Health

New Leadership Set Higher Standards and Quality Life for DeKalb County

New Leadership Set Higher Standards and Quality Life for DeKalb County
By Viola Davis

DeKalb County electorate sent a strong message that its taxpayers and voters wanted a higher quality of life and ethical leadership. Due to continuous news stories of corruption, blight and unethical behavior, the voters demonstrated accountability by removing several incumbents and replacing them with new leadership. After a year, we want to report the following findings:

Michael-Thurmond county pic

CEO Michael Thurmond – CEO Michael Thurmond entered the office with an initial action plan that placed the money where his mouth is. He went on the attack to improve blight in DeKalb County with the help and support of the Board of Commissioner by financing the Quality of Life unit, an innovative program created by the Solicitor General’s Office. CEO Thurmond ended deficit spending, built the county’s fund balance and moving forward to place DeKalb County on a more solid financial foundation. Due to systemic problems ranging from inadequate planning, staffing and training to inefficient billing software, defective water meters and insufficient communication that had eroded customer confidence, he continued the moratorium on water shut-offs.

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The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved $2.6 million for Operation Clean Sweep in the county’s 2017 operating budget of $1.3 billion. This funding helped CEO Thurmond address his top priorities involving the county’s water billing crisis and blight. We are proud to announce that CEO Thurmond is responsible for the removal of more than 5,600 tons of debris, clearing over 20 illegal dumping sites, and addressing over 80 dilapidated properties. It is long overdue to sing CEO Michael Thurmond’s accomplishments.

Commissioner Steve Bradshaw – Commissioner Steve Bradshaw defeated the incumbent in a runoff election with a landslide victory from the 4th Commission District of about 150,000 people in the Stone Mountain area. He recently demonstrated unity by appearing with Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson and Commissioner Gregory Adams at a town hall meeting to discuss the proliferation of store closings in South DeKalb at the Lou Walker Senior Center on Panola Road. Commissioner Bradshaw and Presiding Officer Jeff Rader created the ad hoc committee to identify the “root cause” of the problems causing the water crisis in DeKalb County.

steve_bradshaw_web pic

Commissioner Steve Bradshaw set a completely new standard for launching “Quarterly in the Fourth” community breakfast meetings for District 4 constituents and other interest parties. He sent out a mailer to inform the public about the meetings. The focus of the meetings involved code enforcement, quality of life issues, and safety. The meeting was heavily attended and gave the taxpayers and voters the opportunity to address Commissioner Bradshaw directly with their concerns and issues within the district. With the cry for more information and public contact, Commissioner Bradshaw is setting a high standard for others to follow. Hats off to you, Commissioner Steve Bradshaw!

dekalb-solicitor-general-donna-coleman-stribling pic

Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling – Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling established the “Quality of Life Unit” in 2017 to address concerns about code violations and nuisance issues in the county. With the help of CEO Michael Thurmond and the Board of Commissioners approving a budget request of over $70,000 from the Office of the Solicitor-General, the “Quality of Life Unit” includes:
 Two Assistant Solicitor-Generals
 A Community Prosecutor
 An Investigator
 A Legal Assistant

One of the Assistant Solicitor-Generals appeared at Commissioner Steve Bradshaw’s community breakfast over the weekend to inform the public of Solicitor-General’s mission and a directive to target dilapidated properties with numerous code citations, the prosecution of cases involving code violation, blight, nuisance and other issues plaguing communities. By working with the Magistrate Court, the partnership between the different government agencies demonstrates how the overall quality of life for the citizenry of DeKalb County can be uplifted through unity and setting priorities to eliminate these problems and answer the public outcry for improvements. We say to Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling, thank you for showing us that action speaks louder than words.

SB183: STATE LEGISLATURE TRYING TO ELIMINATE SEALED BIDS & EVADE PUBLIC SCRUTINY BY GIVING TAXPAYER MONEY TO OTHER ENTITIES TO DO WORK

SB183: STATE LEGISLATURE TRYING TO ELIMINATE SEALED BIDS & EVADE PUBLIC SCRUTINY BY GIVING TAXPAYER MONEY TO OTHER ENTITIES TO DO WORK

Posted on March 9, 2017

March 9, 2017
Hearing on SB183 March 9, 2017 at 2PM
https://livestream.com/accounts/19771738/events/6811894/videos/151342386

catherine bernard

The following information was sent from Catherine Bernard, a lawyer and political activist. This information shows you how desperately we need to drain the Georgia swamp!

