'The Opposition Has Been Making Spurious Claims'

Five questions with J. Max Davis, chairman of BrookhavenYES.

Editor's Note: Last week, Patch reported that J. Max Davis, chairman of , on the merit of Brookhaven incorporation. On Tuesday, May 22, Davis reported that he received this response from Laurenthia Mesh of the organization, on Thursday, May 17:

"My position, and the position of many others on the issues, is clearly presented in the information found at www.ashfordneighbors.org.

L. Mesh"

Now, Five Questions With ... J. Max Davis


Do you consider this statement to be a refusal to debate?

J. Max: Yes, I do. Mrs. Mesh responded to my request for a public debate by referring me to her opposition website. I understand why she did't respond with a yes to the proposal. If I were tasked with defending Dekalb's 26 percent tax increase, lack of police protection, lack of park maintenance and continued fiscal mismanagement I wouldn't want a public debate, either.

The irony is that the opposition has been making spurious claims about tax increases, low police numbers, and "precarious financials" in their opposition to the positive change a city of Brookhaven will bring to our community. I can see why Ashford Neighbors wouldn't want to be held accountable for these scare tactic claims in a taxpayers public forum.

Would you be willing to debate another organization that is opposed to cityhood?

J. Max: Yes, I am. The challenge has been that, besides Mrs. Mesh, much of the opposition is anonymous or at least not very public with their names.

We only learned last week through the Patch that Jodi Cobb, a longtime Dekalb county political activist is a co-chair of No city Brookhaven. She named Chuck Konas, an executive for a large apartment developer, as co-chair.

Strangely, a few days after Mrs. Cobb's interview, Mr. Konas sent in a letter to the Patch as if he was ignorant of this fact. He didn't list himself as co-chair and the implication was that he had no prior affiliation with the group. There is no email address listed to submit a debate proposal on their site; there is only one to volunteer for the opposition.

BrookhavenYES lists our board and their biographies on BrookhavenYES.org. My cell and Jeff Kellar's cell number is on our site. It is telling that so much of the opposition (some of whom post here on the Patch) is anonymous. Trying to find an actual citizen's name on some of the opposition sites is like trying to find the truth behind some of their claims, very difficult.

What sorts of meetings does BrookhavenYES have planned for the remainder of the summer?

J. Max: We have several neighborhood meetings coming up: June 2 at Ashford Park, June 3 at my home in Brittany, and June 7 at Byrnwyck swim and tennis. Details are at BrookhavenYES.org.

We will have many more in addition to these and we are willing to come to any neighborhood civic association or neighborhood meeting. These meetings have been extremely successful at bringing folks who are yes, no or undecided to talk about things in a calm, comfortable, and civil manner.

We have had mayors and council members from Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, Chamblee, etc., and people really appreciate the chance to be able to find out how we can have lower taxes, less bureaucracy and better services through this newer form of a small and efficient city.

It is always interesting when someone inevitably says, "I have heard from some opposition that your city is in financial trouble or you will be in financial trouble." The Dunwoody Chief Financial Officer, Chris Pike, smiles and tells them that Dunwoody has the lowest tax burden in the county and a $16 million cash reserve. There is so much back and forth on the blogs and newspapers, it is nice to be able to meet folks one on one for clarity's sake.

If the cityhood referendum passes, is there a Brookhaven political career for J. Max Davis?

J. Max: My focus and that of the entire board of BrookhavenYES is totally and completely on getting this referendum for local control and better services passed on July 31.

We have a rule that personal politicking results in your removal from our board.  The opposition tried to have the city referendum held in November with mayor and council elections to have been held around Christmas time. We are thankful that, once the city is incorporated, the most important elections for Mayor and city council will be held when there will be the highest turnout in the November general election. That way the largest group of voters will have the most sway over who will run this city.

If the cityhood referendum does not pass, do you plan to advocate for some neighborhoods to be annexed into Dunwoody and/or Chamblee?

J. Max: When I first began investigating the incorporation proposal I was initially a skeptic. But when I discovered that we would have hard limits on the size and scope of government I began to get more convinced.

The millage cap in the charter starts the city off with a property tax cut and keeps it there, the homestead exemption is doubled from $10,000 to $20,000, and we are able to opt out of any future bond referendum (tax increase) the county tries to impose on us.

