Off-duty officer shoots teen outside stadium during football game
Oct 25, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
Atlanta...
full story
No variable specified
All Roswell incumbents except mayor confirm re-election bids
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
August 21, 2013 02:22 PM | 2150 views | 2 2 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s less than a week before candidates begin qualifying for the November municipal election. But unlike previous elections, no one has yet let it be known that he or she plans to run.

“It’s been very quiet politically in Roswell this year,” Mayor Jere Wood said.

“I have not heard anyone who has said they are considering running. I have not heard any credible rumors, either, much less direct information.”

Qualifying week is Aug. 26 to Aug. 30. That’s when hopefuls can file papers, pay the qualifying fee and make their candidacy official. Up for election in this cycle is city council post 4, currently held by Kent Igleheart; post 5, held by Jerry Orlans; post 6, held by Nancy Diamond; and the office of mayor, currently occupied by Wood. All of the council incumbents confirmed their intention to run for re-election. Two out of three mentioned the proposed Unified Development Code as one of the reasons for their decision.

“Yes, I am planning to run,” Diamond said. “While many of the things I had hoped we would accomplish in the last four years are happening or well on the way, there are still some that are still ‘under construction,’ like the cleanup of our code with the UDC, Fire Station No. 4 relocation, and the branding and marketing campaign.”

Igleheart said Roswell is in the middle of many new issues and he wanted to help see them through.

“The new UDC is going to be a challenge to bring on-line and I want to continue what I think is the important role of questioning and hammering out the details,” he said. “My long history with zoning issues gives me a unique perspective on those details.”

Orlans said he too was seeking another term, but hadn’t planned to give formal notice this soon. “I was hoping, if it was real quiet, no one would file against me,” he joked.

That could be what Wood’s motive is in keeping his intentions from being known until Aug. 26.

“I am seriously considering it,” he said of running again. “I will make my decision this week.”

In past election cycles, Wood announced much earlier. One year, many months in advance of the qualifying date, he proclaimed his candidacy from the steps of city hall flanked by several high-profile supporters.

“I’m a little older and wiser now,” he said with a chuckle. “To say that every campaign is run with the same strategy would be wrong.”

The name most often mentioned as a possible mayoral challenger is Councilwoman Betty Price. She would neither confirm nor deny her intentions, but didn’t sound averse to the idea.

“It is heavily on my mind,” she said. “I’d love the job. Timing is everything. Qualifying is the 26th to the 30th. I suspect it will be clear by then.”

Councilman Rich Dippolito also hedged when asked if he might be considering a run for mayor. “I don’t currently have plans to run,” he said last week. Other names that have surfaced as potential candidates for elective offices are former councilwoman Lori Henry, who has picked up papers and said she is still weighing her options; former councilman David Tolleson, who said he was out of politics for now; and Lee Fleck, who has unsuccessfully challenged sitting council members in the past.

“The last time I made a mistake and got into a race with far too many candidates,” Fleck said. “I will evaluate the situation in the later portion of the week candidates and apply.

“Personally I do not want any current councilperson to run unopposed.”
Comments
(2)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Lee Fleck
|
August 22, 2013
Oh, I forgot next Monday nite our city council will define the word "Family".
Lee Fleck
|
August 21, 2013
Roswell’s City Council is in dire need of an Overhaul this November

Ever since the last General Election in the City of Roswell your council has been busy and it is important to review what has transpired for voters to determine if this Administration and City Council have lived up to your expectations leading up to this November election.

Unified Development Code (UDC):

At one time there was some comfort knowing there was a well thought out, well written, and clearly defined comprehensive 2030 plan that was developed with extensive input by Roswell citizens. Yet I am sorry to say that Roswell’s City Council headed elsewhere.

I was convinced in 2010 that combining this plan with long-term development strategies might have been a bridge too far to travel for the current Roswell City Council and, as I thought, it has been.

Yes, certainly we need a developmental authority with broad powers. Yes, we need Opportunity Zones. Yes, we need private and public partnerships to attract new businesses and help retain existing businesses.

But the establishment of a Strategic Economic Development Plan, which appears to be a lobbyist group with the latest attempt to change the distribution and density of Metro-Atlanta’s population, and Roswell’s City Council will encouraging more apartments, higher density and more urban living which will further stress city services and add more traffic to our roadways negatively impacting Roswell’s quality of life.

Additionally, it is a well-documented fact that in the City of Roswell higher density apartment complexes result in an increase in criminal activity.

The proposed UDC is a disaster waiting to happen and if passed, will have the effect of making Roswell the home to the greatest number of apartments of any city in Fulton County, and arguably, the state. If you can’t figure out what that means, your council won’t bother telling you and based on the public meetings, they don’t want any questions, or dialogue, at all.

Roswell Water Plant:

In less than 3 years the cost for a proposed new water plant to replace the existing water plant has increased by $3 million to a total debt of over $16 million for 5,700 homes. And the ground hasn't even been broken yet.



