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Citizens group calls for DeKalb reforms

Metro ATL

Citizens group calls for DeKalb reforms

DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. File photo.
File photo of DeKalb County Commission. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

File photo of DeKalb County Commission. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

A local citizens group is calling for major reforms to DeKalb County’s government in light of recent ethics scandals that have led to the resignation and indictment of one commissioner.

Blueprint DeKalb began its work in February on its “Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County.”

Brenda Pace, a founding member of the group, said “this government is one of the most corrupt there is.”

“We need to change it,” she said. “We need to get rid of the corruption and those who have been involved in corruption.”

So far, the group has made the following recommendations:

– Creating an internal audit watchdog that reports to an independent agency.

– Changing the way the Board of Ethics is appointed by taking that power out of the hands of the county CEO and County Commissioners.

– Make purchasing and budgeting more transparent and giving citizens more tools to monitor county spending.

– Conducting a straw poll on term limits and non-partisan elections.

The group will hold a public meeting on Sept. 30 at 6:30 pm at Maloof Auditorium in Decatur, located at 1300 Commerce Drive.

Pace said the group isn’t taking an official position on the creation of new cities. Brookhaven and Dunwoody have chosen to incorporate, bringing government closer to the people who live in those newly-formed cities. There’s also a push to incorporate other parts of north DeKalb County.

She said that she understands why residents would prefer to not deal with the county.

“This is my personal opinion right now. We have commissioners on this board of DeKalb County that says … all of this (incorporation) is racial,” Pace said. “I’m sure there is some racism. I think it’s minimal compared to the fact that most communities are tired of this government and the way it’s run.”

Pace, who first moved to DeKalb in 1975, said no matter what happens with the new cities, there needs to be fundamental changes in DeKalb County.

“These areas that are trying to annex, and maybe they will annex, they just happen to have the resources to do it, where other areas may not have the resources or the numbers concerned enough to do it, nor would they have the revenue to go with it if they wanted to,” Pace said. “Personally, if that’s what it takes to get rid of these guys and ladies on the (Board of Commissioners) that have been overly-corrupt for so long, well then I don’t blame anybody for wanting to annex. I really don’t. I hate to see it happen. I truly do. I wish we all could stay together and do this thing together and make all of DeKalb County as great as it was when I first came here.”