STEPHEN GREEN. A GOOD HIRE FOR DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOLS?

Well it is time to look at DeKalb Schools’ latest hire for superintendent. This will be DeKalb’s fifth superintendent since 2009. Did we improve ourselves or do we have more of the same?

If blogs and conversations with friends and neighbors are any indicator, not everyone is taken with Dr. Green. In all fairness, anyone who has worked in an inner city school district will have a mixed record. It is simply the nature of the beast. We should look for progress and different approaches to the way we are offering a public education today. Dr. Green has some plusses and minuses. Does he appear to be a trendsetter? I don’t think so. It seems to me that we are getting a typical superintendent that hasn’t been a big innovator or change agent. Of course only time will tell if he shakes things up in DeKalb.

He seems to have some of the same issues that Dr. Atkinson had coming from a smaller, impoverished system. In the 1960’s the Kansas City school district had approximately 100,000 students. By 2010, there were less than 18,000. The KC district went through court ordered spending programs in an effort to integrate schools in the 1980’s and 90’s. That effort failed. In the 1980’s, 90’s and 2000’s the KC district closed many schools as enrollment declined. In 2007-2008 several schools were successfully removed from the district and put under the control of a neighboring school district. That may be how DeKalb will have to go to see any real progress. I am firmly convinced that large public school systems will die an agonizing death soon if we do not put away tradition and try to administer to our students in a climate where they can be more successful. Yes, independent school districts, charters, and possibly home schooling may be where the salvation will come from. Size does matter.

What did the DeKalb Board of Education do here? I suspect that they had better candidates, but could not get the requisite 4 votes they needed to hire a mover and a shaker. Or maybe they could get 4 but not 5 and didn’t want to bring in a new superintendent on such a slim margin. Perhaps, Dr. Green was the only candidate that could get over 4 votes. Our system really needs a person that is willing to come in and reconstitute our staff at all levels and re-staff schools. Of course that would be a danger to the jobs program the school system is running. Given my past experiences, I know there were people in the room that would fight against anyone they sensed would bring significant staffing changes.

“What about the children, Don?” The majority of the people in leadership at the county are only interested in feathering their nest. The students in DeKalb are a means to an end for them. When we hired Dr. Atkinson, I (my opinion) knew we had at least two better candidates. Dr. Atkinson didn’t even make the cut when we first started looking at candidates. Whenever the leadership in DeKalb feared we were getting close to being serious about a candidate that could bring change, sabotage ensued. After successfully eliminating qualified people from the process, the board eventually maneuvered to hire Dr. Atkinson. That was a 6-3 vote with myself, Dr. Pam Speaks, and Nancy Jester voting against her hiring.

Another dynamic in this particular search was the game played by Michael Thurmond. I am certain Thurmond lobbied hard for the job. He will never admit it, but he did. I still know several people at the palace. They keep me filled in. Thurmond and his operatives were trying to blow up the search process. It may very well have been that Dr. Green was the only choice that could get the votes and put an end to Thurmond’s time at the helm.

The difference in this go round is that Pam Speaks, Nancy Jester, and I publicly voted our displeasure and stated that we had better candidates, with better records. We spoke out about how the search process was concerned about many things but improving the results for kids was not one of them. Well, you know how that turned out. For whatever their reasons, this BOE did not have the intestinal fortitude to voice any objections they may have had. They were probably told to look united. Thank you, Dr. Elgart, and some DeKalb legislators for putting us in this predicament. The BOE is afraid to voice their real feelings because the legislature has decided to believe that if board members hold hands that will translate into higher student achievement. That is bunk and has no basis in fact but that myth has been enshrined in state law to the detriment of our schools. We saw a board removed because of the perception of discord. And what value did that removal provide? Scores are lower now than they were three years ago. We are spending more than ever on the central office. We continue to pay a ridiculously high millage rate. But remember Pam Speaks and Nancy Jester were expelled for being spot on about picking a superintendent. With that kind of history this board bailed. The lesson is that our state would prefer you be united behind failure than correct in your judgment.

