20 October 2014

AJC Report: Unincorporated South Fulton County is One of Metro Atlanta's Biggest Ticket Traps

Since 2007, the jurisdiction of the Fulton County Police Department has been reduced to 107.3 square miles of land in unincorporated south Fulton County.

Fulton County has a total land area of 528.7 square miles and an estimated 2013 population of 984,293 [SOURCE: Fulton County Government].

A wave of municipalization, including the creation of four new cities and the annexation of unincorporated land into existing cities, between 2005 and 2007 narrowed the footprint of Fulton County; leaving the police department as the local law enforcement agency for an estimated 121,000 people or 12.2% of Fulton's total population.

Municipal police departments in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Palmetto, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Union City handle law enforcement in those fourteen cities.

Despite having such a small area to service in relation to the entire county, a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says tickets written by Fulton County law enforcement resulted in $16.7 million in fines between 2008 and 2013; the fifth highest in metro Atlanta.

Read the entire Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on ticket traps here.

Iris Prepares to Revolutionize Atlanta's Night Life with a New 21+ Experience

Iris, the promotion that brought the Imagine Music Festival to Atlanta in 2013, is planning once again to revolutionize the city's club scene.

Coming fresh off a "Best of Atlanta" award from Creative Loafing, Iris presents a new 21-and-up experience at the Havana Club called Iris Premium Thursdays.

Iris promises the ultimate electronic dance music (EDM) experience with superior bottle service and customer care. It's EDM for the more mature crowd.

Iris Premium Thursdays starts 6 November 2014, and ladies get complimentary entry. Guest list spots are still available, but won't last too much longer.

For details, visit IrisPresents.com.

19 October 2014

Fulton County School Board Member Blames Banneker Low Grad Rate on Special Needs Students

At a recent south Fulton community meeting, a Fulton County School Board member made comments sure to raise eyebrows among parents.

School Board Member Blames Special Needs Kids for Low Grad Rate

Fulton County School Board member Linda Bryant, who represents most of south Fulton on the panel, blamed the low graduation rate at Banneker High School on special education students.

"Banneker is struggling," Bryant told local residents. "But I can tell you another reason why Banneker may be struggling. Banneker has 29 classrooms of special education students. And when I say that to you, I want you to understand they are judged just like they may not be special ed. So that's one of the reasons why the graduation rate doesn't look as well."

Banneker High School had 281 special education students during the 2010 - 2011 school year. This is the most current data available from the Georgia Department of Education. Banneker's graduation rate in 2013 was 41.7%.

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) defines special education students as "eligible students with one or more disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, emotional/behavior disorders, specific learning disabilities, orthopedic impairments, speech/language impairments, visual impairments, significant developmental delay, and deaf/blind disabilities."

Another Fulton County high school with roughly the same number of special education students as Banneker posted a graduation rate more than double that of Banneker.

Roswell High School, which had 283 special education students enrolled in the 2010 - 2011 school year, reported a graduation rate of 86.5% in 2013.

Linda Bryant, who has served on the Fulton County School Board since 1993, made the remarks about Banneker's low graduation rate during a forum supporting the creation of the city of South Fulton. Bryant reminded those in attendance that if they annexed into the City of Atlanta, they would no longer be able to send their kids to Fulton County Schools.

18 October 2014

Early/Absentee Voting Numbers by Congressional District for the Week Ending 18 October 2014

As of 18 October 2014, 129,308 Georgians have either voted at their local elections office or cast ballots by mail.

Below are the totals by congressional district:

Number of
Early Votes
Increase from
11 Oct. 2014
1 8,541+7,160
2 9,999+8,615
3 11,684+10,008
4 10,821+9,429
5 6,836+5,731
6 6,644+5,293
7 6,037+4,748
8 9,163+7,437
9 12,887+10,882
10 12,435+10,532
11 8,129+6,790
12 9,510+7,217
13 8,661+7,788
14 7,961+6,889
Totals 129,308+108,519

16 October 2014

Leader in City of South Fulton Movement Lives and Votes in the City of Atlanta

Georgia Unfiltered has learned that a leader in the nascent movement to create the city of South Fulton does not live or vote in the municipality he wishes to create.

Kevin Grimes, who identifies himself publicly as head of a coalition of concerned communities calling themselves GO South Fulton, is registered to vote in the City of Atlanta. Grimes also claims Atlanta homestead exemption, and has done so since 2009.

This revelation is important because Grimes accused elected officials opposed to the proposed city of South Fulton of not residing there. Grimes made the accusation in a widely-disseminated email sent from the Cliftondale Community Club.

"There has been opposition and 'pushback' on HB 704 from various elected officials," Grimes wrote. "I would like to encourage the Senate to be mindful and observant to the 'actual residency' of the elected officials that are opposing the bill. The people who oppose HB 704 are individuals that have the luxury of a City-government, yet want to deny us the opportunity to at least vote for cityhood.

