(VIDEO) – Avondale all apologies about annexationFormer mayor Ed Rieker explains the city's annexation plans during an Oct. 1, 2014 work session. He announced his resignation on Oct. 2, 2014 Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
Avondale Estates’ elected officials apologized numerous times on Wednesday to residents who are ticked off about how they approached the issue of annexing more property into the city.
The special called work session also offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the politics behind annexation, who the players are and how deals are made. It brought current Avondale residents and their potential new neighbors together in the same room. The current residents are in a small city and some were worried about it getting bigger. The residents affected by the proposed annexation were divided. Some didn’t know about the proposed annexation until recently, as was the case with Decatur Terrace.
Others were actively working to file a petition to join Avondale so they would have some control over their destiny.
Mayor Ed Rieker took responsibility for asking state Rep. Karla Drenner to introduce an annexation bill on the city’s behalf, one that would’ve brought in the neighborhoods of Katie Kerr and Forrest Hills, along with commercial areas like the DeKalb Farmers Market.
“I realized that as mayor I had made a mistake,” Rieker said. “If you ask my wife, I make a lot of mistakes and she’s right usually most of the time. I’ve been doing this for seven years now. I am learning all the time. I am sorry that I make mistakes. I am doing my best, and I think this board also is a terrific board and they do their best.”
City Commissioners admitted there had never been a public discussion about the bill or a resolution passed in support of it.
Drenner said the reason she introduced her bill on March 7 is because the Lakeside cityhood bill passed the Senate passed on March 3.
“The day before the session ended, the Lakeside bill died,” Drenner said. “All those bills died. So you know what we did? We pulled the annexation bills.”
Drenner said that ultimately, the decisions about new cities and annexation are in the hands of a few Republicans representing areas of north DeKalb.
“It’s three legislators up in north DeKalb,” Drenner said. “Three of them. The rest of us that live in other areas of DeKalb usually have no say in what’s going on. The committee that they’re talking about, the committee that’s appointed will probably not even be anybody from DeKalb County. So we won’t have a say in how these lines are drawn.”
The push to get the bill done is largely due to the failings of DeKalb County government, she said.
“Unfortunately, our county is in crisis, isn’t it,” Drenner said. “All of you watch the news just like I do, and this rush to cityhood is being forced by the fact that our schools have problems, our county government has problems, right? To say the least.”
Here is video from the Oct. 1 work session. It was shot using a camcorder and a cellular phone. Due to the length of the meeting, the battery on the camcorder died and the cell phone reached its storage capacity. The video presented here is mostly unedited. We added a title card at the end and a few transitions to cover the spots where the video cut out due to technical difficulties. This video captured much of the meeting, but not all of it. To hear the full audio of last night’s meeting, click here.
WSB-TV was also there and filed this story: