67 thoughts on “Election Day Open Thread”

  1. Small group this morning at the Decatur Heights Church on Sycamore. I did hear comments from a poll worker that there had been good turnout this morning.

  2. Disappointed there were no lines at FBC this morning. I heard a turnout of 15 percent is expected.

  3. I can never figure out why candidates place signs on the property of the polling location (school, church, etc.) when that’s blatantly illegal. Especially when you consider that the candidates often are running for positions that involve making and/or enforcing laws.

    1. I doubt it is the candidates. More likely it is overzealous supporters who are ignorant of the law or know the law and realize that, at worst, the signs will simply be removed.

    2. Don’t know about your situation in specific but the law’s not defined by polling place property lines. It’s defined by distance from the polling building. Anything closer than 150 feet is illegal.

      1. Yes, that’s exactly right. And so the signs are violating that law, as well as the code (by county) specifying where yard signs can be placed–and not just on Election Day.

    3. At Decatur First Baptist this morning, the election workers spoke with sign wavers and confirmed that they were an appropriate distance from the polling building. I think election workers at all polling spots are meant to be eliminating any campaign activity occurring too close to the polling building.

  4. No wait whatever at Holy Trinity with a low/moderate turnout. Noticed about 10 times as many voter forms for Democrat vs Republican (duh, this is Decatur, after all) and I think one independent. I think the only thing independents get to vote for are judges, all of whom are unopposed.

    1. There weren’t any special questions on the Republican ballot.

      Being an Independent, I chose the Republican ballot this time to get a chance to vote for the Tea Party candidates. My thought process was hoping that the Tea Party vs. Nunn in November might give her a chance to win.

      Did the same thing for (against?) Cynthia McKinney for years.

  5. I was out of town for a long weekend and when I got home my phone (landline) was broken. Coincidence?

      1. Question: Are robocalls allowed to be anonymous? If so, I’d be for banning them as such. It’s one thing to anonymously fund ads that we don’t have to engage with, but quite another to be harassed on the phone in our homes. And I don’t even have a landline, so it’s not an issue for me, but I think I would vote against any candidate who robocalled me with any kind of attack ad.

        1. Robocalls aren’t allowed to be anonymous. Not only do they have to specify the caller, but also they must provide a way for the recipient to call back, and to ask to not be called again. That said, a lot of campaigns make use of illegal calls. They could be fined a lot of money, but likely aren’t.

          1. We received so many robocalls, I’ve lost count. I try to call back most of them because they’re calling for someone who apparently had my number years ago and lived in Fulton County! Most of the time, the numbers are unreachable. So unbelievably frustrating.

    1. I was out of town, too, and returned home Tue PM to 15 campaign messages on my answering machine. (Yes, I have a land line so I can use the lobby call box in my building. Also, I’m going to make a lot of money when the zombies knock out the cell towers, charging my neighbors 50 cents a call to use my phone.)

      1. Ha, me too. And we even have a non-cordless phone too in case the electricity is down as well and there’s nowhere to charge the cordless handsets. Of course, it has giant keys with numbers and letters in primary colors and says “Learning Resources” on it. But all the better for aging eyes.

  6. I should have looked at an actual ballot beforehand- I didn’t realize those interest indicater questions would be part of it. Were the questions the same for both parties’ ballots, or did each party get to pick its own queries?

    1. That may be the problem. Everyone opposed to Vernon Jones may divide up among all the not-Vernon-Jones. Then he could win with just a modest amount of reflex voters.

      1. Very unlikely. With that number of candidates, most likely there will be a run-off. That might or might not include Vernon–e.g., could be Mann and Mitchell–but even if it did include Vernon, he’ll lose the run-off.

    1. I guess it depends one whether you are trying to choose between those two candidates. If you are voting for the other party’s candidate, you might have a different take.

      1. It sucks in a general election as well. Then there’s the Republican Senate Primary which features the spectacle of Tea Partiers trying to paint each other as Obama hugging libs.

        1. You wanna see some funny political ads, check out local tv in Alabama. No matter how inconsequential and local the office, electing the person in the ad will somehow “save voters from Obamacare.”

    2. I agree. I was excited to have two good candidates to choose from, but when they started trying to out-liberal each other, I soured on both of them.

    1. You will next year. Generally, the thing in Decatur is there is seldom any opposition, so have at it yourself.

      1. Yeah, I know. I’ have been here since ’93…

        Hard to vote them out if there is no one to vote in. Contested races though would certainly make for a more interesting election and who knows, may even lead to something as completely off the wall as Commissioners doing more than paying lip service to listening to their constituents.

          1. I’d vote for Kevin in a heartbeat, but a commissioner job would take away from the many, many hours he puts in as a community volunteer. And that would have an immediate and highly detrimental effect on the community. So I’m perfectly happy where he is. 🙂

  7. I think Commissioners genuinely listen much of the time, but the City Manager (and her staff) makes the recommendations and that’s what gets done.