"They will say things like: 'I live in South Fulton too.' Sure, they absolutely do! What they do not tell you is that they also live in the City of Atlanta/East Point/College Park/Union City/Fairburn," Grimes continued.

Fulton County tax records show that Go South Fulton leader Kevin Grimes purchased his Atlanta home in 2008. He has claimed homestead exemption on the property every year since then, including 2014.

Grimes also claimed to have voted in the first south Fulton referendum on cityhood.

"I am a very informed citizen and I voted NO in the past, however, South Fulton is a very different place than it was 8 years ago and I am expressing to you that I support HB 704 along with many other South Fulton residents," Grimes wrote.

Publicly available voting records (shown right) tell a different story, though.

According to the Secretary of State's office, Grimes registered to vote in the City of Atlanta in 2006, and his polling precinct is Saint Luke's Episcopal Church on Peachtree Street. He never cast a ballot in the 2007 south Fulton cityhood referendum, but he did vote in the 2009 Atlanta municipal elections.

Grimes had this to say when questioned about his Atlanta residency and voting history.

"I do not vote in South Fulton, but I am probably more invested in South Fulton than most. I am a business owner in South Fulton/East Point and will soon be moving our headquarters into unincorporated South Fulton. I also own a home in unincorporated South Fulton that I have paid taxes on for 10 years."

15 October 2014

Chattahoochee Hills Annexation Hits Slight Bump in the Road at Fulton County Commission Meeting

Wednesday, the Fulton County Commission took up the proposed annexation of 9,400 acres by the City of Chattahoochee Hills and sent it back to municipality with a request for additional information.

Commissioners were briefed by county staff who said the annexation package submitted by Chattahoochee Hills was incomplete. The package did not include the annexation petition indicating which landowners wanted to join Chattahoochee Hills, nor did it include how the land would be zoned if it became part of the city.

According to Georgia law, counties have thirty days from the day they received the city's annexation package. Fulton County received Chattahoochee Hills' annexation package 30 September 2014, placing the 30-day deadline on 30 October 2014. Wednesday's county commission meeting is the last one scheduled for the month of September, meaning that if the Fulton County Commission did not vote to object 15 October 2014, they would miss the deadline and the annexation process would go forward.

Staff in the Fulton County Planning and Community Services department told Commissioners that they would send Chattahoochee Hills a notice requesting a complete annexation package, including the annexation petitions and the proposed zoning.

During the brief discussion of Chattahoochee Hills' proposed annexation, Commissioner Bill Edwards asked County Attorney David Ware who was responsible for verifying the signatures on the annexation petition. Ware responded state law puts the burden of proof on the city.

Edwards then said that the county needs a policy to verify annexation petition signatures.

"We have been fooled before with the signature thing," Edwards said. "We need to have a process to make sure the signatures meet the requirements by law."

Fulton County Commissioners voted 6 - 0 to inform Chattahoochee Hills that their annexation package was incomplete, and that the county was objecting on that basis.

However, it is highly likely that Chattahoochee Hills will send its annexation package to Fulton County before the Commission meets again on 5 November 2014.

The City of Chattahoochee Hills Planning Commission currently has the annexation of 9,400 acres on its 30 October 2014 agenda. The full city council will consider the annexation petitions on 4 November 2014.

Two Black Democrats Come Out Against Legalization and Decriminalization of Marijuana

About a year ago, United States Senator Rand Paul (R - Kentucky) said, "the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use.

“Look what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things. And I think it’s a big mistake” [Yager, Jordy (24 March 2013). Sen. Paul: Obama, Bush ‘lucky’ they weren’t arrested for smoking pot as kids. The Hill. Retrieved on 15 October 2014.].

(Democrats Vincent Fort and Donzella James recently stated their opposition to legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana)
Senator Paul was obviously referring to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who have both admitted to smoking marijuana in their younger days.

In 2013, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) both cited a report that said, "A black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than a white person in the United States."

The ACLU took it a step further, declaring the war on marijuana a failure that is a waste of time, a waste of money, racially biased, and a strain on the criminal justice system.

Fact-checking organizations say the ACLU claims are true. Young black men and women, who aren't as lucky as Obama and Bush, frequently have their lives ruined due to the failed war on marijuana. But two black Democrats want to keep the conflict going.

At a recent candidate forum, hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Georgia state Senators Vincent Fort and Donzella James publicly opposed the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.

"Incumbent Vincent Fort (D - Atlanta) said legalizing recreational marijuana will have a detrimental effect on District 39 communities," read a report in the South Fulton Neighbor newspaper.

"Senator James said, having lost her teenage son to a marijuana and alcohol-impaired driver, she can only support medical cannabis use."

The Senate districts James and Fort represent in the Georgia General Assembly are both majority black. The 35th district, represented by James, has a black population of 64%. The 39th district, represented by Fort, has a black population of 65%.

In 2010, blacks made up 31% of Georgia's citizens. That year, 32,473 people were arrested in Georgia for marijuana possession. 64% of those arrested for marijuana possession in Georgia were black.