Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is The DeKalb Developmental Authority about to vote to give Sembler a 20 Year tax abatement for the Brookhaven project? Will this help our schools?

Is The DeKalb Development Authority about to vote to give Sembler a 20 year tax abatement for the Brookhaven project? Many sources suggested that with the bad economy Sembler is likely having a tough time with that project, so this kind of thing might be expected.

The Sembler family is known or strongly suspected to buy what they want from politicians by donating heavily to their campaigns. Should we expect this, since Dr. Walker took about 17-18 thousand dollars for his campaign from the Sembler family for his bid for the district 9 school board position? Why was Dr. Walker also allowed by the DeKalb County Commission to remain a member of the DeKalb Development Authority even though he is a school board member? Dr. Walker has been the chairman of this committee in the past. Is he still the chairman of this committee? I did hear through the grapevine that he would not be the chairman but I have not heard for sure one way or another.

It is my understanding that the Sembler family also made contributions to several of our county commissioners in one way or another. Is this true or false? Was my grapevine information correct or incorrect?

IF this happens how do you feel about it? Will it be good for the DeKalb County School System and DeKalb County or is it a sad that Sembler can pay off our elected officials to get what he wants? Will he also be allowed by the school board to buy the school board property on North Druid Hills Road? Is this the real reason the Marine High School is not moving to the property on North Druid Hills? Dr. Lewis did say himself it would be the best location, but due to not having a lunchroom it can not be used as a Marine High School? Why is this property fine for the DeKalb High School For the Arts and not for the Marine High School?

69 comments:

Open+Transparent said...

Gene Walker has no ethics. Burrell Ellis, the county commissioners, and Board of Education members have allowed this incredible breach of ethics to occur.

Cerebration said...

Let's not forget Sembler's $20,000 to Elaine Boyer's daughters and some of the other Lakeside cheerleaders.

Ella Smith said...

I totally understand. Will this in the long run be positive for the school system or negative? Will this bring in more taxes for the county in the future which will help the school system?

Is Gene Walker behind this? Would the school board or school super not help Gene Walker in this project or talk about TADS and is this what upset Gene Walker and the reason for his little speech about disagreeing with the school super and some school board members and the super? I have been wondering what his little speech at the end of the last school board meeting was all about. He announced he would work with the school super and he was not behind a push to get rid of him as the rumors indicated.

themommy said...

Folks in the Chamblee Community might already say that it has been positive for their school in that it removed a huge amount of low income housing. (However, a group of concerned Brookhaven residents did fight the redevelopment of the area because of this housing complex and got significant financial benefits for the renters there.)

Sembler gave 100K+ to Ashford Park elementary. I think this also served to silence his critics.

I think this is not an appropriate use of a tax abatement as that area would likely have redeveloped on its own.

It my opinion Sembler is SOL for his poor timing. (If the economy was strong and healthy, it is unlikely they would be asking for this.)

http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2009/04/13/daily57.html

Cerebration said...

Reposting - from the old blog -

Monday, January 5, 2009
Dr. Eugene Walker - Someone to Watch...

Did you know…

Dr. Eugene Walker – our newly elected representative for District 9 on the DeKalb County School Board - has also served on numerous boards for the county – and currently STILL serves as the Chair of the DeKalb Development Authority?

Did you know that the DeKalb County School Board and the DeKalb Development Authority are not his only responsibilities? Eugene Walker currently serves as the Chairman of The Private Hospital Authority of DeKalb County and The Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly of DeKalb County as well.

Development Authorities were created by the Georgia General Assembly in for the purpose of promoting trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities for the public good and to promote the general welfare of the State. The Development Authority of DeKalb County was established in 1974 to promote economic development within DeKalb. It assists in financing business facilities and equipment for job creation and expansion. Do these goals align or conflict with the goals of a school system?

Did you know that the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia deemed the practice of using school taxes to fund developments known as TAD’s unconstitutional?

Did you know that the Georgia Legislature introduced and voters in November, passed an Amendment to the Georgia Constitution allowing School Boards to take part in funding these private developments using school tax dollars?

Did you know that one of the private developers with the deepest pockets, the Sembler Company – the people who tried to buy and develop school property at North Druid Hills Road also contributed at least $18,000 to the recent winning School Board campaign of Eugene Walker?

One more thing – did you also know – Dr. Lewis – Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools - was sponsored into the Commerce Club by Eugene Walker?

Think about it. Are these connections to developers good or bad for someone elected to serve our schools? We'll be watching...

Anonymous said...

Did you know that two of our new board members specifically asked Dr. Lewis to remove two of his appointees to the SPLOST III Oversight Committee? Ernest Brown and Marshall Orson were both booted off the committee at the request of these BOE members - guess who?

Cerebration said...

Are you serious? For what reasons? Those two are hard workers -- is that the problem?

Anonymous said...

You'll have to ask Dr. Walker and Mr. McChesney why - I cannot think of any VALID reason. I just know what happened, not why.

Cerebration said...

Sour grapes, perhaps? Oh - that can't be it - McChesney and Walker won!

Anonymous said...

What makes is even more egregious is the fact that Ernest and Marshall were Dr. Lewis' appointees; Dr. Walker and Mr. McChesney had already appointed their own committee members. But then again, I guess maybe it's business as usual in DK.

Cerebration said...

Does this fall under "micro-managing"? It sounds like a slippery Clayton County type slope...

Cerebration said...

As reported in the AJC - TADs aren't always the most brilliant solution.

Atlanta school leaders are renegotiating with the city how much school property tax money should be used to support such community redevelopment projects as the Beltline.

Staff members from the school district and the Atlanta Development Authority will sit down this week to discuss letting the school system keep some of the $18 million that is supposed to help fund various projects, including the Beltline, a 22-mile loop of transit, trails, parks and development around the city.

School board chairwoman LaChandra Butler Burks said the school system wants to continue supporting the city’s programs but can’t afford now to give away as much because of state funding cuts and reductions in local property tax revenue. The district’s proposed 2010 general fund is about $653 million, about $9 million less than this year’s total.

“We need to recoup some of our lost money and we hope to reach a good agreement for everyone involved,” Butler Burks said.
.

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2009/04/14/atlanta_schools_tads.html

Cerebration said...

From Dr. Walker's bio website - I assume this is from the campaign and perhaps he is no longer "chair" of the DDA.

Dr. Walker also belongs to and holds office in various criminal justice professional organizations, including the American Correctional Association, the Georgia Correctional Association, the national Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the Parole Association of Georgia and the American Probation and Parole Association.

Dr. Walker currently serves as chairman of the Development Authority of DeKalb County, the Private Hospital Authority of DeKalb County and the Senior Residential Care Authority of DeKalb County. Dr. Walker is also chairman of the Georgia Chapter of Westcare, a national organization that manages the operations of children's shelters.
EXPERIENCE
State Senator - 4 terms 1984-1992
Vice President, DeKalb College 1981-1985
Exec. VP, DeKalb Tech 1985-1989
Assoc. Superintendent, DeKalb School System 1989-1995
Commissioner, Department of Juvenile Justice 1995-1999
State Board of Pardons and Paroles 1999-2006
Chair, Development Authority of DeKalb
Chair, Georgia Chapter of Westcare

EDUCATION
Ph.D. in History at Duke University, 1978
Masters of Arts in History, Atlanta University, 1969
Certificate in Southern History, Johns Hopkins University, 1968
Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, Clark College, 1958

----

Seeing Dr. Walker's history in history - he should be excited over this new law -

SB 27, Bulloch – 11 Confederate Heritage and History Month shall be April. The shared history and cultural inheritance of this era is encouraged to be shared by all officialdom including county commissions, city councils, boards of education, colleges and universities. The Civil War Commission is encouraged to develop a curriculum for K-12 and post secondary.

themommy said...