    1. I have been told a direct story of the City Manager assisting developers in getting what they need, even if it would not occur for Joe Homeowner. I have also been told by a reliable source this is likely her last contract. Seems like the damage might already be done though?

      1. Not sure what you are trying to say, are you against development downtown or in residential neighborhoods?

        1. I am against rules being bent for some during closed door meetings. I fully support development.

      2. I have heard more than one direct story. She needs to go. I have heard similar direct stories about our esteemed development manager, one as late as last week. I have heard even more indirect stories from people who have sat on various committees during the reign of Merriss. That many “stories” from many diverse sources cannot be full fabrication. I hate to sound like a talk radio republican but something ain’t right

        1. Can you elaborate? I’ve been a fairly involved citizen over the years and have never heard this before.

        2. You can ask DM for my email address. I would rather not post the most recent one as it is ongoing.

  8. But if Merriss does retire, and if the Commissioners hire her replacement from her hand picked current staff, it will be the same thing from now on. Our Commissioners may be good people, but the City Manager runs things and it has never appeared that the Commissioners managed the City Manager, even though the CM is supposed to serve at the pleasure of the Commission. And the CM has been there way longer than anyone on the Commission. Even Baskett. Nelliebelle1197 I would love to talk. Tell DM if you’re interested.

    1. I have been told the path would *likely* be to promote someone from the current staff. And the CM doesn’t work at the pleasure of the residents either. I know several residents who have complained to the Mayor & Commission about Peggy Merriss and seems like it falls on deaf ears. Not sure we have any opportunity to affect the CM replacement outcome (when it does occur), but I would be interested to know if we do.

  9. I think ‘have been told’ and ‘have heard’ means that all of this is rumor and innuendo. I am disappointed that this forum is being used for gossip like this, and until there are facts, I consider this all gossip.

    In the past 25 years Decatur has evolved from a place that few people wanted to live into a City that has been nationally recognized. I don’t think anyone would agree with 100% of everything it has taken to get to this point, but that does not negate the fact that 30030 is a highly coveted zip code that is widely respected by many other counties and cities attempting to emulate our success.

    This meteoric rise did not happen by chance; the leadership of the City has brought Decatur to where it is today and I don’t think many of you would like to go back to the mid 80’s.

    Whether you like or agree with any particular City employee, intimating that she/he is involved in back-room deals and shady goings-on is unfair, unkind and, hopefully, beneath each and every one of us.

    1. I think questioning the goings on behind closed doors, is extremely important given this City’s meteoric rise. You may chose to see this as gossip, but I know the truth becasue I have been told as much. It seems others have been exposed to situations as well.

      The definition of back room deals can be quite wide. I know rules were bent. Some might say they were bent for the right reasons or not enough to make a stink about it. I think it is completlely fair to state they were bent.

      1. Again, until you are willing to provide facts, not opinions or second/third hand information, then you are giving your opinion, which you are welcome to do.

        What rules were bent? What does ‘bent’ mean? Broken? Interpreted in a way you do not like?

        You have been told what by whom?

        Please elaborate so that all of us can have the same information. If what you know is indeed factual, then why are you hesitant to disclose it?

        1. It may be just “gossip” but it’s “gossip” that many of us have heard from many different sources. If you prefer to dismiss it because it’s mere gossip, that’s your prerogative. Others won’t. Whether or not there is any basis to the gossip, the talk is out there and it does color and cloud peoples’ perceptions of their local government’s actions. I would much rather that this gossip be met head on rather than swept under the rug.

    2. Here is an example I am happy to share:
      Developers are getting permits to do renovations, which means they have to leave up three walls and partial foundation. Builders are going in and taking down those three walls as soon other construction hides the walls, thus securing a new build with a renovation permit and skirting certain inspections, etc. Amanda Thompson knows quite well this is going on and in fact recently allowed a particular builder in Oakhurst to get away with this- and the house as it was being constructed was on a foundation that would not hold the weight of the new build -until a neighbor stepped in and insisted on inspections. He had to fight development to get a stop work order and force Thompson to follow her own rules. The stop work order is on the house and the story came from the neighbor. Believe it or not. That is not the only shady story I have heard, and having had dealt, along with several neighbors, with Thompson directly on a build near me that was clearly over the allowable limit on the footprint, I have no trouble believing any of it. Thompson fought us on our objections; fortunately, we had a lawyer on the block who forced her to make the builder comply.

      I am disappointed a resident would try to stall conversation about our city government and what many of us find objectionable just because she likes some of the outcomes. The ends do not justify means and we have every right to question. When you stop questioning government and holding ti accountable you end up with Vernon Jones.

    3. Really? So in 1989 no one wanted to live in Decatur? I recall that when we were looking for an intown home for our growing family in the early 80s, Decatur was affordable AND had great schools. Plenty of young families were moving here, resulting in the need to expand the schools In the mid 90s. We had great shops and the beginnings of a restaurant scene downtown, and arguably the best arts festival in Atlanta. Lots of other great things were going on. Contrary to what newbies think, this did not happen overnight and was not meteoric.

