Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary to resign amid federal fraud case | #phishing | #scams


ExploreStage set for Stonecrest mayor to plead guilty in federal fraud case

The 45-minute Zoom call, which was hacked during its middle portion, primarily featured Lary reflecting on his role in the founding of Stonecrest in 2016.

In November, federal prosecutors took Lary to court over allegedly defrauding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act through the use of a kickback scheme. Lary is accused of requiring small businesses and churches that received grants to give 25% of their award to companies connected to himself and co-conspirators.

Prosecutors said Lary helped decided where the relief funds were directed, including an unsolicited $150,000 grant award to his church. In return, the church was asked to give $50,000 to one of the companies, which Lary allegedly used to pay off various personal tax liabilities. Prosecutors also found that $108,000 of relief funds were used to pay off the mortgage on a lakefront home owned by Lary.

Lania Boone, a 60-year-old bookkeeper for the company hired by Stonecrest to distribute its federal relief funds, was also arraigned on a conspiracy charge in the case. She’s the wife of Clarence Boone, the city’s former economic development director who was fired as a result of investigations into the city’s relief program. Her next court hearing has not been scheduled.

Lary previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the change of plea hearing signals a likely plea deal. His attorney, Dwight Thomas, teased that result during Lary’s initial Nov. 10 appearance in court by saying, “He accepts full responsibility, and there won’t be a jury trial.”

ExploreStonecrest mayor: ‘Time is limited’, city council punishing him by stiffing vendors

According to the city’s charter, a special election will take place because Lary’s term was supposed to last through the end of 2023. (He won reelection in 2019 with 55% of the vote.)

Due to the uptick of COVID cases statewide and in the city, Dunwoody Municipal Court sessions will be canceled on Jan. 5...

Posted by City of Dunwoody - Government on Monday, January 3, 2022

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Avondale Estates closed its City Hall through Jan. 14 to “mitigate exposure” to the virus after multiple city employees tested positive."},{"_id":"HBQYM5V4D5EDFPCIDUJCENENKE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"KVY3DTJW5NGFJBDPQYUV5INJEM"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"DeKalb city closes City Hall to ‘mitigate exposure’ to omicron","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/dekalb-city-closes-city-hall-to-mitigate-exposure-to-omicron/SAYQ7ISPFRCZTKO5LPT4S3JAWY/"},{"_id":"HTOSHNG25NCR7GTE37BAWEUJUM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"The Dunwoody Municipal Courthouse, located at 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road, will remain open to the public this week, but no sessions will take place until Jan. 10. 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City staff said they need to take action to provide options to residents, who currently have to wait hours in lines or search far-and-wide for appointments with private testing providers."},{"_id":"QUXJBJ6XPZDWVMUGX4P7A37C4U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496900},"type":"text","content":"The City Council gave itself the power to establish testing sites on private property via eminent domain Thursday during a special-called meeting. City attorney Chris Balch said property owner would be compensated for the use of their land."},{"_id":"MMW2RXOE4FBRXD6SSZHPK77AY4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640955219312},"type":"text","content":"“The authority to compel a private property owner to allow the public use of their property would be a short-term fix,” he said during the meeting, which was held virtually. “It would not be a long-term or permanent taking of property.”"},{"_id":"DDMUZDRTORFTJIFSMOMHEUOOXM","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"K6GHZC3YHNETNA747PXAMYRAEM"},"type":"raw_html","content":""},{"_id":"EMPS6VI4AFCMRHSCFE5KUUBOZQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496903},"type":"text","content":"No details were given on which properties are being considered for testing. City Manager Christian Sigman said the city lacks large enough public parking lots to work for conversion into drive-thru testing sites."},{"_id":"CVGZJDVWZZH3PKEL2PW2FRCA7E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496904},"type":"text","content":"“Being a fully developed city, we do not have a lot of options for drive-thru or mobility-based health services,” Sigman said. “So the city needs the flexibility to identify those locations, both public and private, and utilize them based on emergency basis.”"},{"_id":"BTFMYRXVERBWJL5Z36HTI7AF4Y","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"3WV5WO6SQJGOZO4FMA5BF5QI2I"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Complete coverage of COVID-19 in Georgia","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/coronavirus/"},{"_id":"LIYQKJ2RLJBKXIYABIGYJIKCVA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496905},"type":"text","content":"City staff will begin negotiations with private property owners, but the city has the options to issue a temporary easement if necessary."},{"_id":"GHY5P7GQBVCYJD7V5WNB6K4MAA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496906},"type":"text","content":"“Any and all areas in Brookhaven are under consideration,” a city spokeswoman said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We of course want to use spaces that the owner is agreeable to allow. But in the event we have exhausted all other opportunities we wanted to have another mechanism to protect residents and citizens."},{"_id":"NHSLAQQ4LBBNDIKFSGZVQFZ7AM","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"Z7BF36BLXRCYTKSI5O3NH7IXOA"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Omicron presents bad ‘math equation’ for Atlanta hospitals, leaders say","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/omicron-presents-bad-math-equation-for-atlanta-hospitals-leaders-say/3B2XGECH7FDB5FIR5K5ALETMO4/"},{"_id":"V5MZTVZ5MVEMNGVFN42QXIRXR4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496908},"type":"text","content":"The city’s current site, which is run through a contract with CovidCareGA, is at Northeast Plaza, 3371 Buford Highway. The DeKalb County-run mass testing sites are all located outside of Brookhaven’s city limits."},{"_id":"6VKSANIQ3BBTFJHGIU6DVBNTJQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640961496909},"type":"text","content":"The additional power is tied to the city’s declaration of emergency, which is set to expire Jan. 30. Establishing a testing site doesn’t require a vote and can take place before the council’s next regular meeting Jan. 11. However, Balch said it would require ratification from council if a site is established."},{"_id":"DVARFHHM45FDDKRWOZQSPGBQEQ","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"PMMYQTBUO5HC7HRJDLDEAYRSBE"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

Brookhaven Emergency Declaration by Zachary Hansen on Scribd

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However, that population growth wasn’t evenly spread throughout the city or its three council districts — the north portion of the city has nearly double the population of the city’s west side."},{"subtype":"facebook-post","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1640960415424}},"provider":"https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post/oembed.json/?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://www.facebook.com/CityofDoraville/posts/283669807137090&locale=en_US","type":"facebook-post"},"_id":"5CCZ7WX7SZCGJISXELYDDKJNBI","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"City of Doraville","author_url":"https://www.facebook.com/CityofDoraville","width":552,"html":"

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As you have likely noticed, Doraville is growing quickly. In 2010, the census indicated that our city was home to 8,330...

Posted by City of Doraville on Wednesday, December 22, 2021

","provider_url":"https://www.facebook.com","_id":"https://www.facebook.com/CityofDoraville/posts/283669807137090&locale=en_US","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1640960415424},"provider_name":"Facebook","type":"facebook-post","version":"1.0"},"type":"oembed_response"},{"_id":"SMH3RCSJCRGLRJCIBU4I6WMYIY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859435},"type":"text","content":"City leaders will have to redraw their districts to more evenly balance their constituents’ numbers to comply with federal law before the next local election in 2023. The City Council is considering a few state-generated options, but no one seemed pleased by the current prospects."},{"_id":"PARFMNKZARBVZI3IRFVUYTGO4M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859436},"type":"text","content":"“They took two stabs at it,” City Manager Chris Eldridge said during a Dec. 13 meeting. “They look squirrelly, but they were taking into account where (the city’s six) council members currently live and trying to make it work. That’s why it’s not a neat, symmetrical drawing.”"},{"_id":"QVYO4U3RI5DZDCKQITH6ORYJLA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"JIMVRJZNSVEMZF65XKMP2QK264"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"‘It’s a compromise’: Brookhaven leaders begrudgingly approve new district lines","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/its-a-compromise-brookhaven-leaders-begrudgingly-approve-new-district-lines/BXCE2HXYZNEJPIXUDCWU7LQVDU/"},{"_id":"HZY56AE6A5AUHBZ7KT7MFKJ4GY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859438},"type":"text","content":"The Legislative and Congressional Reappointment Office created two maps, which each include at least one odd-looking borderline. Some neighborhoods would be split between districts in order to evenly divide the city’s 10,623 residents."},{"_id":"44BA4F57YJHBRDJ5ATU4566N7A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859440},"type":"text","content":"“With the way our city has been bisected by so many major highways over the years, there’s going to be no clean way to do three districts as it currently stands,” Councilman Chris Henshaw said."},{"_id":"F36N2GVJRRAYZF3HA4BCKQHTSA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"XZPXD5DTFFANPDFCJZKHON4GMM"},"type":"raw_html","content":"rnrn

'C' is for Change

rnrn

Every DeKalb County city saw its population increase from 2010 to 2020.

rnrn

rnrn

2020 Census

rn"},{"_id":"EQNQFOASVFH7NAL4D7TZPHQJ3A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859441},"type":"text","content":"*Brookhaven and Stonecrest, both founded after 2010, do not have Census data to compare. Despite being founded in 2015, the Census does have a 2010 population number for Tucker, allowing for the comparison."},{"_id":"NGHZHGNGGFBAVFE7FHNTV5XN2Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640895405107},"type":"text","content":"Henshaw and several other councilmembers said they’d like to see how a two-district map would look. Mayor Joseph Geierman said the reappointment office gave the city a third map, which included only two districts, after the Dec. 13 meeting."},{"_id":"VWBVRW3KWZCNFHNOWZTII6QCGE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"That option would reshape how local elections would play out in Doraville, which currently has two councilmembers elected from each district. A two-district system would likely include at-large council seats and potentially one less councilmember."},{"_id":"HZY56AE6A5AUHBZ7KT7MFKJ4GY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859438},"type":"text","content":"Matching the city’s overall demographics, the current three districts are all majority Hispanic. The proposed maps would not radically change the racial makeup of any district."},{"_id":"MCIGX33FQNHIFOMLPQVQAMCBDM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859442},"type":"text","content":"Councilwomen Stephe Koontz said a silver lining to reducing the number of people on council, since a five-person council would avoid tie votes. (Doraville’s mayor currently only votes in the event of a tie.)"},{"_id":"NEQKLJQXFFGFFKRCLOVU7SU3MU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"B2GYWOG7RJE7DKSM75OLBYCYWI"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"DeKalb releases latest local redistricting proposal","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/dekalb-releases-latest-local-redistricting-proposal/ITN22HUCZJEXVLILEC574GLZ4A/"},{"_id":"GOUBJASBZNFSJC2N73E3A7GZFY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859444},"type":"text","content":"Eldridge said it’s unlikely they’ll be given more map options from the reappointment office before the next legislative session. Geierman said the city aims to redraw its maps into federal compliance by February 2022."},{"_id":"OUSQKKCXNZHN7C7JIIBADLSUYU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859445},"type":"text","content":"Doraville does not have any municipal elections in 2022, so Geierman said the council could adopt one of the three-district maps as a stop-gap measure. Then city leaders could spend more time rethinking the city’s districts, which could include hiring a third party to generate more options."},{"_id":"MMM6BVFT5JHEVFBZ4JXTWG2IPY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640891859446},"type":"text","content":"Doraville residents are encouraged to reach out to their councilmember to provide feedback. Redistricting will be discussed during the city’s Jan. 10 work session."},{"subtype":"facebook-post","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1640960415439}},"provider":"https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post/oembed.json/?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://www.facebook.com/DoravilleJoseph/posts/283233743825658&locale=en_US","type":"facebook-post"},"_id":"SCS2SNMQCFHEXGLZT45VHINJ4M","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman","author_url":"https://www.facebook.com/DoravilleJoseph","width":552,"html":"

n

For as long as I’ve lived in the City of Doraville, our city council districts have divided the city into roughly 3...

Posted by Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman on Monday, December 20, 2021

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City employees will work remotely during that time frame, and residents will not be able to enter the building."},{"_id":"KX77BQHC3REVTANHAVPN6M5Q4I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640876169638},"type":"text","content":"In observation of the New Year’s Day holiday, most local government buildings will be closed Friday and will reopen Monday. Avondale Estates spokeswoman Ellen Powell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that multiple city employees tested positive for COVID-19 recently, prompting the city to extend the closure of its City Hall and adjust its services."},{"subtype":"facebook-post","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1640878382118}},"provider":"https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post/oembed.json/?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://www.facebook.com/CityofAvondaleGA/posts/5295929607103097&locale=en_US","type":"facebook-post"},"_id":"2BJ674XTCBFXNKCKBUGNOPEA6A","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"City of Avondale Estates","author_url":"https://www.facebook.com/211172678912174","width":552,"html":"

n

To mitigate exposure to the omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus to residents, staff and others, City Hall will be...

Posted by City of Avondale Estates on Wednesday, December 29, 2021

","provider_url":"https://www.facebook.com","_id":"https://www.facebook.com/CityofAvondaleGA/posts/5295929607103097&locale=en_US","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1640878382118},"provider_name":"Facebook","type":"facebook-post","version":"1.0"},"type":"oembed_response"},{"_id":"EU6GJNL6AJBODAVPPQN5AQ44DE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640876169640},"type":"text","content":"The city implemented other new measures for the new few weeks. City meetings will take place virtually and municipal court services are suspended."},{"_id":"7K4NWAFW35HQ3BNSUQPE2B43T4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640876169641},"type":"text","content":"Public works services will also experience some changes. Residents are asked to move their garbage containers to the curb, since back-door sanitation collection is suspended. In addition, yard waste and Christmas trees will not be picked up until after Jan. 14. Recycling will continue to be picked up as scheduled by the city’s contractor."},{"_id":"JK5EAFIQ35CNRCEATXCZ6Q3WEA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640876169642},"type":"text","content":"“We remain committed to the City’s well-being and safety and will reevaluate the situation at the end of this period,” the release said. “Thank you for your continued cooperation and support of the City of Avondale Estates.”"},{"_id":"4RCAB35VH5EC7AJ7WIKBHPUMTQ","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"XVSC36NCWNDBPCKH2T7YFOHQSQ"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Kemp taps Guard, contract health workers as COVID-19 rages","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/kemp-taps-guard-contract-health-workers-as-covid-19-rages/PGSLL4PCGJCQ3BRJ374LVVMJHQ/"},{"_id":"SGKO4VKZHNCJJGLNVFSRBKDJ2M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640868981664},"type":"text","content":"
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People can wait in drive-thru lines or walk up to each of the three locations to receive their test kit. Here are the locations:"},{"_id":"JSCUET76OVFD3C3IVCPJZVZP7U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640794449153},"type":"text","content":"• South DeKalb Mall, 2801 Candler Rd., Decatur 30034"},{"_id":"RGAAIE77XZGJBIGQ7HKPCG5GFE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640794449154},"type":"text","content":"• North DeKalb Mall, 2050 Lawrenceville Hwy., Decatur 30033"},{"_id":"RGAAIE77XZGJBIGQ7HKPCG5GFE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640794449155},"type":"text","content":"• Plaza Fiesta, 4166 Buford Hwy., Atlanta 30345"},{"_id":"ZG5QPZXHIRCXZHBA6DQJYGEOGQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640794449156},"type":"text","content":"Thurmond told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that American Rescue Plan Act funds are being used to purchase the tests. He added that the county will continue to look for large supplies of at-home tests and will likely hold future drive-thru events as long as testing demand remains high."},{"subtype":"twitter","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1640812615480}},"provider":"https://publish.twitter.com/oembed?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://twitter.com/ItsInDeKalb/status/1476225767201644545?s=20","type":"twitter"},"_id":"JQ4QKNI3Z5GYVM2ATOXXCQADHQ","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"DeKalb County, GA","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","type":"twitter","version":"1.0","url":"https://twitter.com/ItsInDeKalb/status/1476225767201644545","author_url":"https://twitter.com/ItsInDeKalb","width":550,"html":"

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Traffic tickets and code enforcement fines have funded significant portions of the city’s annual budget — in some years as much as a third of general fund revenue has come from fines and fees, the appellants argue."},{"_id":"RXL3JOYTIFFJRJ5MWX7DTHDVNA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640718260260},"type":"text","content":"The four individuals are represented by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian advocacy organization, and its attorney Joshua House. He argues the city’s reliance on municipal fines illegally motivates cops and judges to overcharge and over prosecute."},{"_id":"4IQKEXKY2RELBJPMNEW7KMD5DU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640718260261},"type":"text","content":"“When a defendant enters Doraville’s court, he sees a court that must convict him in order to balance the city’s budget,” House said during a Dec. 16 appeal hearing. “That defendant does not receive due process in Doraville’s court.”"},{"_id":"IO7CFPXOGFHRRB6C6YWW6XLASU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"L36Y5JEMMVD3VHTUYDQXQDJW44"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Where can construction workers park their trucks in Doraville? It’s complicated.","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/where-can-construction-workers-park-their-trucks-in-doraville-its-complicated/HUO74TIVJVHLXFRJNLVNECXKC4/"},{"_id":"2WJNC6J6MRB2XIENKXPDLWM7FA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640718260262},"type":"text","content":"House told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that cops and judges could be fired if they don’t bring the city enough money, and that possibility creates a conflict of interest. The city disputes that its employees are under the gun to bring in revenue."},{"_id":"HPUR3YKCIREYTHJTWOSXIECDRY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640718260264},"type":"text","content":"“The city is confident that the court will side with us once again as they have previously,” a city spokesman said in a statement regarding the appeal."},{"level":3,"_id":"MOFROIG4JRAHNEF6K2RSGKQ6B4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944413},"type":"header","content":"‘Don’t violate the law’"},{"_id":"QMJ7SA2Q2FGFVMPAQHVXISHDIM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640644289335},"type":"text","content":"Jeffrey Thornton, Janice Craig, Hilda Brucker and Byron Billingsley were all cited between 2015 and 2017 for various incidents in Doraville. Thornton and Brucker were charged with code enforcement violations, while Craig and Billingsley received traffic citations."},{"_id":"JBUU2QKW5JHGJC2HQQWGVWURZU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944415},"type":"text","content":"All four eventually pleaded no contest or guilty and were ordered to pay fines varying from $100 to $300."},{"_id":"YN7AVGHDLJD5LFIS2HFHRF34DM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944416},"type":"text","content":"In 2018, they filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s fining habits were out of control. In December 2020, U.S. District Judge Richard Story ruled in the city’s favor. (Story continues below timeline.)"},{"_id":"GNOTVL4FDJDB7NOKRO2IWJNJMU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"TQPOIC2KGJDAXPJ55MDZG7KMAA"},"type":"raw_html","content":"rnrn

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    July 2015

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    Jeffrey Thornton was cited for having a trailer parked on his grass and logs in his backyard. He was found guilty and received a $300 fine, which was later dropped since Thornton was not able to pay the fine.

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    September 2016

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    Janice Craig received a traffic ticket after being accused of improperly changing lanes and holding up traffic. Craig, who isn’t a Doraville resident, pleaded guilty and received a $215 fine.

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    October 2016

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    Hilda Brucker received citations for rotted wood and chipped paint on her house, weeds and overgrown vegetation in her yard and a crumbling driveway. She ultimately pleaded no contest to a charge and received a $100 fine and six months of probation.

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    July 2017

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    Byron Billingsley received a traffic ticket after being accused of improperly changing lanes to get around a large truck. Billingsley, who worked in Doraville at the time, pleaded guilty to a $100 fine.

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    May 2018

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    Plaintiffs filed their two-count complaint for declaratory injunctive relief and for nominal damages.

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    April 2019

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    A federal judge denied Doraville’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

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    December 2020

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    The district court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiff’s motion.

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    Plaintiffs filed their notice of appeal.

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    They appeared in court to argue their case. Their attorney Joshua House said he expects the court to release their ruling next spring.

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"},{"_id":"TLRN6CFKE5BYVOOJX4OYTA5UMY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944418},"type":"text","content":"House said Story’s ruling doesn’t match legal precedent, and no one needs to lose a job to prove his case."},{"_id":"6SQRX3HTLJC57L5RYR72UBBJRA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640707494302},"type":"text","content":"“Doraville says, ‘Well look, there’s no evidence that we ever fired a judge because he didn’t bring in enough money,’” House said in a phone interview. “And our argument is that you don’t have to wait for Doraville to actually do that horrible thing...” House said in a phone interview."},{"_id":"J2X3MKR5ARFBLHKUESWOE5Q5NQ","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"WTHFYGNJ2FHVPKQWSPTKP6XN3U"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"OPINION: Challenging Doraville’s ticket to riches a fine thing","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/local/torpy-large-challenging-doraville-ticket-riches-fine-thing/ZFDJHtaUrFi3bdHOJWAzOI/"},{"_id":"J4Y43G6W75HNFNXA5BPRHPVIFE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944421},"type":"text","content":"Harvey Gray, the attorney representing Doraville, said the case should never have gotten this far, let alone to the appeal stage."},{"_id":"Q76NV33UCBDCBAIWZ7CR5DSGRQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944422},"type":"text","content":"He said the four plaintiffs should have appealed their individual cases if they felt they weren’t being given due process."},{"_id":"U3DXDSIZJZH2LCYOGLTIKDDBUY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944423},"type":"text","content":"“The only irreparable injury that the two traffic court case plaintiffs (Craig and Billingsley) said is we might drive through Doraville again, and we’re scared we’re going to get a ticket,” Gray said Dec. 16 in court. “Well, the answer is don’t violate the law.”"},{"level":3,"_id":"6YU6QYPK5JCIXA4TFS5DETG754","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944424},"type":"header","content":"‘A healthy profit’"},{"_id":"2XK62UE3TRC37PWZG4DUP726CQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944425},"type":"text","content":"House argued in court that municipal fees are crucial for Doraville to balance its budget."},{"_id":"7VWWSVCOQNBLLAGE2PISUEWKEI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944427},"type":"text","content":"In 2010, about 35% of the city’s general revenue came from municipal fees. Since 2015, that figure has steadily decreased, and it has dropped below 10% since 2020. House said fines and fees comprise just 1.4% of the average American city’s revenue."},{"_id":"WLHJ6CZGRNAK7CLB37TWYUG22U","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"BCYWSGRVMJAPJNYYDBQ3N5K3FU"},"type":"raw_html","content":"rnrn

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Doraville funding from traffic tickets

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Doraville gets an unusually large percentage of revenue from traffic tickets, but that number has declined as it has fended off lawsuits. The 2021 budget figure is a budget estimate, while the other figures consist of actual revenue generated by fines and fees.

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SOURCE: City of Doraville

"},{"_id":"SEYPPBN4HNFQNAJP5SOITP47DI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944429},"type":"text","content":"Both House and the city said the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a factor in the recent dip, but House added the decline could be a result from the lawsuit. The city’s statement primarily attributed the decline to an increase in population."},{"_id":"HPUR3YKCIREYTHJTWOSXIECDRY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640718260294},"type":"text","content":"“Over the last four years, fines and fees have made up a decreasing portion of our budget thanks to explosive growth throughout the city and improved compliance with our laws,” the city’s statement said. “Our population has shot up 27% since 2010 and new businesses are moving in every month.”"},{"_id":"JLCM55RML5FIPCL74HTG5HQBRM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944431},"type":"text","content":"House said the city can resolve its alleged conflict of interest by either relying less on fees to balance its budget or providing judges with more job security, such as lifetime tenure or making them elected officials."},{"_id":"EPLGKAPAHRBKLJLTOLESNSOKFY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944432},"type":"text","content":"Councilman Andy Yeoman told the AJC in an email that the City Council is not dictating how judges rule on their cases."},{"_id":"4WHYIVS4KVHNNGDI3UBWZYBY5I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944433},"type":"text","content":"“The issue this libertarian organization is trying to resolve in the federal court is: are municipal judges agents of city councils,” Yeoman’s email said. “This issue as it relates to Doraville is absurd, as the prior judge served for 28 years through nearly three decades of different councils. Two of the current judges I’ve never met or spoken to.”"},{"_id":"IHNT46V7ENEFJI7DX2WOIUH7JM","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"4WSPGB3YGBGABBMHF4GGBHEH3Q"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Doraville hires 3 new municipal judges to make up all-women bench","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/doraville-hires-3-new-municipal-judges-to-make-up-all-women-bench/3JX6X73MI5GGHBDWFMUUPTLT6Q/#:~:text=Jennifer%20Mann%20will%20become%20the,judge%2C%20Mayor%20Joseph%20Geierman%20said."},{"_id":"UKO4M3K3TBAYBOR246M3BHRQPI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944435},"type":"text","content":"He added that this lawsuit won’t lead to any meaningful code enforcement reform, which he said is needed in many cities."},{"_id":"CPHIESVDTZGPXMYYZQOEH5EANA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944436},"type":"text","content":"“This lawsuit is a distraction to genuine reforms and progressive changes,” Yeoman said."},{"_id":"MPOAS5VMUNDKBPZSW52FRE2STQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640724944437},"type":"text","content":"House said he expects a ruling on the appeal sometime in spring 2022."},{"_id":"EOGXRTQQFREBXBWRNPJLJD5ITM","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"RKF47KESNRDMPHZTFSLLGXFY6M"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

Hilda Brucker, et al v. City of Doraville by Zachary Hansen on Scribd

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"},{"_id":"IYCWCGGNXVAJTAJVJF5POXN4OE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"7GWCNHWJYNDFDGJGRPRXPNFGZI"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Born out of necessity, open container districts set to outlast pandemic","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/born-out-of-necessity-open-container-districts-set-to-outlast-pandemic/76UEM766WNF5TF6PVGNZECEF2M/"},{"_id":"M6WGPD2ZDFD7BJZSEFPPI76YVA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Decatur’s ordinance was first enacted in October 2020, and it required renewal every couple of months. The lack of controversy among residents and extra business for bars and restaurants prompted city leaders to expand it indefinitely."},{"_id":"FCKZE4VGGBFMFPE2ELG5DP2PAE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"“It seems just really rational and reasonable, and I personally have not received any negative feedback from residents or businesses,” Commissioner Kelly Walsh said during a Monday meeting. “(I’ve received) really only positive requests for us to keep this and maintain it in a sustainable way for businesses.”"},{"_id":"F3HMKW33GVCXVL3ULYOKC6UQOY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Starting Jan. 3, patrons will be able to purchase to-go drinks from businesses from 11 a.m. to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Outdoor alcohol will not be allowed on Mondays through Wednesdays. Businesses are required to serve the drinks in green plastic cups that bear a city logo."},{"_id":"FTSROYPEGZAI3BBLHKLS5VBSVI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Restaurants and bars will have the option to opt-out of selling to-go alcohol. To participate, a business will pay an annual $250 fee to cover the cost of the plastic cups, city staff and police enforcement."},{"_id":"YRHUZPGAXRGC7M6RXBZZFIUTY4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"The open container policy applies to six business districts. These include the Decatur Downtown Business District, East College Business District, Oakhurst Business District, Old Depot District, Specified West College Restaurant District and West Ponce Business District."},{"_id":"ZCFMWQRP5BDKTBIAS76JMJIH2E","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"KK33PLKLDFELVO76C7E7IMA2BI"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

