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Archive for the ‘DeKalb County’ Category

One of my people was represented by this guy, and he stole $45,000.00 of her settlement. She and some other victims testified in Court a couple weeks ago. He was sentenced to 30 years, with 15 to serve. He was supposed to turn himself in 02/01/2019. He did not show up.

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02/02/2019 Sharon Swanepoel Top News
http://news.monroelocal.org/dekalb-pd-seek-help-in-locating-suspect-in-the-alleged-murder-of-his-mother/

Tucker, Ga. – Dekalb County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a suspect in the alleged murder of his mother. According to DCPD, at 9:30 a.m. this morning, Feb. 2, 2019, police responded to a home on Planters Row in Stone Mountain in reference to a dead person call. The victim, Shirley Merritt, was found stabbed to death inside her residence. Police believe this is an isolated domestic-related incident.
Richard Merritt, 44. Photo courtesy of Dekalb County Police Department

The victim’s son, Richard Merritt, 44, has been identified as the suspect. He is described as a white male, 5’10”, 175 lbs, brown eyes and brown hair. There is an active murder warrant for his arrest. He is possibly in possession of the victim’s 2009 Lexus RX350, Brown Color, GA Tag CBV6004.

DeKalb Police are asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Richard Merritt to please contact the DeKalb County Police Department at 770-724-7850 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS(8477).
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only GA would have drive thru flu shots, and they even charge you to inject you with a deadly chemical.

Wow, where do I sign up?

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DeKalb Ethics Board chairman resigns
Posted: 3:18 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, 2015
By Mark Niesse – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/dekalb-ethics-board-chairman-resigns/nnKYC/


DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chairman John Ernst resigned Friday, saying he wants to pursue other public service opportunities.

Ernst, who has served on the Board of Ethics since June 2013, stepped down a day after the board reprimanded Commissioner Stan Watson for voting to award a county contract to his employer.

“When I joined the board over two years ago, we had a budget of $16,000, lacked full membership, were in a suspended state and had a number of old and languishing complaints,” Ernst wrote in his resignation letter. “Today, I’m proud to say that we have dealt with dozens of complaints and have a more robust budget for counsel and investigators to root out unethical behavior.”

Clara Black DeLay, the board’s vice chairwoman, will replace Ernst as its chairwoman.

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Georgia police shooting one of many drawing ire


People attend a rally for Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Wash. Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed by police on Feb. 10, 2015. (Joshua Trujillo / Associated Press)

By SARAH PARVINI contact the reporter
http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-police-shooting-roundup-20150310-story.html

The last month has brought a spate of six police killings of unarmed men.

The latest killings have further inflamed tensions after months of protests over the police shooting in August of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, in Ferguson, Mo.

Here’s a look at the latest police shootings.

DeKalb County, Ga., March 9

A police officer on Monday fatally shot a naked unarmed man, who authorities described as deranged.

Officers responded to a report of a suspicious person in an area east of Atlanta, police said. Before officers arrived, another call came in that the man had removed his clothes and was running around.

Wisconsin protesters fill Capitol over fatal police shooting; family speaks out
Wisconsin protesters fill Capitol over fatal police shooting; family speaks out
Officer Robert Olsen, a seven-year veteran of the department, shot and killed 27-year-old Anthony Hill, who is black.

Hill charged at Olsen, who fired two shots, according to DeKalb County Police Capt. Steve Fore. Olsen was carrying a stun gun, but didn’t use it.

Olsen was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Hill had been arrested several times by Atlanta police, on suspicion of marijuana possession, obstructing an officer’s performance, and disorderly conduct, court records show.

Aurora, Colo., March 6

Aurora police shot and killed an unarmed black 37-year-old man Friday.

Naeschylus Vinzant died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Arapahoe County coroner’s office.

lRelated Georgia police officer fatally shoots unarmed, naked black man
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Vinzant had removed his ankle monitor and fled from parole March 2, authorities said. He was wanted in connection with an “assault, robbery, kidnapping and domestic violence incident” that took place that day, police said.

Vinzant was killed four days later as police moved to arrest him. The city’s SWAT team was called in because of Vinzant’s “past violent history,” police said.

Court records show Vinzant previously faced charges of assault, menacing, eludicing police and illegal weapons possession.

Madison, Wis., March 6

Also on Friday, a Madison police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson, another unarmed black man.

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In each and every case the newspaper has mentioned, these suspects would be alive today (in the back seat of a patrol car) if they would have obeyed the lawful commands of law enforcement, then booked into jail (alive), then bailed out or held for a hearing (alive), then either back with…
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Police said they received several calls about a man who had “battered someone” and had been “out in traffic” and had then gone inside an apartment, police said.

Officer Matt Kenny heard a disturbance in the apartment and forced his way in, according to police.

After a scuffle with Robinson in which Kenny received a “blow to the head,” the officer shot Robinson, according to Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.

Robinson later was pronounced dead of gunshot wounds. Koval did not disclose how many shots were fired, citing the information as part of the shooting investigation, which will be handled by the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation.

Los Angeles, March 1 and March 5

The fatal shooting of an unarmed man on skid row renewed debate over how to properly police the homeless and mentally ill people living on the streets.

Charly Leundeu Keunang, a 43-year-old black man, died of multiple gunshot wounds on March 1, according to coroner’s officials.

Police said Keunang refused to follow their commands and tried to fight them, reaching for an officer’s holstered pistol. The gun’s slide was partially pulled back and the magazine dislodged, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said.

Activists have since denounced the shooting, which was caught on video, taking to the streets in protest and calling for an independent investigation.

A second investigation is underway following the fatal shooting March 5 of an unarmed motorist involved in a pursuit in Burbank.

