DeKalb County

Local
5:12 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

FBI, U.S. Attorney's Office Has Been Investigating DeKalb County for Months

DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader says a federal grand jury subpoenaed the purchasing card records of each of the county commissioners.
Credit DeKalb County, GA

In announcing criminal charges yesterday against former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, U.S. Attorney Sally Yates confirmed DeKalb County has been under investigation for several months.

  Law enforcement officials did not say much about the investigation. However, Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office, did say, “We’re very aware of all the very public allegations about the activity in DeKalb County, and we’ll be looking into all of 'em.”

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Local
12:48 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Avondale Estates Rebuilding Commercial Area One Small, Locally-Owned Business at a Time

Tudor Village is the anchor of Avondale Estates. The city's east/west borders run from Sam's Crossing to Memorial Drive.
Lisa George/WABE

The city of Avondale Estates, in DeKalb County, is talking with MARTA about leasing land to provide 150 new parking spaces in its downtown area.

So why does a small, quiet city of just 3,000 people need additional parking? There is a quiet, but active small business boom going on there.

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DeKalb County
11:12 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

DeKalb Ethics Board Tosses Complaints Against Two County Commissioners, Moves Forward on Others

DeKalb County Ethics Board members Clara DeLay, Edwinett Murphy, Susan Neugent, Robert Blackman, and John Ernst.
Credit Lisa George/WABE News

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics took action Thursday night on each of the complaints against the county’s six commissioners.

Most of the complaints allege improper use of county purchasing cards: P-cards for short. The issue first surfaced in complaints against Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her staffer Bob Lundsten. The investigation into those complaints is now complete, and the board decided to schedule preliminary hearings for Boyer and Lundsten next month.

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Local
6:00 am
Wed August 13, 2014

DeKalb Seniors Frustrated by Senior Center Construction Delays

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May talks with seniors about the delay in construction of three new senior centers. Some 50 seniors came to Tuesday's County Commission meeting to voice their frustration.
Credit Evan Jang/WABE News

Three new DeKalb County senior centers, scheduled to open  the end of last year, are still under construction.

The people who attend two of those centers brought those frustrations to the county’s Interim CEO Tuesday.

“If you go to any of the centers, you see that there is not work really going on right now,” acknowledged Interim CEO Lee May who had to contend with about 50 people at Tuesday’s county commission meeting.  

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DeKalb District 5
4:47 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

DeKalb Commissioners to Vote on Temporary Commission Member

George Turner
Credit DeKalb County

DeKalb County Commissioners will take the next two weeks to interview the nominee to join them on the commission.

Interim CEO Lee May has nominated Lithonia resident George Turner to fill the District 5 seat temporarily. May chose Turner from twenty candidates, saying he believes Turner will fill the need for consensus building on the commission. “George has really shown that type of temperament in his work out in the community,” said May. “And I think he would do the same thing on the Board of Commissioners.”

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Local
6:00 am
Tue August 12, 2014

New Vote Today on South DeKalb YMCA Purchase Unlikely

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners debated in June whether to approve a $4.95 million public-private partnership between the county and the South DeKalb YMCA. Under the deal, the county would buy the YMCA and lease the property back to the nonprofit for $1 a year.
Credit Michell Eloy/WABE News

The plan for DeKalb County to buy the South DeKalb YMCA on Snapfinger Road is changing.

County commissioners are scheduled today to vote – again -- on the plan to buy the facility for $4.95 million and then lease it back to the YMCA

Back in June, that plan failed to get the four votes it needed. With several commissioners now suggesting revisions to the plan, today’s scheduled vote will almost certainly be delayed.

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Local
4:32 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

DeKalb County Overhauls Purchasing Policies

Scott Callan, a consultant who is serving as DeKalb County's Interim Purchasing Director, holds the binders that held the county's previous purchasing policies. The new policy is less than 40 pages long.
Credit Lisa George/WABE

DeKalb County is overhauling its purchasing policies in response to a grand jury report that cited abuse and corruption in the procurement process.

The report, released last year, recommended a complete restructuring of the purchasing department. It said it found problems with the procurement process reaching back to the administration of Vernon Jones as DeKalb’s Chief Executive Officer. It is the same report that led to the indictment of current CEO Burrell Ellis.

