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DeKalb could lose two State Reps.

July 29, 2011 Comments off

That’s right folks. DeKalb, since it has grown slower than its exurban counterparts to the north will more than likely lose two of its state representatives to some far flung semi-rural backwater in the north Georgia mountains. That from the lips of district 90 representative Howard Mosby who was in attendance at the redistricting meeting held by Kathie Gannon in Gresham Park this week. Though he did not call it a rural backwater, Mosby’s speculation sort of mirrors what I posted last week about congressional redistricting in DeKalb. Power in the state house and Congress is leapfrogging the southern parts of the metro in favor of the far northern counties. From a political standpoint it means a smaller voice in the legislature. From an economic standpoint, it could mean fewer dollars for things like roads and transit. No details came forward as to which representatives would lose their seat, but Mosby did say that during redistricting, recently voted in members have an advantage. But that’s not all. Our school districts will go from nine to seven thanks to recently passed legislation. That means two members could be drawn out or forced to run against another incumbent. Again those recently elected have an advantage over those who have not faced a re-election since 2010. Those of you who wanted Cunningham or Copelin-Woods gone may have to wait for another election cycle. And finally, our esteemed board of commissioners will have their districts redrawn. District 5, Lee Mays dominion, is the largest district by size and population, so it will have to be cut down to help districts three and four become more balanced in terms of population. No one will be drawn out of the commission districts, though several are up for re-election.

As I was writing the above, the AJC posted what could be the first version of new congressional districts in Georgia. From what I can tell, DeKalb county will have three reps instead of four. It looks like David Scott in the 13th had the few thousand people in extreme South DeKalb taken away and put into John Lewis’ 5th district. As I was told by a politician recently, the 4th did slide further east taking in all of Rockdale, and some of Newton. From this map I cannot tell for sure if the 6th dipped further down into DeKalb, but it does look as though most of north DeKalb and North Atlanta are now in the 6th district. If this map holds, it looks like all three Democrats in Atlanta Metro are safe. I do wonder though if stretching the 4th all the way to Newton wouldn’t make the 4th a little more conservative, and give Hank Johnson a challenge for his seat. Of the three metro area Democrats, Hanks seat may be the least safe. Here is a copy of the map.

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Redistricting coming to DeKalb

July 22, 2011 1 comment

I chatted with a local politician recently, and we covered a mryiad of topics including redistricting that will add a 14th congressional seat for Georgia. The seat is going to go to an exurban county on the outer fringes of the northern metro was his evaluation. With that additional seat comes a redrawing of all congressional district lines in georgia. Since Repiublicans control al three branches of Goverment in Georgia, it is a foregone conclusion that the seat will be drawn in such a fashion that a Republican will win the seat with ease. As for the other districts, compromise and legal precedent will shape how those districts are drawn. From what I am told, the fourth district represented by Hank Johnson will be extended futher east taking in the rest of Rockdale county and parts of Newton county.  If the 4th is moved further east, then you may see the fifth moving further east as well. I can remember when the 5th was generally the city of Atlanta. it has since expanded to areas of DeKalb that border the city. In the new alignment, the 5th would suck up what is much of DeKalb inside the perimeter and and South of interstate 85 on the northside. The 5th would become an inside the perimeter district with a few exceptions. I was also told that the fith could extend down into Clayton County to take in parts of riverdale wich is now part of the 13th district represented by David Scott. If that happens, then the 13th would be cut off from the rest of the district in the western part of the metro. That could mean that David Scotts district could be the sacrificial lamb in the redistricting talks. The sixth district in north DeKalb could extend further south down to I-85 inside of 285. If all of this holds true, then DeKalb will continue to be represented by four different congressmen, more than any jurisdiction in the state. Want more info on redistricting, go here to see meeting schedules and times

Issues South DeKalb should keep an eye on.

June 7, 2011 1 comment

Congressional District Lines

the redrawing of congressional lines and legislature lines will take center stage this summer. In August, a special session will begin the process of redrawing district lines to accommodate this states increase in population. As it stands the legislature will have 14 districts to draw as oppose to 13. Since republicans control all three branches of state government, you can expect Democrats to fare poorly during this once a decade redrawing. I for one hope the legislature looks at how DeKalb is carved up. DeKalb, with a population around 750 thousand has 4 congressional districts. That’s more than Fulton or Gwinnett. The legislature should bring all of DeKalb that is not in the 6th district or in the city of Atlanta back into the fourth. See a possible district breakdown here. DeKalb is basically an urban county with issues that more align with the central city than with more rural areas like Rockdale, or Henry, or South Fulton county. It is going to be interesting to see how the legislature deals with DeKalb. Aside from the congressional redrawing,  what could have a greater impact on DeKalb is the representation in the statehouse. As the AJC has reported on several occasions, DeKalb, along with Fulton has not kept pace in terms of growth with its exurban counterparts. In the state legislature DeKalb could lose a seat or two, weakening its delegation in the statehouse. That weakening would be a strengthening for a county like Forsyth wich has only a fraction of the population of DeKalb. If DeKalb does lose a seat or two, we all can guess where those seats will come from. If you want more info on the redrawing, check out this Google search

Transportation

In the fall people all across the Metro area will vote whether or not to tax themselves an additional penny to fund transportation infrastructure throughout the region. By late August we should know exactly wich projects voters will be asked to fund. Many projects will affect South DeKalb. Things like mass transit, road improvements and interchange improvements are all on the list for DeKalb. I have stated in a prior post that I am not against a self-imposed tax for better transportation service throughout the metro. What I fear is that DeKalb residents will pay more and receive less. Rail service has been talked about in South DeKalb for decades, but none has materialized. The state DOT has already nixed the idea of rail service to Conyers, and rightfully so. The density of the population that far out just doesn’t warrant it just yet. But some sort of rail service to South DeKalb is long overdue. Two options benefitting South DeKalb could be placed on the final list for voters to approve. One  is rail transit from downtown to Candler Road and the other is  an extension of the Blue Line to Wesley Chapel. The cynic in me says neither will get the needed support from the roundtable that is tasked with providing the final list. If the final list comes out, and all we get in DeKalb are interchange improvements and other areas get more options, I would be inclined to say no to a new tax. But I will keep an open mind about the whole thing.

Policing

A friend of mine had his home broken into recently. The police responded and we started talking about police coverage where he lives. What he told me was astonishing. He said on any given night there are four cars patrolling an area from Moreland Avenue to Wesley Chapel/Flakes Mill Rd south of I-20. Yea that’s a huge area. I was shocked that an area that is so huge would have only four cars. My first instinct was to think the officer was exaggerating, but when a second car showed up, he said the same thing without knowing what we and the previous officer had spoken about. After a little bit of searching, I found this map of the South Precinct. If these divisions represent individual beats within the precinct, then I can see how its possible for only four cars to patrol the area. But even worse is that these same areas are becoming crime-ridden but a surge in police coverage has not kept pace.  It seems to me that the police are in a respond to incidents stage than proactively policing areas that are vulnerable to criminal activity.

Breakfast with Stan Watson and Friends

April 6, 2011 3 comments

An update to this post. After some bouncing around, I found a story about a bill that would have granted a charter to a new City of Brookhaven. House Bill 636 was sponsored by Mike Jacobs and Tom Taylor who represent the North DeKalb area. The bill was dropped by Jacobs, but his HB 428 is still alive.

 

