I have been following, with interest, the ongoing saga of electing a new school board in May. I thought this would be a no brainer. The BOE was downsized by the state legislature, with Republicans in the DeKalb delegation in the lead. The BOE went from nine districts to seven, eliminating the two super districts. Maps were drawn for seven districts with only one district being appreciably changed. Now we find out that no one can register to run for the BOE because the elections office does not know what the district lines will be for the school board. What? The map was drawn in 2012. Here it is. Please tell me what the controversy is.
You want to know what I think happened? This is my blog so I’m going to tell you. The majority Democrat DeKalb delegation wants to keep the old 9 districts. I do not think that is possible based on the fact that the 7 district change was a product of state legislation rather than just local legislation. Why do they want to keep it at 9 districts? First of all a 9 member board probably makes it easier to continue running the jobs program without too much of a challenge. Also, Eugene Walker and Jay Cunningham are practically neighbors and are in the same district. Without a super district, only one could be elected. From the “friends and family” file, one member of the DeKalb Legislative Delegation dates the sister of a former board member. And from the “old school politics” file, he also owes political favors to another former board member.
You see, back in 2012, the map was basically drawn by two Democratic legislators in the delegation. One is still there and the other is not. Two currently serving school board members worked very closely with these legislators on this project. Three of the four map designers live in the Druid Hills area. During the reapportionment time, I attended some of the DeKalb Delegation meetings so I observed much of this firsthand. Clearly the interests of some individuals was put above what was a reasonable map based on communities of interest. Ah, politics! What I never understood was why our Republican members of the delegation didn’t go over their heads to the full House and Senate. Reapportionment is very important as it forms the governing bodies for 10 years. Sadly, I got to witness the full spectacle of wheeling, dealing, and equivocating, the likes of which would make Rep. Noah “Soggy” Sweat proud.
At the same time as the legislature was creating maps, several other reasonable maps were also submitted. In fact, one map that received support from 7 of 9 board members was given to the delegation. For old time’s sake, here’s a look again:
Where does this leave us? Rep. Mike Jacobs recently stated, “I cannot explain why seven seat DeKalb BOE districts have not been adopted for candidate qualifying, which is two weeks away. This should be a function of local legislation. But today the House Governmental Affairs Committee passed HB 979 to preserve existing seven single member districts and strip off the two super districts. Something needs to be done to avoid confusion at qualifying.”
Well Mr. Jacobs you voted on the districts last year. You were part of the process. Have you forgotten? If anyone should not be confused it should be a legislator in the DeKalb delegation. Why was this not done correctly in the first place?
What is the impact of all this? Well, here’s the map the DeKalb delegation passed today:
When people ask why we can’t get “good people” to run for the board in DeKalb, this is why. Now we are witnessing political payback. The removal of the board didn’t sit well with most people in south DeKalb and their representatives. For every action, there is a reaction. This is the reaction. It may be wrong but I understand it.
Now add to this that Michael Thurmond is an old hand at reapportionment. He and Gene Walker famously worked together on this when they were both in the legislature together. These maneuvers have his fingerprints all over them too. Remember Thurmond wants a board that will not question him so he can eventually land his dream job at McKenna, Long, and Aldridge. That rumor about him running for state school superintendent – he will never do that. Not enough money in that and he can’t win. Plus, just think of the power he can wield having infiltrated MLA.
As Dekalb turns…..