Have you looked at Dr. Green’s contract? There are some bad things in the document. Once again I am against the “no receipt” expense account. This isn’t new. All the superintendents have had this and it stinks. The worst part of the contract, to me, is the $15,000 yearly increases he gets if he stays. He is already near retirement age. His family is here. That is a primary reason for his relocation according to Dr. Green. In three or four years he will have earned over a million dollars and he can just fade into the sunset a happy and rich man with multiple pensions.

I am disappointed that no one on our BOE spoke up. I do understand why. You also must be cognizant that each BOE member has but one vote. Did they use it wisely? Were they wrong? Why do school board members seem to feel that they cannot voice their convictions?

Until this school system is reconstituted it will ultimately fail.

In spite of my feelings I do wish that Dr. Green proves me wrong.

Thanks,
Don

Annexation and Cityhood – The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down

DeKalb County Superintendent, Michael Thurmond, has thrown down the gauntlet over annexation and cityhood. He has made it clear that the Friends and Family system won’t tolerate autonomy in the form of a charter cluster. Now, he isn’t willing to let Druid Hills pick up and go to the City of Atlanta and APS without a fight. I think the message here is, “Look, we know this isn’t about educating kids. This is about jobs for a certain group of friends and family. Anything that threatens the status quo will be met with a fight.” In effect, he is holding the entire county hostage to any potential improvement in a vastly substandard school system. The Druid Hill Charter Cluster really rocked the DeKalb School District. The District knew that if the cluster idea succeeded, the avalanche of change would be upon the system. As clusters peeled off to accomplish what the district could not do, DCSS’ incompetence would have nowhere to hide. More to the point, clusters would deny the central office the opportunity to divert money from the classroom to fund more chaos and bad ideas at the central office.

The Superintendent released a “report” with some outlandish language and faux facts. He claims 2922 students would be “disenfranchised”. Really, Mr. Thurmond? He is concerned about where students would go to school if certain facilities are annexed into APS. I have a suggestion. Perhaps you should reach out to Forsyth County. That school system is growing by roughly 1500+ kids per year. How are they accommodating such rapid growth? You could have kept the old Briarcliff High School repaired and up to date. Do you know its capacity is almost twice that of Druid Hills?The Superintendent is going to commit $2.5 million from somewhere (reserves ?) to fight annexation. That is taxpayer money that was meant to fund education. Interesting to note, there is a prohibition on the use of taxpayer funds to influence a referendum. For example, the school district is not allowed to campaign for an eSPLOST. Mr. Thurmond is a lawyer so he should already know this.

The Superintendent and the current BOE were very critical of previous administrations pursuing the, now settled, Heery Mitchell case. It appears hypocritical to engage in a costly legal battle of choice. DeKalb taxpayers should know this is your next swamp of quicksand just waiting to gobble up your money. Law firms throughout DeKalb are seeing dollar signs. Even on the new board coming in January, Mr. Thurmond will have 4 solid votes to “disenfranchise” taxpayers from their money.

Instead of worrying about the annexation of Druid Hills into Atlanta, why not focus on improving the education of the children within DCSS? Look to the Cross Keys cluster and ponder how this area has been ignored. Embrace actual “diversity”, which means “a range of different things”. Find ways to lower class size and push the taxpayers’ money into the classroom. Dare to be a leader that sheds the past and recognizes that the future belongs to the disbursement of power, not the concentration. In short, compete! Make DCSS an option that parents want to select, rather than escape, for their children.

How did we get here? First, we chose a superintendent that has NO professional educational experience AND is part of the DeKalb Friends and Family coalition. It is important to point out that Board Member Marshall Orson was the driving force in getting Thurmond into DCSS. Both Pam Speaks and Nancy Jester voted against hiring him before they became collateral damage in the school board massacre facilitated by SACS, the Governor, and a handful of local legislators. So, we all have Marshall Orson to thank for Superintendent Thurmond. It’s sadly ironic.