In July of 2010 the firm that was hired by the city to analyze their customer’s long-term water needs projected a cost of $13 million to build a new 3MGD plant. By the time the loan was approved by City Council last year that number was up to over $16 million and the long term projected costs to water customers was projected to be $31 million.

Yet the city has been grossly negligent by not being forthcoming about the actual costs to their customers. They have been misleading their customers, providing them with only the cost to build a new plant and neglecting to include the cost to maintain and upgrade the antiquated infrastructure of the water system.

These “polished liars” have failed to advise customers that the cost to maintain and upgrade the antiquated water distribution grid is projected at $500,000 annually for the next 20 years. And because the Water Fund is a self-funded enterprise, these costs will fall directly on the shoulders of existing water customers because they cannot legally be subsidized by Roswell property owners, of which 85% actually obtain their water from Fulton County.

Groveway:

Last April, council fast-tracked and passed the so-called Groveway initiative, over the objections of three former councilmembers from both the left and right of the political spectrum. The current Council knew better than those who had helped form our great town.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, there has been essentially no activity as the result of the approval of the high density zoning. We haven’t seen the parking snarls, the gridlock, nor crime associated with the new apartments. Even proponents must admit that the jury is still out.



Yet with no real world information forthcoming from the Groveway experiment, this year council says that the zoning that achieved so much in Roswell is a disaster, and that the zoning code should now be used for the city to pick winners and losers.

The winners are the apartment builders who contribute to campaigns for favors, and the losers are the regular citizens, whom the old zoning ordinances were designed to protect.



This brand new district is being added that allows for "form based zoning", which doesn't consider density at all. It is evaluated based only on the "looks" of the project in the eyes of city staff and their internal review committees . And although most of the “form based zoning” is slated for the "downtown" area and along Hwy 9, similar districts will be allowed to spread around Roswell.

Public Safety Towers / NFRRA:

The people of North Fulton (Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Roswell and Milton) have a problem. Those cities have formed an alliance and created the North Fulton Regional Radio Authority (NFRRA) to build a public emergency radio system to support our fire fighters and police officers.

Their intentions were very good two years ago when it began discussions, as Fulton County was not moving forward at that time to modernize and update their countywide system. However, Fulton County is now under contract with Motorola and moving forward quickly to get a system and have it operational within the next 18 months. The projected $16 million cost will be paid for by ALL Fulton county taxpayers.

However, the NFRRA still plans to move forward with its own duplicate system, which will be located inside of Fulton County’s communications system, at a cost to build of $2.7 million to Roswell property owners AND with an additional cost of one million dollars annually to operate three 350 to 400 foot tall communications towers.

That is correct, YOU and I get to pay twice…for BOTH the North Fulton Regional Radio System and the Fulton County communications system.



2014 Property Tax Increase:

Just 6 months after the passage of the November 2012 bond referendum the credibility of Roswell's City Council and the Wood administration was irrefutably damaged with the announcement of a property tax increase totaling $1.7 million. The probability of another referendum passing in the near term is unlikely. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me!

And while I repeatedly advised property owners of the reality that the 2014 property tax increase was going to occur, as far back as the fall of 2010, stating that once Roswell politicians get their hands on our money they will refuse to relinquish it.



Mayor Wood and Roswell City Council confirmed this truism voting in June of this year to keep more of our hard earned money to maintain the city’s bloated budget.

It is worth noting that during FY 2011 Councilman Jerry Orlans did not even see this tax increase coming, claiming during the previous fall 2010 campaign that the city always had a balanced budget, yet while he was the liaison between the City Council and the Administration Department which includes the City’s Finance Department his oversight failure in FY2011 resulted in a financial report that received a scathing evaluation by the outside financial auditing firm of Mauldin & Jenkins to include the fact that "The City failed to operate under an annual balanced budget, which has resulted in a compliance violation with State law.”

I wish to go on record and advise property owners that if the current Council remains intact, property owners can anticipate another property tax increase 18 months from now when the balance of the 2008 bonds are retired. Be advised that the next property tax millage rate increase is already projected by the City Finance Director to be 50% larger than the property tax increase passed last June by the existing City Council. As I have stated numerous times in the past, Councilman Orlans just “sits” on Council and he definitely needs to be replaced.

Where did our Code Enforcement Department go?

The City of Roswell, by failing to maintain its storm water utility infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of his home, on three separate occasions, flooding became an unfortunate metaphor for Mr. Andrew Wordes aka “The Chickenman”, which turned into a tragedy that drowned Wordes financially and legally, setting in motion events that left him gasping for air until his last days.

In December 2010, Wordes discovered that Roswell Code Enforcement Manager had illegally contacted his mortgage holder, a clear violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and Roswell’s enforcement manager, under the directive of city management, pressured Mr. Wordes’ landlord into selling his mortgage out from under him. Prior to that, in an effort to ward off code enforcement officers that he felt had already overstepped their bounds, Mr. Wordes posted a no trespassing sign on his property and advised the City Administrator accordingly.