Ernest was actually Elizabeth Andrew's appointee so he would have needed to be appointed by a different board member. Guess Walker isn't such a good winner.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow found Walker's history fascinating. Here's an individual with many history degrees. Here's also an individual who's been tied to bond issuance for housing, (some has been done through the development authority), industrial, retail, assisted living centers, hospitals.
The part that I found most
fascinating- his interest in prisons and incarceration. There's some BIG BUCKS there. Look at the Dekalb County Jail and Juvenile Jail.
Don't jails tend to get more business when schools fail? Guess I'll have to bone up on some history.

Ella Smith said...

I am disappointed that Ernest Brown and Marshall Orson were both booted off the SPLOTS III committee at the request of these BOE members. Don McChesney indicated he wanted to work with both Marshall Orson and I because of our interest in the school system. I am very disappointed that Don is not continuing to work with Marshall. I am not shocked but I am very disappointed. Marshall would have done an excellent job for the school system.

I am also extremely disappointed that Dr. Walker did not continue to appoint Ernest Brown. It is sad. I guess neither one of them want to see these gentlemen involved in decision making or recommendations at this level.

I fear that some micro-management may be going on and I sincerely hope this is not the case. Some of the school board members do seem to be trying to be very involved in the day to day operations of the schools which should not be happening.

Dan Magee said...

DeKalb County residents, school parents, and taxpayers cannot do any better than having Ernest Brown and Marshall Orson on the SPLOST III Oversight Committee. Both are highly intelligent and know our school system well. And they listen to people.

I hope that whomever made the poor decision to remove them from the SPLOST III Oversight Committee can rectify such a massive blunder, and gets them back on the SPLOST committee. It's a much more effective committee with them on it.

Cerebration said...

No more massive a blunder than not electing them to the school board in the first place. Oh well - the voters spoke - and they wanted Gene Walker and Don McChesney. Whatchagonndo? Tis a Republic after all.

Ella Smith said...

Dan, I totally agree but the school board approved the new SPLOT III committee at the school board meeting last week so the decision is made.

I know their are some hard feelings between Don and Marshall. I just thought Don would work with Marshall as he indicated he would. I guess I was wrong.

I am not shocked about Dr. Walker not wanting Earnest on the committee.

I think both of them are concerned about their next elections.

I wish Dr. Lewis made the decision and school board members were not involved.

Ella Smith said...

Now Cerebration you are leaving me out of the picture on the school board race. I beat both Don and Marshall in the general elections. My voters just stayed home during the run-off.

I do agree through that Marshall and Earnest would be good school board members. I like and respect both of them very much.

But, I will run again either for position 2 or 9. I will probable rune for district 9 if it is still around in 1 year. We will see. I am curious to see if Earnest runs for one of the other spots that might come available in his district. I think he might be in Sara Woods district, but I could be wrong. I heard she may not run again.

Cerebration said...

Sorry bout that Ella - I should've mentioned your near trouncing of Don in the runoff - I hope you do run again - you are very open and honest and make decisions based on what's best for children.

Ella Smith said...

I will run again. I told Don that right after the election.

But, the difference is that for the first time I would consider running for the at-large position which Dr. Walker holds. It would not bother me after I saw that he told all that money from Sembler.

Lefty said...

People as talented and smart as Ernest and Marshall will have no problem staying involved in making DeKalb schools better.

Gene Walker is definitely someone to watch. He loves TADS and all other incendiary ways to spread dollars for his developer friends.

themommy is right. Ernest Brown was Mrs. Andrews' appointment to SPLOST 3 committee and it was probably Walker's choice not to reappoint him. Furthermore, Marshall Orson was originally Dr. Lewis' appointment. And for some reason, Dr. Lewis removed him. Don had nothing to do with it. Don's appointments were Janet Haury from Druid Hills and Eddie Rhinehart from Sagamore Hills.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the clarification Lefty!

Lefty said...

Sometimes the anonymous posters can pour destructive fuel on the rumor flames.

For the most part, this board is really working hard to look at issues from a county-wide perspective. It's really encouraging to see. Change does take some time. And when folks are a frustrated and concerned as we are, it often feels too slow.

Open+Transparent said...

Sometimes the anonymous posters can pour destructive fuel on the rumor flames.