Decatur Open Container Policy by Zachary Hansen on Scribd

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It also planned to use geolocation services to send the message to visitors and commuters in the county. "},{"_id":"HTLUQMZ2URCGPCO6QCX5ORJTJY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"“We want everyone to have a safe and healthy holiday, but we must be vigilant because of the surge in cases fueled by the COVID-19 omicron variant,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said in a news release. 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By 5:40 a.m., only one left lane of the interstate was open."},{"_id":"EFUQ4JAOHJDERJRPEPS7A3E3LY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640273141079},"type":"text","content":"All lanes were reopened by 8 a.m., the Traffic Center reported."},{"_id":"AF2GRJOQ6ZCLRHPUKU5XGJE23I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640276315964},"type":"text","content":"— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates."}],"display_date":"2021-12-23T15:37:05.073Z","headlines":{"basic":"1 dead after fiery crash involving moving truck on I-85"},"first_publish_date":"2021-12-23T15:37:05.073Z","taxonomy":{"sections":[{"path":"/neighborhoods/dekalb","parent":{"default":"/neighborhoods"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"/neighborhoods","name":"DeKalb County","description":"Local news for Dekalb County Ga. neighborhoods, including breaking news, DeKalb County schools, high school sports, crime, events, neighborhood development and land use issues","_id":"/neighborhoods/dekalb","additional_properties":{"original":{"parent":{"AmpNav":"/neighborhoods","default":"/neighborhoods","BottomNav":null,"TopNavRedesign":null,"SectionMap":"https://www.ajc.com/","MainMenuRedesign2021":"/neighborhoods","TopNav":null,"ComposerNav":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"site":{"section_comments_enabled":"Yes","site_description":"Local news for Dekalb County Ga. neighborhoods, including breaking news, DeKalb County schools, high school sports, crime, events, neighborhood development and land use issues","site_title":"DeKalb County News | Local news, sports, events, schools and info"},"navigation":{"nav_title":"DeKalb County"},"inactive":false,"node_type":"section","_website":"ajc","name":"DeKalb County","_id":"/neighborhoods/dekalb","ancestors":{"AmpNav":["https://www.ajc.com/","/neighborhoods"],"default":["https://www.ajc.com/","/neighborhoods"],"BottomNav":[],"TopNavRedesign":[],"SectionMap":["https://www.ajc.com/"],"MainMenuRedesign2021":["https://www.ajc.com/","/neighborhoods"],"TopNav":[]},"order":{"SectionMap":1014,"MainMenuRedesign2021":2010,"ComposerNav":1070}}},"_website_section_id":"ajc./neighborhoods/dekalb","type":"section","version":"0.6.0"},{"path":"/news","parent":{"default":"https://www.ajc.com/"},"_website":"ajc","parent_id":"https://www.ajc.com/","name":"News","description":"Atlanta Georgia News main page: Breaking News, Atlanta Weather Forecast, Crime, Politics, GA Schools, Local Articles - 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County officials said Lay, 61, sustained second- and third-degree burns in the fire that also killed 30-year-old Terryona Regular, her daughters 6-year-old Aaliyah and 3-year-old Angel, and two uncles, 49-year-old Pedro Coney and 55-year-old Timothy Regular."},{"_id":"T6G4KTSHBFEFRCYT7TVVIAN6KU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"MIRGSTR6VZA4JGLHZXDSL2U3DM"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"2 children among 5 family members killed in DeKalb house fire","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-2-children-among-5-killed-in-dekalb-house-fire/GW6GRVYSZFF75EH2KSO6NOQVLU/"},{"_id":"LVKV4XMWDZCYJN5MNBS7NNQ6NY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227884},"type":"text","content":"Lay, the matriarch of the family, owned the house on Janet Lane and brought up several of her relatives there, including grandsons Bonner and Bernard Ziglor. 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Only two people escaped unharmed."},{"_id":"T5S3MSSGTRGPLJZQ24CESEOQDA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227886},"type":"text","content":"“It’s tragic. Sad,” Bonner Ziglor said from outside the home last Tuesday. “We’re trying to make it through.”"},{"owner":{"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc"},"address":{"locality":"Decatur","region":"GA"},"caption":"Bonner Ziglor (left) and his brother Bernard talk to the media in front of their grandmother's Decatur home where a fire claimed the lives of five of their family members. Their grandmother later died.","source":{"system":"photo center","name":"AJC","edit_url":"","source_type":"staff","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":["61b8ccb9f6768912747912bc"]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"reference","reference_id":"8aec2b8c-455c-4816-903d-79fc8fdf8019"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY.JPG","geo":{},"licensable":false,"credits":{"affiliation":[{"name":"Phil Skinner","type":"author"}],"by":[{"name":"Phil Skinner","type":"author","byline":"Phil Skinner"}]},"subtitle":"Fatal DeKalb Fire","width":2000,"_id":"H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/BlcAu-eYdNvhLQDQov33iwPrfso=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY.JPG","owner":"sandra.brown@ajc.com","comments":[],"iptc_job_identifier":"61b8ccb9f6768912747912bc","keywords":["anti-elections rally","fighting the city of atlanta’s year long attempt to take away th","peoplestown"],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/BlcAu-eYdNvhLQDQov33iwPrfso=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY.JPG","takenOn":"2021-12-14T00:00:00Z","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY.JPG","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/BlcAu-eYdNvhLQDQov33iwPrfso=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY.JPG","ingestionMethod":"manual","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/uaMGZsia9_Dn68HBp8lxKDUNN3M=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/H2XIWRQDEZHARJDICY3CN6PQZY.JPG","version":1,"originalName":"121421 DECATUR FIRE-4.JPG","mime_type":"image/jpeg","restricted":false,"template_id":594,"galleries":[],"_id":"SFX5UB3Q4ZDLJOXNL3QVFIBU6E"},"created_date":"2021-12-14T18:57:48Z","last_updated_date":"2021-12-14T22:22:34Z","slug":"121421 DECATUR FIRE","height":1566,"image_type":"photograph"},{"_id":"3W5ICOQPP5HEVPGGX3J6HS6SGE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227887},"type":"text","content":"The fire broke out around 12:20 a.m. According to a DeKalb fire spokesman, the first crews to arrive in the neighborhood off Glenwood Road did not know there were people trapped by the flames. The home was nearly fully engulfed, and they had to act fast."},{"_id":"HROCXRNODNFD3GXYWMZJ2QFO3I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227888},"type":"text","content":"Firefighters used a vent-enter-search strategy to quickly perform a preliminary search as other crew members established a water supply, fire Capt. Jaeson Daniels said. Ultimately, they were unable to save everyone."},{"_id":"26WZXC4S2NH3TDPZZXOC3G24EI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227889},"type":"text","content":"Lay was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where she died Tuesday morning, according to the medical examiner’s office. Her death comes as her family prepares to lay the five others to rest. A visitation is scheduled for Wednesday at the Gregory B. Levett and Sons chapel on Flat Shoals Parkway."},{"_id":"V4ACWM3F3BGIXCKB5UFPMVDYHM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640108263840},"type":"text","content":"They will be buried Thursday following a noon funeral at Rainbow Park Baptist Church on Columbia Drive."},{"_id":"PBOQ6XMBVZB3RLV62ZAOMQ6JBI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640287170273},"type":"text","content":"A GoFundMe account that was started to raise money for funeral expenses has netted more than $40,000."},{"_id":"XQYNYYQRBZFIHOPFNKGOA3MVCQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640108263841},"type":"text","content":"Daniels said Tuesday investigators were unable to determine what started the fire, and it was not clear if the home had a working smoke detector. Last week, teams of firefighters went door to door to install detectors in neighboring homes."},{"_id":"UTPEM63NCVCP5EB5THXBA2SAQE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227891},"type":"text","content":"Investigators do not believe the fire was criminal in nature, Daniels said."},{"_id":"MEXGLQT2IJD3ZBQI3ULSVMNGCI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106227892},"type":"text","content":"DeKalb fire Chief Darnell Fullum said it was the 29th fire his crews had worked this month. Since then, crews have responded to five more working fires."},{"_id":"4BMWF4ZMYJCBNBA4NSVVMVYFP4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640106407055},"type":"text","content":"
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(John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)","type":"image","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/QKXOFOWJ6BCV7LK5EXGUP5UALU.JPG","height":3433}},"canonical_url":"/neighborhoods/dekalb/breaking-6th-family-member-dies-days-after-dekalb-house-fire/TZDKZSJ6QZHP7JREGKZAQRZY3Y/","_id":"TZDKZSJ6QZHP7JREGKZAQRZY3Y"},{"content_elements":[{"_id":"VEIQYFR555F4ZGWCQNMQBJ5QGU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1593365379366},"type":"text","content":"DeKalb commissioners approved Tuesday a $420,000 settlement in a whistleblower lawsuit brought by a former county employee."},{"_id":"6D4UPN5VWRD4BAFDZQGUIF5ALU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784328},"type":"text","content":"The settlement is still to be finalized in court. But former procurement officer Teresa Slayton — who in her 2018 complaint said she was fired because she alerted officials to bid-rigging, collusion and corruption in the county’s Department of Watershed Management — would receive nearly $228,000 in exchange for dropping the lawsuit."},{"_id":"666HMDRBFFBUZKLCKUVFBJG3IQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784329},"type":"text","content":"Her attorneys would receive a little over $192,000."},{"_id":"6B33D3K3ZFCPBB6DD4QKPPRBWE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784330},"type":"text","content":"Slayton’s lawsuit was originally filed in DeKalb County Superior Court before being moved to the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Online records suggest the case was scheduled to go to trial in January."},{"_id":"UNNTCS47T5G5VGXCPHYCMBZZLI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784331},"type":"text","content":"The county commission’s discussion of the proposed settlement was held behind closed doors, as is permitted by Georgia law. The county administration declined to provide further comment."},{"_id":"UTQ5RY7KUJHHBAW5XOOIT3TGWI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784332},"type":"text","content":"Slayton referred questions to her attorneys, who did not immediately respond to inquiries from the AJC."},{"_id":"ER4JHJYXG5AGHGCHOHO5TPLGHA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784333},"type":"text","content":"According to her suit, Slayton started working as a senior procurement agent for the county in August 2016. She was a team lead for purchases related to the billion-dollar overhaul of the county’s water and sewer systems."},{"_id":"GVIGYZOOAFBV3LKUVC5SCC5NVM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784334},"type":"text","content":"In court documents, Slayton said she was demoted after informing supervisor Warrick Sams and chief procurement officer Talisa Clark about a myriad of issues within the watershed department. Those issues allegedly included a contractor overbilling the county through change orders; another contractor with conflicts of interest within the department; and watershed employees sharing insider information with a company bidding on a multimillion-dollar contract."},{"_id":"YVBZP7Z465HGHLE4ZRQ32LLVUQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784335},"type":"text","content":"Slayton said Clark — who resigned her own position with the county in 2019 — encouraged her to act unethically and declined to promote her when Sams was terminated."},{"_id":"WYN4C44E4NDANLPGS5IWOUXPN4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784336},"type":"text","content":"In the first half of 2017, Slayton reportedly met with an FBI agent to discuss her claims. She also complained to the county’s human resources department, the county attorney and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Office."},{"_id":"MWS32RGQYBDQ5KBBYXD6IAXPBA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784337},"type":"text","content":"She was fired in August 2017."},{"_id":"JQJ4P2J5KRC7VNXPFFURX5HVSU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Slayton was making $61,776 at the time she was let go; this week’s proposed settlement would be a little less than the equivalent of four years’ salary. "},{"_id":"X4AVS2A6NREJBL4RW3YKPZ57N4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784338},"type":"text","content":"Accusations of corruption and mismanagement have long swirled around DeKalb’s watershed department and its larger purchasing office, both of which play significant roles in the county’s attempts to address its long-neglected water and sewer systems. And Slayton’s March 2018 lawsuit was filed at a tumultuous time."},{"_id":"LXHCXHSKYNA7ZMNKXSGQQ72ESA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784339},"type":"text","content":"It came just a few days after a massive water main break caused outages across DeKalb. Then-DWM director Scott Towler had also resigned shortly beforehand, alleging he had been encouraged to engage in “unlawful activities.” County officials denied that charge."},{"_id":"QOSNZ5SXSZDBROZSO4JGD46NVM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784340},"type":"text","content":"Towler later filed his own lawsuit against the county, which was settled last year for around $40,000."},{"_id":"NCOC57Q4BZBJBNA77PPFUWCWWA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784341},"type":"text","content":"Another high-profile case related to watershed contracts, meanwhile, is currently scheduled to go to trial in February."},{"_id":"23CVYSE2DNAVVBKLGD7EAADWDM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784342},"type":"text","content":"Former county commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton is facing federal bribery and extortion charges, accused of taking a total of $1,000 in bribes from a subcontractor working on a project that documents suggest was the county’s ongoing renovation of the Snapfinger Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant."},{"_id":"EWHTMRPVM5GKXBXT332A4YNTYU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640122784343},"type":"text","content":"The alleged offenses took place in 2014. 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An after-credits Zoom call with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal was the cherry on top."},{"_id":"EJHWZLS2GFCVLPEPXQNZHU65BM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1640023448985},"type":"text","content":"“It means a whole lot, to let them know they are not here to just lock people up, but they are also here to help and serve the community,” said paraprofessional Jazzmen Fannin, who chaperoned a group from Oak View Elementary School. “Every time you turn on the news all you see is police shootings or something of that nature. 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Open container proposals in the burbs have been opposed — even vetoed — over fears they would taint family-friend town centers."},{"_id":"VUAW37ZOARBZVAIFHBWWPPCOLE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639596960305},"type":"text","content":"However, the pandemic’s economic upheaval of the restaurant and bar industries led many cities to try out open container areas, even if just temporarily. Business owners in those communities now hope the policies become permanent, prevalent and more well-known."},{"_id":"43PPEI5WONCI3AW5ME3AGDH2MU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639513756856},"type":"text","content":"“I think it was survival at first,” Mike Gallagher, who owns two businesses in Decatur Square, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Now I think it’s a couple of things. 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The City Commission has voted several times to extend the policy every few months, but they’ll have the option to make it indefinite at their Dec. 20 meeting."},{"_id":"A37E47RBOZFKLPUVRBAJNTKZDA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"X3Z5MW54AZCPXOUTQNZAWXZRO4"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Decatur extends open container law until 2022, considers making it permanent","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/decatur-extends-open-container-law-until-2022-considers-making-it-permanent/MISHY2W3Z5C4TAJ6NPZTYFBBZ4/"},{"_id":"ZJ72GPAXXVH7FGXGID63VVA6UQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639596960308},"type":"text","content":"Outdoor drinking hasn’t generated much controversy in the city, indicating that suburban residents may have warmed up to the idea of having a beer or glass of wine while window shopping or lounging in their city center. Mayor Patti Garrett indicated that outdoor drinking will likely become a new fixture of downtown Decatur."},{"_id":"CCGISOUQZ5HUTGKSTEFNUC2QPE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638795976930},"type":"text","content":"“Many people have expressed their appreciation for being able to enjoy an adult beverage outside in the designated open container districts, particularly in light of COVID concerns about being inside as compared to being outdoors,” Garrett said in a statement to the AJC. “The temporary open container ordinance appears to be very popular and of benefit to our local businesses!”"},{"_id":"ZCSBV5AETJFW5EKHXWADILGOYQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113023},"type":"text","content":"While cities such as Duluth, Dunwoody, Kennesaw and Woodstock had embraced entertainment districts years ago, Decatur was among the more-hesitant holdouts. In 2019, former Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne said it was a topic of discussion but wasn’t a “burning issue.”"},{"_id":"WTIRBLQQM5CTJGQSLXMOOIVQUM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113024},"type":"text","content":"In other cities, such as Marietta, the issue was more hotly debated. In 2019, Mayor Steve Tumlin vetoed an ordinance that would have made Marietta Square an entertainment district, saying it could “have the potential” to threaten the area’s atmosphere."},{"_id":"35TBND43FRDW3OU7OEYV55HSHE","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"SG5BH2V4VFG57BHTZTR25SPDXY"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Should more areas around Atlanta allow drinking alcohol outside?","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/local/should-more-areas-around-atlanta-allow-drinking-alcohol-outside/e7C2qPH2Yzk1SKwSzJk3XP/"},{"_id":"EOOCNAMTTZCRXFWISGMRGRHDKY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113026},"type":"text","content":"The onset of the coronavirus pandemic pushed many of those worries aside. Marietta began a one-year trail period where to-go alcohol was allowed in its downtown square, and Decatur adopted its temporary ordinance in October 2020."},{"_id":"X3WPF3PALVEE3BJUQELMPZ3ASA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113027},"type":"text","content":"Gallagher, a co-owner of The Brick Store pub and Leon’s Full Service in Decatur, said sales had dropped to less than 10% of normal, so any additional revenue stream was crucial."},{"_id":"4FBJU7IY2JFNBFWHTILUCZXG3M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639513756849},"type":"text","content":"“Anything that could give us an opportunity or an edge to allow people to feel safe, to feel comfortable or maybe even, dare I say, excited to come out and spend some money, it was an enormous deal for us,” he said."},{"_id":"ZCSBV5AETJFW5EKHXWADILGOYQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113029},"type":"text","content":"Sean Crotty, owner of Kelly’s Market, said it helped encourage visitors to swing in to his store, grab a beer to-go and stroll to other shops and meeting spots."},{"_id":"KYOELW6JI5AFDAXFEKXSPKLDMY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638995057907},"type":"text","content":"“The thing that I really like about it is the connectivity that adds to Decatur,” he said. “We’re off the square, but it lets people just kind of wander into the center of town and grab a beer on their way.”"},{"_id":"SWBTML57PNEGLOPZRYXICPXY3Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113031},"type":"text","content":"Decatur’s ordinance requires businesses to sell alcohol in specific plastic cups that bear a city logo. 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The city, which has won national awards for its brewery scene, saw to-go alcohol become a big hit."},{"_id":"W2JU3ADJRBBYVP625CHOVPQW5I","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"L6JVH7WSKJBSTFFEHLZPV6SJJA"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Avondale Estates named nation’s best small town beer scene","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/avondale-estates-named-nations-best-small-town-beer-scene/WOOQPCJPKVF7PK2AJPHNDUIEBE/"},{"_id":"AFRBXTQEKFFYHJLWM26TXGHIYQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113036},"type":"text","content":"In October, five breweries and brewpubs relaunched the “Dale Ale Trail,” a craft beer promotion that offered special deals. Since the participating businesses all fall within the city’s entertainment district and are within a mile of each other, the programs instantly had synergy."},{"_id":"UHUYKKPZ45DVZOAW7QAR7BRYGY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113037},"type":"text","content":"“Having the open container district was very beneficial with the timing of it, because that enabled people to walk from one location to the next on the trail,” Stacia Familo-Hopek, owner and co-founder of The Lost Druid brewery, said."},{"_id":"CUGHHWZWUFGKRNN3S7FTLIRSUQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113038},"type":"text","content":"She added that open container districts cater to the increased demand for walkable entertainment, and she expects sales to increase even more during the summer months when the weather is better."},{"_id":"75THO3TDFBCAVANZ53MFXRVBU4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113039},"type":"text","content":"“I think there’s just this continuing evolution of people not wanting to drive everywhere,” Familio-Hopek said. “They want to go out for a walk either with their children or their dogs and have some stops along the way and be able to enjoy a nice adult beverage as they’re walking without the concern of getting into a car.”"},{"_id":"MDOSIXDMFFFPFHKIAC52TEBBCY","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"25OKTIAKMZC3FOFNFH6EHKQFLA"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Governor gives green light to cocktails to go in Georgia","url":"https://www.ajc.com/politics/governor-gives-green-light-to-cocktails-to-go-in-georgia/3RCLM3JHGBDNDKAGFBX4JYXDEQ/"},{"_id":"NKFKA27DMNDQJBFNI3VAATOHZE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639769113044},"type":"text","content":"
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Fulton, in particular, has been the target of state officials and is under threat of a state takeover of elections."},{"_id":"LMKEVX55UVCHHDPRIBR6NZ2VLQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639765677418},"type":"text","content":"The livestream from Fulton’s election board meeting didn’t show if Barron was present during the vote. Barron did not immediately respond to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution when asked if he would accept the extension, which would last until April Fool’s Day."},{"_id":"SX2AKQGXEFDAFASE22N5DWIQE4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639765677419},"type":"text","content":"Barron, who has been in the role since 2013, announced in early November that he would resign at the end of the year. At the time, Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said Barron’s presence was “a distraction” and the departure was not because of Republican attempts to oust and fire the elections director."},{"_id":"UDHH6WXAWFHDPBIKPUZ4G4RCJU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"7TVPTAHV4ZCF7JMJXF2ZMJJD4M"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Fulton County elections chief stepping down following tumultuous term","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/breaking-fulton-elections-head-barron-leaves-after-tumultuous-term/ABPVRMUX2JEQFMGMPWTZRJNWXY/"},{"_id":"VRFFA3WQINBINIK5LZW4FOE4AY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639765677422},"type":"text","content":"Teresa K. Crawford, a Democratic member of the Fulton elections board, made the motion to keep Barron. She said it was “to cover us because of the number of people that we’re missing ... and also to work within the county … to get up and running.”"},{"_id":"UM43SRWT7VEXPBT2RYSWZWOG6M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639765677424},"type":"text","content":"The sole Republican elections board member present at the meeting abstained from the vote, and all Democrats voted in favor of retaining Barron. The board also approved a contract with search firm Baker Tilly to find a new permanent director."},{"_id":"XTRGXZI37NH7DF6OGS23HVVAW4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639776193013},"type":"text","content":"Bob Ellis, a Republican county commissioner, said he was flabbergasted by the decision to keep Barron. "},{"_id":"ZXGGLFGS2RCU7AJB5J6F6TJVHU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"“Having him continue on does nothing to benefit the situation. It’s time for us to have a clean break and for him to have a clean break and for Mr. Barron to move on,” Ellis said."},{"_id":"T7WXE42SNFDO7KKDY5JILF34BE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639776193014},"type":"text","content":"A fellow GOP commissioner Liz Hausmann called the move “a very big surprise.”"},{"_id":"G3YOKQEPRVB67OFYCN7V2QGMZE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Hausmann has been critical of Barron’s elections spending and voted in March to uphold the election board’s firing of Barron — a measure that was ultimately defeated by a 4-3 vote of the commission. Hausmann said extending Barron’s contract hurts the ability of the county and Barron to move forward."},{"_id":"RR3WVD7NTJBTLCQK4WZQ75FYNU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"LPLX5HBRNNDGTKWSMRO7Q2FGTA"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Fulton elections takeover would make history","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/fulton-elections-takeover-would-make-history/5RRK7YDVVJGDTLQTYFDC7KK2QA/"},{"_id":"4KZJ7LKDSBAA5P75ILQRMGS4LM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639774185315},"type":"text","content":"Hausmann said there were a couple internal candidates who would have been “just fine” as interim director."},{"_id":"MBTGCIPEF5E5RA2E4KQDPSZSIM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639770623591},"type":"text","content":"Calls to get rid of Barron began following a disastrous June 2020 primary that had some voters waiting in line for hours, many because they never received mail-in ballots after Fulton’s system was overwhelmed."},{"_id":"TNQKXKZVOVEUZKPFTLAORUHK5A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639776193019},"type":"text","content":"A state-appointed performance review panel is now investigating Fulton elections under Senate Bill 202, which gives them the ability to let the state temporarily take over county elections."},{"_id":"R3H6KR7TPFD2VNWUXWNBWVXML4","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"EKLNHWSF2NCSJB5IPR3MS6LZVQ"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"DeKalb County launches search for new elections director","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/dekalb-county-launches-search-for-new-elections-director/EQTWO3TAZREQTDUXTY6PRFA62Y/"},{"level":1,"_id":"JQHS5KG2HRACBDLYVXBXTE3SCA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639760478975},"type":"header","content":"DeKalb searching, too"},{"_id":"SVDVWMN33NACFDKO5NT3NL24YM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639767699853},"type":"text","content":"In neighboring DeKalb County, where former director Erica Hamilton resigned earlier this fall, the local elections board spent the morning interviewing candidates of their own in executive session — as allowed by state law."},{"_id":"AE5XBY3LNVAWZHEP7NK7XOHJ5A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639765677428},"type":"text","content":"Before the meeting, elections board chair Dele Lowman Smith declined to reveal exactly how many candidates were being interviewed, but said around 60 people applied since the job was posted in October."},{"_id":"UPSBAZBECJAVDORXJNCX5URFZY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639760478977},"type":"text","content":"There was “a small number who rose to the level” the board is looking for, Lowman Smith told the AJC."},{"_id":"WV4WYSLFHFDL5NQLFH47Y4A6DU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639760478978},"type":"text","content":"Lowman Smith said she and her colleagues knew going in that the current political atmosphere would make their search more difficult. They’re also seeking someone with executive-type experience who is equipped to manage an intricate operation that functions largely independently from the rest of the county government."},{"_id":"ZZARHW3MGVH2TEHFUDGMN64Y4E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639760478979},"type":"text","content":"Lowman Smith said she was confident the board would come out of the interviews able to “identify at least two strong candidates from this pool to move forward as finalists.”"},{"_id":"6L4QRJPRZFBE5LPMKELT7GG7NY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639760478982},"type":"text","content":"The board hopes to make a hire by the end of January."},{"syndication":{"search":false},"subheadlines":{"basic":""},"description":{"basic":"Scathing survey details issues in Fulton elections"},"taxonomy":{"primary_site":{"path":"/news","name":"News","_id":"/news","type":"site","version":"0.5.8","primary":true},"sites":[{"path":"/news","name":"News","_id":"/news","type":"site","version":"0.5.8","primary":true},{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","name":"Local News","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","type":"site","version":"0.5.8","primary":false}],"sections":[{"path":"/news","_website":"ajc","name":"News","_id":"/news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0","primary":true},{"path":"/news/atlanta-news","_website":"ajc","name":"Local News","_id":"/news/atlanta-news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0","primary":false}],"tags":[{"text":"Fulton,"},{"text":"anvato"},{"text":"brightcove"},{"text":"local"},{"text":"stockman"}],"primary_section":{"path":"/news","_website":"ajc","name":"News","_id":"/news","type":"section","version":"0.6.0","primary":true},"seo_keywords":["Fulton,","anvato","brightcove","local","stockman"]},"source":{"system":"Methode","edit_url":"","source_id":"74407eec-3ba4-40b7-8f21-44102e27a839"},"type":"video","related_content":{"redirect":[],"basic":[]},"tracking":{"in_url_headline":"scathing-survey-details-issues-fulton-elections"},"short_url":"/news/scathing-survey-details-issues-fulton-elections/lEBZcnssIO1GoI6dacmaUL/","duration":168461,"promo_image":{"credits":{},"caption":"Scathing survey details issues in Fulton elections","type":"image","version":"0.5.8","url":"https://d1fegwn2wjh0cs.cloudfront.net/06-15-2020/t_863394ad30b243a9a3c66c0358a02fc0_name_88246163001_2472775129001_Segment_13157_46904_6_640x360.jpg"},"subtype":"anvato","credits":{},"first_publish_date":"2013-06-12T14:00:16Z","additional_properties":{"subsection":"News","videoCategory":"anvato","videoId":"5ee7e46b4cedfd000185dd79","vertical":false,"embedContinuousPlay":true,"imageResizerUrls":[],"advertising":{"playVideoAds":true,"forceAd":false,"allowPrerollOnDomain":false,"enableAutoPreview":false,"autoPlayPreroll":false,"enableServerSideFallback":false,"playAds":false,"enableAdInsertion":false,"videoAdZone":"wpni.video.oodef"},"disableUpNext":false,"videoAdZone":"wpni.video.oodef","platform":"desktop","playVideoAds":true,"useVariants":false,"has_published_copy":true,"playlistTags":["/news","/news/atlanta-news"],"anglerfishArcId":"OXMHGJ6M5JET3ISVA3ZTWK2SJ4","comments":[],"isWire":false,"gifAsThumbnail":false,"published":true,"product_affiliate_code":"3989257","permalinkUrl":"/news/scathing-survey-details-issues-fulton-elections/lEBZcnssIO1GoI6dacmaUL/","OXMHGJ6M5JET3ISVA3ZTWK2SJ4":"06-15-2020/t_863394ad30b243a9a3c66c0358a02fc0_name_88246163001_2472775129001_Segment_13157_46904_6_640x360.jpg","forceClosedCaptionsOn":false,"doNotShowTranscripts":true,"_id":"UXIXEZRHUVBJ3PYQVWBSEMMJ2E"},"last_updated_date":"2020-06-15T21:13:15Z","subtitles":{},"embed_html":"

