by Robin Kemp
Today is the observed holiday for the Fourth of July, so expect government offices to be closed. It’s also an extremely light calendar for the county’s governing bodies. Here’s what to expect this week:
Monday, July 5
- Official U.S. holiday in observance of July 4
Tuesday, July 6
- The monthly tax sale takes place on the front steps of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center. Here’s the list of properties up for sale to the highest bidder: https://publicaccess.claytoncountyga.gov/content/PDF/DQ760GA.PDF. Do your due diligence, get there early, and be prepared to pay cash the same day.
- 6 p.m.: The Forest Park City Council holds its work session, followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m. This week’s agenda includes a link directing people who want to watch virtually to the city’s YouTube channel (thje link on the published agendas, https://bit.ly.3c28p0A, was not working at press time and appears to be incorrectly formed with a period instead of a forward slash between the y and the 3; replacing the period witha forward slash also returned an error). The note does not specify whether that means the meeting will be livestreamed or whether a recording will be posted some time in the future. The link appeared after the Clayton Crescent’s legal team questioned why the city had pulled the livestream service that it had invested over $30,000 to install and pointed out that it could pose a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Work session agenda items include:
- a presentation from Marcia Ridley (who used to work with Mayor Angelyne Butler at the Fulton County Elections Office) on her company, Intact Consulting Services. The council voted to hire Ridley’s firm to run the city elections coming up this November
- Economic Director Bruce Abraham and City Manager Dr. Marc-Antonio Cooper will discuss several candidates who might fill a single vacancy on the Development Authority board. They include:
- Felicia Davis, an expert on sustainable development at Clark Atlanta University and managing director of the HBCU Green Fund
- Blake Joiner
- Jacklyn Faith
- Yasmin Julio, Peachtree City’s city clerk (formerly Morrow’s) and former Ward 4 candidate
- Tyree Nuñez, a Forest Park High School runner (Class of 2020) who put together a Black Lives Matter march with city officials last summer
- Bennett Joiner
- a request from City Manager Dr. Marc-Antonio Cooper to continue paying police, fire, and EMS an extra $75 weekly stipend that was put in place during the city’s COVID-19 emergency declaration. The stipend would run through the end of the year at a cost of $216,000, which Cooper said would come from “COVID-19 and American Rescue funds to be allocated to the City”
- Cooper also asked for a discussion “to establish policy and procedures to formalize requests for Proclamations from the City of Forest Park and their issuance.” which would set specific guidelines for issuing “the highest honor bestowed from the City of Forest Park.” The proposed ordinance would require council approval for proclamations dealing with “matters of a political nature,” “controversial issues or organizations,” and “personal activities not of a general interest, such as deaths, family reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, groundbreakings, business endorsements, etc.” The issue came to a head when councilmembers were upset that Ward 4 Councilwoman Latresa Akins-Wells unilaterally issued a proclamation honoring the 67th anniversary of longtime community members Willie and Annie Finch. Willie Finch is credited with demanding that Forest Park integrate its recreational teams and went on to coach local teams, as well. The next week, Cooper and other members of the governing body delivered a second proclamation to the Finches declaring the city’s best wishes. Requests for proclamations would have to be made at least 15 days before the council meeting or event, delivered to all councilmembers for consideration, and either the mayor or “a veto-proof majority” would have the final say on whether to issue the proclamation. Only the mayor, mayor pro tem, or designee would present the proclamation. The ordinance adds, “A congratulatory letter is an alternative where proclamation criteria are not met. The City staff shall endeavor to have any requested pictures taken prior to anyCity Council meeting, to not delay official business.”