-And sometimes the anonymous posters are brilliant. And sometimes the anonymous posters bring attenton to DCSS' dirty little secrets, like the third world facilities at Sequoyah and Cross Keys.


For the most part, this board is really working hard to look at issues from a county-wide perspective. It's really encouraging to see. Change does take some time. And when folks are a frustrated and concerned as we are, it often feels too slow.

-Some of the board members are trying, but Gene Walker, Zepora Roberts and Sarah Copelin-Wood still have the woe is me, North DeKalb vs. South DeKalb, we must have more money for the school system instead of reigning in spending philosophy.

Kim Gokce said...

I think some of the questions raised about Dr. Walker's various positions and potential conflicts are valid. However, I think we have to judge the man on his job performance.

What has he said that has fired up many of you? What decision or vote is he on BOE record with that we should question?

If you believe he should not have been elected to office, hard cheese. That is moot.

I also have to contradict the notion that Dr. Walker is only interested in schools in the south of the county. He appears very sympathetic and interested in Cross Keys from what I have seen and has responded to my requests for his attention to questions about this school.

I think both Mr. McChesney and Dr. Walker at least deserve the chance to make bad decisions as Board members before we flame them here.

Until then, we are not helping the situation in DCSS with our derision. The more we drift into speculation, we only harm the credibility of our blog ...

Open+Transparent said...

Kim, Walker's decision to accept a huge amount of campaign contributions froma company that wants to purchase school property is a major breach of ethics. As is his insistence to remain on the county's Development Authority, which deals directly with developers.

I always repsect your opinion, but you are way off base on Gene Walker. He needs to recuse himself with any BOE votes regarding selling or purchasing school property.

Kim Gokce said...

@O&T: As I said, I think asking questions about the risk to ethical standards because of the various positions Dr. Walker holds is valid.

However, he is duly elected as a BOE member and he has stated that he sees no conflict of interest and has legal counsel to the same affect. If the Georgia Board of Education doesn't have a problem with this; if the DeKalb BOE doesn't have a problem with this; ... what do we do about what apparently is a matter of opinion?

Jim Redovian mentioned during a public discussion of this issue that BOE does not have a governing ethics policy - this is where the actionable problem is in my opinion. This body should have such a policy to address these kinds of issues.

I still do not hear anyone citing any damning positions or votes of Dr. Walker's as a member of the BOE. The campaign contribution is a matter of public record and we can all make of that whatever we wish. Should his campaign have refused the contribution as a public relations matter? Again, a matter of opinion.

I tend to agree with you, though, that if a BOE vote comes on the sale of a DCSS-owned property to a private developer, Dr. Walker would be doing the BOE a service by recusing himself to avoid any hint of a conflict of interest.

That is less than ideal for the healthy functioning of the BOE and should be the subject of BOE ethics policy if they ever get around to one.

Cerebration said...

The Legislature attempted to pass an ethics bill for school boards. It was voted down.

Bad politics get in way of good educational policies
By John Rice
For the Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, April 08, 2009

At the request of the State Board of Education, dozens of business and community leaders formed the Commission for School Board Excellence and spent 10 months working on a common-sense bill to reform school board governance in Georgia.

Our recommendations were straightforward: require ethics and enhanced training for board members; clarify the roles and responsibilities of the board and superintendents; and allow temporary state intervention for failing school systems.

So many people devoted time, energy and effort to this legislation that in the end, there were no real disagreements. Gov. Sonny Perdue even introduced the bill as his own.

Unfortunately, this well-written, badly needed bill got caught up in politics.
.

http://www.ajc.com/printedition/content/printedition/2009/04/08/riceed0408.html

Kim Gokce said...

@cere: interesting article but it never fingers the particular "petty" political snag - do you know what it was? Seems inexcusable without knowing ...

Cerebration said...

Well - I believe the "horse-trading" comment was eluding to the desire of certain leaders to pass other school bills on the table. For instance, the Republicans, like Rep. Earl Ehrhart, were really pushing the voucher bill (SB 90). Then, we had the HB 251, which addressed inter- and intra-district transfers, to which some of the language from the private school voucher SB 90 was added when it looked like SB 90 was dead.

