Brookhaven, GA, April 7 – Brookhaven Citizen, Thomas Porter, AIA, LEED® AP, provides the following Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor,
The City is run by misdirection, each titled person having fingers pointing in opposite directions towards who is responsible so that in the end you cannot tell who is actually running the City. It is a game of cups for the citizens. The answer after lifting all the cups… nobody is. The blunders we see on a very regular basis are the result of inexperience coupled with a lack of interest in routine management.
I am not anti-city, I only want the City to be as good as it can be. The Police are doing a great job, Public Works is doing well within their budget constraints, Parks and Recreation – who knows, and, Mayor Davis & the City Council show up for every ribbon cutting and photo-op!
We’ve heard the Mayor say many times that this is a “City Manager form of Government”, that he cannot tell any employee what to do; that falls to Marie Garrett as City Manager. Intrinsic within her title is the word “manager”, which doesn’t seem to intrigue her; instead her focus seems to be a future of shops and stores along North Creek, the gentrification of Buford Highway and other higher-minded goals. Susan Canon, her friend from John’s Creek days, while failing miserably as Community Development Director & in true Peter Principle fashion, has been elevated to also be the Assistant City Manager. Who runs and manages the basic daily needs of the city?
It would seem that if you are a brand new city that you should take your first year or so to hunker down, develop your staff, establish procedures, polish the machine, and only then, come up to speed & look towards the loftier future goals. That doesn’t interest many, either elected or hired, in Brookhaven. It is feckless governance.
Not many days ago, Council Member Jim Eyre awoke to read in the Brookhaven Post that the City Attorney and Community Development Director, Susan Canon, had paid City funds to settle the Ashford Park/Community Development debacle in Mr. Eyre’s own district… but nobody told him, he had to read about it on this site.
After meeting with them, two weeks ago I sent an email to Mayor Davis and Susan Canon with copies to every Council Member requesting that the city revise the Walgreen’s Staff Recommendation (here) to be more unbiased. I received no response at all… from anyone. On Friday, after resending the same with additional copies to Marie Garrett & Thompson Kurrie, the City Attorney, I finally received a response from Mr. Kurrie advising me that he had recommended against staff response to my request.
Is this the transparent governance we were promised? Shouldn’t each of us expect, nay, demand competent, efficient & fair management first and foremost from our City? Write about an issue to Marie Garrett and you get a quick “I’m on it” response, but that’s the last you’ll hear or see. Ask for a staff recommendation from Susan Canon and you’ll get a “staff recommends approval” regardless of merit. Elected officials are the most appropriate to establish thought leadership and future growth direction for our city, but neither Marie Garrett nor Susan Canon are interested in being managers. It is a bad situation, rendering us a stumbling city moving forward with multiple missteps towards an undirected future. The mistakes we make now, especially in zoning and planning, will stay with us forever and establish negative precedence.
Along with the errors in management come a spate of citizen complaints, legal filings, expenses and City paid settlements such that this “leadership” is reeling in silence and being advised to not respond. City Council members who complain are chastised & snubbed by other elected officials, so they become complacent “go along, get along” representation. We need a smooth machine for our government, we need forthright answers, we need to slow down and get the processes right, we need accountability from city employees. We need leadership; it isn’t the Mayor right now.
At this point, I don’t even know why we have the Mayor and City Council, it would be far more effective to vote for a City Manager, we would actually have a voice and cut our costs… at least then we would understand who actually leads the city.
Thomas Porter, AIA, LEED® AP