Sergio Navas, 35, was shot by an officer sitting in a squad car after their two cars collided during the chase.

Wounded, the man got out of the car and ran, but officers chased him down and handcuffed him, said Officer Wendy Reyes.

He was declared dead at the scene after paramedics tried to resuscitate him.

The chase began when the man sped away from LAPD officers who tried to pull him over, police said. Officers started following the car because it had paper plates and Navas was “driving erratically,” they said.

Officers followed him into Burbank, where the man drove into a short cul-de-sac and was cornered. The man’s car collided with the passenger side of the LAPD car, and the officer in the passenger seat started shooting, police said.

Pasco, Wash., Feb. 10

Police in Pasco shot and killed Antonio Zambrano-Montes in a parking lot Feb. 10, following reports that he was hurling rocks at vehicles.

A video posted to YouTube appears to show Zambrano-Montes, 35, exiting the parking lot and then running down a side street with officers in pursuit.

Pasco police said they had ordered Zambrano-Montes to stop throwing rocks several times and tried to subdue him with a stun gun after he hit two officers with rocks.

Police fired 17 rounds at Zambrano-Montes, according to Sgt. Ken Lattin, public information officer for the Tri-Cities Special Investigations Unit, which is reviewing the shooting.

Bullets struck him at least five times, investigators said.

For more national news, follow me on Twitter: @ParviniParlance

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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I keep thinking about that.  Being told that it really isn’t as bad as I think.  Hell if it ain’t!

When I was a little girl, we walked to school.  We would get there in the morning, and there would be the morning prayer.  Right after that, we all said I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, and they played the National Anthem.  I started to school when I was four (4).  By the time I was in fourth grade, it was like the second elementary school.  They did not say the morning prayer, or play the anthem, but by golly, the whole time I was in school, we Pledged Allegiance to the Flag.  We were proud to be Americans.

Now, you get suspended for wearing anything with a flag on it.  The Ten Commandments, Pledge of Allegiance, and anything having to do with our natural heritage is bad.  Christians are bad.  Americans are bad.  Christian Americans must be very, very bad.  And who the hell decided all that?  That is bullshit.  Plain and simple, bullshit.  Since when have other people gone to live in another country, and was allowed to claim they were offended by the customs of that country, and the country changed for the outsiders?  Someone tell me when.  That is bullshit!  Plain and simple bullshit.

Seems like it began several years ago… SuperTarget in our area, told the GoodWill people at Christmas, not to come there any more.  Of course, after that, we never went back to that store, and it closed shortly thereafter.  For some reason, outsiders that had moved to the United States, were offended by Christmas, Nativity scenes, and GoodWill ringing their little bells at Christmas.  Those dedicated, hardworking GoodWill employees, trying to make a difference to others at a very hard time of year.  They never asked anyone for anything.  Just stood, ringing the bell and smiling.  It was tradition.  Christmas trees, nativity scenes, GoodWill.

So, in order to not to offend those, who are not from here, America changed? Bullshit.  I say, if our traditions offends you, you came into this country, you know you can leave the same damned way!  Every time I turn around, someone is explaining that such and such offends them.  Screw it!  I am offended by what people do in other countries, but I don’t move there, then expect them to change their country for me.  That is bullshit.  Plain and simple bullshit.

Now, they tell us that our forefathers were terrorists.  Do what?  So what kind of History lessons are they giving kids now a days?  Speaking of kids.  Since when does the govt. have balls enough to tell parents what they are or not going to feed their kids for lunch during school?  The other thing about kids, is that they belong to the community, not their parents?  Bullshit!  Plain and simple bullshit!  And these idiots put up with that?  I sure as hell am glad that my Mama was who she was.  She would have not only told them what horse to get on, she would have had them direct that horse, on out of the country.  And my Daddy, lo and behold, I am glad that he is not here to see this shit.  Daddy was gung-ho Marine.  He is probably rolling in his grave right now.

And someone wants to tell me, that it ain’t as bad as I think it is?  Bullshit!  Plain and simple bullshit!!!

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Updated: 4:13 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 | Posted: 10:11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014

DeKalb Commissioner Boyer could serve prison time

By Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/criminal-charges-filed-against-former-dekalb-commi/ng82z/

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Elaine Boyer in federal court sketch photo
Richard Miller
082614 Atlanta: This is a photo copy of an artist rendition of the federal court appearance of DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her court appointed attorney Jeff Brickman into questionable use of taxpayer dollars on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in Atlanta. By Courtroom artist Richard Miller
DeKalb commissioner resigns amid spending investigation gallery
 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A day after resigning from office, DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer announced in court Tuesday she would plead guilty to federal charges accusing her of two schemes to pocket tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers.

Boyer, appearing calm and collected, told a judge she understood what she was doing, but it’s unknown whether she’ll serve time in prison.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said she will seek a prison sentence for Boyer.

“This is a serious crime. She’s cooperating now after she was caught,” Yates said. Boyer’s guilty plea “doesn’t wipe the slate clean.”

Boyer’s attorney, Jeff Brickman, said he’ll ask a judge not to sentence Boyer to prison, although she doesn’t have a plea deal in place. She was to be released without supervision after being photographed and fingerprinted. She could be formally arraigned within 10 days.

A criminal filing earlier Tuesday said Boyer authorized more than $78,000 in county payments to an adviser who submitted false invoices for consulting work but did nothing.

The adviser then funneled about 75 percent of the money, more than $58,000, back into Boyer’s personal bank account, the document alleges. She faced a charge of mail fraud conspiracy for that scheme.

The court documents didn’t name the adviser and no charges apparently have been filed against that person, even though he apparently pocketed about $20,000 in taxpayer money. The documents say Boyer used her share for personal expenses, including purchases at hotels and high-end department stores.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was pressing Boyer to explain nearly $90,000 in checks to consultants before she resigned Monday and admitted she had betrayed taxpayers.