“…to preserve [the people's] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” -Thomas Jefferson

Dear Friends,

With a Republican-controlled state legislature and Republican officials occupying all executive offices in Georgia, you’d think we might get some fiscally conservative policies. This legislative session continues to show how wrong that expectation would be. Other than a few targeted tax breaks for wealthy special interests, like yacht owners and Delta, the 2017 legislative session has been new taxes, more taxes, regulations, and scariest of all – new powers to borrow and lend public money.

Today at 2:00 p.m., in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at the Capitol, the House Transportation Committee will hear testimony onSB183. Most of the coverage of this bill so far has focused on how it would create permanent mandatory toll roads, but that’s only part of the issue. What’s even more dangerous are the provisions eliminating the public competitive bid and sealed bid process requirements for State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) projects, combined with the massive new grants of power to SRTA: to extend credit and make loans to any type of entity, to incorporate multiple non-profit corporations as subsidiaries of SRTA, and to expand the definition of “self-liquidating project” to include not just projects by cities and counties, but by any “person, firm, corporation, limited liability company, or other type of entity”. I.e., they can take your money and give it to literally whoever they want to, and they might even do it through private corporations set up to evade public scrutiny.

The permanent mandatory toll road part is pretty bad too. Georgia law only authorizes the state to charge a toll until the road construction project is fully paid for, e.g. GA 400, where tolls were collected from 1993 to 2013 (and even then, it took dedicated citizen activists holding the government to its promise). Changing this would be a big deal, deserving of much more public debate than we’ve seen on this important topic.
Send an email to the Committee chair, Rep. Kevin Tanner, and the bill sponsor, Sen. Brandon Beach, letting them know what you think of this bill.Email Rep. Tanner Email Sen. Beach Or give them a call: 404.656.3947 and 404.463.1378

Good news on the no-knock search warrant bill, though: I showed up at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing ready to testify against SB94, but the bill sponsor didn’t show up and it was removed from the agenda. Since it didn’t pass the Senate before Crossover Day, technically it’s dead for the session – but this legislation has already been revived too many times, so I’m keeping a close eye on it.

Thanks for engaging with these important issues, so that together we can make our political world more reasonable and thoughtful.

Warm regards,
Catherine
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TWG
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.

www.taxdogs.wordpress.com;www.taxdogs.wordpress.com

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Suspicions surround DeKalb’s ‘missing’ millions by Mark Niesse

Suspicions surround DeKalb’s ‘missing’ millions
By Mark Niesse – The Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 9, 2016

The item is buried on a 4-year-old DeKalb County Purchasing Department spreadsheet: an eyebrow-raising $72,348,739.04 to build a sidewalk.

The actual cost? Just under $1.26 million.

DeKalb officials say the discrepancy is some kind of error — a baffling but harmless mistake.

But the citizens group Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter is more wary. In a county that has seen one government corruption case after another, members of the group say, it’s obvious a comprehensive audit needs to be conducted.

Read entire article at link: http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/suspicions-surround-dekalbs-missing-millions/nsCqL/

https://www.scribd.com/document/317834011/Where-is-the-70-Million-Dollars-that-s-Missing-from-DeKalb-County-Watershed-Department

When to Stop: Sharing the Road with School Buses

When to Stop for School Buses

When to Stop: Sharing the Road with School Buses
Courtesy of SDIA

As DeKalb County students return to school on August 8th, SDIA’s Safety Committee reminds you of Georgia’s law regarding passing school buses.

In most cases, all drivers are required to stop when meeting or overtaking a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing and its stop arm extended when loading or unloading passengers. The only exception to this rule is when highways are separated in the center by a dirt, grass or concrete median. In this situation, only vehicles following or traveling alongside a school bus in the same direction must stop.

A warning that a bus stop is about to take place will always be given with the flashing amber lights on the front and rear of the school bus. Upon seeing these flashing amber lights, vehicles approaching the school bus from both the front and rear should immediately slow down and prepare to stop. All drivers must pay special attention to children, be focused and exercise caution when in the vicinity of a school bus stop, as student riders can sometimes be unpredictable. Once the bus is fully stopped, the flashing red lights will activate and the stop arm will deploy. Vehicles must stop and should remain stopped until all loading students are aboard in the morning or all unloading passengers have cleared 12 feet off the roadway in the afternoon. Motorists should proceed with caution, only after passengers have cleared the roadway, the stop arm is cancelled and the flashing red lights are deactivated.