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He was initially denied unemployment benefits by the Georgia Department of Labor, but its board of review recently reversed that decision, finding the city didn’t sufficiently prove Handle’s firing was justified."},{"_id":"2JK6UMHFHFAIRJDDHX2LRKVPJQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227437},"type":"text","content":"The city filed legal paperwork in DeKalb County Superior Court in hopes of reversing the decision, but Handle told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he expects the board’s ruling to stick."},{"_id":"JXPDW36UXNATNBLXUHBR2EETDI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639686820897},"type":"text","content":"“It was a very emotional moment for me, my girlfriend and my family,” Handle said. “We were all kind of just happy tears. I think I was shaking.”"},{"_id":"CET2O3V2RJD7NAEIHN6DWJHXUY","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"6AHZXPK6AJCS3AFYEFV2VACW6M"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Fired Dunwoody officer, 25, finds a following on TikTok","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/fired-dunwoody-officer-25-finds-a-following-on-tiktok/TY66WV3BKZF2XOW3UX3JFD36DE/"},{"_id":"NFAZQVSNEJDP3OUJFZTJJAMPJA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227440},"type":"text","content":"Using the TikTok handle @officerash, Handle quickly accrued more than 100,000 followers last year shortly after being fired. He called himself a “corruption whistleblower,” posting short videos where he talked about the Dunwoody Police Department and made allegations that supervisors were covering up sexual harassment within the department."},{"_id":"632ZLFYG75BW5MYRBIRXLFFYBY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227441},"type":"text","content":"Handle said he was targeted in retaliation for trying to get another officer investigated. While he didn’t name him at the time, Handle was referring to Lt. Fidel Espinoza, who resigned last year amid an internal investigation that found he asked for nude photographs from at least three employees. Handle was not among those employees, but he said he was aware of the situation."},{"_id":"63UE7DGL6FHWDBMGWT2ORHXOSA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"32PSFRTQCBCKHJUPHGIIT2R2FA"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Dunwoody PD probe: Ex-lieutenant asked for nude photos from officers","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/local/dunwoody-probe-lieutenant-asked-for-nude-photos-from-officers/zWzv7T6wcdOg4FZyEm0ovN/"},{"_id":"AOXIHK7G7ZCL5HWZNDHF4YNY7Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227443},"type":"text","content":"The city denied all of Handle’s accusations at the time, and police spokesman Sgt. Robert Parsons defended Handle’s firing in a recent statement. The department said it fired Handle for lying about speeding through a neighborhood in his department-issued cruiser with his lights and siren on — a violation of department policy. A petition for judicial review was filed Dec. 2."},{"_id":"2KISARCQIVDNPKK6BR2Q5GLGJM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227444},"type":"text","content":"“The Department firmly stands by its separation decision,” the statement said. “Furthermore, if the City is given the opportunity to participate in a reopened or new appeal hearing, the Department is confident in its ability to present testimony and other evidence more than sufficient to carry its burden of proof.”"},{"_id":"BWFYDDGZUFC45ABVYXPR2EHFMU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227445},"type":"text","content":"»Read the full petition for judicial review at the bottom of this story."},{"owner":{"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc"},"address":{},"syndication":{},"caption":"Austin Handle","source":{"system":"photo center","name":"AJC","edit_url":"","source_type":"staff","additional_properties":{"editor":"photo center"}},"taxonomy":{"associated_tasks":[]},"related_content":{"derivative_of":[{"referent":{"id":"FCH4ORBU55DN7E5SAG2W64W4CI","type":"image"},"type":"reference"}]},"type":"image","distributor":{"mode":"custom","name":"AJC","category":"staff"},"version":"0.10.3","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ.png","geo":{},"licensable":false,"credits":{"by":[{"name":"Courtesy","type":"author","byline":"Courtesy"}]},"subtitle":"Handle","width":600,"_id":"KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ","additional_properties":{"fullSizeResizeUrl":"/resizer/oLyoNQcKcYUsUbx3gUQVSuDHPek=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ.png","owner":"joseph.capelouto@ajc.com","comments":[],"keywords":[""],"proxyUrl":"/resizer/oLyoNQcKcYUsUbx3gUQVSuDHPek=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ.png","originalUrl":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ.png","published":true,"resizeUrl":"/resizer/oLyoNQcKcYUsUbx3gUQVSuDHPek=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ.png","ingestionMethod":"manual","thumbnailResizeUrl":"/resizer/jbLB9k46jZ38sKsaRjQFP_EuiT8=/300x0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-ajc/public/KZSJF2KCSVD4LAK7I7RKI3KXGQ.png","version":1,"originalName":"View recent photos.png","mime_type":"image/png","restricted":false,"template_id":594,"galleries":[],"_id":"2UZI2PPMTVDYVFCPZXKJQF2PTU"},"created_date":"2020-09-08T22:23:50Z","last_updated_date":"2020-09-08T22:23:59Z","height":450,"image_type":"photograph"},{"_id":"WUO5QMKIC5EUFBP7FWJTMUI6VQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227447},"type":"text","content":"According to the filed paperwork, Dunwoody claims the Georgia Department of Labor did not properly notify the city of Handle’s hearing date with the board of review, which took place in September. The city said the department did not update the city’s mailing address, leading the city’s attorneys and witnesses to miss the hearing."},{"_id":"ZMW4I5XRNVHILLRC7Z2GFHCR2U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227448},"type":"text","content":"The city adds that 63 pages of evidence filed by the city were excluded from the hearing, which it claims was a “clear error.” Parson’s statement said Handle “essentially managed to win an unopposed proceeding.”"},{"_id":"FMKXRWU3WZACPGZ6JOA7IIAIFA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227449},"type":"text","content":"Handle argues the documents were thrown out because they were department-generated documents."},{"_id":"S2BRNYNMVNCLNEHBHU66PO2T2M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227451},"type":"text","content":"On Oct. 22, the board of review reversed the prior rulings, granting Handle’s appeal “on the grounds that the city had the burden of proof to show just cause for the discharge decision, that the city did not participate in the hearing and that the record evidence did not support the Administrative Hearing Officer’s Decision upholding the denial of benefits.”"},{"_id":"ZZMSM4IG4VD2VKMNHDUHAZ52YQ","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"P4ETSDFY6JDMVE5IC6HTN6RM4A"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