Federal prosecutors also accused Boyer of wire fraud for using her county purchasing card to pay for more than $15,000 in personal expenses. From October 2010 to February 2014, Boyer made more than 50 such purchases, prosecutors allege.

The AJC in March revealed that she had been tapping county funds to pay for airline tickets, a ski resort vacation, rental cars and personal cell phone expenses, triggering the federal investigation.

Boyer will have to forfeit any proceeds or property she obtained from the schemes, prosecutors wrote.

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Georgia

http://www.wunderground.com/news/winter-storm-pax-latest-news-20140210

Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 45 counties in north Georgia that are expected to receive the biggest impacts from Pax.

With memories of thousands of vehicles gridlocked for hours on icy metro Atlanta highways fresh in their minds, emergency officials and elected leaders in north Georgia are preparing for Winter Storm Pax. Gov. Nathan Deal, who was criticized for his response to the Jan. 28 storm that paralyzed the metro area and left motorists stranded in vehicles overnight, said in a news release Sunday that he’s put emergency response agencies on alert and began significant preparations. The governor scheduled a news conference for noon Monday to discuss winter storm preparations. The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather watch from 7 p.m. Monday through 7 p.m. Tuesday and a winter storm watch from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning for the metro Atlanta area.

Even before the first snowflakes fell, people around Atlanta were planning to work from home and stay off the roads. Jay Ali, 33, a college student, said Monday morning that he planned to mostly stay indoors. He had little confidence that government officials would handle this storm any better than the last.

“New levels of incompetence,” Ali said, describing the state and regional response to the last storm that left motorists stranded in their cars for hours, sometimes overnight. “Unforeseen levels of incompetence.”

Ali said part of the problem is that Southern cities do not have as many snow plows, sanders and spreaders as Northern cities.

“I don’t think they have the infrastructure to protect themselves if a storm gets really bad,” he said.

GA Power on ice: “It’s an event we’re extremely fearful of but are taking precautions for” #Pax #ATLwx #GAwx

— Shawn Reynolds (@WCL_Shawn) February 10, 2014

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My best friend, Donnie Johnson, living in Lithonia, Georgia, has died.

Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Ga, took a healthy, 64 year old male, with a hernia issue, ignored the hernia issue, put him on a ton of other medications, claiming not to know what was wrong with him, and now, after many months, has finally killed him.

I hope everyone who had their hand in the situation is happy!

Donnie, may God hold you in the palm of His Hand….You are sorely missed!

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http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/wake-up-georgia-courts-are-opening-the-door-on-wrongful-foreclosure/

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/wake-up-georgia-courts-are-opening-the-door-on-wrongful-foreclosure/

Wake Up Georgia: Courts Are Opening the Door on Wrongful Foreclosure

Posted on March 15, 2013 by Neil Garfield

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN GEORGIA

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 (East Coast, including Georgia – the Atlanta Area) and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.

The selection of an attorney is an important decision and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

Editor’s Note: For years Georgia has been considered by most attorneys to be a “red” state that, along with states like Tennessee showed no mercy on borrowers because of the prejudgment that the foreclosure mess was the fault of borrowers. For years they have ignored the now obvious truth that the defective mortgages and wrongful foreclosures do make a difference.

Now, reflecting inquiries from Courts below who are studying the the issue instead of issuing orders based upon a knee-jerk response, the State has taken a decided turn toward the application of law over presumption and bias. There is even reason to believe that the door is open a crack for past wrongful foreclosures, as the Courts grapple with the fact that thousands of foreclosures were forced through the system by strangers to the transaction and thousands of wrongful foreclosure suits have been dismissed because of the assumption by judges that no bank would lie directly to the court. It was a big lie and apparently the banks were right in thinking there was little risk to them.

Look at Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law February/ March Issue for an article on “Foreclosure Law in the Wake of Recent Decisions on Residential Mortgage Loans: The Situation in Georgia” by Ashby Kent Fox, Shea Sullivan and Amanda Wilson. Our own lawyers have out in front on these issues for a couple of years but encountering a lot of resistance — although lately they are reporting that the Courts are listening more closely.

The Georgia Supreme Court has now weighed in (Reese v Provident) and decided quite obviously that something is rotten in Georgia. Focusing on Georgia’s foreclosure notice statute but actually speaking to the substantive defects in the mortgages and foreclosures, the majority held, as a matter of law, that

o.c.G.a. § 44-14- 162.2(a), requires the person or entity conducting a non-judicial foreclosure of a residential mortgage loan to provide the borrower/debtor with a written notice of the foreclosure sale that discloses not only “the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or entity who shall have full authority to negotiate, amend, and modify all terms of the mortgage with the debtor” (the language that appears in the statute), but also the identity of the “secured creditor” (not required by the statutory language, but which the majority inferred based on legislative intent). the majority further found that the failure to identify the “secured creditor” in the foreclosure notice renders the notice, and any subsequent foreclosure sale, invalid as a matter of law.

Once again I caution litigators that this will not dispose of your case permanently and that such rulings be used strategically so that you are not another hallway lawyer explaining how you were right but the judge ruled against you anyway. Notice provisions can be cured, non-existent transactions cannot be cured. Leading with the numbers (the money trail” and THEN using decisions like this to corroborate your argument will get you a lot more traction than leading with defective paperwork.

As I have said repeatedly, no judge, no matter how sympathetic to borrowers is going to give much relief when the borrower has admitted the debt, note, mortgage and default. These must be denied and lawyers should study up on the subject as to why they can and should be denied, and to persevere through discovery to show that the note, mortgage, default and even the debt have all been faked by strangers to the transaction.

