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How About A DefinitelyMaybeOrNot.biz Group?

A new entry into The Forum asks, who can we trust?


Though I appreciate and respect the spirit and energy of the pro-and-anti city of Brookhaven groups, this almost feels like a war between Fox News and CNN; both sides argue that they provide the most fair and balanced news, so it drives me to watching CNBC.

That is how I feel about the two groups trying to promote/demote the city of Brookhaven.

I know I can speak for some residents out there that we are honestly trying to educate ourselves about the pros and cons of incorporating, but who can we trust? Obviously both sides will embellish (even if just a little) to get support for their cause. I tried going to the YES and NO websites but gave up eventually because, frankly, I don’t trust the information given.  

I read this forum, see all the bickering of message boards, and try to derive some conclusions knowing that the truth is somewhere in the middle. YES people say lower taxes, NO people say higher taxes….so which is it?!?!? One says more services, one says less services ... polar opposites.

That is exactly why I can’t trust either side. I go back and forth trying to figure out my position but still remain on the fence The way I see it, facts can really only be told from the unincorporated side. Since the “New” city isn’t established, the only “facts” are what is being forecasted through influenced studies.

Can you call something that is forecasted a fact?

Fact: We already pay taxes out the wazoo.

Fact: Our government manages out tax dollars horrendously.

So that philosophy pushes me towards YES.

But can I really trust that a study that seems to have so many holes, is likely politically influenced. Remember the Facebook IPO that flopped ... their stock was over-valued, and I don’t want a Facebook flop for Brookhaven.

Believe me, I do want the city to materialize, but I have to have some comfort with the information I am being fed. And to be honest, the over-zealousness of the YES people is somewhat off-putting.

There also appears to me that there is much, much support for the NO side. Why is that? Incorporation sounds like a wonderful thing if done for the right reasons and done honestly (is that even possible with the government?). Could it be that this is being done for the wrong reasons? 

I can be swayed in either direction at this point. I just need someone to help sway me in a direction.