This past weekend I attended one of the many breakfast sessions that DeKalb Commissioner Stan Watson holds on a regular basis. I went to the meeting because the line-up was a who’s who of South DeKalb democratic politicians. Alongside Stan, was fellow commissioner Lee May, Several state legislators including Rahn Mayo, Howard Mosby, and Pam Stephenson. Also in attendance, John Evans from the NAACP and Jesse Cunningham, who was there as a replacement for Superintendent Ramona Tyson who could not make it. There were members of the DeKalb Police command as well as the newly appointed fire chief. There were several state senators, representatives and business interests whose names I could not get. The turnout was probably 90 percent of the capacity at the Chapel Hill MS cafeteria. The main focus of these sessions is to provide information and updates about what our representatives in state and local positions are doing. I commend commissioner Watson on his efforts. He not only brought in elected officials, but also in attendance were county employees who discussed an overhaul to the county’s personal care home ordinance. There was also a representative from the Department of Watershed Management who explained why we should not be pouring grease or grease containing foods down our drains. A representative from Autism Speaks was in attendance as well, and she provided info on the upcoming walk for autism.  For me the highlight of the program was when a young kid diagnosed with Autism took to the microphone to present a painting of his to Watson. All was not peaches and cream though. I came away from the session a bit more informed about some issues, but was less than enthusiastic about the representatives we put into office. My very first impression was that this was some sort of fraternity of politicians where, if you were not a member,  your concerns took a backseat to the handshakes and pats on the back by members of the fraternity and their friends. A quick chat with Lee May about crime along the River Road corridor yielded an answer about development planning along Bouldercrest to River Road. Not to be downplaying any plan for redevelopment, but I was more concerned about the quality of life crimes that are so prevalent along River, Panthersville, and Flatshoals Pkwy. I told Mr. May that if the county allows those subdivisions to fall, it would be like pushing over dominoes. Once one falls the others will surely follow. Even a talk with one state representative (I cannot name him since I got in a question without identifying myself and my intentions) about HB 428, yielded a shrug of the shoulders and a reply of I don’t know. HB 428 is an annexation and incorporation bill for North DeKalb and Brookhaven area. I for one believe that the many wounds that afflict parts of South DeKalb are self-inflicted, but I would expect our leadership to have our best interest at heart when they decide to run for political office. Given the turnout  for this session, I think there are plenty of folks in South DeKalb trying to keep the area from total disaster. I wonder if the politicians we elected have the same desire.

A quick conversation with Cory Ruth

February 4, 2011 4 comments

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Cory Ruth recently about issues that affect DeKalb County, and our little chat shed some insight on the man who once sought to replace Hank Johnson as the 4th distict representative from Georgia. We discussed several issues including his possible plans to seek elected office in 2012. He did not rule out a possible run for Congress again, but said he wanted to wait to see how the Legislature would handle redistricting of congressional lines. We both were in agreement that DeKalb should be consolidated into one or two congressional districts instead of the four districts we presently have. When asked if there was a local office he would run for, specifically CEO of DeKalb, he would only state that he had not decided, and would have to take a serious look at the numbers before he would even consider such a move. He reiterated that he would seek no office where he did not have a reasonable chance of winning. As a Republican, Ruth would have a hard time trying to get DeKalb’s top job.

We also talked developement opportunities in South DeKalb. He saw opportunity for South DeKalb to have economic growth in the near future. His pro-buisness approach was refreshing. He said he would love to talk to businesses who have located in counties outside of DeKalb to help determine what was it about DeKalb that turned them away. He also said he would talk with businesses in DeKalb and ask them why they are in DeKalb. He would use that info to try and lure more businesses to DeKalb. Given it’s proximity to the airport and access to several major interstates, Ruth found it hard to believe that Dekalb could not attract more businesses especially outside of the perimeter area. He also talked about how more businesses in DeKalb would put less strain on families who now spend up to two hours daily traveling to and from their places of employment. This, he believes would have a positive impact on parents who find it hard to be more active in their kids education and social lives.

When I asked if a Republican could win an elected office in DeKalb, he said yes, but would have to make some serious progress in convincing the African-American vote in South DeKalb that Republicans have a plan that will bring jobs and economic growth to the area. He pointed out me a project in New York where faith based and business organizations are reviving communities by providing educational opportunities, housing, and business support to local communities all without government intervention. Ruth believes that government intervention is not the complete answer to the ills that affect DeKalb, but he also said the old “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” adage is a not the only answer either.