Forcing the opposing side to show that they are a bona fide holder FOR VALUE will flush out the truth — that originator in nearly all cases was never the lender, creditor or even broker. They were simply paid naked nominees just like MERS, leaving no real party in interest on the note or mortgage, no consideration between the parties stated on the note and mortgage or notice of default, and no meeting of minds between the real lender (who is NOT in privity with the nominee lender) who, as an investor received a prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement and advanced money under the mistaken belief they were buying bonds of an entity that either did not exist or was simply ignored by the investment banker and the other participants in the false securitization scheme that was used to cover-up a PONZI scheme.

Practice tips: DENY and DISCOVER. Ask for proof of payment and proof of loss. The assignments, the note and the mortgage are not proof of the debt, they are potentially evidence of the debt and the security agreement ONLY if the foundation is there (testimony by witness with personal knowledge, with exhibits of wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions, cancelled checks etc.) to show that the originator shown as payee and “Secured party” or “beneficiary” was lender of money.

Make them show that they booked the loan as a receivable with a reserve for default. Discover that they actually booked the transaction as a fee for service (shown on the income statement) and never entered it on their balance sheet.

And PLEASE study up on voir dire, objections and cross examination. If you are not quick and ready objections to leading questions and other issues might well be waived unless you interrupt the questioning as fast as you can stand up. If you study up on hearsay and the business records exception to hearsay you will discover that in practically no case were the business records qualified as exceptions to the hearsay rule. But if you don’t raise it, if you don’t have statutory and case law and even a memo on the subject the judge is going to rule against you. We are talking about good lawyering here and not bias amongst judges.

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http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/news/2012/05/09/3am-home-eviction-in-dekalb-sparks-outrage.html

3am Home Eviction in DeKalb Sparks Outrage

Written By: APN STAFF

5-9-2012

By Scott Brown, Special to the Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) DEKALB COUNTY — In the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 02, 2012, over twenty deputies from the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department, under orders from Sheriff Thomas Brown, drilled the locks and kicked in the doors of the Christine Frazer’s home with guns drawn in order to evict four generations of family members.

Frazer, the homeowner, had fallen behind on her mortgage payments and was foreclosed upon in October 2011.

According to Frazer, her family members, including her 85-year-old mother and 3-year-old grandson, were told by officers to “act like it was a fire drill” and grab what they could and get out.

Frazer said they were not even allowed a shower before being escorted from her home of eighteen years at three in the morning.

She described the event as “literally a nightmare.”

Her three dogs were taken to the pound and all of her belongings were put out on the street, which police had completely closed off.

At a press conference in front of her belongings hours after the eviction, Frazer lamented, “I’ve been in this home eighteen years. My daughter was raised here. My husband died here. My grandson came home here. This is my home.”

“They came in as if they were executing a warrant to find drugs. It makes no sense,” Frazer’s lawyer, Joshua Davis, said of the eviction.

Sheriff Thomas Brown told Fox 5 television news that he attributed the unusual timing and the large number of officers used in the eviction to the presence of Occupy Atlanta protesters who had been camping in the yard for the past four months in an attempt to prevent what they described as an illegal eviction based on an illegal foreclosure.

Frazer has filed a lawsuit, which is currently pending in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, against the company that foreclosed on her home last October, Investors One Corporation.

Ownership of the mortgage has changed three times in the past six months and, according to Frazer’s lawyer, the chain of title was broken when the previous owner of the mortgage, a bank based in Indiana, failed to uphold their legal obligation to transfer the title, rendering the foreclosure by Investors One Corporation fraudulent.

“There are judges that are in place that could have done a little research, if they’d done a little title search they’d have seen that something in the milk wasn’t clean,” Frazer said.

Frazer, 63, began to fall behind on her mortgage payments after losing her husband and her job in 2009. She has been unable to find a job ever since and is currently on early retirement social security.

Sheriff Brown told Fox 5 he gave the homeowner ample time to reach a settlement with the mortgage holder before serving the eviction notice.

Frazer said she tried to restructure the mortgage, but Investors One Corporation was uncooperative and intent on foreclosure, only offering to reinstate the loan if she was able to pay 20,000 dollars in cash. Currently she has paid over 240,000 dollars on the mortgage on a house currently appraised at only 40,000 dollars.

On Monday, May 07, 2012, in response to the early morning eviction ordered by Sheriff Thomas Brown, Occupy Atlanta held a protest in front of the Dekalb County Sheriff’s office.

At one point, more protesters pulled up in a van full of Frazer’s belongings, and Occupy Atlanta unloaded mattresses, furniture, and bags of other items that deputies had left on the curb nearly one week prior and piled them in front of the doors to the Sheriff’s Office, along with signs reading “Fraudclosure” and “Wall St. criminals are not convicted. The people are evicted.”

Standing before a pile of her belongings in front of the Sheriff’s Office during a press conference, Frazer said, “This is not just about me and my family, this is about families across America.”

Frazer is certainly not alone in her struggle to keep her home. According to Corelogic, Inc., a company specializing in financial analysis, over 1.4 million homes in the US are currently in the foreclosure process, and states like Georgia have been ground zero in the housing crisis.

A recent Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report shows Metro Atlanta home prices fell 17.3 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, a fact that is fueling the continuing foreclosure crisis in the state.

Occupy Atlanta has taken up home defense as a tactic for combating what protesters view as unfair and illegal practices by banks and the financial industry as a whole.

Leila Abadir, one of the Occupy Atlanta protesters who had been camping on the lawn at the Frazer household, says the fight is not over. Occupy Atlanta will continue to assist the Frazer family in finding proper housing, she said.