MULTI-LANE: Paved. Vehicles traveling in both directions MUST STOP.
DIVIDED HIGHWAY: With dirt, grass or barrier median. Vehicles behind MUST STOP. Vehicles traveling in opposite direction must use caution.
TWO LANES: Vehicles traveling in both directions MUST STOP.

Failure to obey the law not only puts the safety of our children at risk but also puts you in a position to be fined. The fine? $300 for a first offense, $750 for a second offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense in a 5-year period. Think you won’t get caught? Every school bus driver who observes a violation is authorized and directed to record the vehicle description, license number of the offending vehicle, and time and place of occurrence and report to local law enforcement agency which has jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred.

South DeKalb Improvement Association, Inc. (SDIA)

Top Nine Zip Codes for Section 8 Housing in DeKalb County, Georgia

Top Nine Zip Codes for Section 8 Housing in DeKalb County, Georgia
By Viola Davis, May 11, 2016

DeKalb County - Section 8 Housing Pic 1

Red Dots – Section 8 Housing in DeKalb County…Glenwood Road, Covington Hwy, Redan Road, and Rockbridge Road…

We have the top nine zip codes for Section 8 Housing to include:

Dekalb County Zip Code; Total Section 8 Housing
1. 30032; 906
2. 30058; 878
3. 30034; 677
4. 30083; 503
5. 30035; 443
6. 30038; 400
7. 30088; 343
8. 30021; 333
9. 30319; 215

DeKalb County - Section 8 Housing Pic 3

Red Dots – Section 8 Housing outside City of Atlanta around Candler Road, Glenwood Road, and Columbia Drive

Thank You to District 1 Office in 2012 for Section 8 Stats

Viola Davis and Ruby Bozeman-Davis CrossRoadsNews 2016 Community Kudos Award Honorees

April 22, 2016

Viola Davis and Ruby Bozeman Davis
Founders of Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter
909 Rays Road
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

Jennifer Ffrench Parker and Curtis Parker
Crossroads Newspaper
2346 Candler Road
Decatur, Georgia 30032

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Parker:

We wanted to take a moment to extend our most sincere thanks for choosing us to receive the CrossroadsNews 2016 Community Kudos Award. We are writing to express our sincere gratitude to you for a memorable and wonderful evening that will stay with us forever. You have no idea how happy you made us when you handed us the award.

We are truly humbled and honored you recognized us with your “Making a Difference Award with Dedicated Service”. Once again, we are very grateful for this reward, which is an excellent morale-booster that will encourage us to continue doing our community ministry work. We are also very appreciative to everyone who helped you make the gala a “must attend” yearly event.

Yours sincerely,

Viola Davis
Co-Founder

ATTENTION: Do You Want Radioactive Waste Stored in Georgia?

Attention logo - red and gold color

A US Department of Energy Consent-Based Siting Public Meeting

Place: Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, 800 Spring Street N.W., Atlanta, GA 30308

Time: April 11, 2016, 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM

Why: The federal government is looking for places to dump tens of thousands of tons of radioactive waste from the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants. They are looking for volunteer communities who would consent to taking this waste.

Questions: Why would any community volunteer to take this dangerous waste? What does the Department of Energy mean by consent? Whose consent is the agency seeking? Is the waste being managed safely at power plant sites where it’s stored now?

These and many more questions should be raised at the meeting. The US Department of energy is holding a series of meetings at different locations across the country. The meeting in Atlanta is our opportunity to ask questions and give our opinions.

nuclear-waste pic

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
www.BREDL.org PO Box 88 Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 BREDL@skybest.com (336) 982-2691

If we leave the field open to the vision of those who are imposing their way upon us without challenge, we will lose everything.

Environmental Justice

It is important to include EJ specifically and consistently in all our principles, comments, correspondence, position papers and talking points during these consent-based meetings. Why? Because all the communities which have ever been selected for radioactive waste have been EJ communities: African American, Hispanic, Appalachian, Native American etc.