Somewhere in here Rep. Earl Ehrhart, wouldn't even allow a vote on the Governor's bill, SB 84 which contained legislation written from the research conducted by Commission for School Board Excellence made up of dozens of business and community leaders.

In the end, HB 251 was significantly watered down and we were left with a simple bill allowing transfers within one's own district - if there's room at receiving schools. Even after it passed, there is a discrepancy between the House and Senate versions, which if confirmed, will render that bill dead.

So - basically - our politicians used our children as pawns in an immature battle over an all or nothing stance on private school vouchers.

Dunwoody Mom said...

One would think that SACS would require some type of ethics policy for school boards.

Anonymous said...

It is unheard of for a developer to give a school board candidate almost $20,000. They'll spend that for someone running for a city or county or state office, but $20 large for a school board candidate just doesn't happen. Red flags all around.

Cerebration said...

SACS apparently does have an ethics policy - and the head of SACS was on the Commission for School Board Excellence - the group who tried and failed to make school board ethics policy a law.


FROM the AJC -

Many of Perdue’s requests mirror recommendations proposed by the Commission for School Board Excellence, a group of business and accreditation leaders that state officials asked to study Georgia’s education and school board governance laws and compare them to other states.

SACS’ president and chief executive officer Mark A. Elgart, a member of the commission for school board excellence, said the situation in Clayton might have been different if Perdue’s proposals had been in place last year.
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2009/01/14/schoolreform.html%3Fcxntlid%3Dinform_artr

Cerebration said...

On top of that, apparently they've been working on revising the ethics code for teachers. Read the article here

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2008/08/28/school_sanctions.html%3Fcxntlid%3Dinform_artrAnd check out all 172 sanctioned employees in DCCS (90 of whom are teachers) here

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2008/08/27/educators-sanctions-database.html?appSession=188163573077848

Ella Smith said...

I strongly disagree Lefty. I have a feeling due to your political connections with Don you are extremely protective of him and his image. I like Don a great deal but I also know how he feels about Marshall. I was shocked to get to know Marshall and find out myself the type of person Marshall is. I heard so many stories that appear now not to have truth to them.

I strongly disagree with your comment regarding the reason Marshall Orson was removed by Dr.Lewis or for other reasons. Don may have or have not had something to do with his removal. But it does indicate that Don's word may not mean a great deal as he told both Marshall and I he would continue to ask for our opinions about things happening in the system after he was elected. Just in his appointments of Janet Haury from Druid Hills and Eddie Rhinehart from Sagamore Hills he made a statement about taking Marshall off the list. Marshall does live in district 2. I am sure that Dr. Lewis also knows Don's personal feelings about Marshall. Most decisions like this are done on the phone or behind close doors so the decision is made about who is appointed to these positions and agreed upon before the board votes in public.

Again, I like Don very much but I have been disappointed greatly in his feelings and comments regarding Marshall. Marshall is sharp and would have done a great job on this committee. I am sad that it appears politics prevented this appointment.

Lefty said...

You can let Dr. Lewis know as he made that choice, Ella.

IMHO, running for office brings out the worst in everyone, winners and losers.

Anonymous said...

At least Pam Speaks has the dedication and class to put differences aside and do what is best for the system. She re-appointed the original committee members, including her opponent Pam Buncum, because she understood that the committee had been working well as a group and she did not want to upset the established working relationships.

Cerebration said...

I've been very impressed with Pam Speaks. She is a class act. When she has something to say, she is always very thoughtful and articulate.

Jay Cunningham is another fave of mine. He has such a sincere character and is another thoughtful person. He takes the time to listen and ponder all sides of the issues. To me, he seems very non-political compared to many others. He truly does what he thinks is best for ALL.

Dunwoody Mom said...

It's just my view here and it's taken just from watching the BOE meetings and other media reports, but it seems that Jay Cunningham seemed to be one of the first BOE members to "get" that we need to look at the system as a whole and not just each little district. I was impressed that he stated that Lithonia HS did not need their addition - and he represents Lithonia.

