Monday, May 4, 2015

Breaking The Ice

The litany of malfeasance in DeKalb County government seems to never end. Federal prosectors issuing subpoenas and indictments, even reaching a plea agreement with a former Commissioner about to cool her jets at Club Fed. Smaller fry are left for the local DA to prosecute and he seems willing to do so. Cops on the take. Intrigue around checks cashed at a liquor store (where else would you cash a check?) and allegations of forgery. Urkel is about to be re-tried. Courts are even handing down significant fines for just plain bad behaviour.

And now J. Tom Morgan is on the case describing what little has been made public (and that is a lot) as "the tip of the iceberg." Probably so. Most folks expect him to uncover a lot of dirt with very little digging. Some folks are hoping this becomes the tipping point, where the state legislature is forced to confront the failings of a unique form of government and reform it. This comes up a  lot and while the CEO form of government may have issues it is not the root cause of all our problems.

The strong CEO form of government may well have played into problems involving Vernon Jones and Erkel but it was not a factor in the malfeasance admitted by Boyer or the broken commitment (to clean house on day one) of her successor. There is something else at play.

The job of CEO and County Commissioner are elected positions so we should not be too surprised when we end up with politicians in those roles. But do they have to be of the kind whose ambitions out run their integrity by such an enormous margin? Cannot any single one of them, just once, say what they will do and then go out and do it? Apparently not. It seems that getting elected in DeKalb requires saying what sounds good and then doing whatever the hell you want. It IS what politicians do, but does it have to be every time, with every single one of them?

It's not just the raw materials we have at hand. The real problem with "ditch the CEO form of government" is that it doesn't go far enough. DeKalb County needs to be dissolved. The western portions of the county should be absorbed into Fulton County, the north east into Gwinnett and the remaining portions into Rockdale. Fulton will get almost full coverage ITP and a better balance of conservative vs liberal representation and if that is problematic there would be a critical mass to re-create Milton. Both Gwinnett and Rockdale will have communities more aligned with their ex-urban nature as well as expanding their non-residential tax bases. This is not something that our County Commission or CEO would endorse but the Legislature should be called upon to do just this to pull us out of this misery.