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26 Comments

  1. 1

    Dave

    Trey Benton for something!

  2. 2

    C&SLolipop

    It just keeps getting worse. As a tax payer I’m disgusted by the idea that we should pay to improve the image of our elected officials. This is just a desperate ploy to clean things up before the election. Stop wasting our money on your mistakes.

  3. 3

    Mary Arlen

    Nailed it! Another great job!

    Stop the fluff and the wasteful spending!
    $5500 now for the stupid city seal design, have we gotten our $40k back from Dekalb you promised for putting Brookhaven on the stupid trash cans for the pilot program, how much did it cost to wrap the port-a-pots for the stupid Cherry Blossom Festival, what has been the design costs to paint the Marta wall with the ugly colors, what has been the cost to design stupid city monument markers, etc. etc.

    Stop the madness and come down off your high horse attitudes!

  4. 4

    Loyal resident

    So well stated, Trey. You have a unique opportunity to have witnessed the history of Brookhaven through the eyes of our City Government…..and the tenor of your article sums it up so well. Yes – there is a perception in the eyes of citizens as to what needs to improve. So to City Officials I say: “Just ask your constituents. Please do not spend any more money “fixing” this problem. All in all I believe you are doing a good job…now do a good job of improving your image.

  5. 5

    Adrina Richard

    Right on target Trey! What a waste of taxpayer dollars.

  6. 6

    One Time Appointed Mayor

    I could not agree more. One more itty bitty piece of advice for the elected officials.

    If public support of an issue is in the majority, do not to go against the public for what you believe is in the best interest of the city. It makes you appear to ignore your constituents.

  7. 7

    Riley O'Connor

    Hearing this makes for the disturbing realization that our leaders apparently do not understand what it takes to govern. They need someone to tell them how to do it. Those governed (ie, me), instinctively understand that and no consultant in the world can supply ordinary political understanding.

    So much of what we are experiencing now is the result of the absence of that understanding by those elected as to what the electorate expects from its “leadership”.

    It’s leadership. A vision for where you want the City of Brookhaven to go. The ability to execute that vision. The ability to communicate that vision to those who are paying for it. Hiring a consulting firm does not inspire confidence in our leaders.

    In the past, one particular political leader divided the City up into the “Fors” and the “Not Fors”. It’s a little late to worry about that. Like it or not, we are all now “Fors”, because it is in our best financial and political interest to be so. We can’t go back, however tempting that might be. We have a City, now we need leaders to direct it.

    At the last City Council meeting, I saw a glimmer of positive leadership from one of our elected leaders, talking about a small thing. We could do very well to have more of that. And if a particular political leader does not understand what constitutes positive leadership, then perhaps it’s time to contemplate another career.

    You can throw money at it by hiring another PR firm if you want, but you should know that it is our money that you are throwing. And we know it. There are two months left before the General Election. We want you to succeed. We need you to succeed. Hiring consultants isn’t the pathway to leadership. You can do better. We want you to do better.

    I’m also sad that some who post here are so hostile. I won’t defend them nor deny them. But those hostile words have made it easy for our leadership to deny the truth of what they say. Our leaders now search for words to counter emotions.

    Hiring someone to do it for you isn’t the right path.

  8. 8

    Brookhaven Bob

    I’d love to hear from Carrie and Jealous regarding this editorial. I wonder if they consider Trey to be a “city hater”? I do not consider Trey to be anything other than a responsible journalist.

  9. 9

    BrookhavenB

    As a supporter of incorporation and a supporter of our 1st mayor/council, I agree with you 100%. Direct communication from our elected representatives who are our neighbors shouldn’t be so difficult nor so sanitized. Credibility lost on many fronts especially since all of them were told in one way or another THEY needed to have better communication with us and not have the city manager be the decision maker for communication with THEIR neighbors. As the newest council members, John and Linley seem to have learned from the errors of the rest. I hope that continues without the taxpayers having to pay for this PR firm, a green mascot, a city song or anything else we don’t need to ‘improve’ the city’s image.

  10. 10

    Tom Reilly

    I’ve been told that it take about five years to get any organization [including a city] going. Many years ago I was also told that “all beginnings are messy.” Brookhaven has done a lot of things right. It has also made its “beginners mistakes.” My experience as a department head taught me that when you make a mistake you do three things: Admit, Apologize, and Atone. No expensive PR firm can replace that approach. Responsibility starts with keeping your promises, including the one to actively listen to your constituents.–Tom Reilly

  11. 11

    J Max's Sandwich

    I hope Mr Park reads this. He seems to be the only voice of reason who runs this city. I wish his attitude of doing what is best for the people would rub off on some of the others, however it isn’t likely.

  12. 12

    Ellen Rafshoon

    Those are all excellent points Trey. If the elected officials are not experienced in SOP for running local government in GA, they should immediately attend professionally run training sessions for new officials. My guess is that UGA’s Carl Vinson School or the Andrew Young School at GSU provides these courses. There may even be an on-line component for public administration. There’s no excuse for not knowing how to issue an RFP, follow open records rules, etc. That said, Brookhaven residents need to make sure our elected officials have governing experience and hiring staff gets the proper oversight.

  13. 13

    Eddie E.

    We have a municipal government with little interest in ‘doing the right thing’ but apparently only in ‘looking like they are doing the right thing’.
    This ain’t a beauty contest folks, this is real life!!