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Local
6:00 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Druid Hills Considering Breaking Off From DeKalb To Join Atlanta

A map from 2008 laying out DeKalb's school districts and a sense of some of the county's neighborhoods, including Druid Hills.
Credit DeKalb County

Residents in the Druid Hills neighborhood surrounding Emory University are beginning to consider breaking off from DeKalb County and joining the city of Atlanta.

For Anne Wallace of the Druid Hills Civic Association, the choice is becoming clear.

“Twenty years ago, the county was running smoothly, taxes were lower, and the city of Atlanta had its challenges. Today, I see the city of Atlanta in a renaissance and the county is in a dismal place," said Wallace.

Druid Hills is a mostly white, affluent residential area in unincorporated DeKalb.

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DeKalb County
10:13 am
Thu July 31, 2014

DeKalb Ethics Board Must Submit Spending Plan

Attorney John Ernst chairs the DeKalb County Board of Ethics.
Credit John Ernst

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners is holding in reserve the $97,000 it recently allocated to the county Board of Ethics.

Commissioners are waiting on the Ethics Board to present a plan on how to spend that money.

Interim CEO Lee May pushed the allocation based on his plan on hiring a full-time Chief Integrity Officer, a full-time investigator and a full-time administrative assistant.

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Politics
3:09 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Fulton, DeKalb Make Polling Place Changes

Credit Georgia.gov

There are some changes in polling places for tomorrow’s run-off election.

Fulton County is changing nine of its locations; the changed polling places are in several areas of the county. DeKalb County is making last-minute changes due to lack of air conditioning at two of its regular precincts.

East Point

  • Brookview Elementary changes to Woodland Middle School, 2845 Stone Road.

Atlanta

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DeKalb County
6:20 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Demolition Underway at Suburban Plaza

Crews are starting the demolition with the building closest to Scott Boulevard.
Credit Lisa George/WABE

After more than two years of fighting back a legal challenge, demolition at DeKalb County’s Suburban Plaza shopping center is now underway.

Scott Selig is Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for Selig Enterprises, which owns Suburban Plaza. In an email to WABE, he said the latest construction timeline calls for digging to begin for the underground parking lot for Walmart late this year or in early 2015.

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Local
4:25 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

DeKalb Ethics Board Shoulders Heavy Caseload

Attorney John Ernst chairs the DeKalb County Board of Ethics. It is an all-volunteer board.
Credit John Ernst

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics currently faces a caseload of complaints against every single county commissioner, some of their staffers, and both the suspended and acting county CEOs.

DeKalb Board of Ethics Chairman John Ernst recently distributed an email emphasizing the board will take every complaint seriously. “Ethics complaints are, a lot of times, they’re filed, [and] the people have alternative motives to them,” Ernst told WABE. “That’s just the nature of ethics complaints a lot of times, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.”

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Local
3:53 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

DeKalb Commissioners OK Salary Increases, Ethics Programs With Budget Vote

DeKalb County Commission
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE

With a 4-2 vote, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved its mid-year budget, which includes salary increases for county employees and some new ethics watchdog positions.

The more than $554 million budget increases spending by 2 percent over last year, while keeping property tax rates flat.

Interim CEO Lee May said the spending plan, which also allows for at least $36 million to be set aside in reserves, shows the county is moving in the right financial direction.

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Briarcliff, Lakeside, Tucker
4:45 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

DeKalb Cityhood Groups Meeting Tonight with County Task Force

This map, dated March 2014, shows the proposed cities of Lakeside and Tucker.
Credit Lakeside City Alliance, http://lakesidecityalliance.org

The proponents for three potential new cities in DeKalb County will bring their latest maps to a county operations task force tonight. For the groups, some things have changed, and some have not. 

Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker: when we left them, at the end of the legislative session, the last-minute Lakeside/Tucker map tinkering had left a taste in lawmakers’ mouths that stalled the bills, and Briarcliff had already been left in the dust.

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DeKalb County
5:09 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Plan for New DeKalb Integrity Officer Raises Questions

Jeff Rader, DeKalb County Commissioner, District 2
Credit DeKalb County, GA

DeKalb County Commissioners will have to decide whether to fund Interim CEO Lee May’s plan to create a new county department to serve as an ethics watchdog.

Right now, May’s proposal is meeting mixed reaction from commissioners.

May wants the commission to allocate $97,000 out of the current budget to fund three new staffers for the rest of the year: a Chief Integrity Officer, an investigator and an assistant. Commissioner Jeff Rader is not sure that is as easy as it sounds even if the commission can find the money.

