It’s Voting Time . . . Again!

November 29, 2010

Georgia’s runoff election is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 30. Your regular polling location will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The small handful of races appearing on tomorrow’s runoff ballot are those in which the top two vote-getters failed to receive more than 50% of the vote in the November 2nd General Election.

Your vote will make a big difference in these races. Voter turnout is typically very low in runoff elections.

Click here to go to the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” website where you can find your exact polling location and a sample ballot that is specific to your polling place. You can also see the countywide sample ballot by clicking here.

Please remember to bring photo identification with you when you vote.

Here are my recommendations (and one non-recommendation) for tomorrow’s races, for what they’re worth:

Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals

David Nahmias and Chris McFadden, respectively.

David Nahmias is the incumbent Justice who, after being appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Perdue, has quickly become an intellectual force on the Court. Nahmias is a graduate of Harvard Law School (magna cum laude at that!), a former law clerk to a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, which is the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta and North Georgia. He grew up in and lives in DeKalb County.

Chris McFadden literally wrote the book – Georgia Appellate Practice – on handling appellate cases in the Georgia court system. He is as knowledgeable as it gets for the job he is seeking. McFadden is a product of our community, having received his undergraduate degree from Oglethorpe University. He practices law in DeKalb County.

I am “supremely” confident in Nahmias and McFadden for these appellate judgeships.

DeKalb County Superior Court

No endorsement.

I previously had made an endorsement in this race between Dunwoody lawyer Michael Rothenberg and Courtney Johnson, a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office. That endorsement went to Rothenberg, with whom I became acquainted at many events during the run-up to the November 2nd election.

I withdrew that endorsement after this civil complaint (click to read) currently pending against Rothenberg in federal District Court was brought to my attention.

Rothenberg has responded that the complaint is “false and slanderous.” His public responses to the complaint have been largely along the lines of what is quoted in this AJC article (click to read).

You should read the complaint and decide for yourself. Please bear in mind that portions of the complaint have been filed “under seal” as the result of a confidentiality agreement between Rothenberg and the plaintiff. That is why there are blank spaces in the complaint.

Having been filed within three weeks of an election, this complaint possesses some of the hallmarks of a political smear. After all, it does identify Rothenberg as “a judicial candidate for a seat on the DeKalb County Superior Court.” However, the complaint has been prepared and filed by reputable lawyers from one of the largest law firms in Atlanta, Kilpatrick Stockton, and cannot be completely discounted as political gamesmanship.

I am also concerned that Rothenberg’s company mentioned in the complaint, Four Five LLC, was not disclosed anywhere on his Personal Financial Disclosure Statement covering the calendar year 2009 (click this link and then select “View Report” next to “2009 Original”) that he was required to file with the State Ethics Commission. It should be on that form, but it’s not. This appears to be a violation of the Ethics in Government Act, O.C.G.A. § 21-5-50.

Rothenberg’s opponent, Courtney Johnson, has shown up to precious few events in North DeKalb, and really only began to campaign in our community after the November 2nd General Election.

Rather than reversing my endorsement and recommending someone whose campaign strategy has made her an unknown quantity in our neck-of-the-woods, I will instead provide you with the AJC Voter Guide’s side-by-side comparison of the two candidates for DeKalb Superior Court. Click here to read it.

My advice in this race is caveat emptor (buyer beware). Arm yourself with the facts and vote accordingly. Once elected, judges have a lot of impact and tend to have some staying power.

DeKalb County Board of Education, District 1

I am supporting Nancy Jester.

Jim Redovian, the incumbent school board member for District 1, is a very nice person. He also has some accomplishments to show for his work on the Board of Education. Most recently, he played a key role in the BOE’s vote to use an allocation of federal stimulus bonds to tear down and completely rebuild Chamblee High School.

But our school system is in dire straits. Self-dealing, nepotism, and outright corruption (click for AJC articles) have dominated this year’s headlines about the DeKalb County School System. Now, the system’s accreditation is in jeopardy (click for AJC article).