Cerebration said...

Oh, he does get that. He is pretty adamant about it and says so often. He's quite tired of the politics of the school board and is dedicated to working together for the best of the system - as well as working with Burrell Ellis and the commissioners.

Ella Smith said...

IMHO, just because you lose does not mean your attitude is good or bad. IMHO, just because you win does not mean your attitude is good or bad. I was extremely disappointed when I found out how many false statements were told about Marshall. I was even more upset at myself for believing what someone else told me. Marshall did say that he did not want to lose the part of Sagamore Hills that now goes to Druid Hills to Lakeside because of those test scores. But, many of the other rumors started were false. Politics can be mean but I would perfer to lose that to play dirty political games with individuals reputations. I respect both of the guys I ran against.

I was shocked at Don's attitude toward Marshall.

Since Elizabeth Andrews did nominate Marshall the first time this is probable the reason he did not continue on the SPLOST III Oversight Committee. Don would not nominate him or want him nominated from his district. Dr. Walker probable did not nominate anyone from this area.

Lefty, I have not yet forgot about the mean poor Ella comments indicating I was not very smart because I mispelled something somewhere. Oh, it was an invitation that my husband did for me who is an attorney and the CEO of a big publishing company. The word was dessert and he put desert. It was a joke at the social and I brought in some sand. When you are a person who has multiple disabilities and you read something like that it does hurt. It does not matter how much you try to ignor comments like this it did hurt.

As you noticed I did not allow any of my supportors to be involved in any mud slinging. I truely am not that kind of person. I do speak straight and to the point. I actually feel better expressing how much those comments did hurt me. I know you were trying to support Don but a mispelled word has nothing to do with a person intellectual ability. I hold no hard feelings but I am glad I told you how that made me feel.

Anonymous said...

The old timers at the Gold Dome know the reason why Gene Walker stepped down from the Georgia Senate. Walker is pretty darn lucky it never went public.

Cerebration said...

I hate to say it but, I have it from reliable sources that Don is the person responsible for Marshall's removal from SPLOST oversight.

Reverse sour grapes.

Lefty said...

Don is an honest and unpretentious man. He doesn't deserve these attacks on his integrity. I can't stand injustice and when I see him attacked, I feel compelled to defend him. He dedicated his career to educating young people. And he has chosen to continue his support of education into his retirement. I respect that. If Don says he was surprised at Marshall's removal from the SPLOST team, I believe him. Not some source quoted on a blog.

I work in a profession where publishing anything with typos is unforgiveable. Campaign ads are like part of a resume. I'm sorry if pointing out misspellings on your campaign materials made you feel badly, Ella.

Let's get back to issues that matter -- like making sure all children in DeKalb get the best education.

Cerebration said...

Lefty, do you also not believe that Don has been telling people that I am "bi-polar"? He doesn't even know me, yet he feels compelled to spread lies about me. (Not to mention how insensitive he is being to people who really do suffer from that disease.)

Sometimes people treat people very differently. He may be very nice to you - but not to others who he sees as a threat.

Anonymous said...

So we may be in a situation where we have to choose between SACS accreditation and a recall?

Lefty said...

Wow, Cere - He knows who you are? That's quite a compliment. That means he's getting great input from reading this blog.

I think that "bi-polar" is a popular term thrown around these days to describe any individual who is outspoken, courageous and communicates with strong feelings. And you, Cere, are all of those. And DeKalb Schools will be better because you are outspoken and courageous.

Cerebration said...

Gee, thanks Lefty!

Anonymous said...

Let's review the situation in it's entirety. Don removes the two committee members from his district who already have a working relationship with the committee in favor of appointing someone who's children attend private school and someone who wants their children redistricted to another district. And to top it all off he maneuvers the removal of the lone remaining committee member who actually represented a high school in his district. Druid Hills and Cross Keys parents must be feeling pretty good about that (not).

Cerebration said...

If true - That's the kind of slippery slope that got Clayton County in trouble.