      Still miss the tree lighting on the Fidelity building, and Final Touch.

      1. Yup, I miss the tree lighting and Final Touch too. And Inner Child toystore.

          1. Re tumbleweeds: do NOT miss the fact that nothing was open Sunday evenings except Mick’s! Mick’s was fine but only so many times you could go there before it was as boring as the food at home. Easier to worship when you’re looking forward to a good meal out!

          2. No, don’t remember the tumbleweeds. We were busy watching our children play baseball at Oakhurst, soccer at Glenlake, and basketball at the Rec, not to mention attending all those PTA meetings and school events. We did get to Micks or the Food Business for a special occasion. The point is there was plenty of life happening in Decatur 25 years ago and people were moving here for it.

  10. though my interactions with Peggy have been sparse, she has always struck me as forthright, honorable, and very committed to Decatur’s success and well-being.

    may a rule (or two!) have been bent? hell, i hope so—leadership and getting things done often requires a certain degree of discretion and discernment regarding the spirit and letter of the law. at least that’s the way my clay feet move through my world.

    of course there are matters of degree in such matters, and I can’t speak to the particulars in her case, but do recommend that in a public forum we are very careful about impugning someone’s character—especially when their public service has been as effective as hers has, and as far as i know, conducted with an unblemished record for ethical behavior.

  11. Interesting article in a recent Atlantic magazine that compares how strong mayors shaped renaissances in two politically very different cities: Greenville, SC and Burlington, VT. Reading it, I thought about Decatur and how it’s seen a similar revitalization on a smaller scale. We have a “weak mayor” system here, but the point is these things don’t happen by taking a hands-off approach. Pro-active approaches are a must, whether it be from a mayor, a commission, or a city manager.

    1. Having relatives of several generations in Burlington, I can say that it was always quaint and Vermontish but it once had a decaying, past-its-prime feel to it. It’s now up with Portland, Oregon in terms of a great place to live. Portland used to be the step-sister of Seattle but transformed itself into the more desirable location. Decatur actually wins though over both of them in terms of schools. You have to get outside of both Portland and Burlington to find the better area schools.

      So, yes, good, strong leadership is necessary to achieve a municipal vision. But it’s got to listen and respond to its residents. I have two contradictory impressions about City of Decatur’s leadership. On the one hand, community participation activities like Decatur 101 and our strategic planning process have given me an impression of transparency and inspired my trust to the point that I used to wish CSD would do more of that and, indeed, I think it has followed the City’s model and improved its community engagement. Our former mayor walking everywhere and saying hi to everyone and showing up for school activities didn’t hurt. On the other hand, I’ve also had a sense of an inner circle, cliquishness to Decatur’s leadership and social life (actually maybe two or three inner circles). Which is the real Decatur? Maybe both. I’ve just been lucky and not experienced any of the bias or favoritism folks are mentioning. I’m still a happy camper. And being naturally cautious, I’d hate to upset the applecart unless it’s really necessary.

  12. I would like to clarify that I do believe in transparency and also asking questions/getting more info, etc. from our elected and appointed officials.

    I do not believe in stating publically that government employees are involved in ‘back room deals’ (direct quote) without being willing or able to back that up.

    I am in no way trying to ‘stall conversation about our city government’ but feel it is unfair to accuse people of things without using facts.

    Is asking for factual information a problem? Several postings have comments like ‘I have heard’ or ‘I have been told’ without factual details or corroboration.

    My point is simply that implying that government officials are breaking laws and acting unethically without providing facts is unfair.

    1. I read your posts again, and although I initially thought you had a point, I must disagree. Gossip, rumor and innuendo all contribute to the public’s perception of the quality and integrity of the city’s leaders. Many will choose to dismiss these and similar comments as mere gossip, but others won’t. It is for each of us to decide how much credence we give these posts. If someone feels compelled to post recollections of their experiences, either directly or indirectly, with city leaders and employees, they should be encouraged to do so without first being required to “prove” their accuracy. Ironically enough, posting here may actually lead to the perceptions/rumors being disproved.

    2. I could be wrong but I think your post was the first to mention “back room deals.” Not sure if you were suggesting that was my quote, but I did say rules were bent. I would define a back room deal as money being paid to a City official, and is not anything I am aware of occurring.
      I know rules were bent but cannot disclose details because it would affect my friend with an ongoing project. I realize that doesn’t settle we’ll with most. Nellie’s posting is quite similar.

    3. Trixie: ” Is asking for factual information a problem?” Well, you tell me: How many current City staffers are retired, drawing benefits, and on staff? How many cars does the City provide for staff in our ~4 square mile walkable City? How are the numbers and size of vehicles justified, and what is the total cost to taxpayers every year? How much does City staff spend on travel and meetings every year? Find a contractor who did only one job in Decatur (surely staff tell you), and ask if there were any issues working with City staff. Then you tell me if asking for factual information is a problem. And to be clear, I am not “implying that government officials are breaking laws and acting unethically”. But I wonder if any of the Commissioners know the answers to these questions.

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