Ruth strikes me as a common sense person who would definitely abandon the old ways of doing business. He is young, intelligent and very deliberate in his thoughts and ideas. Could he win a seat in Congress from DeKalb? Probably not. Could he be the next CEO of DeKalb? I would not bet my paycheck on it. If he were to decide to run for office again, he would have a mighty hill to climb to overcome entrenched Democrat loyalty in DeKalb. He says that he made some mistakes in his run for Congress in 2010, but that he learned from those mistakes and would do things differently a second time around. I for one would like to see him run for CEO of DeKalb. If the citizens of DeKalb truly want to see this county rise again, electing a fresh face and inserting some new ideas into the conversation will go a long way in making that rise possible. DeKalb needs a new direction and a new mindset. If we continue to go down the path we are presently on we will never return to the days when DeKalb was a place people actually wanted to live and play in.

Inside the numbers – BOE Elections

November 11, 2010 9 comments

OK, I looked at the precinct level numbers for the BOE election from earlier this month and they tell a better story about how some candidates fared. In district three,  Sarah Copelin-Woods did not cruise to a victory. Lets remember she got 51 percent of the vote. It looks bad because her opponents Holt and Wilson got 18 and 30 percent respectively. But if you look at from a precinct level, Woods only walked away with two precincts. In both she had a ten point differential between her and her combined opponents. She actually lost seven of the 25 precincts. I think it is fair to say she squeaked by. Also lets not forget that Robert Holt did no campaigning, and attended no forums. He pulled nearly 1/5th of the vote on name and dissatisfaction alone. Had he put an effort into this race we would be talking about a run-off in the 3rd.

In district 5, it was a wash. Jay Cunningham got 60 plus percent in every precinct save one, and in that one he got 57 percent.  The voters in district 5 are obviously happy with their representation.

In District 7,  Zepora Roberts won no precincts outright. In fact the closest she came to winning a precinct was a tie in Snapfinger Elementary precinct. In all the other precincts the combined opponents percent of the vote was double digits over Roberts. In half the precincts it was 25 percent or more. Roberts lost outright to Donna Edler in seven precincts. In Contrast, Edler lost four precincts to Roberts. In a nutshell, Edler, with thirty percent of the vote, is within range to unseat Roberts. Roberts has a heck of a hill to climb if she wants top keep that seat. When looking at the numbers, I have to wonder if Willie Mosley sucked votes from Edler or from Roberts. Mosley got 22 percent of the vote. If he sucked votes from Edler,  She will be a shoo-in to win. If he sucked votes from Roberts, we may have a WTF moment on December 1st. I spoke to Mr. Mosley and he has strong opinions about both candidates. He has a dislike for Roberts , who he sees as taking the schools in that district down among other issues, and he thinks Edler is unprepared for the seat. If he gets vocal, in the next couple of weeks I think he can get quite a few people to go back to the polls. We will have to wait and see if Enough people are upset enough to return to the polls on what will almost assuredly be a defining moment for DeKalb schools.

Finally a look at the numbers in district 9. Since this is a so called super district, it encompasses neighborhoods from the south and central parts of the county. Ella Smith essentially won the precincts above Memorial Drive, and Walker those south of Memorial. There were some notable exceptions. Walker one four precincts in the Emory area. Not only did he win them, he won them by double digits. He also ran a closer race in all the other precints than Smith did. Smith won ten precints by more than ten percent. Walker on the other hand won 44 by ten percent or more. Walker recieved at  least 40 percent of the vote in every precinct except one. Walkers strength was in South DeKalb precincts, but he ran strong enough in all precints unlike Smith. Walker was put back in office by residents throughout the district.

The numbers can be had if you go to DeKalbs website for elections here and download the statement of vote. Here are the excel documents I created from the election results database.

BOE-D7 Results

BOE-D3 Results

BOE-D9 Results

 

Mid-term elections: My final analysis

November 3, 2010 Comments off

Well the voters spoke and what they said spoke volumes here locally especially at the school board level. I have not seen turnout numbers yet, but it seems there were better than expected turnouts especially for South DeKalb.