Ella Smith said...

I agree Don is an outstanding guy. I like him a great deal. But Don is a part of the school board and the school board is Dr. Lewis' boss. So, please do not blame Dr. Lewis for this as Don as a member of the board could question why the two outstanding members of this committee were being replaced by inexperienced members. It is part of his responsibility to make sure we have experienced individuals on this committee. I would be shocked if you convince anyone on this site, that Don in anyway would want Marshall involved in anyway with Dekalb County School Boards business. I also would never be allowed to ever be appointed to any committee either. Don knows either one of us could possible be a threat to him during the next election. He wants to protect his seat on the school board and would do nothing to make either one of us look good in anyway to anyone.

Don and I get along great. I respect how hard he is working on the school board. I respect most of the school board members entirely. I have concerns about one or two of the board members. I believed all the rumors coming from Don's camp and from Don himself during the election about Marshall. I now believe much of it was assumptions from Don's camp or Don. I saw the letter a supportive and campaigner of Don's wrote about Marshall and Shanya and I was extremely mad that Don's campaign members or neighbors would write something like this and mass mail it to even one person verses all the mass mail that was sent. I do not agree with this type of politics. Much of the information in this letter sent out was totally false information that was hurtful to Marshall and Shayna. In fact it is borderline or is a bullying technique when the rumors spread are false. Again, I would never do this to anyone. Winning could never be that important to me. I was extremely disappointed with the behaviors I saw. I am not blaming this entirely on Don or you as an officer in her campaign. I am just indicating my dislike for this.

I am so impressed with Dr. Speaks and the appointment from her district. The lady has class and puts the interests of the school system over her own personal interests.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, You are quite right that we may be on the path of
Clayton County and perhaps closer then any of us want to admit.
This incident with the Citizens Advisory Committee highlights the
precarious position we are in. This is not about any particular
member of the CAC but, rather, whether the board is willfully
ignoring its OWN policies and interfering with the Superintendent's
responsibilities.

For example, the CAC is governed by a set of By-Laws which have the
effect of board policy. Those By-Laws provide that the term of
members of the CAC run concurrent with the term of the board member
and/or the Superintendent that appointed the CAC member. In their wisdom, the previous School Board sought to minimize the turn-over of the CAC and to protect its independence by stating that the ONLY basis for early removal of a CAC member was that member failing to attend three meetings without excuse. And, though new school board members are entitled to appoint new CAC members, those appointments are not permitted to take effect until July, arguably because it makes sense for current departing members to finish out the year.

However, NONE of the foregoing was followed. The only CAC members
subject to confirmation (and then not until July) are appointees of
new school board members. The attempt to remove current CAC
members who were appointed by continuing school board members or
the Superintendent simply is invalid and, yet, the school board
chose to ignore its own established and valid policy. And, CAC members who will rotate off due to not being appointed by new
school board members should continue though July, a
policy also ignored by the Board. And, all of this is before we even
get to the issue of possible interference with the Superintendent by a board member. One need only look at the record for the Clayton County accreditation fiasco and see we are absolutely on that same slippery slope.

Ella Smith said...

I had no idea one of Don's appointments children attend private school. How interesting? You indicated that the other one wants to be in a school district not served by Don. Actually many of district 2 students do go to Lakeside. I live in district 2 and my son goes to Lakeside. The districts are real strange like this.

Anonymous said...

Not to cast aspersions on the individuals themselves, just questioning the reasoning behind the appointments. Janet Haury's older children attend Paideai. So while she lives in Druid Hills, she is not representative of Druid Hills High School. This is in no way an indictment of her credentials - she has done extraordinary work a Coralwood, but it is misleading to say she represents the public high school. Eddie Reinhart is part of the Sagamore group who wants to be redistricted into Lakeside. While that is an absolutely reasonable desire, he certainly has a focused agenda.

The point is, neither appointment of Don's is tied to either of the high schools in his district. The entire Cross Keys feeder, half of the district, is yet again completely ignored.