Austin Handle's appeal and board of review's decision (redacted) by Zachary Hansen on Scribd

"},{"_id":"HN27DWRZTNGWFPGGAJ26ZXXCIA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227456},"type":"text","content":"Handle said the legal battle shows how local governments have more resources than would-be whistleblowers, often discouraging them from coming forward."},{"_id":"ZPB7FYZGVZAVRAFR6FCJFAF67Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639686820905},"type":"text","content":"“It just speaks to our system being set up in a way that organizations that have these kind of resources, like police departments or local governments, that want to fight the whistleblower,” he said. “They are poised or positioned much better than the single whistleblower trying to fight back and probably already (having) lost their salary.”"},{"_id":"TUKMCXGPRNHYZAPESSL7CG3S6Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639755227458},"type":"text","content":"Handle is now on the board of directors of The Lamplighter Project, a nonprofit that encourages whistleblowing within law enforcement. He said he hopes the board of review’s reversal will provide encouragement to others."},{"_id":"KNOAUWB725FWHE62HEZLGTUWYI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639686820906},"type":"text","content":"“My advice to anyone out there is to keep the faith,” Handle said. “Keep fighting because if you don’t, who else will?”"},{"_id":"5GHJAOWT25FP3M2BPBAURMQN5U","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"S7G7JS3W2JG7HACGKEGCLKF22Q"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

Petition for Judicial Review by Zachary Hansen on Scribd

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"},{"_id":"X4A26ZOTCZAHDHNCOLISKV5MMY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"The new maps — crafted by the county’s geographic information system (GIS) team with input from commissioners — are slightly different than the original proposal presented last week. Overall, the most significant changes to current maps are on the northern end of the county, in commission districts 1 and 2. "},{"_id":"K6KRUXFRPRD5RIQFYH22Y2K4GM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Rather than splitting the municipalities as they do now, District 1 would include all of Chamblee while District 2 would take all of Brookhaven. "},{"_id":"M35SIWQXFFEOBO5FD3NEAUVB6Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"The county’s interactive map allows those interested in the details to zoom in and out, and add and remove layers to see existing and proposed district lines. "},{"_id":"OKYXGKHD2NBY3D2RAWJS7UPDVI","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"O7A5J2TWIZFDHCTZVWY2FL3Y54"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"View the county's interactive map here","url":"https://dekalbgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/basic/index.html?appid=67a7c1faf4ff4aeeba58773bda162643"},{"_id":"DJCTXGTI4NH6NC4FC5IZJJXZ2U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Like those at the state and federal level, county government maps are generally redrawn every 10 years to better reflect new data from the U.S. Census. The authority to draw district lines within counties ultimately lies with Georgia’s General Assembly, but input from local officials is generally considered by legislators."},{"_id":"XX7PTHNMDFEHZHSCH6CEK2DPKM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"DeKalb gained a little over 72,000 new residents since 2010, bringing its current population up to about 764,000. The new target was to include about 152,000 people in each of the county’s five regular commission districts."},{"_id":"NQSLRPQU6NCZHL5H6QNYE2Q2KU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"Under the latest proposed maps, all districts would be under 3% deviation from that target. The map’s total deviation would be about 5.44% — well below the mandated 10% deviation, but higher than the recommended “best practice” of 3%."},{"_id":"2BBSHGRFNZAZTPGPDWA7ZYS7HQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"The county commission plans to vote on the proposed maps during its next meeting on Tuesday. From there, they would be submitted to the state’s reapportionment office."},{"_id":"3RP3MGY6N5AMLHITBCV4HYNB6U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[]},"type":"text","content":"That office would offer feedback before the county formally submits their proposed maps to local legislators. 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SCREENSHOT","type":"image","url":"https://cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/ajc/F4SBP32P3JH5DG4NE6CAVPQ5CY.JPG","height":792}},"canonical_url":"/neighborhoods/dekalb/dekalb-releases-latest-local-redistricting-proposal/ITN22HUCZJEXVLILEC574GLZ4A/","_id":"ITN22HUCZJEXVLILEC574GLZ4A"},{"content_elements":[{"_id":"FSG5JAM5PJG3PE3VJHUZ5UYUZM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400915},"type":"text","content":"A metro Atlanta mayor poised to plead guilty to felony fraud charges in January said other city leaders are withholding payment from local businesses in an attempt to punish him."},{"_id":"U7P2F5JEDFCTTNIS4ROR7U5FUQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400916},"type":"text","content":"Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary, the city’s founding mayor, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday morning that the City Council is refusing to pay invoices incurred by his office. The bills, which total nearly $12,500, are for radio and television promotions from October and November."},{"_id":"74VIJ26CONEJZN4PAZ6BYXNZVU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400917},"type":"text","content":"Lary, 59, faces three felony charges after the FBI accused him of concocting a kickback scheme to steal more than $650,000 in federal pandemic relief funds. He’s pleaded not guilty, but a change in plea hearing is scheduled for early January."},{"_id":"663WKJBDQFFJLCWWKN2HK6XDIU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639673605413},"type":"text","content":"Lary admitted his time as mayor is nearing its end."},{"_id":"VSD3X7GRTBABTAXMIGE2QY4VGM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400918},"type":"text","content":"“I’m just getting handled. That’s all this is,” Lary said. “And they (the City Council) know my time is limited as to how long I’ll be around, and that’s it. I’m just being mistreated.”"},{"_id":"F7UL3252JFCXFNEPKOHFKC5QPA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400919},"type":"text","content":"He would not elaborate on the status of his felony case and when asked to expand upon his comment about his time being limited, he said “I’ll just leave it at that.”"},{"_id":"IKW7A6HZDJEX3KPKB6DHU6QTHU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"KAVOENA5PFGQRP4KYZI3OBUJIQ"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Pandemic relief meant for Stonecrest businesses lost in city hall turmoil","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/pandemic-relief-meant-for-stonecrest-businesses-lost-in-city-hall-turmoil/EJ3UZKAZ35BPJNILCIVCE4C2NU/"},{"_id":"F7UL3252JFCXFNEPKOHFKC5QPA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400919},"type":"text","content":"Despite the fraud accusations, Lary said city leaders’ alleged refusal to pay vendors is part of an ongoing vendetta they have against him."},{"_id":"257IDBIA6VHJDL33H3YZ5GJWIQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400920},"type":"text","content":"The AJC reached out to city councilmembers and other city leaders for comment regarding Lary’s accusations. No response was given before publication."},{"_id":"P5X5DTR2JFBMBCTJQYEHF7M3PU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400921},"type":"text","content":"Lary said the unpaid invoices threaten his office’s ability to hold, advertise and promote upcoming events, including the annual Stonecrest Clause Christmas Toy Drive. Lary provided a series of invoices and emails to the AJC where he vents his frustration to city leaders and begs them to pay."},{"_id":"4YJMG7R6CVFLNNYPCZFAJG36RA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400922},"type":"text","content":"“All invoices are attached (AGAIN) for these black businesses not to be treated harshly because you all have a problem with me,” Lary said in an email. “The city will need them again, I promise you.”"},{"level":2,"_id":"BBW3TUSY3BDZRORW7DKTCJ2E5U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400923},"type":"header","content":"The unpaid invoices"},{"_id":"IVEHFCBG6NHZHLO5GAZS7TPY6M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400924},"type":"text","content":"According to Lary’s emails, the unpaid invoices stem from the mayor’s free college scholarship fair and the mayor’s Black Friday promotion for the New Black Wall Street Market. The invoices include services such as radio promotions and television advertisements."},{"_id":"Y46NRCYKKRE5HPVDJFIDN4RDLE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400925},"type":"text","content":"The majority of the unpaid bills are owed to Maximum Video Productions and radio stations under the Radio One Atlanta and Urban One brands, which include Praise 102.5, Hot 107.9 and Classix ATL 102.9. The AJC reached out to these companies for comment and has not heard back."},{"_id":"FU3VKJ5TWBDVPJVRPMRRORWOQY","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"P7LSRAYB4NERVH4TTJEZQCNRIQ"},"type":"raw_html","content":"rnrn

