April 3, 2019
Greenhaven, Vista Grove and Vernon Jones? Yes, that Vernon Jones
When we woke up this morning, Neighbors Against Greenhaven is thankful Greenhaven did not get a sponsor this year, but you can be assured, Kathryn Rice and Greenhaven, Ga will be back next year. Yesterday was Sine Die.
What is Sine Die? According to the Georgia Sun “Sine Die is the term used for the last day of the legislative session. In Georgia, the legislature meets for 40 days. Day 40 is Sine Die. It is the last day that a bill can pass. If it doesn’t pass by the end of day 40, it will have to wait until next year to be picked up…For the 2019 legislative session, Sine Die is April 2…Sine Die is pronounced “Sigh-nee-die” by Georgia lawmakers, however that isn’t the correct pronunciation of the term. In Latin, it is “sina dia.
Vista Grove was not so lucky. Vernon Jones, yes, that Vernon Jones, state House Representative from District 91 which includes Rockdale and far East DeKalb has sponsored the bill for Vista Grove. A little backstory on Vernon Jones. He was the CEO of DeKalb County from 2000-2008.
However, Wikipedia states Jones term as DeKalb County CEO was also known for controversies and accusations of improprieties. Shortly after taking office Jones went back on his campaign pledge to keep the homestead exemption sales tax in place. Jones was criticized for vetoing pay raises for police officers. In January 2005, the Georgia State Ethics Commission sanctioned Jones for campaign contribution limit violations in 2004 reelection campaign. Under a Consent Order, Jones returned all excess contributions and personally paid a $7,500.00 civil penalty. Jones apologized and stated that changes in campaign finance laws between the initial election and the run-off election are the reason for his acceptance of nineteen improper campaign contributions. He was also accused of illegally using campaign funds to promote the 2005 bond referendum, but the State Ethics Commission “found no reasonable grounds” for the complaint. Two grand juries found Jones $250,000 per year taxpayer funded security detail excessive, and recommended it be decreased, but found no violations of the law. Jones was accused of a questionable real estate transaction involving a house and a 55-acre tract of land near Arabia Mountain that he purchased for $550,000 in 2003 in anticipation of a then active quarry becoming part of county green space project that he initiated. In summer of 2007, Jones sold the site and made a $220,000 profit. On January 20, 2013, a special purpose grand jury, empaneled to investigate corruption in DeKalb County, found widespread “incompetence, patronage, fraud and cronyism” dating to the beginning of the administration of Vernon Jones. The report, which was not released until August 21, 2013, recommended further investigations of possible illegal acts by Jones, along with a number of other current and former senior DeKalb County officials.
This session Vernon Jones diluted SB 7 – DeKalb Ethic’s bill on the House side to include previous employees and DeKalb County politicians couldn’t be indicated for their past crimes. This insures that if new evidence were to be found regarding Vernon Jones he couldn’t be tried. Subsequent meetings with the Senate and House included comments from Dwight Thomas who is the attorney for Vernon and Sharon Barnes Sutton, a former DeKalb County Commissioner who has been accused of ethics violations. Peas in pod? You be the judge.
This is the man Vista Grove choose to sponsor their bill for cityhood.
Now Cobb has joined the cityhood movement. David Birdwell, an East Cobb businessman represents the group pushing the initiative for the City of East Cobb. Their tactics are similar to Greenhaven and Vista Grove in that they have repeatedly declined to disclose its membership and the funding of its hired public relations consultants and lobbyist. At a meeting held March 28, 2019, opposition was overwhelmingly against it this new city. Much like the meeting held against Greenhaven and Vista Grove on February 26.
Neighbors Against Greenhaven goal for the remainder of this through the start of the next legislation session, January 13, 2020 is to communicate with you at least once per month. We will continue working with Concern Citizens in Opposition To Greehaven, http://www.CCIOTG.org in our fight against Greenhaven. www.DeKalbStrong.org has been a strong partner and we will continue to assist in their efforts against Vista Grove.
Lastly, thanks to all of you who have worked tirelessly this past session in emailing, writing letters, making phone calls, appearing at the Capitol, signing our petition and letting your neighbors and others in the affected area in our fight against Greenhaven, Ga.