But the biggest issue is the fact that the board has ignored its own established policies. According the to Citizens Advisory Committee By-laws, the new appointees cannot take their place until July, Marshall Orson cannot be removed, and Ernest Brown should arguably stay until Elizabeth Andrew's term is up.

This has Clayton County written all over it.

Kim Gokce said...

I know this thread has turned more into a discussion of the internal politics of the BoE but ...

I'm sitting in a "Town Hall" with Rep Mike Jacobs and Senator Dan Weber and Rep Jacobs pretty much confirmed that the Development Authority is definitely looking at intervening at Town Brookhaven on behalf of Sembler. Very disturbing ...

Kim Gokce said...

Rep Mike Jacobs further explained tha the made a open document request for anything the DeKalb Authority has produced regarding this and received only a KPMG tax impact. His interpretation of this thin response is that the Authority is being very careful to communicate with Sembler only verbally until this gets more baked.

Cerebration said...

so you mean, the development authority - as in Gene Walker. how interesting.

Anonymous said...

Kim, Am I truly hearing this correctly? The DeKalb Devlopmental Authority is going to use our precious school board funds to bail out Sembler's ongoing Brookhaven project?

I always heard that the TAD money is rarely used for redevelopment of "blighted" properties, which is how it was sold to the voters.

This is outrageous. This is nothing more than a TARP bailout for a huge, wealthy developer.

Cerebration said...

Well, I guess when you can't get cooperation from the school board for your favorite developer's projects (you know, the one who gave you $18,000) then you just go and get ON the school board...

Kim Gokce said...

I think we need to be clear about what I posted - I did not hear Rep Mike Jacobs say the word, "TAD." I will try to elaborate on what I did hear but please realize that it is from memory and is mostly hearsay at this point.

Mike explained that it was possible the Authority is looking at buying out some (all???) of Sembler's equity (debt???) associated with Town Brookhaven by the issuance of bonds. To offset the loss of property tax revenue (if DeKalb owned the site, I believe it is not subject to property tax), Sembler would pay lease dollars back to the County in amounts based on the estimate of the lost tax revenue.

Frankly, it made no sense to me how this would benefit anyone with one possible exception: Sembler would have the benefit of getting a potentially negative long-term liability off their books and transfer the risk to the County (you and me).

Now that I write that part, I suppose that's a pretty darn attractive benefit. we'll see what materializes but I don't think it's a TAD. But it might rightly be viewed as a loss of potential tax revenue for DCSS. Let's see if what they come up with smells like a Freddie Mac options or derivative market for mortgages. :)

Cerebration said...

It almost sounds worse than a TAD. It's a TAD runaround. It's a way to avoid taxes without having to even ask the school board for buy in. Weird. Also, if I recall correctly, DeKalb has the authority to issue bonds (taxes) on voters without even putting it to a vote countywide - with the voters themselves. I hope Mike stays on it.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I believe Sembler is still in the mix for the old GM property in Doraville, as well.

Open+Transparent said...

A big middle finger to everyone who voted for Gene Walker instead of Ernest Brown. Sembler now has both the DeKalb Development Authority and the School Board in its back pocket.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:53 here.

This just smells bad all the way around. School bonds should be issued for school capital projects, not to bail out a private developer who is over leveraged in a down market. And I can just imagine that the lease terms will only favor Sembler to the detriment of DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

It may or may not be a school bond. We have bonds upon bonds imposed by the county buried in our taxes.

Dekalbparent said...

I have not researched this in depth or recently, but I recall that Sembler projects get unloaded by Sembler very regularly. Whichever way they can.

Check the Moreland Avenue Target/ shopping center as well as the one that has Wal-Mart in Chamblee (on Peachtree Ind just at the corner of Clairmont). I believe these are Sembler projects that were unloaded...

Kim Gokce said...

I swore off the blogging for the w/e but saw a piece in the Reporter newspaper today on this topic.

There's no by-line or sources referenced but the item explains that "Sembler is considering" approaching the County for an 10 year extension to its existing 10 year abatement. So, Ella had this closer to the mark and I think we've out run the story a little in our comments ... still, not a good sign of the times.