You’re Invited to Meet Speaker David Ralston

September 19, 2010

I would like to extend an invitation for you to attend my campaign kick-off event on Tuesday, September 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Brookhaven’s own Pub 71, which is located at 4058 Peachtree Road.

David Ralston, the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, will be there beginning at approximately 7:00 p.m. This is a good opportunity to talk with me and Speaker Ralston one-on-one about the issues that are important to you.

No campaign contribution is necessary. I’d be very happy just to see you there. If you’d like to contribute anyway, you can do so online by clicking here or by bringing a check payable to “Friends of Mike Jacobs” with you to the event. If you choose to make an online contribution, please also e-mail your name, occupation, and employer to [email protected]. I am required to collect this information for our campaign finance disclosures.


Early Voting Begins September 20th

September 19, 2010

Early voting for the 2010 general election that will be held on November 2 begins this Monday, September 20, at the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections headquarters at 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032, near the Memorial Drive exit on I-285.

Voting is available every Monday through Friday, plus Saturdays, October 16 and 23, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Beginning on October 25, additional advance voting locations will be open, including one at the Chamblee Civic Center. Starting this Monday, however, you can go to the county election headquarters and cast your ballot early without needing an excuse to do so.

If you would like to have the county mail an absentee ballot to you, please click here for the form that you will need to fill out and mail in. Your completed form should be mailed to: DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections, 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032.


Sample Ballot for General Election

September 19, 2010

Please click here to view the countywide sample ballot for the November 2 general election. You can also click here for the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” website that will enable you to retrieve a sample ballot specific to your polling location.


Diverging Diamond in Motion

September 19, 2010

A couple of months ago, I reported to you (click for article) that the Perimeter Community Improvement District (PCID) is receiving a grant and a loan from the state infrastructure bank to construct a “diverging diamond” interchange at the junction of Ashford Dunwoody Road and I-285. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2011.

Below is a video of one of these interchanges. I found it to be a helpful way to see a “diverging diamond” in action. Credit goes to the Dunwoody Talk blog for finding this video.


Mike Gets Results: A Regional Makeover for MARTA

September 13, 2010

Transportation is always among the thorniest issues in the General Assembly. It’s one of the few issues where, in order to get anything done, the strongly-held and divergent views of urban, suburban, and rural legislators must be addressed, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats must be bridged. Otherwise, nothing is likely to pass.

So it’s no wonder that the passage of new transportation funding legislation – which finally happened during this year’s legislative session – was three years in the making.

House Bill 277 (click for information) is the bill that was passed. This transportation bill calls for the state to be divided into regions, with DeKalb County being part of the Metro Atlanta region. Each region’s county and city governments are represented on a roundtable that is responsible for coming up with a project list. That project list will be put out for a vote on the 2012 primary election ballot. If the referendum passes within any given region, a penny sales tax will be levied in that region to fund the projects on the list.

Projects that will directly benefit our community probably will be on the Metro Atlanta list. For example, I could see the reconfiguration of the perennial bottleneck at I-85 and GA 400 easily making the list. The Perimeter CID always tends to get projects on a list like this, as well.

What’s the downside? Although the transportation bill has the potential to be a big step forward, DeKalb and Fulton Counties already pay a one-cent sales tax for transportation: the MARTA tax.

That’s where the Transit Governance Study Commission becomes important. The language creating this commission is also part of the transportation bill. The commission held its first meeting on September 8, 2010. I originally proposed the Transit Governance Study Commission in House Bill 1252 (click for information) and then insisted that it be included in the transportation bill.

Its purpose is to figure out how to create a truly regional mass transit system that is seamless, that unifies the existing patchwork of county transit agencies in Metro Atlanta, and that folds MARTA into an entity which includes more than just DeKalb and Fulton Counties.

MARTA simply cannot be sustained in the long-run on the backs of DeKalb and Fulton taxpayers. MARTA is sometimes not the most well-managed organization (click for an article from today’s AJC), and its board of directors is a political fiefdom. On that last point, this year’s transportation bill pares back the MARTA board from 18 to 11 members, which is a good thing.

The Transit Governance Study Commission will not have to start from scratch. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) already has been exploring how to create a truly regional mass transit system (click for information about ARC’s efforts).

The creation of a seamless regional transit system ultimately will require legislative action. That’s where the study commission comes into the picture. It has been given the task of coming up with actual concrete legislation to make this a reality.

No great city in our country (New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco) relies only on highways. MARTA must be replaced with a system that is more regional in scope. Metro Atlanta’s future ability to attract major employers depends on it, because cities like Charlotte and Dallas are becoming serious about improving and expanding their own transit systems.

The Transit Governance Study Commission could become very positive for DeKalb taxpayers, too, because it has the potential to relieve us of the lonely burden of paying for MARTA.


Frosty Caboose: Take Your Kids Here!

September 13, 2010

The Frosty Caboose is outstanding! It’s an ice cream shop contained in a real train car, a red caboose, located adjacent to the train tracks in Downtown Chamblee. Their address is 5435 Peachtree Road.