Redovian has been a part of the go-along-to-get-along crowd on the school board, having voted to give former Superintendent Crawford Lewis a pay raise less than five months before Lewis was indicted. He has been campaigning on his ability to work with other school board members. Under present circumstances, that is not a badge of honor.

Now more than ever, we need someone representing our community on the Board of Education who will be an aggressive fiscal watchdog. Nancy Jester, an actuarial consultant by profession, has both the moxie and the analytical skills necessary to push our school system in the right direction. She is my choice for District 1 on the DeKalb County Board of Education.

Please note that the Board of Education District 1 race is only on the ballot in neighborhoods north of Windsor Parkway (Murphey Candler, Silver Lake, Chamblee, and Dunwoody, to name a few).


Thank You, Let’s Celebrate & Election Results

November 5, 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your vote of confidence in this year’s election. Together, we achieved a great margin of victory: 66.1% of the vote! For the next two years, I pledge to deliver the high levels of communication, responsiveness, and service as your State Representative that you have come to expect from me.

I’d like to invite you to a THANK YOU victory celebration this coming Tuesday, November 9, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, which is located at 4058 Peachtree Road. My campaign will provide food and a cash bar will be available.

In other election news, the five-year renewal of DeKalb County Property Tax Assessment Freeze passed with an overwhelming countywide margin of 77.5% to 22.5%. Please click here for my recent article about the assessment freeze. Hopefully, when this measure comes up for another renewal by 2016, we can make it permanent.

If you live in the Murphey Candler, Silver Lake, Oglethorpe, and Historic Brookhaven neighborhoods, along with portions of Brookhaven Heights, Brookhaven Fields, and Ashford Park, your new State Senator will be Fran Millar. He won with 65.4% of the vote.

The following races are headed for post-Thanksgiving runoffs:

- Nancy Jester versus Jim Redovian for the District 1 seat on the DeKalb County Board of Education.

- Justice David Nahmias versus Tammy Lynn Adkins for the Georgia Supreme Court.

- Chris McFadden versus Toni Davis for the open seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

- Michael Rothenberg versus Courtney Johnson for the open seat on the Superior Court of DeKalb County.

The runoff election will be held on Tuesday, November 30.

I’ll send you more information and my recommendations regarding the judicial races as the runoff election draws closer. Choosing the most qualified people for these positions is very important. Once elected, judges have a lot of impact and tend to have some staying power.


It’s Voting Time!

November 1, 2010

Election Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 2. Your regular polling location will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

I humbly ask for your vote for another two-year term as your State Representative to continue fighting for DeKalb County taxpayers.

Click here to go to the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” website where you can find your exact polling location and a sample ballot that is specific to your polling place. You can also see the countywide sample ballot by clicking here. Click here to read helpful summaries that I prepared of this year’s constitutional amendments and ballot questions.

Please remember to bring photo identification with you when you vote.


Effective Representation for Our Community

November 1, 2010

Because this is a time for weighing the accomplishments of the people we’ve elected to represent us, here are some links to articles I’ve written about the things I’ve done to benefit our community this year:

Property Tax Limits for Homeowners

A Regional Makeover for MARTA

Transportation Roundtable Appointment

Defeating the Risky GM Land Deal

The Anti-Bullying Bill

The Kosher Bill


Negative Messages from Mike’s Opponent

November 1, 2010

I’m proud of the positive campaign we’ve run this year. That hasn’t been the case from my opponent.

Earlier today, my opponent e-mailed out this whopper:

“Let’s not forget Jacobs told the community he was with them during the negotiations about the Sembler development on Peachtree Rd. Know what he did after? He took a donation from Sembler. Would you want a State Representative like that at the State Capitol?”

I have never, ever, ever taken a campaign contribution from Sembler. Please feel free to review my campaign contribution disclosure reports on the State Ethics Commission’s website at ethics.ga.gov. You won’t find a donation from Sembler.

My opponent sent another e-mail last week that said this:

“Mike Jacobs voted to raise your Georgia Power bill starting in January and for the next 10 years.”