They will also keep working to shed light on what she believes to be unethical and potentially criminal activity on the part of Investors One Corporation.

According to Fox 5, after most of the protesters left the sheriff’s office, police surrounded a remaining protester’s vehicle, which they impounded for possible evidence. They issued two citations to two people for littering and arrested one of them because he did not have identification on him.

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http://www.atlawblog.com/2012/06/anybody-else-want-to-be-an-appeals-court-judge/

ATLaw - The Daily Report's blog about Georgia law, business and politics'

Archive for the ‘Court of Appeals’ Category

Anybody else want to be an appeals court judge?

3:48 pm, June 26th, 2012

Gov. Nathan Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission has officially jump-started the process of filling the vacancy on the state Court of Appeals, created by yesterday’s promotion of Judge Keith Blackwell to the state Supreme Court.

The JNC’s notice says, beginning today through Friday, July 6, it will accept applications for the Court of Appeals opening from “any qualified applicant” who did not apply for the Supreme Court vacancy. The six remaining members of the short list for the Supreme Court opening automatically will be on the short list for the Court of Appeals, unless the applicant notifies the JNC he or she doesn’t wish to be considered, the notice says.

Deal spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield told the Daily Report yesterday that those who applied for the Supreme Court but didn’t make the short list will not be considered for the Court of Appeals opening.

The notice contains the details on what those interested need to do to apply. It says the JNC will schedule interviews of new applicants “to the extent necessary.”

The members of the shortlist passed over in favor of Blackwell are DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia “C.J.” Becker; Elizabeth “Lisa” Branch, a litigator at Smith, Gambrell & Russell; Michael Brown, co-leader of Alston & Bird’s Government and Internal Investigations Group; Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge William “Billy” Ray Jr.; Macon Superior Court Judge Tilman “Tripp” Self III; and Henry County State Court Chief Judge Ben Studdard III.

Writing last night about the Blackwell appointment and Deal’s new opportunity, conservative lawyer and commentator Carrie Severino wrote for the National Review Online that she hears “great things” about Branch, noting Branch previously worked in the administration of George W. Bush.

Learn more about the Supreme Court finalists here.

Contributor: Alyson M. Palmer in Court of Appeals, Georgia Supreme Court, Judges, Judicial Nominating Commission | add commentShare  share

Court of Appeals – ATLaw

 

Hell, all we have to say about the matter, other than the obvious, is thank God Becker didn’t make it.  There is no bigger crook at DeKalb County Superior Court, than Judge Cynthia J. Becker.  See McDonald and Stegeman v. Georgia Power in DeKalb County Superior Court and see McDonald/Stegeman v. Superior Court, GA Power, et., al., in US District Court.

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http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleFriendlyDRO.jsp?id=1202561653020

Public shut out of Georgia courts

R. Robin McDonald

Daily Report

07-03-2012

Judges across Georgia are closing courtrooms to the general public, citing as reasons a lack of space and security concerns.

They are doing so even though the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2010 vacated a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that had upheld the closure of a DeKalb County courtroom and the removal of members of the public during jury voir dire. The U.S. justices said at the time that courtrooms should remain open to the public except in rare circumstances.

Since then, courtroom closures have been challenged in DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb and Towns counties in Georgia’s appellate courts. Two weeks ago, the Southern Center for Human Rights sued the Cordele Judicial Circuit, claiming that its superior court judges are continuing to bar public access to court hearings despite a consent agreement in 2004 that they would stop the practice.

The appellate challenges to closed courtrooms across the state have garnered mixed success, but Judicial Qualifications Commission officials are concerned.
Closing courtrooms, said JQC Chairman John Allen, “could be a violation” of state judicial canons “depending on the set of facts surrounding the closing.”

JQC director Jeffrey Davis told the Daily Report that in his work observing judges in action around the state, he is often met at the courtroom doors by local deputies who ask for his credentials and question why he is there.

“I’ve personally experienced the chill that members of the public would feel,” he said. “I’m a lawyer. It’s not that I’m under-dressed for court.”
Once a member of the public has passed through courthouse metal detectors or security at a courthouse entrance, Davis said, “No citizens should be questioned about the reason they are in a public courtroom.”

But, he continued, “It seems to be the modus operandi around the state for courts to have deputies who question those who are simply in the court without business before the court. People ought to be able to watch their government in action. And justice which is done in secret—or a feeling by those who are coming to the courthouse that somehow they don’t have a right to be there—chills the public’s ability not only to access the courts but also to have confidence in the judicial system.”

DeKalb County
Last year, DeKalb State Court Judge Barbara Mobley resigned her post to end a JQC ethics investigation that included allegations she had interfered with the public’s access to a public courtroom. Mobley posted signs that restricted access to court hearings and directed court personnel to ask court observers to identify themselves and state their business, “thereby chilling the public’s right to observe matters before the court,” according to the JQC’s report to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The Daily Report reported last year that Mobley was one of a number of DeKalb judges who had posted signs on their courtroom doors limiting courtroom access to criminal defendants, their lawyers and alleged victims. The sign on Mobley’s door said, “We do not have space for extra people.”

Allen told the Daily Report last week that after Mobley resigned, he asked the DeKalb judges “to please meet and reconsider their policy of automatically closing their courtrooms as opposed to making a case-by-case decision.”

“Openness of course is such a basic principle of the law in Georgia jurisprudence and U.S. constitutional jurisprudence,” Allen continued. “You erode the confidence in the integrity and fairness of the courts by closing the courts as a matter of course.”

“Ours was just a courtesy call,” he said, “so that the conduct of the court didn’t rise to the level of being egregious.”