I truly believe it is way past time for the voters, taxpayers, and parents to get angry, informed, and serious about what is happening to us here in DeKalb because of incompetent leadership. I think that Druid Hills and their map has greatly overspread into the area of Lavista Hills. If Druid Hills (plus more of what is in Lakeside/LaVista Hills) gets annexed into Atlanta, this is certainly a political win for Mayor Reed. The legislature has already started their Pontius Pilate dance. Druid Hills, Tucker, Lavista Hills you all deserve an up or down vote on cityhood.

I hope that people understand that Michael Thurmond is in for the long haul. The BOE is slow walking the search if there is one at all. As I have said previously I will not be surprised if Thurmond is extended or even given a new contract.The search is a farce up until now. It would be everything a new BOE could do to get someone in place by June. We have now learned that only one search firm is in the running. That one will be the one that gives the staff exactly what they want. I truly hope that I am wrong on this one.

I think Druid HIlls has a right to be annexed if they wish. Their extended boundaries that stretch all the way to Toco Hills and N. Druid Hills Rd and Briarcliff Rd. are way out of their territory.

Pay attention now or you will be paying for a long time to come.

Thanks,
Don

DRUID HILLS CHARTER CLUSTER AND ANNEXATION TO ATLANTA. WILL IT HAPPEN?

Well the the Druid Hills Civic Assn. is sponsoring a meeting with officials from Atlanta at Avondale Middle School (currently Fernbank elementary). Let’s speculate about the discussion and what might be the results.

The first thing on the agenda must be whether or not Atlanta Public Schools (APS) will accept the Druid Hills Charter Cluster concept as part of any annexation agreement. If APS is agreeable, then the Druid Hills crowd may bolt DeKalb County. There will be lots of cheers, albeit for differing reasons, from other parts of the county. One thing will be a certainty: unless the Druid Hills blue bloods get their way they probably will just remain an enclave and basically ignore the DeKalb School System.

Have you thought what would happen to schools like Fernbank, Druid Hills High, and possibly Briar Vista? Yes they would all go to Atlanta. A new Fernbank is under construction right now with DeKalb SPLOST IV money. And don’t forget the extra half million the Druid Hills people demanded for an underground hidden retention pond. Let’s count the millions. Thanks DeKalb!

A friend asked me about those schools because it made him angry that all his tax money would go for naught. I told him to call his legislator and school board member. Of course we all know what good that will do. The school board member may find himself in a pickle over annexation into Atlanta. If the area is annexed by Atlanta, the DeKalb school board member would lose his office. If he is motivated by self preservation, he could work against annexation and the charter cluster. Then again he has always touted APS as a model. He once told me how they had done so much for Atlanta and had greatly improved achievement. He thought Beverly Hall was an outstanding superintendent. Mark Elgart, of SACS, told me the same thing about Hall. I wonder if they would like to revisit those positions now? However it goes, it sure will be fun to watch.

All levity aside, it is an affront to the DeKalb taxpayer if the buildings they paid for, suddenly pass into the possession of Atlanta taxpayers. This would include a brand new Fernbank Elementary School that is still under construction. DeKalb could try to negotiate a settlement for the building. Wonder if that will work?

One thing that DeKalb could do to generate revenue in advance of any annexation is to to sell Druid Hills High to Emory University. It’s right there on campus and I bet that Emory would love it. It would probably bring enough money to have a real surplus in the DeKalb school budget rather than the imagined money they have now. I’ve heard various rumors about Druid Hills being an “untouchable” property. I don’t know but we could find out.

It may be one way to get some money for the taxpayers if there is an annexation.

