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News and Updates from
DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council

January 12, 2020  Volume 1: Issue 7

Hello Supporters

Let’s just begin by reminding you of what journalist Bill Torpy remarked to the DCAC leadership: “Don’t you know nothing is simple in DeKalb County?”
Prior to the opening of the General Assembly, we want to bring you up-to-date on where we are with ethics legislation.  It may take a scorecard to keep up with everyone’s different ideas about ethics legislation, which means we must work even harder to keep members of the DeKalb delegation focused on just fixing the appointment process by essentially identifying seven elected officials not under the purview of the Board of Ethics to make the appointments.  This essentially means constitutional state officers such as a Judge, Tax Commissioner, Sheriff, State Senator, or State Representative. 
  1. Rep. Matthew Wilson was courageous enough to make public his desire to listen to the citizens.  He has proposed a bill calling only for the appointment process to be fixed and has suggested the following officials: 
    1. House of Representatives – 1 appointment
    2. Senate – 1 appointment
    3. Superior Court Judge – 1 appointment
    4. Probate Court Judge – 1 appointment
    5. Magistrate Court Judge – 1 appointment
    6. City Mayors and councils – 1 appointment
    7. City Mayors and councils – 1 appointment
  2. DeKalb Board of Commissioners are looking at a resolution calling for the Delegation to fix the appointment process with these suggested officials:
    1. House of Representatives – 1 appointment
    2. Senate – 1 appointment
    3. Superior Court Judge- 1 appointment
    4. Probate Court Judge – 1 appointment
    5. Magistrate Court Judge – 1 appointment
    6. State Court Judge – 1 appointment
    7. Tax Commissioner – 1 appointment
While these two approaches will still need to be reconciled by the Delegation, we are heartened by how close they track on the elected officials.  Our position is that we must keep the delegation focused on building consensus on the positions so one bill gets passed and we can get the Board of Ethics back in operation to hear the complaints that have lain dormant since the Supreme Court decision.
For anyone saying let’s just start over, let us remind you that DeKalb County has a model Code of Ethics. Can it be tweaked? Yes.  Are there issues we need to understand better and respond to? Yes.  But, we think this work is better done outside the legislature by the Charter Review Commission.*  This commission will have the luxury of time and in-depth discussions versus a 40-day legislative session in an election year.  The focus now must be on getting the Ethics Board operating again.
*The Charter Review Commission will have its inaugural, organizational meeting on January 29th.
Once the General Assembly begins, we will be monitoring the delegation’s work and keeping you apprised of what’s happening.  In the meantime, we continue to ask you to communicate to your commissioners and state legislators. 
 
How You Can Help:
 

Send an email or written note to the CEO, your county commissioners, and your state legislators expressing your support for the points outlined below. 
  1. Time is of the essence:  The appointment process must be dealt with NOW in order to get the Ethics board working again as soon as possible
  2. We expect a simple fix that would correct the Ethics board appointment process.  Going beyond this fix is what gets ethics legislation in trouble. Additional issues can be dealt with by a DeKalb County charter review or by separate legislation.
  3. We expect legislators to undertake a transparent process in their deliberations.   
  4. It would be our hope that we could convey to County residents that the process was transparent and that we are in support of the resulting legislation.
Before sending the email, please review these instructions first:
  1. Always add your name and street address; legislators want to know you really are in their district.
  2. If you decide to email all the DeKalb legislators and not just your own, it’s important to email each one separately; we have been advised that emails written to several legislators don’t get the same attention as one sent separately. 
  3. If you email more than your legislator, it’s important to say who your legislator is and why you are writing to someone who isn’t yours.  (Ex: “We need all of the legislators to work together as a team to get this work done.”)
Share your communication with your DeKalb friends and contacts.  Ask them to communicate their support.  We want a wave of public opinion to wash over our legislators so they stay focused on doing the right thing:  fixing the board appointment process in a timely manner.

Join our Facebook Page: DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council. 

As Margaret Mead said:
            “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
              can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
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