Danielle DiMaio

Jonathan June 04, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I have heard through the grapevine that the YES group is welcoming people that are "no" votes because they want as much community input as possible should the CITY pass a vote.
HDM June 04, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I was in Danielle's boat a short time ago, did my own research and like Jonathan found more to the positive than to the negative with Brookhaven incorporation, I'm not a part of any of the groups but I will be voting Yes for Brookhaven and trying to help my neighbors understand why.
Stan June 04, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I am an active advocate for incorporation. What I know about the County raises more concern than what I don't know about the future City. In the end, what convinces me to vote Yes is the endorsement of new cities by my friends in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Johns Creek. Your friends may have a different point of view but, to a person, my friends would not return to unincorporated governance. I'm told the new cities have challenges, but there is a feeling that the local government is more responsive to local priorities and more responsible with their revenues. My friends endorsements aren't facts, they're just opinions of people I respect. So I'll vote Yes.
Joe June 04, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I agree with Albie. Additionally, I find the timing of the vote peculiar; July will be a far lower turnout than November. I also find Mike Jacobs' role and choices in this peculiar. Of all people, Jacobs has the standing to fix the problem of how Dekalb is unresponsive and doesn't spend our "fair share" of our money in our neighborhood. Why didn't he call a meeting with Dekalb, explain the problem, and explain the solutions: We want our money spent here, we want roads fixed, parks fixed, lights, traffic controlled, whatever....OR he will sponsor a bill for Cityhood and get it to a vote of the public. Seems to me that Dekalb has more to lo$e in this than anybody. Why didn't Jacobs go there first as Plan A, and make Cityhood Plan B? Now, if Plan B fails, Plan A is no longer an option....he can no longer go and say either do this or we'll have a vote. With a NO city vote, Dekalb will be emboldened to say "Screw Brookhaven". And maybe that's the plan. I, for one, understand the POTENTIAL benefits of a City. But, like others, I am not so much up for the "Hope and Change" line that politicians, Jacobs included, are serving up. There is FAR FAR too much government already, at every level, and seriously, none of those levels do a good, responsive, efficient job at anything they do....maybe with the exception of running a war.
Eric H June 04, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Yes they've told me I can participate. I'm leaning yes, but they said even if No it would be fine. I think as long as someone isn't trying to merely disrupt things. Ultimately we won't know who will be the Mayor and who will represent the various districts. The concerns I have about the inability of the new government to properly embrace and manage the greater diversity of this proposed city can't be answered until the voters speak. To that regard while the I suspect it will still be a Republican leaning city, it should be of some comfort that the voting control does not rest in the North side of the proposed city to whom there is some understandable resentment directed towards for driving this bill. Voting control will rest in the very area that seems to be opposing the city. i think a City of Brookhaven and further annexation by Chamblee has merit and could help DeKalb become more efficient because there will be a cleaner geographic border instead of the current peninsula issue. I also think provision of Parks services, Police Services and Roads and Sewer and Zoning/Development are better done at the City level. I am not as concerned about the creation of too many jurisdictions. Georgia has too many jurisdictions because it has too many counties. Its also unique in that the Counties deliver municipal services. No matter how many cities, DeKalb will still be in charge of the more regional issues like MARTA, Grady, Superior/State Court, Schools.
Eric H June 04, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I agree that there was not enough outreach to the southern half of the proposed city. Though with its greater density the south side of the proposed city holds the voting power in the Cityhood vote and in Governance of the City if the City was approved. Changes to the city legislation and boundaries was made based on input from the southern side. I do think that the cities offer a far more viable vehicle for citizen input on zoning and development issues. I'm not saying DeKalb is bad at zoning and development issues. But its more difficult dealing with DeKalb, the distance to Decatur, the gauntlet of levels or departments one has to go through. The fact that one zoning decision by a commissioner doesn't really impact their election since it gets lost in the thicket of communities and decisions they make. It just takes a lot more work dealing with County because understandably their attention is split amongst many and they deal with that by dividing responsibilities amongst different departments. Instead of having one or two people in charge of the various local zoning and development related issues as is the case in the cities around us you have several people in charge of different aspects of zoning and development related issues for all of DeKalb so one is left to discuss issues with different folks who understandably don't have as much time for one of many issues and also have more limited responsibility since roles are more divided at the county level.
Eric H June 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM
And let me throw out the example of Town Brookhaven. While I like aspects of it, it could have been better. The initial proposal or zoning request was approved over the objection of many in part because of the isolation of the person who approved the rezoning request from the community members directly impacted. Most offensive was that the LCI plan that the community worked countless hours on was ignored in approving the zoning request. But even accepting that rezoning approval, what happened later was a classic example of the difficulty of dealing with a large bureaucracy that answers to the CEO but not the commissioners. Stream piping variances were given without public input. Changes to the approved plan that resulted in even further deviation from the LCI resulted in something being built that was less than what it could have been. And then an incredibly insane tax subsidy was proposed for this large politically connected developer and if not for a local news outlet discovering it, it would have happened. Even after that was turned back after a great deal of effort a later package of still too great a subsidy was provided to this development. Too this day I still don't know who approved the changes to the approved plan or who approved the proposed initial tax subsidy proposal or the subsequent approved one that apparently did not require review. I do know Commissioner Rader did a good job on helping defeat the initial subsidy approval.
