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26 January 2015

Our Opinion: AJC Report Points to Potential Cronyism in Proposed New Cities

Seven new cities --Brookhaven, Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Milton, Peachtree Corners, and Sandy Springs-- have incorporated in the metro Atlanta area since 2005.

Four new cities --LaVista Hills, South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Tucker-- are proposed in 2015.

The question before residents in each of the four areas listed above is whether to create new government; and cityhood advocates, in each proposed municipality, argue the best reason to incorporate a new city is local community control over local tax dollars.

It all sounds great in theory, but a recent report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points to big problems in the new metro Atlanta cities created since 2005. Most of those problems center around cronyism, possible unethical behavior, and quid pro quo.

. . . forming a city means creating a new bureaucracy, and entrusting another set of personalities with power to spend millions of taxpayer dollars. Newbie politicians may not immediately grasp the ethical strictures that go with public service. Or perhaps they do, but don’t care.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found numerous problems among the growing ranks of metro Atlanta’s new cities, from Johns Creek to Brookhaven, Dunwoody to Sandy Springs. Elected leaders have faced complaints that they steered city business to relatives and campaign donors, accepted gifts and favors barred by ethics codes, spent too freely on salaries or dreamed up mega-dollar development deals that many constituents didn’t want.

Edwards and Schneider (24 January 2015). Cityhood solution comes with pitfalls. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 26 January 2015.

Officials in each of cities featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article denied any wrongdoing. Still, the potential of cronyism is sure to raise fresh concerns among those considering whether to follow the lead of Brookhaven and form a new city.

Should the citizens of LaVista Hills, South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Tucker trade in their old crooks for new crooks?

Only time will tell which decision the people will make.