- Cooper also wants the council to include a code of conduct as part of the code of ethics for officials: “This governing body is composed of individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds, personalities, values, opinions, and goals. Despite this diversity, each governing body member has chosen to serve in public office to preserve and protect the present and the future of the city of Forest Park. This common goal should be acknowledged even as governing body members may ‘agree to disagree’ on contentious issues.” The proposed ordinance would, for example, ban “misconduct,” including but not limited to “yelling, shouting, fighting, making unwelcome physical contact, aggressive or bullying behavior, use of foul language, ignoring and/or interrupting the Presiding Officer.” It also would require councilmembers to take notes and call for a point of personal privilege “in cases which his or her integrity, character or motives are assailed, questioned, or impugned,” such as “making personal criticisms, singling out members for ridicule and/or mentioning the names of other council members in a negative light.” It also would require the same respect to be shown to city staff and members of the public. Of particular note: “Governing body members shall not attempt to unethically influence or coerce the City Manager or department heads concerning either their actions or recommendations to governing body about personnel, purchasing, awarding contracts, selection of consultants, processing of development applications, or the granting of city licenses and permits” and “Before sending correspondence, governing body members should check with the City Manager to see if an official city response has already been sent or is in progress.” The proposed ordinance also warns elected officials not to make promises on behalf of the city: “It is inappropriate to promise governing body action overtly or implicitly, or to promise city staff will do something specific (i.e.,fix a pothole, replace flowers, fix a leak, etc.) When approached by the public to correct a situation, governing body members should refer them to the City Manager.” The Clayton Crescent has asked Cooper whether any member or members of the governing body had attempted to influence or intimidate him or city staff on purchasing or contracts.
- 6:30 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Commissioners holds its regular meeting at 112 Smith Street, Jonesboro. Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Roberts is asking the board to approve a second social worker position at Grade 28, Step 24, with total compensation $88,464, including a salary of $64,954. The purpose of the police social workers is to answer “non-emergency nature in which there is a need for medical, nutrition, and shelter. This classification will allow Clayton County to respond appropriately to these non-emergency service calls, while providing a valuable resource to our citizens.” The Clayton Crescent broke the news that Roberts had extended an offer to one police social worker and was hoping to add this second position. The department would save $35,522 by dropping two unfilled officer positions. Also on the agenda:
- CCWA pipes going in at Valley Hill Road and Sir Galahad Way
- allowing the Emergency Management Agency to take Clayton State work-study students
- establishing a records retention plan under state law
- a memorandum of understanding between CCPD and the FBI for continued Safe Streets Gang Task Force participation
- another MOU between CCPD and the City of Atlanta for taking part in the Securing the Cities Grant, whose recipients look out for “illicit materials outside regulatory control that may be used in a terrorist attack or as a weapon of mass destruction”
- a mutual aid agreement between CCPD and Atlanta Technical College Police
- allowing Georgia Power to provide electricity to two trailers at the CCPD range
- permission for CCPD “to retain sixteen (16) items granted to the County, pursuant to Court Order 2013CV05313-8 for Law Enforcement use”
- a “piggyback contract” ordinance, which would allow other governmental entities to “purchase the same commodity, equipment, or service from suppliers at the same price and under the same terms and conditions as extended to the County in a competitively procured contract.”
- a modification to the PY 2020 HUD Annual Action Plan for $250,000 in repairs for Hearts to Nourish Hope’s building
- permission for CASA to apply for $56,037.72 in grant funds that don’t need to be matched
- permission for Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services to apply for Homeland Security Grants of $10,440 for the Georgia Search and Rescue Team assigned to CCFES and $4,435 for the Hazmat Team.
- The BOC is expected to accept donated Little Free Libraries for the Sonna Singleton Gregory Senior Center in Riverdale and the Flint River Community Center in Ellenwood
- Three board slots are also up for appointments
Wednesday, July 7
- Nothing as of press time.
Thursday, July 8
- 9 a.m.: The Clayton County Board of Education’s Nutrition Department is holding a virtual job fair from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Register at the link: all interested applicants can register for the job fair at https://bit.ly/3hDULnC (we’ve shortened the link for you).
Friday, July 9
- Nothing as of press time.
As always, if we missed something–or if you hear of a sudden special-called meeting–please let us know! You can call or text (404) 547-1171 or e-mail KempWrites@gmail.com directly. Feel free to send us tips.
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