Allen said he also reminded the DeKalb bench of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Presley v. Georgia, 130 S. Ct. 721, which slapped the Georgia Supreme Court for upholding a decision by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter to close her courtroom during jury selection in a criminal case.

In its ruling vacating the Georgia decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial extends to the voir dire of prospective jurors and that, “Trial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accommodate public attendance at criminal trials.”

The decision did allow for exceptions, holding that, “The right to an open trial may give way in certain cases to other rights or interests, such as the accused’s right to a fair trial or the government’s interest in inhibiting disclosure of sensitive information.”

But, it stated, “Such circumstances are rare, however, and the balance of interests must be struck with special care. The party seeking to close a hearing must advance an overriding interest that is likely to be prejudiced, the closure must be no broader than necessary to protect that interest, the trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceeding, and it must make findings adequate to support the closure.”

Last year, DeKalb Chief State Court Chief Judge Wayne Purdom told the Daily Report that he posted signs limiting access to his courtroom on days when he heard jail pleas, when numerous prisoners were in court or on arraignment days when as many as 100 people might need seats. On those days, he said, members of the public were only admitted “by request.”

While acknowledging that courtroom access “is a public right,” Purdom told the Daily Report that “regulation of entrance to the courtroom is a case-by-case situation.”
Purdom also agreed that signs barring entry might have “a little bit of a chilling effect.” But, he continued, “I think there are limited situations where control of access is appropriate, although keeping the public out is not.”

Fulton challenges
Last month Atlanta attorney Brian Steel argued before the Georgia Court of Appeals that a judge’s decision to close a Fulton County courtroom had violated a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights.

Steel appealed the decision of then-Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington, who in the 2009 rape trial of Corsen Stewart apparently barred the public, including the defendant’s mother, from the courtroom during jury voir dire in a situation nearly identical to the DeKalb closure that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Steel, who was not Stewart’s lawyer during the trial, said he took the case on appeal after Stewart’s mother came to see him, told him she had been locked out of the courtroom when attorneys were questioning potential jurors for her son’s case and burst into tears in his office.

In 2010, Steel asked the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the 2006 Fulton County murder conviction of Travion Reed, basing one argument  on Judge Craig Schwall Sr.’s decision to close the courtroom during the testimony of two witnesses. Prosecutors countered that the courtroom’s closure was warranted because the two witnesses in question feared for their safety. A third witness in the case had been shot a short time after the murder, and a fourth witness had been threatened with a screwdriver in an attack that prosecutors claimed was likely linked to the defendant.

At the time, neither Reid nor his attorney objected. That omission proved critical to the Georgia Supreme Court which—three weeks after its decision in Presley was vacated—affirmed Schwall’s decision to bar public access to his courtroom during the testimony.

Steel did not represent Reed at his trial.

In an opinion written by Justice George Carley, the high court held 6-1 that in order to prevail, Reid “must show that he was prejudiced by counsel’s decision not to object to the brief closing of the courtroom. … Indeed, to hold otherwise would encourage defense counsel to manipulate the justice system by intentionally failing to object in order to ensure an automatic reversal on appeal.”

But Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, the lone dissenting vote, countered that, “No reason was articulated to support closing the courtroom” for the two witnesses when “closure was not sought for others who not only might have been, but actually were, placed in peril because of their testimony.”

“The trial court’s findings were clearly inadequate to support closure of the courtroom,” her dissent stated. “Moreover, the trial court failed to consider any alternatives to closure,” she said.

“Although the majority concludes that Reid has not shown prejudice,” Hunstein concluded, “Reid is not required to do so in order to obtain relief for a structural error which was a violation of the public-trial right.”

Steel said last week that “Prejudice is pretty hard to show when you’re closing a courtroom. It’s an almost unobtainable bar that the Supreme Court set.”
Steel said that in the Stewart appeal he argued before the state appellate court on June 13, “I’m challenging the Reid decision. … It’s primed to have a new discussion about it.”

Fulton County is not the only place where Steel has challenged closed courtrooms. In 2010, Steel also asked the Court of Appeals to overturn a Towns County defendant’s conviction because the judge moved jury selection to a nearby church and barred the public, including the defendant’s wife and daughter, from attending. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction last March on other grounds without addressing the courtroom closure.

Cordele claims
Last month the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta filed suit against the Cordele Judicial Circuit’s three superior court judges and the sheriffs of Ben Hill and Crisp counties in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Georgia in Albany, claiming that county court officials are systemically barring the public from criminal court hearings that they say should be open to the public.

Stephen Bright, the center’s president and senior counsel, noted that in 2003, as part of a larger civil rights suit on behalf of the county’s indigent defendants, the Southern Center accused circuit officials of restricting public access to the courts. But Bright said the 2003 suit was dismissed in 2004 after circuit officials promised that courtrooms would remain open.

John Pridgen, chief superior court judge of the Cordele Circuit and a defendant in both suits, has called the 2003 allegations “complete fabrications” claiming, “There was never anything inappropriate about what we did then and what we do now.”

Another Cordele Circuit judge noted in a letter filed with the Southern Center’s complaint that the courtroom in the Crisp County Law Enforcement Center is particularly small, with limited seating.

Southern Center attorney Gerry Weber told the Daily Report last month that the center also has received anecdotal evidence that other courtrooms are being closed “in a lot of different places” across the state and is launching an investigation to determine the extent of the problem.

‘Keeps us free’
Courtroom public access issue came to the fore in Cobb County last year, when former Governor Roy Barnes secured the dismissal of an indictment against the CEO of the Cobb EMC because the grand jury presentments were made inside the new courthouse while its doors were locked and deputies barred access via a separate catwalk entrance.

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the indictment’s dismissal in March, ruling that, “The Georgia Supreme Court has held that any failure to return the indictment in open court is per se injurious to the defendant.”

Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who dissented in the state Supreme Court’s Presley decision, said in an interview with the Daily Report that the U.S. Supreme Court opinion vacating Georgia’s Presley decision “made it pretty clear … that you cannot, as a matter of policy, close courtrooms.”
In her dissent in Presley, Sears specifically addressed arguments based on lack of space.

“A room that is so small that it cannot accommodate the public,” she wrote, “is a room that is too small to accommodate a constitutional criminal trial.”
But the former chief justice, now a partner at Schiff Hardin, told the Daily Report that judges still may close a courtroom “in very narrow circumstances.” But their reasons  for doing so, “have to be well articulated,” she said. “It has to be on a case-by-case basis … It also has to be a last resort.”

Sears said she doesn’t belittle judges who struggle with issues of space and security.

“That’s what created the majority in the Presley case,” she said. “It wasn’t that the judges felt you should keep people out. They saw what a problem it was in these tiny courtrooms trying to manage things. You get very sympathetic when a trial judge is trying to … keep things secure.”

The issue, she explained, is one of competing values. But to trump the value of open courtrooms, she said, “would take some effort. … Public access is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. It’s what keeps us free.” 

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Daily Report: Public shut out of Georgia courts

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http://www.naturalnews.com/034537_NDAA_Bill_of_Rights_Obama.html

rights

R.I.P. Bill of Rights 1789 – 2011

Sunday, January 01, 2012
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com
(See all articles…)

(NaturalNews) One of the most extraordinary documents in human history — the Bill of Rights — has come to an end under President Barack Obama. Derived from sacred principles of natural law, the Bill of Rights has come to a sudden and catastrophic end with the President’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a law that grants the U.S. military the “legal” right to conduct secret kidnappings of U.S. citizens, followed by indefinite detention, interrogation, torture and even murder. This is all conducted completely outside the protection of law, with no jury, no trial, no legal representation and not even any requirement that the government produce evidence against the accused. It is a system of outright government tyranny against the American people, and it effectively nullifies the Bill of Rights.

In what will be remembered as the most traitorous executive signing ever committed against the American people, President Obama signed the bill on New Year’s Eve, a time when most Americans were engaged in the consumption of alcohol. It seems appropriate, of course, since no intelligent American could accept the tyranny of this bill if they were sober.

This is the law that will cement Obama’s legacy in the history books as the traitor who nullified the Bill of Rights and paved America’s pathway down a road of tyranny that will make Nazi Germany’s war crimes look like child’s play. If Bush had signed a law like this, liberals would have been screaming “impeachment!”

Why the Bill of Rights matters

While the U.S. Constitution already limits the power of federal government, the Bill of Rights is the document that enumerates even more limits of federal government power. In its inception, many argued that a Bill of Rights was completely unnecessary because, they explained, the federal government only has the powers specifically enumerated to it under the U.S. Constitution. There was no need to have a “First Amendment” to protect Free Speech, for example, because there was no power granted to government to diminish Free Speech.
This seems silly today, of course, given the natural tendency of all governments to concentrate power in the hands of the few while destroying the rights and freedoms of their own people. But in the 1780’s, whether government could ever become a threat to future freedoms was hotly debated. By 1789, enough revolutionary leaders had agreed on the fundamental principles of a Bill of Rights to sign it into law. Its purpose was to provide additional clarifications on the limitation of government power so that there could be absolutely no question that government could NEVER, under any circumstances, violate these key principles of freedom: Freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, freedom from illegal searches, the right to remain silent, the right to due process under law, and so on.

Of course, today’s runaway federal government utterly ignores the limitations placed on it by the founding fathers. It aggressively and criminally seeks to expand its power at all costs, completely ignoring the Bill of Rights and openly violating the limitations of power placed upon it by the United States Constitution. The TSA’s illegal searching of air travelers, for example, is a blatant violation of Fourth Amendment rights. The government’s hijacking of websites it claims are linking to “copyright infringement” hubs is a blatant violation of First Amendment rights. The government’s demand that all Americans be forced to buy private health insurance is a blatant violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution — the “commerce clause.”
Now, with the passage of the NDAA, the federal government has torpedoed the entire Bill of Rights, dismissing it completely and effectively promising to violate those rights at will. As of January 1, 2012, we have all been designated enemies of the state. America is the new battleground, and your “right” to due process is null and void.

Remember, this was all done by the very President who promised to close Guantanamo Bay and end secret military prisons. Not only did Obama break that campaign promise (as he has done with nearly ALL his campaign promises), he did exactly the opposite and has now subjected all Americans to the possibility of government-sponsored kidnapping, detainment and torture, all under the very system of secret military prisons he claimed he would close!

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Obama’s signing statement means nothing

Even while committing an act of pure treason in signing the bill, the unindicted criminal President Obama issued a signing statement that reads, in part, “Moving forward, my administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded…”

Anyone who reads between the lines here realizes the “the flexibility on which our safety depends” means they can interpret the law in any way they want if there is a sufficient amount of fear being created through false flag terror attacks. Astute readers will also notice that Obama’s signing statement has no legal binding whatsoever and only refers to Obama’s momentary intentions on how he “wishes” to interpret the law. It does not place any limits whatsoever on how a future President might use the law as written.

“The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” says the ACLU (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/president-obama-signs-inde…).

What this means is that the next President could use this law to engage in the most horrific holocaust-scale mass round-up of people the world has ever seen. The NDAA legalizes the crimes of Nazi Germany in America, setting the stage for the mass murder of citizens by a rogue government.