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Local
10:01 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

DeKalb Ethics Board Launches Probes Into Two More Commissioners

The DeKalb ethics board is launching investigations into two more commissioners.

The DeKalb County ethics board Tuesday launched investigations into two more county commissioners over alleged misuse of county-issued credit cards. One commissioner is already under investigation.

The board voted to investigate thousands of dollars of charges by Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton and Commissioner Larry Johnson, as well as an aide to Barnes Sutton. Both commissioners say the purchases in question were for legitimate government business.

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Local
5:00 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Vote Delayed On DeKalb's Acquisition Of YMCA

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners debates whether to approve a $5 million public-private partnership between the county and the South DeKalb YMCA during a board meeting Tuesday. Under the deal, the county would buy the YMCA, and then lease the property back to the nonprofit for $1 a year.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE News

A plan for DeKalb County to buy the South DeKalb YMCA is on hold after the deal didn’t get the four votes needed to move forward from the Board of Commissioners.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the six commissioners voted 3-2 with one abstention, in effect delaying the vote for a later day.

Commissioners Larry Johnson, Sharon Barns Sutton and Stan Watson voted in favor of the measure, while Commissioners Elaine Boyer and Kathie Gannon voted against it.

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DeKalb County
4:57 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Jobs for Georgia Graduates Expands to DeKalb

Officials hope expanding Jobs for Georgia Graduates to five DeKalb high schools will boost graduation rates.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Educators have long-searched for ways to keep kids in school until they graduate. Monday, local officials announced the expansion of a program they hope will improve high school graduation rates in DeKalb County.

Jobs for Georgia Graduates is a partnership between schools, businesses, and the Georgia Department of Labor. The program provides training for high school students to prepare them for the real world. DeKalb Superintendent and former labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said he saw the program work in other school districts and wanted to bring it to DeKalb.

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DeKalb County
6:00 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Own a Vacant House in DeKalb? Do Not Pass Go; Pay the County $100

County officials, staffers, and nearby neighborhood residents joined DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May Wednesday to announce the county's new vacant home registry.
Credit Lisa George/WABE

DeKalb County is cracking down on owners of vacant houses who are not keeping them up. The new county regulations apply to some 10,000 homeowners.

 If you own a house in unincorporated DeKalb County that has been vacant for more than three months, you have the next 30 days to register the property and pay a $100 fee. If you fail to do so, you will be subject to up to a $1,000 fine.

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Local
7:27 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Fire Destroys DeKalb Longhorn Steakhouse - Photos

Authorities say the blaze broke out around 2 a.m.
John Lorinc WABE

A long-time DeKalb County restaurant falls victim to an early morning fire.

Crews were called to the Longhorn Steakhouse on North Druid Hills Road.

Officials say the blaze broke out around 2 a.m.

DeKalb authorities say the fire appears to be under control, but they’re expected to remain on the scene for another few hours.

The cause of the fire has yet to be confirmed.

The Longhorn chain debuted in Atlanta in 1981.

According to the company’s website, there are nearly 500 branches nationwide.

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DeKalb County
6:00 am
Tue May 27, 2014

What in the world (in DeKalb County) is the "Medline Corridor"?

General boundaries of the Medline Corridor are defined by Jordan Lane to the north, Medlock Road to the west, Remington Lane to the south and DeKalb Industrial Way to the east.
Credit Medline Livable Centers Initiative

DeKalb County is getting ready to present the first draft of its master plan for the Medline corridor.

Never heard of it? You are not alone.

What is now known as the Medline corridor, so named because it includes DeKalb Medical Center, is the area around four major thoroughfares:  Scott Boulevard, which becomes Lawrenceville Highway; North Decatur Road; Church Street; and DeKalb Industrial Way.

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Local
4:23 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

DeKalb County Deals with Election Night Technical Problem

Credit Chris Ferguson/WABE

If you were following election returns last night out of DeKalb County, you likely noticed how slowly information came in.

DeKalb officials dealt with a technical glitch last night in trying to report election returns.

According to Maxine Daniels, DeKalb’s Director of Voter Registrations and Elections, “We had no problem tabulating our election. We were able to do that perfectly well, no problem at all with that. We had problems exporting the file to the state.”

The issue turned out to be relatively low-tech: it was a problem creating the files to export.