Eric H June 04, 2012 at 07:40 PM
http://abetterbrookhaven.org/history-2/ About this time, the Sembler Cos. proposed Town Brookhaven development—a major impact in the LCI study area—and BPCA had little leverage in asking them to apply LCI principles. The final product came out an odd mix of small town and big box design concepts. At one point, Sembler seemed ready to provide $100,000 for street improvements along Peachtree Road and a master plan for Brookhaven Park, but this idea evaporated before the final plan was approved by the DK Board of Commissioners. http://atlantafinehomes.com/blog/?tag=jeff-fuqua The Development Authority’s former chairman, Eugene Walker, quit this month in the wake of the controversy over Sembler’s donations for his school board run. He had championed the additional tax break for Sembler while on the board. The new chair, Judy Turner, couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday. A spokeswoman for DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis said he doesn’t expect a new tax incentive policy to be in place until at least October.
Eric H June 04, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Does anyone know where the folks responsible for the Better Brookhaven effort stand on cityhood? http://abetterbrookhaven.org/ I urge everyone to take a look at their website. I would love to live in a city where people like this had greater influence over Land Use and Development decisions. On the other hand if they were not in favor of the city I would like to know why. I've respected the work they have done. Development around the Brookhaven MARTA station holds keys to far more than our immediate area. I would go so far as to argue that successfully creating a Transit friendly development in massive parking lot and surrounding strip malls could add to MARTA ridership thus helping our transit agency meet budget needs through increased farebox recovery. And this increased ridership would help channel future growth so that it has less impact on traffic and our environment while also helping our economy by lessening our dependence on oil.
not one of 60 June 04, 2012 at 08:45 PM
You digress, if someone dare point out the obvious! Albie you are not in the middle = the websites you listed have skewed and biased info. So you digress anytime there is a negative article on Dekalb and County, its spedning, its leadership (almost daily I might add). This is not digression or rhetoric, but rather the truth! People need to know how "their" governemt works. Most people do not know. so they here another layer and think yes it is true, but they don't here about the replacement of an ineffective county layer by a fiscally and locally controled one!
Albie Alright June 04, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Classy guy. I digress.
Deborah Anthony June 05, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Eric, Jack Hondred spoke at a meeting of the Brookhaven Fields Civic Association earlier this spring, and I got two impressions: (1)Better Brookhaven has confidence that the new planning director "gets" the LCI and understands how to implement it; and (2)Better Brookhaven will probably remain neutral on the city issue (at least publicly). Again, the latter is only my impression after asking if Better Brookhaven had a take on whether the new city would adopt the LCI. My hope is that Better Brookhaven is quietly lobbying to assure that all the hard work that went into the LCI (and the ongoing work for the Chase Bank site, etc.) will continue one way or the other. As you point out, this is a very important issue to make sure that zoning policy is both forward-thinking and in keeping with the best interests of the larger community of which we are a part.
Eric H June 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Thanks Deborah, it makes sense http://abetterbrookhaven.org/ would not take a position since hopefully people on both sides of the pro and anti city debate support the excellent work that they are doing. I do see Gary Cornell was appointed by CEO Ellis, I think I've met him since his name sounds familiar. He was planning director in Gwinnett but I won't hold that against him since most of his career appears to be with major planning/engineering companies. Unfortunately though he may "get" the LCI in DeKalb there are often other forces at play and DeKalb hasn't done a good job enforcing the LCI in my opinion. Interesting this newsletter states the LCI's of importance are Stonecrest and Kensington. http://www.co.dekalb.ga.us/planning/pdf/newsLetter/newsletter.pdf . I agree that these two areas are vital to the future of our DeKalb. And I've long lamented the fact that the Kensington Area with its access to 285 and the Kensington MARTA station has not attracted more economic activity - this is in part an indictment of fortune 500 companies and their location practices that often are subsidized by state tax abatements ... but I digress. The point is DeKalb is big. Understandably the Brookhaven LCI will never be the priority. But in a City of Brookhaven it would be. Though would a City of Brookhaven embrace the LCI? Maybe I should do a separate post on this to poll the pro and anti city folks.
HDM June 05, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Joe, I don't understand why you feel that Rep. Jacobs has any sway with the entrenched opposite party controlling DeKalb?
Eric H June 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
This unfortunately is so typical - the reason Gary Cornell is an interim planning director. http://championnewspaper.com/news/articles/1348flap-continues-over-county%E2%80%99s-interim-planning-director1348.html Flap continues over county’s interim planning director
Joe June 05, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Entrenched and opposite or not, seems that Dekalb would answer the phone when a member of the State House calls. Dekalb would know the power Jacobs has to push the City deal forward; without his efforts, this thing would be nowhere. So, if he is the guy that can make that happen, he is also the guy that can make that not happen. Assuming that Dekalb does not want Cityhood, then, making a deal with Jacobs for our benefit would be in both Dekalb's and our best interests. Further, to a certain extent, Jacobs has a handle on the purse strings that can benefit or hurt Dekalb and State-funded projects that Dekalb might want. Short version, if Jacobs cannot get Dekalb's attention on matters effecting his constituents, who can?
