows, who cares) with TT, (T14 didn't exist yet) contacted Lundsten about making a map for Tucker, with, I'm sure, some rather vague instructions about how far to go with it. Something like - ". . . Main Street Tucker, including Smoke Rise, up to Doraville, down to East Ponce, and make sure you include Northlake." And that would be it! Bob, of course, being a clever guy, might have given the GIS office a few more thoughts on what to include. Then everything else was left up to the GIS mapmaking technician. And that would be it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Once the map was received from DeKalb GIS through Bob's efforts, there was little if no effort to tweak it further as it was 'Good Enough' for their purposes. Tucker 2014 inherited the map, without change. And why should it change as it was still 'Good Enough' for THEIR purposes. I personally had several conversations with folks in the know regarding the map, arguing for changes I thought were appropriate, but with little effect. This was because 1) they weren't interested in the details in the map, 2) they were universally unprepared to debate the map and 3) simply didn't understand my issues. I consistently argued against going north of I-85, leaving that area for Doraville, and against the Juliette Road apartment complexes, as being a community totally divorced from Tucker and more akin to Stone Mountain. Again, no one was interested. Their silence on the issue comes from their not really knowing who to fully credit, as it was a group effort, and due to the decision to present themselves as a unified group without specific leadership. And, as you should note, the folks leading Tucker Together stepped away as soon as it was warranted. If they are still active today in the incorporation movement, it is only to use their considerable influence behind the scenes, which is how it should be. But, ultimately, Gary, the real question is why should it make any difference, to you or anyone else, as to who or how or why the Tucker map was drawn the way it was? Why should anyone care? It is what it is and it served its purpose. That should be good enough for you.

      (to be continued.)

    2. (Part 2)
      The study from 2006-7 STARTED with the Tucker CDP, as it was a convenient and useful tool to INITIATE the discussion. We could have started with the 30084 zip code, or a 1-mile radius circle, it didn't matter. Our informal map started with the Tucker CDP in one color, and the adjacent areas - Smoke Rise, East Ponce, Northlake and Embry Hill-Pleasantdale in a lighter shade, which was intended to advertise to those areas that WE were not making any grand assumptions about including them in the Tucker map, and were seeking their input and support, the decision to be ultimately left up to them. And we got their support. Public meetings were held in all 5 areas and, universally, the response was either Highly Interested or Fully Supportive. No significant negative response. This fact was made clear in our final summation to the TCA executive committee. So, as opposed to Lakeside and Briarcliff both, an incorporation group in Tucker (albeit from 7 years ago) did go through the process of discussing the options with and within the adjacent communities, and their inclusion in a future City of Tucker became a given. And our map from 2007 served as a basis for today's map. For all I know, that map was given to the GIS office as their guide.

      The Georgia Tech study from 2006 was a STUDENT initiated term paper, nothing more, nothing less, and their final product was not vetted by the incorporation committee, it was not approved by the incorporation committee, and was not based on any directive from the incorporation committee. To give it any viability is simply inappropriate. (I, in fact, begged that the report not be released at all, as it was seriously compromised in scope, assumptions and detail.) Their map was an amalgam of the CDP and the 30084 zip code, a choice they made on their own. Ultimately, their conclusions were two sided, as population data came from information available through the Census Bureau (the CDP) and potential revenue data came from the 30084 zip code area, as that was the most expedient way to harvest the tax data from the huge database made available by DeKalb County. And, as with most folks who try to cite the Georgia Tech study as being relevant to today's discussion, you are incorrect in what you think it said. You stated that the report said " . . . to be financially viable Tucker would need Northlake." The exact quote from the study is: ". . . inclusion (of Northlake) into the boundaries will lessen the need for residential taxes." The statement by itself makes little sense and it simply DOES NOT state that Northlake is necessary for Tucker's viability, just that it would beneficial. As we all already knew.

      (to be continued)

    3. No formal Tucker group has ever argued the specifics on why the Northlake should be included in Tucker; they have simply acted on that grand assumption without further explanation. (The various pundits who argue for Tucker, me included, do NOT speak for the Tucker groups and represent no one but themselves .) And why shouldn't they claim all of Northlake and refuse any offhand deal to compromise on Northlake? That is simply not in Tucker's or Northlake's best interest. It is logical to keep Northlake under one umbrella, and their unequivocal stance was, and remains, a powerful negotiating tactic. I have never understood how Tucker's claim to all of Northlake should be regarded as a huge negative or a shameful position. It makes perfect sense, and is little different than the positions taken by both LCA and COBI. In a dispute facing an eventual compromise, it is silly to give away the store before necessary and before getting something in return. In the final compromise with Lakeside, Tucker gave up Northlake Mall (big deal) and got Henderson Park and Midvale in return (BIG DEAL!). Though both groups were disappointed in the final compromise (which indicates a fair deal) I think Tucker got what was most important to it, and the LCA got a dying mall. If it was up to me, I'd do it again.