If you have kids and haven’t been to the Frosty Caboose, I encourage you to give it a whirl. They serve Greenwood ice cream, which is made locally in Chamblee. After the Jacobs family gets their ice cream, Jonah and Eli like to climb all over the train car. That’s part of the experience for the kids. You can also sit and watch the freight trains and MARTA trains go by.

This is not a paid advertisement. We just really like the place. It’s off the beaten path, so I thought I’d tell you about it. For more information, please visit FrostyCaboose.com.


Taste of Brookhaven

September 13, 2010

The fifth annual Taste of Brookhaven event is this Saturday, September 18, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Conant Performing Arts Center on the campus of Oglethorpe University. Please click here for more information and a list of participating restaurants.


Mike Gets Results: The Anti-Bullying Bill

September 7, 2010

Jaheem Herrera was a fifth grader at DeKalb County’s Dunaire Elementary School who committed suicide in 2009 after repeated incidents of school bullying.

In the wake of this tragedy, I was approached by concerned DeKalb citizens, including some of my own constituents, to look into the adequacy of Georgia’s anti-bullying statute. I was dismayed at what I found and became determined to fix it.

The law that was on the books in 2009 did not even cover the Jaheem Herrera situation because it applied only to grades 6 through 12. The old law included a virtually useless definition of “bullying.” Overall, Georgia’s anti-bullying statute was bare bones and inadequate.

43 states have anti-bullying laws. Until this year, Georgia’s law was the oldest of the 43. A lot of states had come up with better ways to address the issue after Georgia initially enacted its statute.

My first attempt at anti-bullying legislation was introduced as House Bill 927 (click for information). The version of HB 927 that finally emerged from a House committee set forth a substantially improved definition of “bullying” that better captured what bullying is, without being overbearing. The bill required local school systems to adopt an age-appropriate range of consequences for bullying incidents in grades K through 12, not just 6 through 12. In addition, for the first time in Georgia law, the bill required that the parents of the students involved on both sides of a bullying incident be notified of the incident.

The bill faced a steep uphill climb in the House of Representatives, but after a couple of close calls in the House, it sailed to passage in the State Senate. Ultimately, the anti-bullying language had to be amended onto another bill that dealt with disruptive behavior on school buses, Senate Bill 250 (click for information), in order to win final approval in the General Assembly. SB 250, including the “Jacobs Amendment” on school bullying, was signed into law by Governor Perdue on May 27, 2010. Click here to see a photograph of the bill signing ceremony.

While the anti-bullying bill was winding its way through the General Assembly, headline-grabbing school bullying problems came to light in Massachusetts, in Texas, and in Murray County, Georgia. These incidents underscored why the legislation was necessary. Even the Savannah Morning News chimed in with an editorial supporting the bill. If you’re interested, you can read the Savannah editorial here.

By August 2011, every local school system in Georgia is required to review and revamp its anti-bullying policy. Parents who are concerned about this issue are encouraged to talk with their local school board members while they are in the process of reviewing and improving the anti-bullying policy in your school district.


DeKalb Taxpayers Beat GM Tax Hike

September 7, 2010

Thank you to everyone who answered the call in this message by taking the time to contact the county commissioners about the proposal to use our tax dollars as financial assistance to help an out-of-state developer to acquire and redevelop the Doraville GM site.

County officials confirmed that the proposal would have required a flat-out increase in your property taxes. Fortunately, the DeKalb County Commission had the good sense to defeat the proposal on a 5-2 vote. The five commissioners who voted against it wisely refused to raise your property taxes and use the proceeds of the tax hike to gamble on a risky commercial real estate venture.

Click here if you’d like to read my AJC op-ed piece that was published on the day of the vote. It’s the “con” article below the “pro” article.

Real estate experts agree that the GM site will be redeveloped once market conditions improve. The site is a prime parcel located on a major highway (I-285), a major north-south artery (Peachtree Industrial Boulevard), a MARTA station, and a freight railroad line. The county commission’s vote is by no means the end of the road for the property. It does, however, make it unlikely that we’ll see another effort to force DeKalb taxpayers to shoulder the risks of a large-scale project that banks and private investors will not finance.


Reliable Home Repairs for Seniors

September 7, 2010

This came to me from Senior Connections with a request to pass the information along to you, which I’m happy to do:

Senior Connections, the senior center near the Chamblee MARTA Station, has announced the launch of its new Fixit Connection, a home repair and handyman service for senior homeowners that provides guaranteed professional services and peace of mind.

Whenever an electrician, plumber, or carpenter comes out to handle a Fixit Connection repair job, Senior Connections is the homeowner’s main point of contact. Senior Connections will guarantee the work, handle the billing, and make sure that the clients are never left with unfinished or poor quality work. These services are available to those 55 years or older. Fees vary according to the job but each client receives a written proposal that explains all costs and guarantees.

Services provided by the Fixit Connection include general home repairs, roof and floor repairs, adding bathroom safety items and wheelchair ramps for accessibility, electrical and plumbing solutions, smaller interior and exterior handyman services, weatherizing doors and windows, painting, and more.

Seniors interested in learning more about the Fixit Connection can call Senior Connections at (770) 455-7602 or visit the organization’s website at www.seniorconnectionsatl.org.


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