United States of America becomes a rogue nation, operating in violation of international law

Furthermore, the NDAA law as written and signed, is a violation of international law as it does not even adhere to the fundamental agreements of how nations treat prisoners of war:  “…the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war” says the ACLU (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/president-obama-signs-inde…).

In 1789, today’s NDAA law would have been called “treasonous,” and those who voted for it would have been shot dead as traitors. This is not a call for violence, but rather an attempt to provide historical context of just how destructive this law really is. Men and women fought and died for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. People sacrificed their lives, their safety and risked everything to achieve the freedoms that made America such a great nation. For one President to so callously throw away 222 years of liberty, betraying those great Americans who painstakingly created an extraordinary document limiting the power of government, is equivalent to driving a stake through the heart of the Republic.

In signing this, Obama has proven himself to be the most criminal of all U.S. Presidents, far worse than George W. Bush and a total traitor to the nation and its People. Remember, Obama swore upon a Bible that he would “protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and yet he himself has become the enemy of the Constitution by signing a law that overtly and callously nullifies the Bill of Rights.

This is nothing less than an act of war declared on the American people by the executive and legislative branches of government. It remains to be seen whether the judicial branch will go along with it (US Supreme Court).

Origins of the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights, signed in 1789 by many of the founding fathers of our nation, was based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted in 1776 and authored largely by George Mason, one of the least-recognized revolutionaries who gave rise to a nation of freedom and liberty.

Mason was a strong advocate of not just states’ rights, but of individual rights, and without his influence in 1789, we might not even have a Bill of Rights today (and our nation would have slipped into total government tyranny all the sooner). In fact, he openly opposed ratification of the U.S. Constitution unless it contained a series of amendments now known as the Bill of Rights

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mason)
SECTION ONE of this Virginia declaration of rights states:  “That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

(http://www.constitution.org/bcp/virg_dor.htm)
Section Three of the declaration speaks to the duty of the Citizens to abolish abusive government:

“That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”

By any honest measure, today’s U.S. government, of course, has overstepped the bounds of its original intent. As Mason wrote over 200 years ago, the People of America now have not merely a right but a duty to “reform, alter or abolish it,” to bring government back into alignment with its original purpose — to protect the rights of the People.

Obama violates his Presidential Oath, sworn before God

Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution spells out the oath of office that every President must take during their swearing in:  “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”


In signing the NDAA law into office, Obama has blatantly and unambiguously violated this sacred oath, meaning that his betrayal is not merely against the American people, but also against the Divine Creator.

Given that the Bill of Rights is an extension of Natural Law which establishes a direct heritage of sovereign power from the Creator to the People, a blatant attack upon the Bill of Rights is, by any account, an attack against the Creator and a violation of universal spiritual principles. Those who attempt to undermine the Bill of Rights are attempting to invalidate the relationship between God and Man, and in doing so, they are identifying themselves as enemies of God and agents of Evil.

Today, as 2012 begins, we are now a nation led by evil, and threatened with total destruction by those who would seek to rule as tyrants. This is America’s final hour. We either defend the Republic starting right now, or we lose it forever.

R.I.P. Bill of Rights 1789 – 2011

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DeKalb reports $55 million shortfall for next year

By Megan Matteucci

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Facing a $55 million shortfall in next year’s budget, DeKalb County commissioners say they’ll consider layoffs, fire station consolidations and cuts in services to offset the lost revenue.

Commissioners learned on Friday that pension troubles, insurance increases and further erosion of the tax base have left the county with a gap of $54.81 million in the 2011 budget.

“We need to reorganize. We need to talk layoffs. Everything has to be on the table this year,” Commissioner Elaine Boyer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We said we want a balanced budget with no millage increase.”

The county identified $20 million in possible cuts, including closing libraries, recreation centers, satellite tax offices and some fire stations. Three departments face elimination — the cooperative extension office, the communications office and an agency called OneDeKalb, which works with neighborhoods.

The county also wants to stop paying for school crossing guards, raise ambulance fees and cutting food service at senior centers, according to draft budget documents obtained by the AJC.

The $55 million is on top of $100 million in cuts the commission made last year.

Last year the commission declined to raise taxes and ordered employees to take 10 furlough days, which saved almost $12 million.

Commissioner Larry Johnson said the goal this year is to get rid of those furlough days and save workers’ jobs.

But that will be tough given the county’s debt, including a $17 million more to the county’s pension fund.

Police have protested the furloughs by writing fewer tickets. An AJC investigation found officers wrote 20,000 fewer tickets between May 1 and Aug. 31 compared to the same period last year – costing the county about $3 million in revenue.

Commissioner Jeff Rader said he will not look at raising taxes until the CEO reorganizes the government.

In September, the commission passed a resolution saying they would only consider a property tax increase after an “extensive restructuring of county government and elimination of county operations of lowest priority.”

A study by Georgia State University earlier this year found DeKalb’s staff is bloated and recommended 909 positions be cut. The county lost about 825 workers through early retirement, but then filled about 600 of those positions.

“We need to reorganize, but they [the administration] snubbed their nose at the GSU study,” Boyer said. “First we need a desk audit to look at every position.”

CEO Burrell Ellis was in Washington and not available Friday, but his chief operating officer Richard Stogner said the CEO is working on the budget and will present it to the commission by Dec. 15. He was reluctant to save it the CEO proposes a tax increase.

“Everything is on the table right now. His direction is a responsible budget,” Stogner said.

Stogner said the commission needs to be concerned about morale.

“Our employees have not had a raise in three years. We’ve increased pension and health insurance. At some point in time, that creates a morale problem,” he said.

Employees’ pension contributions are expected to nearly double next year.

Rader said he will not look at raises until he sees an increase in productivity.

“If they want to get paid more, they have to carry more of the burden,” he said. “There is no way around it.”

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