SAGAMORE CIVIC ASSOCIATION MEETING

I went to the recent SCA meeting. It was typical theater. You have to listen closely to politicians to translate what they are really saying. The most interesting speaker was Mary Margaret Oliver (MMO). She was asked about cityhood. She zigzagged around the issue. She’s changed her view. She’s very skillful and made the people feel good without saying anything of substance. She said she now supports cityhood because people wanted more control. She even said, “smaller government” at one point. (It almost sounded like a Republican talking point.) Then MMO proceeded to give reasons why she did not think cityhood was ready for prime time based on cost. She listed all the police jurisdictions between Druid Hills and Decatur and at the Capitol. It was a subtle way of scaring the taxpayer. She was asked by a gentleman in the audience where she exactly stood about cityhood. Almost everyone already knew that MMO was at the center of having Lakeside torpedoed by muddying the waters. Last year at this same civic association meeting MMO and Jason Carter were decidedly negative about cityhood. At our current meeting, MMO stated that she supports annexation with Atlanta for Druid Hills. It sure is interesting how things can change in a year.

Stay tuned and we’ll all see what comes up next.

Thanks,
Don

DEKALB POLITICS AND THE CIRCUS. HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

It is about time for another look at what is going on in DeKalb politics. It’s like “The greatest show on Earth!”. Outside of Detroit there is little to rival it. You’ve got incompetent clowns and political acrobatic maneuvers that strain credulity. Like any good comedy, there are always a few straight guys (and gals) that get thrown in the mix. Unfortunately, in DeKalb the voter often misses the normal people because the clowns absorb all the attention. We all need to really study the down ballot races to see what we are getting.

The Clown Car Routine or The Burrell Ellis Trial

This has turned as I predicted several months ago. I always thought it would be a hung jury. So far I am looking pretty good on that one. Citizens of DeKalb should beware of having to be judged by a jury of your “peers” in this county. How did we end up with this jury? What if you had to sit in front of such a jury?

Regardless of the veracity of the witness in this case, it is clear the line between political fund raising and the job of CEO was trampled to death. May it rest in peace.

What does all of this say about our DA? Why is the DA interested in some cases and not others? Do the cases reflect political motivations? Is the DA protecting DeKalb citizens, raising his status in the political world and/or currying favor with certain groups? Let’s all reflect on that.

Here’s another prediction: When we finally get around to electing a new CEO, they will be cut from the same mold.

Jugglers, Contortionists and Sideshows – The Board of Commissioner race for District 1

There are only two viable candidates in this race. The rest of the field is rounded out by a candidate that is a cure for insomnia, one that spends most of his life racking up restraining orders, and one that makes me look like a teenager. What’s a circus without a sideshow, right?

One of the candidates that I thought was viable only held up as long as it took me to research her background. Let’s put it this way – If you liked Elaine Boyer and her tactics, you will love Wendy Butler. Ms Butler was, after all, Elaine Boyer’s appointee to the Planning Commission among other things. Her chief backers all come from the Boyer “friends and family” network.

Ms. Butler’s job as an attorney was basically to represent developers, especially in their disputes with neighborhoods. She did that in Druid Hills much to the chagrin of the Blue Bloods of that neighborhood. There is still an ongoing court battle, in which she is involved, regarding that issue. Druid Hills won in the Court of Appeals and Ms. Butler’s backer (the developer she helped while a Planning Commissioner) is appealing.

Butler is a member of the Council For Quality Growth (CQG). That may sound friendly enough until you read more about them. The primary goal of this group is to influence political decisions (like zoning) to benefit developers. There’s nothing wrong with a trade group lobbying governments. It crosses a line when a member of this lobbying group is seeking to become an elected official that is charged with representing the citizens of DeKalb, District 1, often in matters that affect neighborhoods and developers. Ms. Butler’s very job and her membership with the CQG present a massive conflict of interest. Read for yourself, the mission statement from the CQG:

“Since its inception in 1985, the Council has worked as the development industry’s voice, a clearinghouse for critical information on growth and development policy and a forum for education. The Council advocates for its members to ensure that governmental development policy is fair and conducive to balanced and responsible growth. Through constructive leadership and active participation in resolving growth issues based on real-world experience, the Council is a knowledgable and informed advocate for you.

The Council’s work on behalf of its members has a direct and profitable result on their bottom line. Impact fees, development moratoriums, unrealistic code amendments—it only takes one new regulatory layer and your project becomes unfeasible. The rate of return on your membership investment will prove to be immeasurable as our policy team affects positive change in the political and regulatory web you face daily.”