Many of us who were on the board of Citizens for North Dekalb (the CVI study group) actually warmed to the idea of being annexed. The problem was that we had no neighboring city with a plan or desire to take anything but our commercial areas or bordering parks.

That is what is a little frightening about the prospect of not incorporating.

Chamblee has an annexation proposal on the November ballot that will hem us in, in the south. There is already a group formed in Druid Hills to study incorporation. Our $200 million commercial area of Perimeter Summit just below I-285 wants to be a part of Dunwoody if we don't incorporate. All that takes is the commercial business property owners ( a small handful) signing a petition to have the Dunwoody city council vote them in without any adjacent residential areas.

We would be a true unincorporated outpost in North Dekalb without enough commercial areas to sustain a city. We would forever be completely subject to the will and whim of Dekalb county government. That would leave us with constant tax increases, services continually on the decline and plunging property values.

Right now, we are a strong community with the prospect of a viable and healthy city with a charter that keeps us that way. Imagine a city where the taxes are lower, the parks are clean and beautiful, and where you actually know your police officer. Our future prospects are in the hands of the voters of this proposed local government and those prospects look bright.

GuruLikeDrucker May 24, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Nothing will change for either of these guys. They will still be on the outside looking in.
GuruLikeDrucker May 24, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Many of those police officers are eager to apply for jobs with the City of Brookhaven. Believe me, they see this as a good thing too.
New Future May 24, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Your inability to analyze and address real issues means you might be put on the waiting list to be a janitor at the Carl Vinson Institute.
New Future May 24, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Debates are only worthless to the closed minded. Opposition groups are obviously concerned their falsehoods will be exposed to the public. The snow job they created is just starting to melt.
Bill Lowe May 24, 2012 at 08:21 PM
An increase in pay is always a good thing. I doubt there will be any officers leaving DeKalb and taking a pay cut with reduced benefits. Expect to pay more for seasoned officers in the new city. If you want lots of rookies at a discount, you can probably steal them away from Stone Mountain Park. I guess another interesting way of looking at it is: Brookhaven = $$$$ Brookhaven can afford to pay a higher salary because of where/what it is. Just like most service businesses, they quote different rates based off of where you live and what kind of money they think you have. Don't feel bad that those three trees you had cut down several years ago when your area was not considered Brookhaven for 800.00 a tree will now cost you 1500.00 a tree. It is all a part of where you live. There will be many people that discover that service rates change according to which part of town you live in. And that branded city you desperately fought to have in the name of increased property values, better services, decreased tax burden, better local representation, and better police protection will come at a cost. Snobs are everywhere, but the really sneaky ones are those that you hire to do work for you, whether in the private sector---like a tree service, or a police officer. They will take advantage of you, and you will be forced to deal with them because that is the way it works. Mmmmm more land called Brookhaven=increased revenues for everyone.
not one of 60 May 24, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Bill Lowe's latest comments are really a stretch. Free market dictates prices, and costs. Bill just because you write it and think it does not make it so!
not one of 60 May 24, 2012 at 08:26 PM
And now it is just the false hood anti city people!
not one of 60 May 24, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Mesh only cares about "zoning and code enforcement"!
not one of 60 May 24, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Just trying to provide some feedback that good ole Dekalb aint so ethical! Anti city website act as if the new city's recently created have gone all unethical. Hardly. more the opposite. almost every office in Dekalb is under some sort of investigation or indictment! Sad but true!
HamBurger May 24, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Mr. Bill, this is very true about the interest of seasoned police professionals jumping from DeKalb to a new city. The money, benefits, promotion opportunities among others are not there. Additionally, there will be less job security in a new, smaller police force. These are the reasons given to me when the question is asked of area officers with regard to the new city. Excuse me, I have to go light the lump charcoal for my special hamburgers!
"E Pluribus Unum" May 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Lisa, City Yes false bravado and bullying nature strikes me as a very frustrated and insecure individual. Guru's self absorption and arrogance borders on being pathological.
GuruLikeDrucker May 24, 2012 at 10:11 PM
@ Bill & Burger. Sure. You would want us to believe that the Dekalb police force is happy and secure in their jobs. Read the news much? Or how about... dekalbofficersspeak.blogspot.com/2009/03/corruption-of-county-and-demoralization.html They'll be lined-up at the door on day 1.
Eddie E. May 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Dekalb County Police Officers like to get paid. Since there is unlikely to be even enough money to pay the inexcusably small number of 53 as conveniently budgeted in the CVI, I just don't see a big long line. Remember, these are the same hard working public servants you guys have been belittling for nearly 2 years now.
Eddie E. May 24, 2012 at 10:59 PM
A question, when will the Police Chief in Dunwoody be granted the 8 extra police officers he wanted phased in over the next 3 years? Since there would have to be a paltry tax increase and taxes are an anathema to those people in Dunwoody, I guess the answer is never. Line up criminals, low taxes beckon you!
Eddie E. May 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM
On each of the 63 pages!
Max May 25, 2012 at 10:45 AM
At Dunwoody City Council meetings, Police Officers that have graduated college are being recognized. Our Police Officers are paid more, are eligible for education reimbursement, and are ALL seasoned professionals. That is not a dream or a wish, that is a fact.
Max May 25, 2012 at 10:53 AM
I read this posting on the DeKalb Officers Speak blog and though of the phrase, "The biggest crimes are usually never reported." The Police pension fund is/was a BILLION dollar investment, and vigilant DeKalb County citizens are watching this matter closely. Financial stress makes for poor planning and some fear the planners may have their eyes on the Police pension fund. http://dekalbofficersspeak.blogspot.com/2012/05/important-notice-about-dkpd-retirement.html
Brook Haven May 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Prepare for city hood. The eagle has landed. And no we not part of Brookhaven Yes BRROKHAVEN YES is not the only group that wants city hood.
HamBurger May 25, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Mr. Max that is Dunwoody and we are talking about the yet to be created new city. According to HB 636, the yet to be elected city officials will be deciding city services and the details of any police department the new city may have. Right now we have no clue what we will have. We may end up with a dysfunctional police department like Chamblee has. Additionally, budget considerations will govern benefit packages. Benefit packages will govern the attractiveness of the new city. Man! Those thin sliced onions and pickles look excellent!
Eddie E. May 25, 2012 at 02:25 PM
What about the additional officers the Police Chief requested LAST YEAR?
Thaddeus Osborne Dabbel May 25, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Much had been made of the notion of using Dunwoody as a model for Brookhaven, and these posts reference above were meant to encourage folks to take a real hard look at what has happened in Dunwoody rather than cherry-pick only the nice bits. Our recent kerfuffle is a direct consequence of the promotion of a clique-ish set of cast-offs from advocacy groups outrunning the limits of operating government like a fraternity. Hopefully Brookhaven can learn enough from Dunwoody's mistakes to avoid our mistakes and make new mistakes, unique to the Brookhaven experience. Surely you will. The money issues are moot. Almost everyone agrees that it will cost more, even if only a little. Police services may seem to improve: there will be enough police for the days when Brookhaven is in Mayberry Mode, but don't expect the deep bench of DeKalb, instead expect unsolved murders to drag on for years. And as many more in Dunwoody can tell you, without a mirror it is nearly impossible to tell if you're getting screwed in the butt by someone from Decatur or the neighbor around the corner. And it leaves the same kind of lasting pain. As Fran Millar said to me before our referendum (paraphrasing, with emphasis mine): "don't you BELIEVE it will be better when we're a city?" And he is right about one thing: forming a city is an article of faith, not a rational decision.
Enuff Govt Already May 25, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The precinct commander reported last Nov that he runs shifts with a minimum of 6 officers. That’s a minimum of 18 to 24 (the robbery suppression team works the busier days of late week and weekends per staff at the precinct). Then we need to add in things like DUI squad, motorcycles, detectives or numerous other officers who don’t work out of the north precinct but whose work is in Brookhaven. The numbers rise. The laughing officer who thinks just 14 officers total covering Brookhaven for a day and night is “much better coverage” probably needs a math lesson.
don Gabacho June 05, 2012 at 02:29 AM
"One has to be elected to serve. This is not a dictatorship." When officials and employees of the MxGov has US voter registration forms---and is allowed to by supposedly our officials and employees of local and state government---indeed "this is not a dictatorship." It is the plutocracy we are now experiencing resulting between the collaborators and the directors the collaborators "serve." At least Parent has "elected" not to run again for public office to "watch" from elsewhere.
don Gabacho June 05, 2012 at 02:58 AM
"...This is not about their personalities or career intentions - this is, plain and simply, about WHO..." Gad!
Julia Nelsen Sellers June 05, 2012 at 03:29 PM
GuruLikeDrucker- My comments were not about the City of Brookhaven pro or against they were about a debate and why someone may not want participate with a trail lawyer. Reread this article main focus was on J Max Davis wanting to debate Ms Mesh. Maybe GuruLikeDrucker I would take you seriously if you used your real name to post comments. Also currently there is no City of Brookhaven to live in does not matter where I live. For the record I am not against the city of Brookhaven never was. Just against the scope of commercial properties the plan mapped tried to include. That issue is settled. Get your facts right!
Julia Nelsen Sellers June 05, 2012 at 03:57 PM
GuruLikeDrucker -FYI If the City of Brookhaven passes the vote the Brookhaven city limit will be all the way to the east side the curb of Clairmont Road, the entrance to my neighborhood. I can walk to the Dresden Brookhaven area, Brookhaven Village, from my neighborhood can you? I have an interest in what will happen and a right to be concern. Also if you followed the entire process of HB 636 you would know a select few in the north neighborhoods of the proposed Brookhaven City (For Example- Hampton Hall, Murphey Candler, Nancy Creek Heights) drew the boundary maps. My neighborhood & many others along Clairmont Road were not invited to the party for joining Brookhaven. We asked to be included or have our commercial properties removed from the mapped area so our area would have some options in the future. Jacobs and C4ND never included the neighborhoods off Clairmont Road to any discussions or gave reasons why our neighborhoods were not desirable to be included in a City of Brookhaven. Our neighborhoods are not members of DECA so we were not represented in any discussion. We were actually told our neighborhood representatives were not welcomed at meetings with Jacobs by Jacobs. Just a little back story for you.
GuruLikeDrucker June 05, 2012 at 09:26 PM
"I do not want my DeKalb County taxes to increase because of a city I am not going to be part of" Regardless of the context, I would sugest that this is one of many comments tthat you have made that are anti-city. If your goal from the start was to be included in the city then you probably should have taken a different stance and been a little more proactive about getting support from your neighborhood. Unfortunately, the greater majority of your neighborhood reacted negatively during the first few discussions about being included in any new city initiative. If you weren't involved in those conversations, you should turn to the active members of your neighborhood and ask them why you weren't informed. ultimately, it doesn't make sense to draw-in a community that doesn't have a majority support for the initiative. And for full disclosure, I have nothing to do with the way the boundary was drawn, but I am active in my neighborhood and I was active in supporting this. The other option was to continue conversations with Dunwoody, and I didn't think it was fair to cut the PCID tax base out from under the neighborhoods south of J.Ferry... but that will be the next conversation if this initiative doesn't pass. Your neighbors will still have an opportunity to be included in either city at a later date, but if that's your desire you might consider changing your tone.
HamBurger June 06, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Mr. GuruLikeDrucker, Ms. Julia will not need to change her tone. When the citizens of your new city realize they have experienced a WTF moment with Rep. Jacobs, C$ND, and BY’s flawed Vinson study, she will have to beat them off with a stick. By the way, Mr. Peter is insulted with your association to him. Please pass the yellow mustard!
Julia Nelsen Sellers June 06, 2012 at 05:56 PM
GuruLikeDrucker -Thanks for your advice. You seem to know what all occurred and how to handle it all. “The greater majority of your neighborhood reacted negatively during the first few discussions about being included in any new city initiative” Really? You seem to have been involved in discussions with my neighborhood about Brookhaven. I guess, I missed you at my home when I hosted 3 meetings on the issue with my neighbors. I am the contact person for my neighborhood, a neighborhood not a member of DECA. I have been involved since Jacobs changed the mapped as an attempt to grab more commercial for the proposed city in turn hurting other neighborhoods long term viability. My comments always have been I am against the scope of the proposed city of Brookhaven not a city and until Jacobs and C4ND remove the 2 disputed commercial parcels I would be against Brookhaven and I would do what it took to have those disputed parcels removed which means fighting them. As stated, I am not against Brookhaven. You are fighting the wrong person I no longer have as they say a dog in this fight. Dispute parcels have been released from mapped area. I will be glad to see a city of Brookhaven happen. Do you have a beef with me because I stood up for a woman, who men were bashing because she did not want to debate a trail lawyer in a public forum at the beginning of these comments? Are you against strong woman?
Harry Carey June 11, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Ye is plural .


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