State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta) said he planned Monday’s informational session for Brookhaven council candidates and other Brookhaven leaders two weeks ago.
The purpose of the meeting, held at Dunwoody City Hall, was to serve as a “training seminar” for city council candidates, members of the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven and the commission’s civilian committee co-chairs “to learn from people who were involved in setting up the City of Dunwoody and shepherding the Brookhaven Overlay District and the Perimeter CID into the success that it is,” Jacobs told Brookhaven Patch Tuesday.
What Was Discussed
During the session, attendees asked questions about the challenges Dunwoody faced as it moved towards cityhood and participated in two panel discussions, which were put together by Dunwoody Mayor, Dunwoody Chief of Police and Kim Duncan. The presentations were made by the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance, which discussed the Brookhaven Overlay District and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, which described prospects for growth and transportation improvement.
Because Brookhaven is on a tight time schedule as it moves towards cityhood, Jacobs said he wanted to provide the candidates and leaders with more knowledge and resources since Brookhaven closely parallels Dunwoody.
Jacobs said the session would inform Brookhaven decision-makers that resources are available to them, like copies of the RFPs used by Dunwoody, so that “the wheel doesn’t necessarily have to be reinvented.”
“While there are some differences between the two cities, the reality is there no other new cities been down this road in the last four years with the same population, the same county and the same land size,” he said.
Why the Meeting Was Closed to Media
Jacobs said that because the meeting was educational, it was not subject to the Georgia Open Meetings Act. According to the Georgia Open Meetings Act, the session does not even qualify as a meeting.
According to one section of the act, “’Meeting’ shall not include the gathering of a quorum of the members of a governing body or committee for the purpose of attending state-wide, multijurisdictional, or regional meetings to participate in seminars or courses of training on matters related to the purpose of the agency or to receive or discuss information on matters related to the purpose of the agency at which no official action is to be taken by the members.”
Although Jacobs did not explicitly invite members of the public, he told Brookhaven Patch that “members of the public would not be unwelcome” if they had shown up at the event and that some people he did not recognize as key Brookhaven decision-makers had in fact shown up on Monday.
Campaign staff members nor members of the media were allowed “so city candidates would feel free to ask their questions and get them answered and wouldn’t feel compelled to perform for the media,” Jacobs said. “Having the media present would not be conducive to an educational meeting.”
Although the session was closed to media, campaign staffers and not explicitly announced to the public, it does not qualify as a “closed meeting” as defined by Georgia open meetings laws.
“Obviously, transparency is important,” Jacobs said. “This wasn’t a meeting at which any decisions were made.”