In the South, studies of the locations of nuclear generating plants also reveal disproportionate impacts prohibited under the Civil Rights Act. It is of particular interest to us in the Southeast because of the perennial magnet for nuclear waste known as the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. We have the right to say “NO!”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs receiving federal assistance. This overview provides a foundation for our approach to DOE’s so-called consent-based process:

If a recipient of federal assistance is found to have discriminated and voluntary compliance cannot be achieved, the federal agency providing the assistance should either initiate fund termination proceedings or refer the matter to the Department of Justice for appropriate legal action. Aggrieved individuals may file administrative complaints with the federal agency that provides funds to a recipient, or the individuals may file suit for appropriate relief in federal court. Title VI itself prohibits intentional discrimination.

President John F. Kennedy said in 1963: “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.”

Technology Questions

The DOE should choose the best available technology for radioactive waste storage. This should be based on long term safety, not short-term cost savings as is now the case. The DOE must exceed Nuclear Regulatory Commission standards to avoid radiation leaks and potential explosions. Most of the rest of the world uses thick metal storage/transport casks (10” to 20” thick) and stores them in reinforced buildings. They are designed to be maintained. The DOE plans to use inferior thin-walled canisters.

Rather than consent-based siting, DOE efforts and public meetings should be focused on the storage, transport, funding, and states legal authority issues. It would be folly for any community to consent to the transportation and storage of high level spent nuclear fuel until all these issues are resolved.

Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter Founders 2016 Community Kudos Awards Gala Honorees

community kudos award gala

March 4, 2016

Viola Davis and Ruby Bozeman Davis
Founders of Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter
909 Rays Road
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083

Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Crossroads Newspaper
2346 Candler Road
Decatur, Georgia 30032

Dear Mrs. Parker:

We are writing this letter to let you know that we have received your notification that we are one of the 2016 Community Kudos Awards Gala Honorees. We are very pleased and grateful to accept the award. We are honored you are recognizing us with your “Making A Difference Award”.

We are very grateful for this reward, which is an excellent morale-booster that will encourage us to continue doing our community ministry work. We are also very appreciative of those who recommended us to you and for the time and effort you have put into this yearly award process.

Yours sincerely,

Viola Davis
Co-Founder

For More Information on Tickets, Please visit: http://tinyurl.com/2016KudosGala
or call 404-284-1888

CRN honorees_w (1)

Restore DeKalb request Special Prosecutor and Expansion of Public Integrity Unit

barnes sutton head shot

I, Viola Davis, with Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter and Restore DeKalb, submit a new request and report detailing and summarizing an ethics complaint (alleged criminal activity, wrongdoing and malfeasance) against Sharon Barnes Sutton and others within DeKalb County government to the new DeKalb Board of Ethics (2016). I had and continue to have the support of Restore DeKalb with Joel Edwards and a group of citizens striving to “restore” transparency, ethics and accountability in our local and state government.

We request an advisory opinion because new evidence, documentation and witnesses have come forth to prove the code of ethics and state law were violated. The additional information will prove that the actions of a select group of elected officials and top administrators undermined the law to the point that the ethics case against Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton would need to be forwarded to:

1. A Special Prosecutor with the District Attorney and/or Solicitor General’s office. The District Attorney Robert James has a conflict of interest with Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton due to his close relationship with Warren Mosby, the prior boyfriend of Barnes Sutton and James’ campaign consultant.

2. An expansion of the Public Integrity Unit to include a cross section of law enforcement such as the local police department under Dr. Cedric Alexander with the FBI/GBI as oversight agents. The Public Integrity Unit investigates allegations of wrongdoing by elected officials and appointed officials.

We presented an earlier ethics complaint against Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee to the DeKalb County Board of Ethics that was well documented and showed Barnes Sutton and Brownlee violated codes within Section 22A (c) (1-7) of the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances known as the Code of Ethics. Unfortunately, Barnes Sutton filed a lawsuit against the Board of Ethics proclaiming the board was unconstitutional. She questioned the authority of the board to sit in judgment of officials’ behavior, arguing that it undermines the fundamental due process rights. Despite DeKalb voters approving the new ethics law by 92% back in November of 2015, Sharon Barnes Sutton delayed the ethics board hearings which ultimately denied the public justice.

CBS46 News

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied – Short Version

barnes sutton head shot
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied – Official statement to cancellation of Commissioner Barnes Sutton’s ethics hearing

“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”, stated by William E. Gladstone, a British politician who served four terms as Prime Minister, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Justice Too Long Delayed is Justice Denied” in his letter from the Birmingham jail in 1963. As government watchdogs and community missionaries, it is our opinion that the ruling by Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson to stay the ethics hearing scheduled for November 12, 2015 was based on inaccurate and misleading information that she received from Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s attorney, Dwight L. Thomas. We view this action to be nothing more than a delay tactic that denies the taxpayers and voters of DeKalb County justice.

We initially filed the ethics complaint against Barnes Sutton and her top aide, Judy Brownlee, on May 30, 2014 (not on or about March 27, 2015 as stated in Thomas’ motion) with the addition of the 1st amendment on June 10, 2014. We received the support of Restore DeKalb in our efforts to ensure transparency, ethics and accountability. We work with several coalitions to hold our elected officials accountable to remove this “Cloud of Corruption”. The complaint is over 17 months old.

Throughout 2014 and 2015 thus far, we have submitted many amendments and summaries to this complaint. Dwight Thomas stated in the motion that the Complainant, Viola Davis, was a “no show” without identifying the fact that a continuance for medical issues was requested within the time limit, not to mention the 1st and only continuance requested after waiting over 15+ months for the “preliminary hearing”. Thomas also stated that no evidence was presented, despite the fact that over 699 pages (total collective pages) of documentation was presented to the Board of Ethics, a majority of which was placed online with over 6,773 views (total collective views).

It is unfortunate that the most protected position in this “right to work” state of Georgia is the taxpayers’ funded position called “elected officials”. This complaint demonstrates the tactics used to demean taxpayers and voters who attempt to hold elected officials accountable and/or attempt to petition the government.

Our original complaint is online and has over 1,486 views – please view the link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/230079667/Commissioner-Sharon-Barnes-Sutton-and-Judy-Brownlee-Ethics-Complaint-and-Amendment.

To date, we have filed a total of three complaints in our attempt to hold DeKalb County elected officials and government staff accountable to include:

1. Kelvin Walton and Nina Hall complaint titled, “Restore Public Trust Ethics Complaint” was filed March 17, 2014 (15 pages and 3,049 views). Kelvin Walton resigned and Nina Hall was terminated on October 6, 2014. Both were involved in the conviction of CEO Burrell Ellis. CEO Burrell Ellis was convicted of one count of criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion and three counts of perjury on approximately July 8, 2015. View link – https://www.scribd.com/doc/212831368/Restore-Public-Trust-Ethics-Complaint
2. Elaine Boyer and Bob Lundsten complaint was filed April 3, 2014 (23 pages and 1492 views). Boyer pled guilty on September 3, 2014 to charges of mail and wire fraud. She was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison for defrauding DeKalb taxpayers and to pay $87,350 in restitution to the county. View link – https://www.scribd.com/doc/218015213/Commissioner-Elaine-Boyer-and-Bob-Lundsten-Ethics-Complaint
3. Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee complaint filed May 30, 2014 (33 pages and 1486 views). View link – https://www.scribd.com/doc/230079667/Commissioner-Sharon-Barnes-Sutton-and-Judy-Brownlee-Ethics-Complaint-and-Amendment

We intend to finish this process in our efforts to hold our elected officials accountable. We ask the taxpayers and voters to get more involved in our movement to root out corruption in DeKalb County. We ask everyone to review the Barnes Sutton attorney’s Motion to Stay, this press release, along with a timeline of actions we have taken in an attempt to hold Barnes Sutton and Brownlee accountable.

We are providing everyone with a timeline, dating back to the date of our original complaint which was May 30, 2014. Our intention in providing this timeline was to encourage the DeKalb Board of Ethics to take immediate steps to proceed post haste and take our requested actions so that public trust in our DeKalb County government is restored. We need no more delays and/or excuses that only favor the accused elected official, Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. View the link – https://www.scribd.com/doc/289418235/Justice-Delayed-is-Justice-Denied-With-Barnes-Sutton-and-Brownlee-Timeline

View the AJC article written by Mark Niesse (11/10/2015), “Ethics case against DeKalb Commissioner Sutton put on hold” – http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/ethics-case-against-dekalb-commissioner-sutton-put/npKkM/

The timeline of our submittal of information and documents is as follows:
Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee Timeline and Documents

https://www.scribd.com/doc/289418235/Justice-Delayed-is-Justice-Denied-With-Barnes-Sutton-and-Brownlee-Timeline