rnrn

Stonecrest mayor's unpaid invoices

rnrn

Mayor Jason Lary provided invoices for nearly $12,500 in services, which he claims other city leaders are refusing to pay.

rnrn

rnrn

SOURCE: Stonecrest officials' emails

"},{"_id":"IN22QLEUNREA7LJFBSYKH2PHLY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400927},"type":"text","content":"Lary is unable to pay these invoices himself, since the council revoked his check-writing privileges and his city-issued purchasing card after various incidents."},{"_id":"DS6H7TEWQ5HNJKAEWD65ZM3B7A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639675207112},"type":"text","content":"Lary said the City Council will not discuss these pending invoices during public meetings. In the provided email exchange, Lary and Councilman Jimmy Clanton, who recently lost his reelection bid, asked to add a discussion item to the agenda for Monday’s work session, but the request was denied by Mayor Pro Tem George Turner."},{"_id":"7HUGRDTSKRDCNIXH44UH5J2A7U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400928},"type":"text","content":"“I talked to two other council members who expressed similar concerns ... and yes in light of the recent developments we are forced to spend extra time scrutinizing all invoices,” Turner’s email said. “This is why we held these invoices for council and legal review. They will be addressed appropriately in time.”"},{"_id":"3U2E3R6IFVD6VHFZUFOCPW4JQM","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"34L7LDIADVC35OLKZEXKYYRABQ"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Stonecrest mayor silent in 1st council meeting since state reduced his powers","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/stonecrest-mayor-silent-in-1st-council-meeting-since-state-reduced-his-powers/L5FO35UUPRHT5MUQLRZWRYQT4E/"},{"_id":"3V7YOVMCERCS5KJI7KJBHNFX24","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400929},"type":"text","content":"In a responding email, Lary took offense at the mention of extra scrutiny being applied to costs incurred by him and his office."},{"_id":"FBFPALUCHJGP5IXBRCZ3ZUP2HA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400930},"type":"text","content":"“What EXTRA scrutiny???? These vendors have delivered their services to the city,” Lary’s email said. “... you all take nonsense one step further and vote to block the payments of the vendors that have delivered on their promises. And you think this is good business????? UNPROFESSIONAL and PETTY.”"},{"level":2,"_id":"XKH3ITX7UBF3FBMX4DMG365IFA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400931},"type":"header","content":"Running out of Time"},{"_id":"4SBCNWI4FNC3JMBN7DOOJDIBBY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400932},"type":"text","content":"Lary has refused to resign after the federal fraud charges were announced. He would not comment to the AJC about his legal troubles, which include charges of wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal program theft; and federal program theft."},{"_id":"N74S3FTHSVBUHKXNU7GY2HHRJU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400933},"type":"text","content":"Prosecutors said Lary defrauded businesses and churches that received financial assistance from the city, adding that Lary used the allegedly stolen funds to cover his own tax liabilities and pay off a lakehouse mortgage."},{"_id":"O6SR6M4DOJFSBNQ2DAI52I7DNU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"6X7HDIS7BJFTPBV7YAC236C2M4"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Federally charged mayor takes shot at Stonecrest leaders during long meeting","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/federally-charged-mayor-takes-shot-at-stonecrest-leaders-during-long-meeting/7UJIVEFMEFG5VNV6F35PR6MKOM/"},{"_id":"H6XAF6CXP5FNRFUDJBNPP24V2Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400934},"type":"text","content":"He said his pending court case is irrelevant when it comes to paying vendors for services they provided. He added that the council hasn’t paid his monthly car reimbursement of $650 since August, when he returned to his mayoral duties after taking a prolonged medical leave."},{"_id":"JTHGPDYF7VG4BDA3WDUHW2QKTU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400935},"type":"text","content":"“It’s all a vendetta. It’s all get-back. It’s terrible,” Lary said in a phone interview. “I tried to handle this in grace, and they won’t let me. I can’t speak on these other subjects (the federal charges), but I can speak on these two subjects (the unpaid invoices and car reimbursements).”"},{"_id":"ZKTL3KPJSVD6TJZJMJMA6EWCFE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400936},"type":"text","content":"Federal court records show Lary is set to appear in court Jan. 5 to change his plea. It’s likely that he will plead guilty as part of a plea deal, according to prior statements made by his attorney, Dwight Thomas, in court."},{"_id":"ABNBC7JT4NF6VDDAQDDTSLQECY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639671400937},"type":"text","content":"“He accepts full responsibility,” Thomas said in court Nov. 10, when Lary was first arraigned. “And there won’t be a jury trial.”"},{"_id":"3U5OZPVLFVE7HNRLBMQNCWQCGQ","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"AWHSVCHEIZB2VGZGILL4YEKKW4"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Stage set for Stonecrest mayor to plead guilty in federal fraud case","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/stage-set-for-stonecrest-mayor-to-plead-guilty-in-federal-fraud-case/CK4C3L6BBZCQFHTXAIX22CTKIY/"},{"_id":"YPQLHV46ZRFJPG34APYF63WAPI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639677831114},"type":"text","content":"
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That didn’t work out as expected and, with a limited income, he found himself at the Atlanta Mission."},{"_id":"GOBJMJZMQREG3OXS2IGP7DREIU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639140728039},"type":"text","content":"After several months, Walker says, he was alerted to a new apartment complex that was opening up in DeKalb County, right outside I-285 and a short walk from the Indian Creek MARTA station. It was nice, modern — with a gym, a community garden and a theater."},{"_id":"BTR4OSFVUBCQPMWD2OWTHWT7VM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639140728040},"type":"text","content":"Most importantly, it was affordable."},{"_id":"V2NLFBSHQJDGJNL2ROPW4JEC7I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638451622028},"type":"text","content":"“This place is a blessing,” Walker, 58, said recently, sitting on a chair in the complex’s library and reading room."},{"_id":"7YTARJEGEBEMFGBPKOHL74BAMM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639484887964},"type":"text","content":"He’s now lived there for nearly four years."},{"_id":"GPIOHVTVHNGN7JQYXGXT4EOMBQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638451622029},"type":"text","content":"Developers, though, say that places like Manor at Indian Creek face a new threat from some local tax assessors — even as the demand for affordable housing options continues to soar."},{"_id":"MNEGDYV62RENDCMYI2VQ2KHB34","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638451622030},"type":"text","content":"Manor at Indian Creek is one of hundreds of developments across Georgia whose construction was funded in part through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, a federal initiative started in the mid-1980s. The state has had its own complementary program, run through the Department of Community Affairs, for three decades."},{"_id":"NC6FXYTIX5GV5KRZCB7GXHJIOI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638451622033},"type":"text","content":"LIHTC (pronounced “lie-tech”) is the largest affordable housing program in the state, and not a perfect one; there are good operators and bad ones. But the goal is to create what’s commonly referred to as workforce housing: nice, safe communities where teachers or first responders or seniors on fixed incomes can afford to live."},{"_id":"ZZKUUPM5ZNBB5PRMC5X7PWS34Q","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400366},"type":"text","content":"Residents within the designated threshold of an area’s median income may pay $700 or $800 a month for apartments that could otherwise go for twice that."},{"owner":{"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc"},"address":{"locality":"Stone Mountain"},"caption":"The Manor at Indian Creek apartments are located in Stone Mountain. 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That makes it possible to build good projects while keeping rents low."},{"_id":"GIZOLMYHUJCLNAF56YUMDNJ7C4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326509},"type":"text","content":"But they also say tax assessors in DeKalb County — and at least a few other jurisdictions — are threatening the balance through unnecessarily high valuations on new construction projects, which in turn lead to property tax bills that exceed their cash flow."},{"_id":"ZTYO3UKZYRC6LPFMWVS7OXGRZI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326510},"type":"text","content":"In 2019, for example, Manor at Indian Creek got a bill of nearly $250,000 from DeKalb County. A similar project in neighboring Fulton County received a bill of just $37,000."},{"_id":"UQ4QGHVXMBEK3KEKZ55AIIWLNM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638465248200},"type":"text","content":"Ken Blankenship was a founding partner of Prestwick Development, which built both of those LIHTC properties and others across metro Atlanta. He’s also a board member of the Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition, a trade association for developers."},{"_id":"UUQ7466R7ZGITC6JJNCFD3SBE4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638465248202},"type":"text","content":"“These counties want more affordable housing,” Blankenship said. “It’s in their blood to push for and fight for more affordable housing. But once they get it, they want to take as much as possible.”"},{"_id":"67V6XIYOZFGQHINA7WHEUL73DU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400374},"type":"text","content":"Another developer, Dave Dixon, called the situation “a crisis for all of us.”"},{"_id":"LF72A2N6JJCDBMLGSHJJSR6YYY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639161018094},"type":"text","content":"“They’re not feasible to operate at these tax levels,” he said. “And investors, lenders are going to say well, since it’s not feasible to operate, I’m not gonna put the capital in."},{"_id":"2DVPB25INRDO5DEI6C7OP6NHUI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400376},"type":"text","content":"DeKalb County’s chief appraiser, meanwhile, said those concerns are nonsense."},{"_id":"S5XHDJVUJNC2BJDE6CHRY5E4TI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400377},"type":"text","content":"LIHTC developers make plenty of money, Calvin Hicks said, and their properties should be taxed the same as any market rate project."},{"_id":"72FYISMMTNCABKZI44XRDVQIEI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400378},"type":"text","content":"“If these things were so poor an investment vehicle, if these things were so terribly, terribly bad,” Hicks said, “why do we have so many people entering the lotteries saying, ‘I want that’?”"},{"_id":"ISCWE76ZINFTTNTP75DAYEDBQA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400379},"type":"text","content":"The Georgia Court of Appeals could weigh in on the dispute soon."},{"level":1,"_id":"ZNWF6ALLQBDLTMLTO5Y6CADEHQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638465248203},"type":"header","content":"‘Have its cake and eat it too’"},{"_id":"POJGFDLRE5A3LC7P5O5MC5CAKA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638451622031},"type":"text","content":"It gets complicated and, frankly, more than a little murky."},{"_id":"NGUEMF44IJGSPNIYJAKJKV3D4I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639585400382},"type":"text","content":"But in essence, LIHTC programs offer tax credits to developers interested in building more affordable housing. Developers then sell those credits to private investors, lessening the amount of debt they need to take on for projects."},{"_id":"3KAQLFV4SJFKDE7J5Q4PI3VGMA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638451622032},"type":"text","content":"In return, the developers agree to build market rate-quality complexes while keeping rents low for at least 30 years. It’s a highly competitive program that, since 2001, has helped build more than 136,000 LIHTC units across Georgia."},{"_id":"KQ7DSE2WJRDMHJALB24DK3EBQY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326517},"type":"text","content":"Legal wrangling over how such projects are valued — and subsequently taxed — has been commonplace."},{"_id":"VXD7G6PNSFH2PCRZJ7GIA35PHE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326518},"type":"text","content":"In 2019, a case out of Valdosta made it all the way to Georgia’s Supreme Court. The court ruled that county assessors determining a LIHTC property’s fair market value could not count the tax credits that developers receive as “actual income.”"},{"_id":"K7RSFPVEL5H7PMVXO7A76X2XMU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"VIQ454RKLZBFXCD4JUPVKNRKBI"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