What subsequently transpired, which I personally witnessed, included the Roswell police placing Mr. Wordes under surveillance, making frivolous harassing traffic stops, while the Roswell Legal Department took unprecedented legal actions against Mr. Wordes; actions never before contemplated against a citizen of Roswell.



Finally, after being mercilessly terrorized by an escalating series of regulatory attacks carried out by Roswell’s 'code enforcement' administrators, the Roswell police and the Roswell legal department, Andrew Wordes took his life and shortly thereafter the City conveniently disbanded its Code Enforcement Department under the disguise of outsourcing that city service externally.

And Roswell’s legal department has terrorized other citizens as well.

Roswell’s Municipal Judge Position

It is worth noting that during the city’s witch hunt of Andrew Wordes , not once, but twice Roswell’s Municipal Judge, Maurice Hilliard, threw out the city’s allegations against him which annoyed the City Administration, it’s Legal Department and Roswell’s City Council. And recently Judge Hilliard, who has been on the bench in Roswell for over 30 years and is without a doubt the most well respected judge throughout North Fulton, if not the entire State of Georgia, has been forced out of his position, frustrated by unacceptable changes in his working environment.

And now the possibility exists that the City Administrator will be appointing the Municipal Judge, as well as the Chief of police. You can forget about the constitutional truth of a separation of powers.

As Judge Hilliard even stated “If I’m appointed by you and don’t do your bidding, how long will I stay appointed."

Roswell’s Police Department and the Roswell’s Municipal Court irregularities:

Over the last several years there have been incidents within Roswell’s Police Department and the Roswell’s Municipal Court that have been well hidden from the public, to include missing criminal evidence jeopardizing cases, absconding of funds, and corruption within court services.

Personally, I have registered numerous challenges against the Roswell Police Department with CALEA (The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.) which have indirectly led to personnel changes.

Georgia 400 fly-over:

I still foresee a fly-over bridge traversing Ga. 400, as I did in 2010, connecting Old Alabama Road to Mansell Road or Warsaw Road to reduce the congestion on Holcomb Bridge Road while eventually providing for development in the Northwest quadrant of the Ga. 400 / Holcomb Bridge interchange.

But instead of focusing bond monies here that will pay dividends and insure the level of services that Roswell citizens have come to expect, our Council presented a referendum in November of last year to provide for synthetic turf youth sports fields, bicycle paths, sidewalks, as well as for the beautification of the 400 / Holcomb Bridge interchange. And the latter expenditure was the financial responsibility of the State of Georgia DOT and not the financial responsibility of Roswell property owners as it is now. The retiring debt service for the 2002 bonds could have easily provided the funding to finance the fly-over bridge over Ga. 400. The bonding capacity was will within the projected expenditure to initiate this project.

E-Verify / SAVE and The ICE Secure Communities Programs:

Professionally licensed by the Department of Homeland Security, I was instrumental in the City of Roswell enacting three (3) programs:

The E-Verify program requires the City to insure citizenship prior to hiring new employees. The law required that municipal governments use E-Verify, a federal program that checks whether people can work in the United States.

The SAVE Program allows Federal, state and local government benefit-granting agencies, as well as licensing bureaus, to verify the citizenship and immigration status information of non-citizen and certain U.S. citizen applicants requesting benefits or entitlements.

The completion of an “Affidavit of Verification” is now required upon the issuance of an “occupation tax certificate” (i.e. liquor licenses, Taxi cab licenses and all other business license and permits issued in the City of Roswell).

And The ICE Secure Communities which integrates the Roswell Police Department with County, State, Federal, as well as Interpol criminal data bases for immediate identification of criminal aliens.

And yet some council members continue to support programs that promote Roswell as a “Sanctuary City”, negatively impacting our public schools and community.

Please ask yourself if Council Members cared about your school children why, during the last Board of Education school redistricting process, did they not send a clear message to the Fulton County school board, ultimately failing to support a motion proposed with citizens input which died on the floor of Roswell’s City Council for lack of a second? That is correct. Council did not even want to discuss a subject of interest to parents of school-aged children. And that includes all three of the members up for re-election this November!

Even more disturbing is that Councilwoman Diamond defended Council’s indifference for our school-aged children going so far as to state that “people don't go to this effort without a motive” and that “I would submit that there are people in this county who believe we in Roswell have racist and elitist motives for some of our actions.”

This is insulting, if not slanderous, to insinuate that citizens doing what they consider best for their children and their neighborhoods are elitist, racist, or politically motivated.

Councilwoman Diamond eventually stated “I believe the best way to improve our schools is to concentrate our efforts on redevelopment in Roswell. Revitalizing our commercial areas and re-purposing less desirable properties will create real and meaningful improvements and raise our property values.”

This assertion is preposterous and unfounded based on historical evidence. Roswell is a residential community and city redevelopment does not improve schools. It's the converse. Councilwoman Diamond needs to be removed from Roswell’s City Council this November.

Lee Fleck

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides