Friday, January 8, 2016

DeKalb Delegation Townhall Meeting

DeKalb Delegation members listened to citizen concerns at the last pre-2016 legislative session townhall meeting.
MANA representatives were present at the DeKalb Legislative Delegation's Townhall meeting on January 7, 2016 at the Maloof Building.  It was a lively, well attended session that lasted around 2 hours.

Senator Gloria Butler's reversal of her appointment of Harmel Codi to the County's Audit Oversight Committee was a hot topic; multiple speakers asked the delegation to look into the situation and wondered if this is a sign that the effort to reform DeKalb is already compromised. When asked if the other Senators were part of the decision to remove Ms. Codi, Senators Parent and Millar responded no. Senator Butler did not attend the town hall meeting.

As expected, many topics were covered--potholes and speed limits, crime, mortar fireworks, police officer compensation, quality public education, concerns about home insurance providers using breed-specific lists to reject would-be policy buyers, among others. Cityhood was a common theme, specifically the proposed cities of Stonecrest and Greenhaven, with strong voices and a variety of arguments. The new cities had strong support with many people asking for action during this legislative session so that they can vote soon. Conversely, many speakers asked for careful consideration of how new cities impact the County's ability to function and emphasized their belief that creating cities does not fix the kinds of problems mentioned by citizens at this very meeting--the way out is to strengthen the County. A speaker compared ill-conceived cityhood proposals to the Wizard of Oz: there is a man behind the curtain, a master puppeteer, but that will not "give you courage or give you a brain" to fix the problems you already have.

MANA's president, Lynn Ganim, asked the legislators to consider the impact of commercial annexations such as those pursued by City of Decatur these last several years. It is an issue of fairness, she said, with a significant impact on DeKalb County School System's budget.

The 2016 legislation session begins on January 11, 2016.