Ms. Butler also wanted to continue the tolls on Ga. 400 until 2020 and use that money to expand MARTA rail. As a member of the State Roads and Tollway Authority, she and her fellow bureaucrats did just that. The tolls on GA 400 were only stopped when the Governor intervened, because of the bad press the toll extension was generating during the campaign for the T-SPLOST vote. We just don’t need more bureaucrats around that break promises to the public. We don’t need bureaucrats that are always going into your wallet to fund more, inept government or subsidize their developer friends.

That leaves us with one clear choice in the Commissioner race. That would be Nancy Jester. I got to know Nancy very well while serving on the school board with her. She was a pleasure to work with. She wanted a better life for children and taxpayers. She was indefatigable in pursuing misuse of money or what sometimes appeared to be fraud. She did what a representative is supposed to do. She represented the students and taxpayers. I am convinced that she will be there for us on the County Commission Board. She will spread so much sunshine on what is going on that the rest of those folks will be shamed into operating totally in the open. You won’t find any taxpayer funded portraits in Nancy’s office. She’s not going to charge the taxpayers for her cell phone. I know Nancy will not pay any evangelists for consulting services.

Folks we have a good one here. Give Nancy Jester a chance to represent you with integrity. Integrity seems to be almost totally missing from our board of commissioners right now.

It takes integrity and careful study to draw a balanced line between developers and neighborhoods. Nancy Jester has that ability. Nancy will be a strong presence for fiscal reform in DeKalb. She will lead by example. She will be accessible to all of the citizens in District 1. I hope that the voters in District 1 will look past the circus that seems to surround all politics in DeKalb and recognize that we have the opportunity to elect a capable and honest public servant.

Thanks,
Don


Related Articles

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Time drags awaiting verdict in DeKalb CEO Ellis trial

GeorgeChidi.com – Posted on October 14, 2014
Committing acts of journalism.

It’s good for me but not for you

Charters are such a funny thing in DeKalb. DeKalb has proven once again that it can take a great concept and royally mess it up. At the same time, a well drafted plan is rejected by the Palace staff. It’s such a shame.

Let’s take a look at the Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC). Once again, the DCSS staff, rising to previously unseen levels of malice and ineptitude, has recommended that the DHCC be denied again. The Board of Education’s eventual vote will likely sustain the staff’s recommendation. If the vote is held before or after January, when a new board is seated, the outcome will be the same. I found when I was on the BOE that reason, facts, and common sense seldom made any real impact. The politics of race will be on display as they usually are. But the real reason that the staff must kill this charter petition is because it isn’t consistent with keeping their paychecks fat. They aren’t even subtle. They state in their denial letter than DHCC would be a “severe financial hardship” for the district. I’m sure it would be for the paychecks of people who have fleeced taxpayers and failed children for years and years.

Thad Mayfield lost his election because he voted for the DHCC. The south side viewed his vote as treasonous. It’s too bad really. The children, taxpayers and parents of the southern part of the county are the ones who suffer the most at the hands of the greedy and incompetent central office. The central office knows how to divide and conquer. They use racial and social differences to justify why they have failed so many poor and minority students in DeKalb. It isn’t accurate but it gets votes and that’s all that matters.

See you later DHCC. Hello, McNair Career Academy charter! This is a staff drafted charter and is a partnership with Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Want to know who runs Georgia Piedmont Technical College? That would be the former Chief of Staff to the now indicted, Burrell Ellis, one Jabari Simama. Do you know how Dr. Simama came to be the head of Georgia Piedmont Technical College? He was placed there by a search committee that included former DeKalb BOE Chair, Gene Walker. But wait, there’s more. Michael Thurmond sat on the Board of Directors for the Foundation of the Georgia Piedmont Technical College. But, just because they are connected in these ways doesn’t mean that having a career academy at McNair isn’t a good idea. So, let’s look at the charter document.

