Primary Election on July 20th

July 19, 2010

Please remember to vote in the primary election on Tuesday, July 20. Your regular polling place will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Click here for a link to the Secretary of State’s database which will enable you to find your polling place and retrieve a sample ballot that is specific to your polling location. You can also click the following links to see the countywide Republican and Democratic sample ballots for this primary election.


Save Money on Natural Gas

July 19, 2010

Did you know that every month the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) publishes which natural gas marketer had the lowest rates for variable and fixed rate plans during that month?

Click here to see who has had the lowest rates each month in 2010 and in previous years.

Earlier this year, I switched our family to one of the natural gas marketers that consistently had the lowest rates according to the PSC. We switched from Georgia Natural Gas and our monthly natural gas bills have been significantly lower since that time.

I thought this would be helpful information to share with you.


A Win-Win for Cross Keys

July 19, 2010

On Monday, July 12, the DeKalb County Board of Education approved a facilities use agreement for Cross Keys High School that will benefit the entire Brookhaven community.

According to the AJC (click for article), under the agreement, the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta will completely overhaul the athletic facilities at Cross Keys High School by grading and sodding the fields, installing an irrigation system, repairing the dugouts, rubberizing the track, installing bleachers, and building a field house. The YMCA also will provide routine maintenance and hire off-duty police officers for security. They’ll pay for a portion of the school’s water bill as well.

This is all being done with private funds. No tax money is being used.

Cross Keys students and athletic programs will get “first dibs” on using the fields. The YMCA also will use the fields for their own athletic programs, much like the soccer fields on Ashford Dunwoody Road adjacent to Marist High School.

If you’ve driven by these athletic fields, you know that they are underutilized and an eyesore. That is all about the change thanks to this outstanding public-private partnership.

I commend the Board of Education for approving the contract that was necessary to allow these improvements to happen. In addition, special thanks to HillsDale resident Kim Gokce, who is heavily involved in the Cross Keys Foundation, and incoming Cross Keys High School senior Mpaza Kapembwa, who was one of my pages during this year’s legislative session. Both played an important role in securing approval from the Board of Education.

Along with DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader and Chamblee City Councilman Tom Hogan, I was one of three elected officials who wrote letters to the Board of Education requesting their approval of this project. To read the letter I submitted, click here.


Advance Voting & Senate Endorsement

July 10, 2010

Advance voting for the primary election is this Monday through Friday, July 12 through 16. The primary election is July 20, a week from this coming Tuesday. You can vote this week, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at any of the following advance voting locations that are relatively near our community:

Chamblee Civic Center
3540 Broad Street
Chamblee, GA 30341

DeKalb County Fire Headquarters
Training Conference Room
1950 West Exchange Place
Tucker, GA 30084

Old DeKalb County Courthouse
101 East Court Square
Decatur, GA 30030

Click these links to see the Republican and Democratic sample ballots for this election. You can also click here to retrieve a sample ballot that is specific to your polling location.

Several constituents have asked for my thoughts about the State Senate race that is brewing in parts of Brookhaven and in the Oglethorpe, Silver Lake, and Murphey Candler areas. If you are voting in the Republican primary, my choice is Fran Millar. Fran is the State Representative from Dunwoody. Having worked with Fran on many issues, including the property assessment freeze that will be on your ballot this November, I can attest that he is the candidate most likely to listen to our community and to be effective for our neighborhoods.


What’s a Diverging Diamond?

July 10, 2010

Approximately a week ago I was notified by the Governor’s Office that the Perimeter Community Improvement District (CID) will be receiving a grant of $800,000 and a loan of $684,000 from the state infrastructure bank to construct a “diverging diamond” interchange at the junction of Ashford Dunwoody Road and I-285. The project will span as far south as the Ashford Green building and as far north as Perimeter Mall.

This begged the question: What is a diverging diamond interchange?

The answer: It’s an unusual interchange design where the traffic on the non-highway road (Ashford Dunwoody) drives on the opposite side of the road (the left-hand side) as it passes over the highway. It appears that this design will greatly improve traffic flow over I-285 and will be a remarkable improvement over the current layout.

Dunwoody City Councilman John Heneghan has posted more information on his blog, and there is a good article about the redesign in the Dunwoody Crier (click for links). You can find diagrams of the new layout in both places.

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2011.


Don’t TXT + DRV

July 10, 2010

Senate Bill 360 (click for more information) went into effect on July 1.

This new law prohibits the sending or reading of electronic mail or text messages while operating a motor vehicle. It does not apply while your vehicle is parked, but it does apply while you are sitting at an intersection. If ticketed, violators will be fined $150 and have one point assessed against their driver’s license.

I wanted to make sure you are aware of this.


A Parks Bill for Everyone

July 10, 2010

You may have seen recently in the news that the City of Dunwoody obtained the parks within its boundaries from DeKalb County at minimal cost pursuant to state legislation.

The legislation that enabled this to happen was amended into a bill that I sponsored, House Bill 203 (click for more information), but not before I changed the language in ways that benefit all of us, whether or not we live in the City of Dunwoody.

The parks language in the bill does not just apply to Dunwoody. It applies to every city in DeKalb County. So, for example, if the City of Chamblee or City of Dunwoody were to annex the areas containing Murphey Candler Park or Blackburn Park, or both, that city would be able to obtain those parks from DeKalb County for the same low cost. Also, if citizens in Brookhaven ever decide that they want to form a new city, that city would get the same deal in obtaining Brookhaven Park on Peachtree Road and Ashford Park on Caldwell Drive.

This is not to say that any such incorporation or annexation is imminent. That’s a decision that will remain primarily in the hands of our neighborhoods, and also in the hands of any city governments which might become annexation partners. The bottom line is that proper maintenance of local parks is one of the reasons that local citizens choose to become part of a city.

Critics have suggested that this is stealing parks from DeKalb County and giving them to cities. I reject that notion. They’re not DeKalb County’s parks. They’re not any city’s parks. They’re public parks.

One of the provisions that I insisted on including in HB 203 is a provision that says citizens who live inside a city and those who live outside a city have to be charged the same fees, to the extent there are fees, for the use of any park that is acquired by a city pursuant to the legislation. Thus, a city can’t charge residents of unincorporated areas more for using “city” parks and recreation facilities.

Evan and I take our kids to the playground at Brook Run from time to time. We don’t live in the City of Dunwoody. After the incorporation of Dunwoody, I’ve seen firsthand how DeKalb County has allowed the park to deteriorate. It affects all of us. I am confident that the City of Dunwoody will be a much better steward of the park.

HB 203 also deals with parks bond funds. There are approximately $7.5 million dollars in general obligation bond funds (not tax funds from the county treasury) that the City of Dunwoody says were promised for improvements to Brook Run prior to the 2006 DeKalb County parks bond referendum, but DeKalb County is now holding back these funds and won’t use them for Brook Run.

HB 203 provides that, if a city can prove to the satisfaction of a Superior Court judge that county documents and the statements of county officials in the run-up to a bond referendum promised X amount of bond funds for particular projects at a particular park, and the county is holding back the funds, the city gets X dollars of the bond proceeds to use for those particular projects at that particular park.

The point is that county officials should be held to the promises they make to voters and taxpayers when seeking to win their votes in a bond referendum. This provision, too, is written to benefit other areas that may join DeKalb cities in the future.


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