Georgia Supreme Court Decision, 2019 by Tyler Estep on Scribd

"},{"_id":"4EJD7HCESBHJVDT2OWAE4LH234","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326519},"type":"text","content":"Developers cheered the decision. But it also left plenty open to interpretation."},{"_id":"QX4XLYIZ55AVNPLNEP4SNAMPJU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639484887984},"type":"text","content":"DeKalb assessors subsequently ditched the “income approach” when valuing LIHTC properties altogether. They now use an appraisal method based on the total cost of construction."},{"_id":"ZF442UULVVDXTGCHMK7LXUDC3Y","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639484887985},"type":"text","content":"Because the low-income properties are, by law, built to the same specifications as market-rate projects, they get matching tax bills, too."},{"_id":"STB7JJEHP5DV3IK4CZ4SLWDBNM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639484887986},"type":"text","content":"Former state Rep. Brett Harrell, who championed pro-LIHTC legislation as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, called the approach a “short-sighted” attempt to generate more revenue."},{"_id":"7EX7LRTJ6JCJVA4FDIV6VZBOM4","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326524},"type":"text","content":"But in an ongoing legal case involving a LIHTC property in Lithonia, attorneys representing DeKalb County said it was more than fair. They accused developer Bainbridge Limited of wanting “to have its cake and eat it, too.”"},{"_id":"CSZIJ7D2QRETLL5MGFFXNMH4BY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638982326525},"type":"text","content":"“Although Bainbridge spent over $14 million to develop Granite Crossing, a brand new apartment complex stocked with modern furnishes and amenities, it claims the property is worth less than $4 million,” county attorneys wrote in one court filing."},{"_id":"JW4YZXNV5VFWNFYABIUDFNYJKQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638478647430},"type":"text","content":"“Why? Because Bainbridge voluntarily agreed to lease its apartments at below-market rents, an admittedly laudable effort. But Bainbridge only agreed to below-market rents because the state and federal governments gave it nearly $12 million in tax credits.”"},{"_id":"I7J3YDH6UZGHVB6PZKRHBVMJYI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639161018109},"type":"text","content":"Hicks, the county’s chief appraiser, said he’s trying “to be fair and equitable, to be uniform to everyone.”"},{"_id":"RHEXWKROOZEQNB6AAW5DDD5RUI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639400050901},"type":"text","content":"Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, an attorney who has represented LIHTC developers in high-profile cases, called the situation “nuts.”"},{"_id":"KOEJQ22PIJFRVPESEN6OIME7WE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1638465248209},"type":"text","content":"“I just don’t understand it,” he said. “It’s like it’s become personal with these tax assessors.”"},{"owner":{"sponsored":false,"id":"ajc"},"address":{"locality":"Stone Mountain"},"caption":"Resident Kenneth Walker stands outside the Manor at Indian Creek apartments in Stone Mountain Mondy, November 29, 2021. 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Legislative fixes are also possible, but would perhaps have to involve a change to the state constitution."},{"_id":"DWE5TPTP5NBB7GGYHN76GNCT2U","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639410740696},"type":"text","content":"“Quite frankly it gets to the point where, listen, if you guys can get the Legislature to change it and exempt them all, so be it,” Hicks, the DeKalb appraiser, said. “Because I’m tired of fighting.”"},{"_id":"XTREBY5B4VEFLFRZK7CWGHPHWU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639410740697},"type":"text","content":"Ken Blankenship is too."},{"_id":"RJGHYPU5OZFP7LAUL46GKI553A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639410740698},"type":"text","content":"The developer who helped build Manor at Indian Creek and other LIHTC properties in metro Atlanta is in the process of launching a new firm. It will still build affordable housing, he said."},{"_id":"WWENK7BETBFQDLGPTLUHVJPL7A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639410740699},"type":"text","content":"But not in DeKalb County."},{"_id":"RSEHPGEGNBEGNL3CPX5FRDVT4M","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639410740700},"type":"text","content":"“I’m only looking in areas where I know I don’t have to fight the county on property assessments,” Blankenship said."},{"_id":"VGVATPHH2BHO3BNNZDVDEYNROU","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"7QWGBLJSZ5CMLPKUYJUCTHQD5Y"},"type":"divider"},{"_id":"PI45PD5YM5AZPN2LTQQOEHHN6I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533027},"type":"text","content":"BY THE NUMBERS"},{"_id":"37R4LYTR5VHBBCMZM6SXOMUPEU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533028},"type":"text","content":"The federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program provides tax credits to developers in exchange for building or rehabbing multifamily units with affordable rents for at least 30 years. Georgia has a matching program."},{"_id":"NEC7IZZRHZGNHPPPDPVTLFET2I","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533029},"type":"text","content":"136,000: Number of affordable apartments provided in Georgia since 2001"},{"_id":"MGHQCX3HIVDRPMACRGWDNRDFZE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533030},"type":"text","content":"180-200: Number of applications from developers reviewed each year"},{"_id":"7PGFMBYBYRDAZJTJBKRCUBT4LY","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533031},"type":"text","content":"100-120: New LIHTC projects approved each year"},{"_id":"P7AH5NOFT5ER3EJQAJGJDILX5E","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533032},"type":"text","content":"60%: Percentage of area median income residents must fall under to qualify"},{"_id":"745ITATMABA4DF4JMMYRDNSJPA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533033},"type":"text","content":"Source: 2020 Georgia Department of Community Affairs report"},{"_id":"A6M3DVIZG5GHHAK43SZX45ZGOM","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639488533034},"type":"text","content":"
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The festive event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Lou Walker Senior Center, located at 2538 Panola Road."},{"_id":"D6KMN5VMPNCE5KJK3CT56YVQCA","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"4RDNDNQASVBYLN6RNC5364ANPM"},"type":"raw_html","content":""},{"_id":"OOPN5QRMYJC7FAZOMYKTWNVHAU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639593704327},"type":"text","content":"Demetrius McCoy, Johnson’s chief of staff, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the commissioner is using the last of her allotment of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to purchase the gift cards. Each DeKalb commissioner received $1.4 million in CARES Act funds to fund initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic."},{"_id":"KUMR3Q675FGN5FFQCPYUIT4XQ4","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"WYWPDRRSSNEFLKHDDVHTER3C5E"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Vaccine demand holds steady in DeKalb despite omicron threat","url":"https://www.ajc.com/neighborhoods/dekalb/vaccine-demand-holds-steady-in-dekalb-despite-omicron-threat/LHEJAVSSVFH7VCRMXAVQV6KJQU/"},{"_id":"RT5CCQLBBVAUXAKR73RFQ7SXKQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639593704329},"type":"text","content":"To qualify, you must be at least 60 years old and be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Attendees need to bring their vaccination card to enter the event."},{"_id":"CB6R6CY6FZDA5JQY5C4UU2ILJA","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639593704330},"type":"text","content":"In addition, attendees need to register in advance. To register, visit form.jotform.com/2133260609252147. Each attendee must register individually."},{"subtype":"twitter","referent":{"referent_properties":{"additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":1639656687500}},"provider":"https://publish.twitter.com/oembed?url=","service":"oembed","id":"https://twitter.com/meredadjohnson/status/1471154438953918476","type":"twitter"},"_id":"TKAI6SHWXZBZVHZUCGEFELB6LY","raw_oembed":{"author_name":"Mereda Davis Johnson","cache_age":"3153600000","provider_url":"https://twitter.com","type":"twitter","version":"1.0","url":"https://twitter.com/meredadjohnson/status/1471154438953918476","author_url":"https://twitter.com/meredadjohnson","width":550,"html":"

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The classification is given to cities making infrastructure improvements for cyclists and other modes of alternative transportation."},{"_id":"5O7SRARFD5ALTKGE3OZDRMHWTQ","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639584038634},"type":"text","content":"Decatur and 54 other cities across the country were given awards by the League of American Bicyclists this fall. The organization has recognized nearly 500 cities for their cycling infrastructure, including Alpharetta, Atlanta, Columbus, Peachtree City, Roswell and Savannah — those cities are all Bronze-level recipients."},{"_id":"4NUKCI5MGVGHNINOMMY2SLFCRE","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639584038635},"type":"text","content":"There are no Gold- or Platinum-level recipients in Georgia, and the organization has yet to award any city with its highest honor: Diamond-level."},{"_id":"HWIJTLTRBZCV3HXCF3AD4XYY5I","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"5ZA6S2FHXZE73AR732ZP53LUXY"},"type":"raw_html","content":"

BFC Infographic by Zachary Hansen on Scribd

"},{"_id":"5ASHV35RCREJ7OFBQRP6GE2JFI","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639575921814},"type":"text","content":"“This Bicycle Friendly Community award is the culmination of years of work put in by City of Decatur and its citizen advocates for better biking,” Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, said in the release. “This award round, Decatur joins 57 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities in the movement toward healthier, more sustainable and connected places.”"},{"_id":"5ULKDDHN5JEYZIR36AW72BH53A","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639584038638},"type":"text","content":"Decatur, which was a Bronze-level recipient before this fall, was promoted due to the city’s investment in bike education programs, regular bike events and cycling infrastructure projects. One of those projects includes changes to Church Street, which will get new cycle lanes and sidewalks in exchange for existing vehicle lanes."},{"_id":"EUHMLSZMDBF4PGC6GD3DTRNTME","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"_id":"YAKS2SZDHRFW3FQX4CJD6YGI5Y"},"type":"interstitial_link","content":"Decatur continues plans to expand bike access, limit vehicle lanes","url":"https://www.ajc.com/news/decatur-continues-plans-to-expand-bike-access-limit-vehicle-lanes/Y7U4BYOEMJBU5GRDDCJIBEMCOI/"},{"_id":"QJVDX6EJCNEDXBJP6Q3HQXRCFU","additional_properties":{"inline_comments":[],"comments":[],"_id":1639584038640},"type":"text","content":"Cities have to apply for recognition through this program. 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