The Republican sacrificial lamb went down in flames against Hank Johnson. I will admit, I was not surprised by the Johnson victory. After all this is an overwhelmingly democratic district. What was surprising was that Liz Carter did not get a higher percentage of votes. Historically, Republicans have gotten about a third of the vote. Carter got only 25 percent. She lost all three counties, but kept it close in Rockdale and Gwinnett. In GWX she won 43 percent and I Rockdale she won 47 percent. It was DeKalb that cost her big time. DeKalb was won by Johnson 79 percent to 20 percent. That is a pure rejection by DeKalb voters of the Republican candidate. I cannot wait to see actual precinct numbers. Carter showed her face at events in South DeKalb more than Johnson, so I would like to see how bad she actually did in southern precincts. These numbers confirm to me that no Republican no matter how moderate can win in the fourth short of redistricting which is coming soon.

Democrat David Scott cruised into another term taking out Republican challenger Mike Crane by more than 2 to 1. Crane lost in every county in the district. The only county where it was close was Douglas, he was  just over 1000 votes behind. The rest were a wash. The Secretary of State’s office is reporting that as of lunchtime Wednesday, only two-thirds of Cobbs vote had been recorded, but I doubt there are enough out there to change the outcome.

The two races above and the 5th district with John Lewis tells me that Democrats have a stranglehold on certain districts, and they can rest assured that those districts will deliver to the Democrats quite reliably. Now let’s see if the Democrats return the favor. To see just how the Democrats have DeKalb in their pocket, consider this; of the major statewide races (Gov., Lt. Gov., SOS, AG, Insurance and Agriculture Commissioner, Labor Commissioner and State School Super.), every Democrat running for those offices got 70 plus percent of the vote.

 

I did not cover the Governor’s race to tough because after the primary it was obvious which party was going to be in the state capitol. What I do want to touch on is redistricting. The Republicans hold all the key statewide positions that influence how districts will be drawn. With Georgia’s population growth in the last decade we are going to get at least one additional House representative and possibly a second. If that’s the case, districts will have to be redrawn. Democrats are going to have a tough time getting districts drawn anywhere near what they want to see. And although the Obama Justice Department has to approve any possible redraw, it is going to be very interesting to see where we all fall in the new order. DeKalb which covers parts of four districts, could see drastic changes in the next year or so. Watch the 13th. People do not like how it meanders around the perimeter from South DeKalb To southern Cobb County. Also watch the 4th. One representative is rumored to want to see the sixth drop further down from its present borders.

Now to the school board. When I first saw initial results on election night around 10 pm I was livid. All of the challengers were behind and behind big. Within a couple of hours the numbers had started to settle and things did not look too bad. As it stands now, no incumbent was defeated outright. District 1 and 7 are going to a runoff. District 3, 5, and 9 are wins for the incumbent. If all things hold as they are, only two seats stand a chance at changing. To me that is not enough. It says overall the citizens are satisfied with the direction of the school board. Donna Edler came close to unseating Zepora Roberts, but fell short. In district 1 Nancy Jester finished at the top but could not clear the 50 plus 1 hurdle. Two things about the run-off in both districts. In both, the incumbent actually received less votes. In District 1 if you combine jesters totals with that of Merope Gillis, the voters actually wanted Jim Redovian out. The voters who wanted Redovian out just split on who they wanted. The same was evident in the 7th. Sixty-one percent of votes cast were against Zepora Roberts. If these trends hold those two seats are gains for those who think it is time for a change. The second observation is will enough voters remain discontent and return to the polls to deliver the message they sent on Tuesday. After all people wanted to see something change in those two districts. If bad news continues to flow out about DeKalb schools then the challengers can win. If the fight is gone and people do not show, the incumbents can get more of their people to the polls and that means sure defeat in the run-off for Jester and Edler.

A couple of other things on the board. Jay Cunningham received 64 percent of the vote in district 5. A man with a felony theft conviction and possible conflicts of interest should have had a rougher time than he did. What is really depressing is that there was one a possibly two candidates that were clearly qualified to do the job. In the past SACS has said that accreditation was not on the line in DeKalb. The also stated they wanted to see how the lections turn out. If none of the challengers’ win in run-offs, will this affect SACS view of the system.

 

DeKalb Results here: http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/pdf/GEResult11102010.pdf