Brookhaven Commission Holds First Meeting
A standing-room-only crowd met the group responsible for getting Brookhaven underway.
A standing-room-only crowd in the atrium at St. Martin's Episcopal School got their first look at the five-member Brookhaven Commission and learned about what they can, can't and want to do between now and Dec. 17, when the city of Brookhaven is officially born.
Chairman Ben Vinson led the meeting, although commissioners Kim Gokce and Jed Beardsley also contributed much to the discussion and every commissioner spoke at least once.
Vinson began by explaining the mission of the commission.
"Our job is to be interim, or the transition, government until the election occurs on November 6," he said. "Our jobs are similar to what the mayor and city council will do when they are elected, but ... the key difference is that we have no actual authority and we have no money."
"We're just volunteers trying to work as hard as we can to do the job that's laid out for us," Beardsley said.
The commission will put on seminars with the candidates and create a written report explaining the new city's four primary personnel - including a city manager, city clerk and city attorney, as well as space for a temporary or permanent City Hall and details of services the city can deliver and how.
Vinson has the power to create committees and put people on them, including one commissioner for each working committee. Candidates will not allowed to serve on committees, but may attend committee meetings as a citizen.
Bill Riley is serving as the commission's pro bono attorney, a position he has held for each new city's similar commission since Sandy Springs. He recently helped Peachtree Corners transition to cityhood.
Gokce is putting together a commission website as well as Facebook and Twitter presences, plus there is the possibility of a centralized commission email address, all in the name of informing people about future meetings and other news. Note that any emails sent to that address would become part of public record.
In fact, Gokce also urged attendees to read the documents on the About section of the website regarding the codes the commissioners must abide by when doing official business.
Beardsley proposed an idea for a contest among Brookhaven-area schools to design a potential new logo for the city. Each school - he counted 10 in the area, including private schools - would hold their own in-school contest, select a winner and then the commission would pick four or five finalists before the election. Then, the mayor and city council could pick a winner because the commission has no power to select a winner themselves.
"We're going to have a long-term city, that generation is what is going to build this city after us. Those are the people that are going to be the leaders after this and the best way you can make that happen is to get their interest and engagement now," said commissioner J.D. Clockadale.
The commission is thinking of perhaps finding a physical space to serve as offices, meeting places for the committees and places for citizens to meet commissioners. Beardsley acknowledged that they may need donations to help with the costs of a physical space because they have no budget.
Clockadale encouraged citizens to think about getting on the committees, volunteering as staff or getting involved if they are passionate about the cause.
There will be two types of committees: core functions and working committees with citizen co-chairs. Five working commitees are planned. Core functions committees will focus on figuring out how Brookhaven can provide services for the document the mayor and city council need in November. Candidate training will be handled by core function committees. Working committees will have specific tasks and deadlines.
More news about the formation of committees will come later.
The commission plans to hold regular weekly meetings every Thursday at 8 p.m. They will continue to be held at St. Martin's until further notice. The commissioners are attempting to select a centralized meeting spot for everyone in Brookhaven - and maybe somewhere with more room for more chairs.
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