Brookhaven, GA, June 17, 2015 – The Post (Letter to the Editor) – Brookhaven Resident and House District 80 Candidate Catherine Bernard has supplied the following Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor: The City of Brookhaven was supposed to be a respite from the inefficiency and cronyism of DeKalb County. Instead, in just two and a half years, our city hall has come to rival Decatur in waste and coverups. Brookhaven government has drawn the attention of metro area press several times – highest city manager compensation in the state, constant turnover in PR managers, litigation over trying to shut down a business – but the latest news is especially troubling given the extensive effort to conceal wrongdoing.
As reported in the Brookhaven Post, AJC, and elsewhere, Brookhaven’s city attorney, Tom Kurrie, lied to the public and obstructed the investigation of sexual harassment claims (and other violations) against then-mayor J. Max Davis.
This cannot stand!
Despite this drama, Brookhaven is a truly wonderful place to live. My husband bought our home in Ashford Park in 2011, and we adore our neighborhood and community. I am continually impressed by the engagement and thoughtfulness of my fellow residents, and the interesting mix of people and business we have from 285 to Buford Highway. Local control is a great idea, and I love the idea of our community making decisions at the most accessible, responsive level. Some of what we’ve seen with the new city has been positive indeed. But too often, we’re being held back by a city government that can’t seem to get out of its own way.
When I chaired the effort to defeat the Redevelopment Powers Law last fall, one question I often got was “How did this end up on the ballot? Why is this the first time I’m hearing about it?” A great question, given that our city manager, mayor, city council, and state rep all blamed each other for the appearance of a referendum that, if passed, would have given city government power to take on hundreds of millions in debt without voter approval, and seize property through eminent domain. If the RPL was a good idea, it should have been responsibility publicized for our consideration.
Instead, we got mostly silence, two anonymous mailers, and a last minute presentation at City Hall from a consultant with a financial interest in the passage of the RPL. This isn’t what local control should look like – citizens scrambling to catch the maneuvers of a government trying to surreptitiously expand its power, and then trying to compete with taxpayer-funded propaganda efforts when the power grab is exposed. That’s not the “parks, paving, police” we were promised.
We can do better.
On July 14th, we have the opportunity to: a special election for state representative. I’m running because my experience in courtrooms and party politics around the state has prepared me to be effective in the legislature – that’s how I was able to defeat several bad bills in the past legislative session that would have expanded government’s power to enter the homes of Georgia citizens not charged with any crime.
It really is a matter of reading the bills and talking seriously about their content; often there’s a lot more common ground than we first realize. Ethics, transparency, accountability are the key to reversing this slide into dysfunction and waste. I’m committed to providing competent, honest, experienced representation, and I respectfully ask for your support in the July 14th special election.
Catherine S. Bernard
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