June 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
June 10, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met June 10, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 25 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included State Senator District 35 Donzella James, the evening’s featured speaker; Joe Carn, former Fulton County Solicitor General and candidate for District 6 Commissioner; Fulton County Judge Eric Dunaway; and Cedar Grove Community Association Directors Jaceey Sebastian and David Daniels.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody called attention to the four Zoning Rewrite Workshops the City will be conducting for public participation in updating the Zoning Ordinance. The City has been using the Ordinance carried over from Fulton County. It is important for Cliftondale and Cedar Grove residents to attend because our two communities have most of the City’s land available for development. We want to have community input in every workshop, and we want the revised zoning ordinance to protect community input and our Land Use Plans and Overlays. In response to a question, Mr. Moody reviewed the County’s process that required developers to notify nearby property owners and attend community meetings in which attendance and comments were recorded and provided to the County’s zoning staff.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall announced that now is the time for renewing Club dues. Our dues pay for the Club’s extensive e-mail tree, aid to local schools, and our Fall Festival and Christmas Gala social events. Dues are $25 per family and $15 for a family headed by a senior.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasury liaison, provided the Treasurer’s Report.
Mr. Carter introduced Senator James for a report on the recent legislative session. She thanked the community for supporting her and announced she does a monthly You Tube legislative update.
Senator James reported that the Cliftondale precinct is going to be divided up such that some voters will be directed from the Community Center to other nearby polling sites. Details are available on the County elections website, and affected residents should be notified by mail.
At the state level, the Senate added five newly elected Democratic Senators. This past session was the first half of a two-year session. 278 bills were introduced to the Senate, 873 on the House side. The Senate passed 140 pieces of legislation and resolutions. Of the bills that passed both houses, the Governor vetoed four, one being the “school recess bill”.
The Senate established 17 study committees for possible legislation. She particularly supported two issues: eliminating patient charges for unused medical supplies; and including research on electric wheelchairs in an electric scooter study. Because electric wheelchairs are used on sidewalks and streets she wants a visibility flag requirement.
The state budget of $26.9 billion is by law a balanced budget. We as taxpayers need to track the expenditures, since they affect many aspects of our lives, such as state highways and recreation. The budget included a state raise of $3,000 for public schoolteachers and certified school employees and protected the teacher retirement fund.
HB 213 contained regulations for marijuana cultivation and hemp oil uses. The oil can be legally used for certain medical conditions and a “qualified agricultural producer” can grow marijuana if a license is secured. The producer must sign a consent allowing the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to survey and inspect the farm at any time. Criminal background checks for any substance-related charges must be made for all employees. A commission will make the detailed regulations and will include public hearings in its process.
Legislation for new voting machines did pass, but she is disappointed that the machines chosen create a bar code trail rather than a paper trail.
There were some good bills to promote economic development, but their effects could be negated by the “heartbeat” bill, which could cause many film industry firms to leave the state.
There were also bills providing provided more money for autism programs and for dyslexia screening and treatment for schoolchildren. She supports dyslexia screening from kindergarten to third grade, since the condition can be reversed if treated early.
She noted that three of “her” proposed bills were moving in the legislative process, but they have been absorbed into other bills so they are no longer under her name.
Senator James then opened the floor for questions.
Asked why hemp oil is so expensive, she replied the cost is partly due to the expense of the licenses, which range from $100,000 to $500,000.
Asked if the Governor explained why he vetoed the school recess bill, she said his reason was that the bill made recess mandatory and some school systems would not be able to afford it.
Replying to the comment that while the $3,000 teacher raise was appreciated, it only compensated for the lost income during the Great Recession, she agreed that the amount was not enough and she had supported a $6,000 raise. She would be working on future raises and benefits.
Replying to the comment that the state needs to go into more schools to insure that they improve, she noted that the legislature did pass the Quality Basic Education law (QBE) many years ago, but it was never fully implemented.
Replying to the comment that more state support is needed for health care for seniors, especially on the south side, she replied that she shared those concerns, especially with regard to nursing home care. However, many legislators have relatives in that business, which impedes regulatory reform.
Asked about the status of the bill to annex the Fulton Industrial District into the City of South Fulton, she replied that the District’s businesses want to be in the City. The bill got halfway through this session but two south Fulton legislators held it back until the last day, leaving the bill tabled for next year’s session. She supports trying another method of annexation, perhaps the 60% method, but she needs to know where other elected officials stand. So far as Fulton County’s position, they have expressed willingness to let the City have the District if the County can have Charlie Brown Airport.
Asked about the fire in the mountain of illegally dumped tires on Bishop Road, she replied that she had air quality checks made and took them to the state authorities. One possibility is that the state will condemn and seize the property.
The Senator acknowledged a volunteer who teaches aviation to young girls at the Aviation Center.
The Senator and Mr. Carn passed out men’s ties for Father’s Day gifts.
Mr. Carter thanked Senator James for a very informative presentation. He reminded attendees of the importance of attending the upcoming Zoning Rewrite Workshops.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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