The McNair charter petition is poorly written. The petition proposes to have the DeKalb Superintendent sit on the board of the charter school. It is an extreme conflict of interest for a superintendent to sit on a charter school board in his own district. He and his staff are going to be responsible for reevaluating the charter on a regular basis. If your boss is on the board, do you think staff will be critical? I cannot see how the state, which must also sign off on this, could possibly approve this petition.

So what did the DeKalb Board do? They voted unanimously to approve the petition. Of course, two board members didn’t even bother to show up. McMahan and Orson voted in favor of this. Do you think they believed they could exchange a vote for a bad idea for favorable consideration for the DHCC? I think they were played. I’ve seen it before. It’s like Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football. She’s never going to let you kick it.

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND THE ELECTION. WHO DO YOU VOTE FOR?

July 22 brings us to another important election in DeKalb regarding education. Unfortunately your vote will probably have little effect on the direction of the school system. Let’s just look at a few of the dynamics of the race. Only three districts will choose a member to serve on the board.

District 3

Michael Irwin a Deal appointee and Atticus LeBlanc, a real newcomer. I got to spend time around both of them during the campaign. Both are nice, articulate individuals. That’s where the similarities end. Mr Irwin sends his children to a charter school in north DeKalb, but does not support the Druid Hills Charter Cluster. Mr. LeBlanc supports the Druid Hills Charter Cluster and believes the future of DeKalb education probably will be in going the charter route.

I always look for inconsistencies in people’s behavior (votes). Mr. Irwin has a goose and gander problem with his thinking on Charters, at least in DeKalb. His child attends a charter school, but he may vote to keep your children from attending one. HMMMM! Is that an inconsistency?

He voted to support the $300,000 update to the Redan Baseball fields while maintaining that charter schools aren’t fair to the district as a whole. What? Has he looked at athletic fields across the county? I challenge him to run a mile on the Cross Keys High School track. So, what exactly is motivating his decisions and that of the majority of the board? The racial politics of DeKalb. There, I said it. I know it isn’t the politically correct thing to do but it is accurate and everyone knows it. I suggest we all quit pretending to ignore it.

One of the facts that too often is ignored is that only 10% of DeKalb’s students are white. The majority of white children in DeKalb no longer attend public school. They are in private school, home school or have moved entirely. The Druid Hills Charter Cluster is a majority minority cluster of schools. In the entire school district there are only a few schools that are majority white schools and they are all elementary schools. DeKalb has no majority white high schools.

Mr. LeBlanc is an unknown quantity. I enjoyed meeting him and hearing his perspectives. He is for charters and uses the Kipp school as a very valid confirmation of what can be potentially produced using the same demographics as DeKalb. Is he what we need? I don’t know, but I think he is worth taking a chance on. The Governors appointees have never excited me very much.

What will likely happen here? I believe Mr. Irwin will win simply because of demographics. Mr. LeBlanc has an issue here. The constituency has believed for years that someone white could not possibly have their best interest at heart.

District 4

I am really ambivalent here.

I believe we have two people that will not do a good job. One supports the Druid Hills Charter Cluster and the other does not. I usually do not like being a one issue voter. Jim McMahan has had real attendance problems and he is a stay at home dad. He is not engaged in a 40 hour a week job. He should not have attendance problems.

Karen Carter uses the same logic as Mr. Irwin. Her inconsistency on the Charter Cluster and the Redan baseball field are the same. Their explanations were identical. Whoever wins this race is a loss for the constituency. Mr. McMahan will almost universally vote however Mr. Orson does. It is clear who is leading here. The real difference here is that the constituency is advanced enough to not just vote race, I think.

District 5

Many Charter Cluster folks consider Thad Mayfield a yes vote for the charter. I am not so sure. In the 5-4 vote, Mr. Mayfield voted for the charter. But, watch the video. He was the last to cast his vote. He waited for everyone else to vote. He knew what the outcome was before he pressed his button. Voting for the charter cluster, while knowing that his vote would not be decisive, hardly gives us confidence about his motivations. Perhaps he was only trying to make the board look less racially divisive, while comfortable that the cluster would not prevail. I am not so sure that if he is the deciding vote next time you will get the same vote. I do like how he prepares himself for meetings. He is ready and up on his stuff. That is a great positive trait. The question is: Can he vote against the way his constituency views the Charter cluster? I think not.