The legislation my opponent is referencing is Senate Bill 31, the bill that allows Georgia Power to charge ratepayers in advance for the construction of nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. I voted against this bill, not in favor of it. Please click here to see my “no” vote for yourself.

If someone is willing to lie about these minor points, how can we trust them on anything?


About the Property Tax Assessment Freeze

November 1, 2010

My opponent has been sticking a flyer on mailboxes in our community that says: “Mike Jacobs says he’s a hero for helping to pass the Property Tax Assessment Freeze referendum that we must vote on Tuesday.”

I’m no hero, although my kids think I am. That’s good enough for me.

But I do want to make sure that you have correct and complete information about what the Property Tax Assessment Freeze is, how it works, and why it’s important that we renew it this year. The measure appears to have a small but dedicated band of opponents who are spreading misinformation about it.

The original Property Tax Assessment Freeze was passed during the 2006 session of the General Assembly, ratified overwhelmingly by DeKalb County voters in the 2006 election, and went into effect at the beginning of 2007. Unfortunately, because some of my colleagues in the DeKalb County legislative delegation insisted upon writing a five-year sunset into the legislation, the current assessment freeze will expire at the end of the 2011 tax year unless it is renewed.

That renewal is on your ballot this year. My opponent says the renewal is unnecessary because “[w]e already have a Property Tax Assessment Freeze in force for 2 more years.” This statement is factually incorrect and misrepresents why it’s important to renew the assessment freeze this year.

The Property Tax Assessment Freeze is only in effect for one more tax year, 2011, not for two years. More importantly, there isn’t another election scheduled in unincorporated DeKalb County between the 2010 election and the expiration of the current assessment freeze. This Tuesday, November 2, is our last opportunity to renew the assessment freeze before it expires.

If passed by voters on November 2, this renewal will remain in place for an additional five years until the end of 2016.

The assessment freeze applies only to the county government’s portion of your property tax bill, not the board of education’s portion. It also applies only to homesteads (your primary residence).

Does the Property Tax Assessment Freeze save you money? Absolutely! In most cases, it saves a homeowner hundreds of dollars. If you look at your most recent property tax bill, you should see an item in capital letters that says: “THE PROPERTY TAX FREEZE EXEMPTION SAVED YOU X DOLLARS.”

Below is part of my 2010 property tax bill. The item I just mentioned is highlighted. Using my bill as an example, the amount saved by the assessment freeze is $298.76.

If the Property Tax Assessment Freeze does not prevail on November 2, each homeowner will see this dollar amount (whatever the equivalent amount to my $298.76 is on your bill) added back into their property tax bill starting in 2012.

Two components govern the amount of money that you pay in property taxes to the county government: the millage rate and your property assessment. The millage rate is set by the DeKalb County Commission. In theory, the commissioners could reduce the millage rate to alleviate the impact of failing to pass the assessment freeze referendum this Tuesday. But you and I know that won’t happen.

Another important benefit of the Property Tax Assessment Freeze is that it eliminates backdoor property tax hikes. Rather than raising your property taxes by artificially increasing the assessed value of your home – something the county continues to do even as home values slide downward – the assessment freeze forces the county commission to vote to increase the millage rate openly and publicly if they want to raise your property taxes.

Simply put, the assessment freeze makes your elected county commissioners accountable for raising your property taxes, rather than letting an unaccountable tax assessor handle the dirty work of raising your property taxes.

In technical terms, the Property Tax Assessment Freeze is known as a “floating homestead exemption” because it causes your homestead exemption to increase by an amount equal to any increase in the assessed value of your home, thus erasing the increase in your property assessment. That means it does not prevent the assessed value of your home from being reduced if the fair market value goes down. The “freeze” only serves as a ceiling on the assessed value of your home, not a floor.

The Property Tax Assessment Freeze is a real mechanism that saves you money and holds your property taxes in check. The five-year renewal of the assessment freeze is titled “DeKalb County Homestead Referendum” on your ballot and is the very last item. I hope you will join me in supporting it.


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