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"The Brookhaven Name Resonates With Everyone"

Russell Mitchell of BrookhavenYES answers five questions from Patch.


Brookhaven Patch talks about the issue of cityhood with Russell Mitchell of BrookhavenYES, who has been meeting with residents about cityhood every Tuesday evening at :

So you've been meeting people at Verde on Tuesday nights for some weeks now. What do you hope to accomplish by doing this?

Russell: I want to reach out to the young professionals and families that are a strong force in the Drew Valley and Ashford Park neighborhoods. There is typically not a large showing of this demographic at the town hall and civic association meetings so I want to have a forum for information gathering that appeals to them.

Verde is a popular spot for just about everyone in the area and the turnout and support has been great so far.

A new city will positively impact some of the things this area values most – parks, sidewalks, and police protection. Our neighboring cities have improved these services and assets significantly without any tax increases because money is efficiently spent and budgeted by well run governments in a public/private partnership. Private contractors are incentivized to get the job done and are contractually accountable for their quality of work.

What are the most common questions that people have been asking you?

Russell: Most people have been scared into thinking cityhood will create another layer of government or that their taxes will go up. Questions typically revolve around these topics, but both are myths and can be quickly overcome by the facts.

The City of Brookhaven charter includes a mandated tax cut on property taxes. This tax line item is currently going to fund DeKalb County’s bloated budget. These funds will shift to the new City and will be reinvested in it. A City of Brookhaven will be able to provide improved services with less in a more efficient government in which elected officials are held accountable by their neighbors.

In contrast, DeKalb County raised our property taxes 26 percent last year but we didn’t see a proportional impact to the services we receive. Our community did not get to vote on this tax hike, yet we unfairly bore the burden.

Furthermore, a new city will not create another layer of government. Incorporation merely separates some of the services the county provides. Accordingly, the tax dollars you would normally pay to the county for services such as permitting, police, roads, zoning, and code enforcement, are simply shifted to the new city.

What’s even better is that the people making these decisions will be the same people that visit the parks and drive on the roads so they will have firsthand experiences to accompany decisions.

So why should Brookhaven incorporate?

Russell: I believe the choice is very clear on the July 31st ballot:

We are a donor community that unfairly supports the bloated DeKalb government and its special interests. Tax dollars generated by the community are not reinvested in it. I see medal plates on the roads, weeds overtaking parks, and no sidewalks being added.

Taking into account DeKalb’s history of failure and bleak outlook, do you want to continue to allow the county to be the stewards of all of your tax dollars or, do you want to keep some of those dollars local and invest them exclusively in our community?

Also, do you want people in Decatur making decisions for our community or do you want people who live in Brookhaven making the decisions for our community?

The trends and successes of incorporation in the metro Atlanta area are undeniable. Our neighboring cities are successful and their citizens are happy with the better use of their tax dollars.

If the referendum passes, is there a margin of approval that you'd like to see?

Russell: Our sister city, Dunwoody, passed with over 80 percent approval.  It would be great to have such an overwhelming victory like that.

The Brookhaven name resonates with everyone and people are proud to say they live here. I think the community is ready to make that name official and to keep our tax dollars local and to commit to improving the place we all call home.

If we become a city, is there a political future for Russell Mitchell?

Russell: I get that question often, but I want to make it very clear to the community that you will not see my name on any campaign signs should the city vote pass favorably.

I became involved with this initiative while working as the Financial Analyst at City Hall in Dunwoody and I saw firsthand the benefits local governance can bring to a community. I am pleased to have been apart of this effort and will continue to do whatever I can to help our community prosper.

Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Dekalb has a long laundry list of corruption. No government is perfect. That is why there are checks and balances, laws, elections, etc. So be proud and control your leaders or keep the status quo: send money South, Let south Dekalb comm. control your tax dollars!
Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 02:20 AM
http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/dekalb-top-brass-reviewing-policies-after-rash-off/nN62r/ and now too!
Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 02:24 AM
http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/big-dekalb-schools-civil-1438187.html. More community news and your Dekalb tax dollars hard at work!
Sandy Murray May 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Clearly the name Brookhaven doesn't resonate with the world as the title of the article suggests and in fact many in Historic Brookhaven (City of Atlanta) are quite resentful that the unincorporated area of DeKalb is "stealing" their neighborhood name. Since our current addresses are Atlanta, I would rather keep it that way. No City Brookhaven!
Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Again no pensions are self. ask Delta Pilots and Enron employees about that! Funny how entitlement is spread. What you should be concnerned about is equal dollars in every part of the county. Equal service in every part of the County. A good ratio of employees to managers and directors, et al. Deklab fails at all of this.
Steve Walker May 16, 2012 at 03:19 PM
You all keep quoting no city brookhaven web site. Keep in mind that it is one persons opinion in Drew Valley that is running that site.
Steve Walker May 16, 2012 at 03:24 PM
It also make sense geographically to Incorporate the North Dekalb areas. Look at the shape of Dekalb County. North Dekalb is a very narrow area and then balloons out to the huge portion of the rest of the County. It is easy to see how and why services suffer in the northern part of the County when you look at the overall geographic layout of the County.
Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Taxpayers in DeKalb County will pay more for less in their schools if the budget proposed by Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson is approved. This is pretty much the Dekalb MO! http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-schools-budget-squeeze-1438613.html
Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 03:46 PM
This is so true. I really do not understand how North Dekalb folks even feel connected to South Dekalb (Stonecrest/Lithonia). Sometimes even going to decuatur seems like a hassle and fieldtrip! The shape is very odd and very difficult to manage efficiently...this is one more reason to separte essential city services!
Steve Walker May 16, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I would like to relay a little story about Dekalb R & D on you. The County did a Culvert Replacement project in front of my house. They came in with a flawed design that collapsed and flooded by property. The then abandoned the project and left the road closed for nearly a year. My wife and I had to call the Pot Hole Patrol guy (Harry Samler) from CBS 46 and go on air and then have a camera shoved in Carl Glovers face @ R & D to get the project re started. The County daily sent out 8-10 trucks that sat idling all day long with countless county (15 plus)employees that stood around all day long jaw jacking and turning the same shovel of dirt over and over. The heavy equipment operator slept in the cab of the excavator every day throughout the life of the project. The machine was on GPS for tracking its use. It updated every 15 minutes. So the operator picked the bucket up moved it a foot and went back to sleep. This continued all day every day with maybe one hour of actual work done in a day. They buried construction debris in adjoining greenspace and when the surrounding neighbors called them on it the County folks acknowledged the errors by their R & D crews but said it would cost too much to fix their own screw ups. This is just a very brief account of some of what went on but it is a representation of how Dekalb County wastes your tax dollars. Oh yeah, I had to pick up beer cans out of my front yard left by the Cty employees several times. Vote Yes July 31 for B'haven !!
Steve Walker May 16, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Subsequently, the remaining culvert replacement projects in the neighborhood (Drew Valley) are being done by private industry. (Corps of Engineers funded). While smaller in scope than the one the County did, they were done in a very short time frame and the quality of the work is like night and day. Just like the remaining culvert projects being done by private industry where time is money and profit to the Construction Company, B'haven would privatize projects like this to more efficiently manage its tax dollars. Dekalb employees many folks that are un-hireable else where and its employees consider your tax dollars a never ending bank account to pad their pockets. End this nonsense in Brookhaven and vote YES July 31st.
mcatl May 16, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Very accurate portrayal of exisiting services and lack therof;
mcatl May 16, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Wow - This is distressing...
mcatl May 16, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Very sad state of affairs; Can the governor take over this area?
mcatl May 16, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Good point.
Mitchell Thomas May 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Wherer are all of the anti-city folks?
HamBurger May 16, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Mr. Mitchell, we are all in a very secret meeting at a very secret location in a very secret part of unincorporated DeKalb County strategizing and eating my special hamburgers with yellow mustard and thin sliced onions and pickles!
"E Pluribus Unum" May 18, 2012 at 01:08 PM
The name "Brookhaven" as a city doesn't "resonate" with eveyone. Why did you say such a silly thing? It doesn't add much credibility to your POV. Strike one. By the way, the benifits you listed as justification for a new city are broad general assumptions. Again, you're not helping your credibility with generalizations and sweet visions of more efficiency, better services, and highly ethical Brookhaven city governance. Strike two. Oh, you say you do have facts to support your pipe dream? The flawed CVI study? You're serious? Strike three...your out!
The Incomparable Ainsley Jarvis May 18, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@"E Pluribus Unum" - Good post. Thank you! (borrowed from Tom Gilmers earlier post - Thanks Tom!) Here's some handy info to pass on. The truth will set you free! And it can be found here: Point 1: Precarious Finances - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/finances-precarious-at-best.html Point 2: Another layer of Government - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-layer-of-government.html Point 3: Tax Burden and loss of HOST - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/truth-about-decreased-tax-burden.html Point 4: Higher Expenses (also covered in the same link as Point 3. http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/truth-about-decreased-tax-burden.html Point 5: Less Police http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/just-facts-maam.html