Vicki Turner sounds like she is already in the community’s pocket on the charter cluster vote. Can Mr. Mayfield overcome this?

Districts 6 and 7

Districts 6 and 7 are not worth discussing. They will support the superintendent at all costs. He does not want the cluster. He wants the county to become a charter system. I predicted this long ago. This will not change DeKalb and its achievement issues at all , in my view.

District 1 and 2

Stan Jester will be the Lone Ranger on many issues. Marshall Orson will do what a good board member should do in some cases. In others he’ll vote in order to exchange a quid pro quo somewhere down the line on an issue important to him: like the charter cluster movement. The sad thing is that his expectations have gone unfulfilled as witnessed by the denial of the charter cluster. When will he realize that he is being played?

What about accreditation? It was never really in doubt. The whole issue was used to get rid of Walker and friends. SACS has to make it look like things are in doubt, but they are not. Accreditation will be restored soon. Unfortunately the appointed board will really have nothing to do with the outcome no matter what the spin. Never forget that accreditation has nothing to do with academic performance. Nothing the administration or this board have done have improved the poor academic results we get in DeKalb.

Good luck on your vote.

WHITE COLLAR CORRUPTION IN DEKALB COUNTY

Does the School Board and County Commissioners have any common traits? Yes, they are both experts in bureaucracy. Both groups also fail to ask questions in their meetings that are germane to issues being discussed. The failure to question is and should be an affront to the voter.

Last week the school system received a $3 million grant to increase the size of the central office. Anyone that has been around DeKalb more than five minutes knows that hiring more adults is not the answer to our troubles. Last week the school board voted on the new budget after asking ZERO questions. When I was on the BOE I found the budget to be the biggest issue on the table. No questions? You must be kidding. This is how our county governments roll. This shows a lack of intellectual effectiveness. Once you get elected do you work to represent a constituency honestly or do you bask in the sunshine and the perks? P-cards are great. Didn’t you hear – you can go on a personal vacation with one!

The school system grant is designed “to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools providing more effective instructional support to school level leaders.” TRANSLATION: Let’s hire more adults for The Palace to think about thinking. What direct benefit do our students get? White collar corruption includes creating jobs that have no significant impact on learning nor any real need. How many of these people will be friends of school system employees?

The growing bureaucracy brings more people to the trough to feed. The school system has this down to an art. BOE members who actually questioned the use of money and personnel were either removed or not elected. This should bother the voter. What about the questions? No one is asking any. When some on the School Board did, SACS and the Governor stepped in and removed some of those who exposed the bloat and growth of bureaucracy.

Let’s look at our county commission. Beside paying for personal phone calls, buying portraits, and alleged influence peddling by making donations with tax money they too increase the bureaucracy. Our interim CEO, Lee May, wants to hire a full time “chief integrity officer” responsible for ethics issues. Some of May’s previous suggestions have not passed the quality test. Where are the ethics of the interim CEO and our board of commissioners? They have all gone out of their way to say they are not responsible. Isn’t a vote on censure long overdue? Boards have that power. It is called policing your own. Will the chief integrity officer have a staff? A budget? The bureaucracy grows.

My main disappointment is with the voters of DeKalb County. We do not turn out to vote anymore. We are responsible for those we elect to represent us. In the May election, the DeKalb County turn out ranked either 157 or 158 of Georgia’s 159 counties in turnout percentage. So voter turn out, academic ratings and integrity are all consistently poor in DeKalb. Score one for consistency.

So what is the point here. The biggest crime in this county is the increasing growth of various forms of redundant bureaucrats. The school system ranks number one here but the county commission is trying to catch up. We as taxpayers are being fleeced out of our tax money. Where is your outrage DeKalb?