  14. 14

    enuff govt already

    They (mayor/council) could acknowledge the errors and offer up some bold alternatives: a new charter with amended districts, add services or drop services or even a yes or no question as to continuing this enterprise. Hiring an outside PR firm to regain the trust will not regain the trust. It puts a “handler” between the elected and the citizens.

  15. 15

    Riley O'Connor

    At this point, there are about two months left before an election for two council positions and the mayor’s position. Given the short time span, I don’t think that Cliff’s Notes for Governing or Governing for Dummies will help in the immediate time frame. Perhaps afterward, with new faces, we can work on that. Hiring a PR firm right now is a band aid over an open wound. This will take time to reconcile.

  16. 16

    Randy Watson

    That’s $10k a month that U.S. easily spent on pet projects, but the parks advocates (other than Murphy Candler) have to beg for scraps.

    Great commentary Mr Benton!

  17. 17

    Lewis

    If Williams, Mattison, Gebbia and Jones want to hire a PR firm to improve their public image they should ask J Max Davis to pay for it.

  18. 18

    Eric Robert

    Thank you for this story and it is indeed very disturbing. Lets wait until after the election to look for a PR firm. I don’t want my tax dollars going to a spin machine trying to prop up someone’s re-election chances.
    And I couldn’t agree more with your suggestion’s Trey. City officials need to be focus more on being transparent and communicating themselves. John Park does a great newsletter and regular community meetings. Perhaps the other council members should focus on this. But more importantly just stop wasting money on hiring people or companies that aren’t a part of the core mission of the city – parks, police, parks, potholes, sidewalks, development and generally quality of life.

  19. 19

    Disgusted in Ashford Park

    Good Work Trey and thanks again for all you efforts in shining the light. The election is only a few months away and no announced opposition candidates except the incumbents in district 1 (sort of) and 3. Barring a miracle on Becky’s part John Ernst will be Brookhaven’s next Mayor. We’ll have 2 John’s (Park and Ernst) working for the people that actually live here and for the good of the city and not the special interest community (The Developers). I sure hope someone of the same character, quality and vision steps up and runs for council in those districts. We need at least one more like minded individual to have a majority. Trey – Hint – do you happen to live in district 1 or 3 ? 🙂

  20. 20

    The Brookhaven Post

    Ha. I live in District One now. I lived in Ashford Park for 25 years. Nice try. 🙂 I know where you are going with that!

  21. 21

    Not The Mayor

    Just a few years down the road and it has come to this.

    And now you know why so many of us voted no for cityhood. More Government is NEVER the answer.

  22. 22

    MediateIt

    Ellen, they do know how to issue an RFP and follow open records rules. They are actively trying to avoid issuing an RFP because they want to hire a specific company, and they didn’t follow open records rules because they didn’t want to reveal the facts that confirm their unethical, and possibly illegal, behavior. They are well versed in how to get around those pesky rules that require transparency and ethical conduct, and short on realizing the importance of following them.

  23. 23

    Mark Kooyman

    I get extremely frustrated with Brookhaven leadership across the board — from the city itself to the business leadership to the civic leadership. I have provided lots and lots of hours and time in helping the city to focus on just who makes it up, business and retail growth and a rich set of “on-the-street” interviews. And little of what I have shared — at my own expense — generates some reaction of “oh my,” but little else.

    The city does need PR assistance. A firm does need to come in and get the city back on track under its current leadership mix. BUT… the firm cannot fill that role appropriately unless it challenges and gets the city back on track. Way too many of the consulting firms extol their virtues, skills and resources, but in the end, kiss the butts of the clients paying the invoices.

    I hope that young leadership, like John Ernst and now our new state rep, can churn some wheels and get the community focused on 2016-forward. Communities around Brookhaven are off and running — Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, LaVista Hills (soon to be), Alpharetta and even Chamblee — while our community in-fights and combats negative media coverage.

    Its time that this city — and its community leadership — grew up!

  24. 24

    Eddie E.

    I find a contradiction in your narrative.
    When the initial government jumped the curb in the first days to set about business that was NEVER among the concerns of even the small minority of registered voters who approved municipalization, the established a pattern of arrogant disregard of the Public Interest has continued essentially unabated until today.
    There have been several opportunities to reflect public will, but on most every occasion (think of the massive efforts that went into PARC as an example) public input has been reviewed and ignored.
    Therefore, ‘back on track’ is not a legitimate option.

    The solution is simple, LEAD with public input.
    No amount of PR can overcome a serial failure to put public interest first.

  25. 25

    South Side Bill

    This really fails the smell test.
    This appears to be using public funds to finance 3 upcoming campaigns.
    We know they openly violated Open Records Request and Executive Session. Would not put this by them.

  26. 26

    Andrew Wells

    I think Southside Bill just said it most succinctly: “This really fails the smell test.
    This appears to be using public funds to finance 3 upcoming campaigns.
    We know they openly violated Open Records Requests and Executive Sessions. Would not put this by them.”

    I believe this inaugural administration has had its chances, with too few pluses and far too many minuses. Unless they can show a major difference between now and the election–WITHOUT spending our money on a PR firm, clearly to enhance their reelection chances–then it’s time for fresh and competent faces at the table (are you listening, Thomas? Drew? Chad? Trey?…Mother? Hello…).

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