      You are right in that I routinely argue that Tucker's boundaries should be 'oblivious' to CDP's, zip codes and roads, because that is the most intelligent and logical approach. None have a profound bearing on what should define a community; they are all merely vague contributors to that identity. And I DO like it, as I like to think that I factor in EVERYTHING. And of course money is an important issue in this discussion, it is important to ALL the incorporation groups, as it is important to all the existing cities. To claim otherwise is silly, and to throw it about as a criticism is nonsensical. Including the Stone Mountain CID, like Northlake, simply makes good sense. It separates Main Street Tucker from Smoke Rise such that all three should go hand-in-hand-in-hand. My early maps, and a map I would advocate today, do not include the Juliette Road apartment complexes, and DO include the commercial property on the south side of Ponce. As I stated earlier, the T14 folks are map illiterates and are handicapped by the DeKalb GIS standard procedures, which produces maps based ONLY on Census Blocks, and will not work around individual parcels.

      Rreally, Gary, if you were drawing the lines for Tucker, if you were in a position to promote Tucker, to hopefully guarantee its future success, how would YOU do it? Would you omit Northlake, the Stone Mountain CID, the commercial area along I-85, Henderson Park simply to be NICE? What nonsense. If you did so, you would be on a fool's errand, and some other idiot would be criticizing you for your decisions. The entire argument you've stated here is specious, nonsensical, illogical, emotional, and cannot be supported by facts on the ground. And in almost every case where you might have a legitimate point, the argument applies equally well to ALL the incorporation groups.

    4. Sorry, Mr. Initiative, I'm not buying your soft sell excuses. The mystery for most people remains because not once has T2014 or TT stated who drew the map, even when asked about it in public forums. The reason is obvious. Tucker has always styled itself as more of a caring and grassroots effort than Lakeside, so the fact that a -- now disgraced -- county commissioner and her -- now disgraced -- aide drew Tucker's map would shatter the illusion that formal Tucker groups were listening to the public and actually representing their wishes in the choices they made. Instead, while crying about Lakeside's land grabs, Tucker made land grabs of their own by taking parts of unincorporated Doraville and Stone Mountain. They have no qualms about it and you only shame yourself by trying to cover for them by wanting us to think they don't know what they are doing in regards to including areas that ARE NOT Tucker. Bob Lundsten's smears and name-calling against Dunwoody lead me to believe he included the never-before-thought-of-as-Tucker areas off Brockett and Juliette to satisfy his own personal beliefs about racial equity and equality. Oh, and I only followed your lead with the insults, so spare me your rebukes about what I call your buddies. You can write whatever you want up top, but since you don't follow your own rules when it comes to people like Fran Millar, Kevin Levitas and Cheryl Miller, I see no reason to do the same, wise guy.

      I really expect better than "it is what it is" from you. Someone who seems to pride himself on thoughtful and clear reasoning is strangely wiling to settle for Tucker being shackled with crime-heavy areas that ARE NOT Tucker. But, whatever, right? So long as we get a city, huh? It's all good. Isn't that another appropriate saying? Formal Tucker are just a bunch of map illiterates and Lundsten's such a clever guy. Things just happen, I guess.

      Northlake would be so beneficial for Tucker to the point that it could exist. Tell GSU to take Northlake out of the study and see what the results are. You spent two paragraphs clarifying a point that doesn't mean anything because it side-steps the truth. Plus, you ignored the fact I brought up that you used something that occurred after-the-fact -- the Tucker/Northlake CID merger-- to justify Tucker's past desire for Northlake. Then in your latest response you directly contradicted your own earlier assertion that Tucker organizations have actually made arguments for Northlake to be in Tucker. Now you are saying that no formal Tucker group has ever made that argument.

      And why should Tucker refuse any deal on Northlake? Gee, I don't know? Maybe to actually get a cityhood bill passed. They came to that conclusion with Lakeside, and they will have to come to that conclusion again next year, whether it be with Lakeside or Briarcliff. This isn't some top-secret, complex negotiation to be settled. Fine, Tucker includes all of Northlake in its map. So do the other two cities. I get it. But quit the game-playing when it comes to what has to happen to get a bill passed. T2014 repeatedly said they would not compromise. Until they did. So that jig is up. At least Briarcliff was honest about what had to happen. Lakeside's still here. So is Fran Millar and Mike Jacobs. And who will sponsor the Tucker bill? But, no, we should follow your advice and play hardball over Northlake. Genius!

    5. Tucker can be more the CDPs, zip codes and roads but those are all parts of it. They factor into both the starting point and its boundaries. The Lakeside/Tucker compromise bears that out. Money is why Tucker is content with their land grabs. Tucker was going to leave 30084 residents in Northlake behind so long as they got their money, despite the fact that people brought it to their attention. Tucker is willing to take on high-crime apartments because there's more money nearby. Tucker got publicly humiliated when it was made known that they didn't attend a CID meeting at which they were invited. They also made no efforts to consult with an organization whose members were going to help fund their new city.

      I would not omit Northlake. I would do what I always thought had to be done -- and what Tucker eventually did -- and make a compromise with the zip code as a boundary. I would leave out everything south of 78 except for the 30084 neighborhoods off Idlewood. Let Stone Mountain have the CID south of 78 along with Juliette. Doraville can have everything on their side of 85. Basically I would use the Tucker/Lakeside compromise minus the south of 78 CID and Juliette. And it's not nonsense. It almost came to fruition last session but someone apparently threw a fit. But it's still likely to happen again.

  3. Tucker just wants to suck the money out of Northlake to spend on the minuscule Main Street that is Tucker's only asset.