GuruLikeDrucker May 18, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Not sure who you are, but I'm guessing that you favor Dekalb County’s method of running constant budget deficits. If you find it challenging to understand that a government with a balanced budget is actually a good thing, I highly doubt you have credentials necessary to question the experience of the independent team of experts that conducted the Carl Vincent study. The fact is, the study used sound and proven analysis in coming to conclusions that support the economic viability of a new city. You are very passionate in your opposition, I’m sure your motivations would be very obvious if you were to reveal who you were and where you live. I doubt that you will ever provide us with those details and I’m relatively certain that its because you don’t live in the city and/or likely benefit from the cronyism and backroom deals that have become commonplace under our current county government.
GuruLikeDrucker May 18, 2012 at 02:37 PM
@Intermittent Steve " ...the idea that a handful of people can impose their will on 49,188 of their neighbors…" That is your fabrication. This is a democratic process and this will be decided by a majority vote in July. Unfortunately the vote is months away, which gives all of the anonymous characters that live outside the planned city (like yourself) or those with ties to the county, the opportunity to create confusion and spread misinformation. Keep it up and we'll just keep correcting you.
GuruLikeDrucker May 18, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Maybe the moderator will start blocking posts that link to web pages with biased and unsupported content?
The Incomparable Ainsley Jarvis May 18, 2012 at 03:23 PM
@Guru Now go take on the day. Point 1: Precarious Finances - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/finances-precarious-at-best.html Point 2: Another layer of Government - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-layer-of-government.html Point 3: Tax Burden and loss of HOST - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/truth-about-decreased-tax-burden.html Point 4: Higher Expenses (also covered in the same link as Point 3. http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/truth-about-decreased-tax-burden.html Point 5: Less Police http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/just-facts-maam.html
HamBurger May 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Mr. GuruLikeDrucker, I will be the first to admit DeKalb County government has problems. However, I have also said several times that together as citizens with our elected state officials, we should demand change in our existing government. There has not been an organized effort to do so. Instead, a group of elected state officials and citizens decided to start a new city. Instead of dividing folks in the proposed city, imagine what we could have accomplished if these same politicians, C4ND, Brookhaven Yes, and all of the opposition groups had put the same effort towards demanding changes in DeKalb government and the end of our CEO style of government. Imagine if commission meetings were consistently packed with folks politely demanding reform to DeKalb government. Imagine if during Burrell Ellis’s visit to Briarwood Park there were three or four thousand citizens before him were sharing their thoughts. Imagine if one morning when Burrell Ellis walked out of his house to go to work he found four hundred and fifty citizens completely filling his cul-de-sac letting him know that they were expecting him and the BOC to make reforms to DeKalb government. Crazy? Yeah . . . Effective? Yeah . . . However, Rep. Jacobs, Rep. Taylor, Sen. Millar, J. Max Davis, C4ND, and Brookhaven Yes, would rather ram a city down the throats of a large segment of the population instead of solving the problem. Any new city will still be in DeKalb County.
HamBurger May 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Mr. GuruLikeDrucker, on page two of the Vinson study you will find this: “Estimates given in this report are based on tax levies and service levels for a city not yet created; and, thus, they should not be viewed as certainties. While it is our hope that this report assists with the public consideration of a potential municipal incorporation, it should not be construed to constitute a position either for or against the establishment of a City of Brookhaven by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG).” This is simply a study created by academics; it is not a business plan. It has been manipulated to create the impression that the proposed city of Brookhaven will be a successful, viable city. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Vinson study is flawed. It is the fictional corner stone of Rep. Mike Jacobs and J. Max Davis’s fantasy of a new city. Borrowed from Mr. Tom’s earlier post: Point 1: Precarious Finances - http://tinyurl.com/cxxvj5j Point 2: Another layer of Government - http://tinyurl.com/bomhj4l Point 3: Tax Burden and loss of HOST - http://tinyurl.com/d4meha6 Point 4: Higher Expenses (also covered in the same link as Point 3. - http://tinyurl.com/d4meha6 Point 5: Less Police - http://tinyurl.com/blsxayf
Amanda Hugginkiss May 18, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Guru, Mr. Drucker, Perhaps you should take the time to read the links and find that there are backup sources enclosed. Point 1: Precarious Finances - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/finances-precarious-at-best.html Point 2: Another layer of Government - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-layer-of-government.html Point 3: Tax Burden and loss of HOST - http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/truth-about-decreased-tax-burden.html Point 4: Higher Expenses (also covered in the same link as Point 3. http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/05/truth-about-decreased-tax-burden.html Point 5: Less Police http://nocitybrookhaven.blogspot.com/2012/04/just-facts-maam.html
Steve Walker May 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM
No Cpmments to my post because all of you know this goes on every day and that Dekalb County especially R & D is sucking the life out of our wallets every day with waste just like this.
Steve Walker May 18, 2012 at 03:51 PM
AGAIN, no city brookhaven web site is the opinion of one resident in the Drew Valley neighborhood.
HamBurger May 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Mr. Steve, respectfully, there are so many “NO” signs in Drew Valley. Just who is that individual? Please pass the yellow mustard!
GuruLikeDrucker May 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
@ HamBurger "we should demand change in our existing government" I guess you just fell-off the turnip truck. Believe me there have been plenty of organized efforts to pursue open dialogue with our county officials and to effect change.

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