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Politics
1:57 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Hank Johnson Wins Re-Election to Congress

Hank Johnson thanks his supporters and declares victory in the 4th District U.S. House race.
Credit Lisa George/WABE

Georgia Fourth District Congressman Hank Johnson will return to Washington for a fifth term.

It was close to midnight when Johnson declared victory, telling a crowd that had dwindled down to about 75 supporters, “We won! We fought a real good, clean campaign.”

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DeKalb County
4:23 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Ethics Complaints Move Forward Against Ellis, Boyer, County Staffers

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics is moving forward with two separate ethics complaints against suspended county CEO Burrell Ellis. He also faces criminal corruption charges. Ellis's trial is scheduled to begin in early September.

The DeKalb Ethics Board will move forward with complaints against County Commissioner Elaine Boyer and suspended CEO Burrell Ellis.

The board approved investigation of two different complaints against Ellis. One relates to the criminal corruption case against him. The other alleges Ellis conspired with Director of Finance Joel Gottlieb and then-Director of Watershed Management Francis Kung’U to prevent accurate reading of water use at a condominium complex in Clarkston.

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DeKalb County
1:38 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

New Development Ready for Construction Across the Street from Suburban Plaza

This shows the area where Fuqua Development plans to build the first phase of Decatur Crossing. Suburban Plaza is directly across North Decatur Road from the site.
Credit Fuqua Development

As a plan to bring a Walmart to DeKalb County’s Suburban Plaza remains mired in legal trouble, a development right across the street is getting ready to start construction.

Fuqua Development is the company creating the mixed-used project, which will be called Decatur Crossing. According to Jeff Fuqua, “We hope that every deal we do is a process like this with the county commission and with the neighbors.”

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DeKalb County
3:00 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

DeKalb Interim CEO Cracks Down on Use of County Purchasing Cards

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May admits that news reports alerted him to a problem with the use of county purchasing cards.
Credit Lee May

DeKalb County’s Interim CEO has issued an executive order changing the way county employees and elected officials can use county purchasing cards.

Starting today, county employees and elected officials have two weeks to review and sign a new policy about the use of county purchasing cards, which are called “P-cards.”

Interim CEO Lee May admits the issue came to light after reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that Commissioner Elaine Boyer purchased thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services on her card.

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DeKalb County
6:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Cityhood Groups Pushing Toward 2015

The three cityhood group's maps have undergone changes, but this 2013 Atlanta Regional Commission map gives a broad idea of the proposed boundaries of each.
Credit Atlanta Regional Commission

In the final days of the 2014 Georgia General Assembly session, the battle for cityhood got ugly. Ultimately, none of the cityhood bills passed.

So advocates for the potential cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker are now redoubling their efforts and looking toward the 2015 legislative session.

All three groups are moving forward and planning public meetings in the next few weeks. One of the Tucker cityhood organizers is Frank Auman. As Auman sees it, the end of this year’s legislative session wiped the slate clean, and he says he got a clear message from lawmakers.

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DeKalb County
5:15 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

May in "Precarious Position" Due to Legislative Measure Awaiting Governor's Signature

Lee May has served as DeKalb County's Interim CEO since Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him in July 2013 following the indictment of CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Lee May

A bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature requires the DeKalb County Commission to fill its District 5 seat temporarily.

However, that may not be a simple task.

  Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams helped push the bill through on the final day of the legislative session. She told WABE, “The impetus for this was resolving a flaw in the law, as I see it, for dealing with the removal of a person from active engagement of their job.”

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Local
4:20 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Contentious Hearings Wrap Up in DeKalb CEO Corruption Case

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis during a break at Tuesday's hearing.

Lawyers in the corruption case of suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis wrapped up two days of contentious pretrial hearings Tuesday. Much of the debate centered on what would be allowed as evidence in the upcoming trial.

Ellis' attorneys continued to argue District Attorney Robert James is politically motivated and should be removed from the case due to prosecutorial misconduct. They also said secretly captured audio and video of Ellis should be inadmissible because it was taken without his consent.

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Local
3:34 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Alleged Ellis Video Focus of DeKalb Corruption Hearing

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

A pretrial hearing took place Monday in the public corruption case against suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

Ellis faces 14 felony charges alleging he shook down county contractors for campaign contributions.

At the hearing, Ellis’ attorneys argued District Attorney Robert James should be disqualified from prosecuting the case due to misconduct issues. They said James is politically motivated and may be withholding secretly captured video of Ellis. 

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