Eric H June 05, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I don't necessarily agree that a "fair share" (whatever that is) of our money isn't being spent here. And I certainly don't think DeKalb feels they are not fairly distributing the funds. I was looking at the benefit coming not so much from a redistribution of funds but from improved efficiencies by a more local government taking over some of DeKalb's current responsiblities such as Police, Roads and Drainage, and Zoning and Development. I don't think Mike could make a phone call to fix that. Just like state legislators in South DeKalb can't make phone calls to fix things. A read of the Champion Newspaper reveals that the concerns and problems we face are shared throughout the county. And it all comes back to my belief that a County Government is not well suited for delivery certain municipal services in an urban enviornment.
Jonathan June 06, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I wanted to post some informational data that helped me feel comfortable with the idea of a new city after having some serious concerns early on about its viability. No guarantees, but this info in Dunwoody made me feel better. Hopes this helps "fencers" like myself. The Carl Vinson Institute (CVI) estimated that revenues for a city of Dunwoody would be $18,777,904. In its first full fiscal year in 2009, Dunwoody’s actual revenues turned out to be $18,394,942, or 2.0% less than CVI estimated. In the same study, CVI also predicted that Dunwoody’s total operating expenditures would be $15,571,573; in 2009, Dunwoody’s actual operating expenditures turned out to be $13,823,811, or 11% less than CVI estimated.
HamBurger June 06, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Mr. Jonathan, something to consider . . . Step 5: Admitting to ourselves, and others that, “we are not Dunwoody” http://tinyurl.com/7d24ows Please pass the yellow mustard!
HDM June 06, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Thank You Jonathan, Dunwoody is a very apt comparison, especially on the expenditure side, for our new city. Dunwoody and Sandy Springs are much better off as municipalities than under County rule, so too will Brookhaven.
Austin Lee June 07, 2012 at 03:36 PM
What makes me sad is all of the snarky sarcasm and name calling. I'm not sure why it is a bad thing to want to be like a Dunwoody. I know we aren't Dunwoody...but they seem to have done a really great job as a city and I think patterning ourselves after them might not be the worst thing.
don Gabacho June 07, 2012 at 04:08 PM
"With City - You, City, County, State, Federal = You + 4 Government layers. Without City - You, County, State, Federal = You + 3 Government layers." Not quite. In both cases, and on every level, we have the addition of Mexico's forever intruding central government plus a cadre of homegrown political hacks in bed with that government. Even to the extent of allowing that government untold numbers of U.S. voter registration forms---no matter how patently invalidating of any subsequent election, referendum and oath of office. Being honorable men and women however, it must remain inarguable that even a poorly located billboard must take absolute precedent.
HDM June 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I agree with Austin, the personal attacks and name calling is juvenile (Im looking at you, onein60 along with those who oppose Brookhaven) Tone down the rhetoric.
not one of 60 June 07, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Where are the tax dollars going; Big question...
don Gabacho June 07, 2012 at 04:35 PM
"I meant to say it would be great if both for and against groups sought to work together..." ---Deborah Anthony For months now, within this forum alone, the BY proponents have refused even to acknowledge much less discuss the only issue that must predicate all others: the Mexican government having, and being allowed to have, U.S. voter registration forms. How would any other forum make a difference?
don Gabacho June 07, 2012 at 05:03 PM
"...although I am still not sure if someone openly planning to vote no is welcome yet..." ---Deborah Anthony As transparent as it is, incorporating persons planning to vote no to a new city into a committee fabricated to plan the new city, is merely a device to preempt and subordinate real opposition. Such "incorporation" of opposing persons and groups is a central feature of 'corporatist' government (not to be confused with "incorporated" government though "incorporated" government can be "corporatist" also). Likewise, even the invention of opposition to the intended co-option of real opposition. Samples of "corporatist" government---no matter their proclaimed political ideologies---being Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy, Stalin's USSR, Mexico's central government and (since the still unfettered incursions of that government into our own): increasingly our own government---on every level. You should really tell these 'welcomers' to go take a hike.
don Gabacho June 07, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Although, it has been made clear to you that the Mexican Government, and its U.S. collaborators, has made the referendum you still endorse, and propagandize, invalid for that government having, and being allowed to have, U.S. voter registration forms, you "will vote Yes." You have certainly made clear "the risk."
HDM June 07, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Let me get this straight, you think that the Mexican Government is somehow secretly forcing Brookhaven on you?
don Gabacho June 07, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Eric Hovdesven: ...creating a Transit friendly development in massive parking lot and surrounding strip malls could add to MARTA ridership thus helping our transit agency..." create even more endless acres of asphalted weed fields forcing that much more acreage for the vast majority of mass transit users---who own no cars---to circumvent getting to and from stations.
don Gabacho June 07, 2012 at 07:12 PM
"Let me get this straight, you think that the Mexican Government is somehow secretly forcing Brookhaven on you?"---Dean Matthews No matter some 20 years having lived in Mexico and knowing the players plus the agenda and procedures of their "corporatist" government: irrelevant. Get "this straight": Despite the US Constitution not empowering any foreign power, including the Mexican Government, to involve itself in U.S. voting, plus the constitutional imperative of our public office holders to---first and foremost---"protect and defend the U.S. Constitution," the Mexican Government nonetheless has, is using, and being allowed untold numbers of U.S. voter registration forms. Until such is treated and remedied, you and no one else could have a valid vote for just who can or can't be even a dog catcher anywhere in the USA much less have or not any new governance. Wittingly or not, the price you are demanding for a new city is the very validity of all elections and referendums just past and yet to come plus the very obligation of public office holders to their very oaths of office! It is a price you can expect or demand of no one. Got it?

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