January 2020 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
January 13, 2020
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met January 13, 2020 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 15 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included City of South Fulton Councilwoman Helen Willis; Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Jocelyn Watkins; Jaceey Sebastian, deputy chief of staff for Commissioner Joe Carn’s office; and Aaron Johnson of the Fulton County elections board.
Mr. Carter explained that, rather than having a featured speaker, after committee reports we would have a discussion brainstorming ideas for the Club in 2020.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
Harold Reid, who heads the City’s Planning Commission, said the Commission’s January meeting was cancelled, there being no zoning applications because of the City’s moratorium. He warned, however, that when the moratorium was lifted, developers will submit a large number of applications.
He noted that the report on revising the County’s zoning resolution, which had been carried over by the City, will be released soon. There will be several public meetings to introduce the new version, and he urged all to attend and learn about the changes. He is particularly concerned about the revised version reducing opportunities for citizen input in the application and approval process.
Ms. Watkins explained her position in the Community Prosecutor’s office, which involves sending concerns on to District Attorney Paul Howard. Her focus is on “quality of life” crimes, such as slider crimes and youthful repeat offenders, rather than serious crimes. The Conviction Integrity Unit reviews convictions and provides youth focus programs for first and second offenders ages 14-16.
Mr. Sebastian noted that his family was a victim of a youthful offender crime in 2017 which still has not been resolved. He asked Ms. Watkins to see that the system is made “more customer friendly” to the victims.
Councilwoman Willis commented on Fulton County’s “12 point” system for juveniles. The 12 point system is state mandated, and controversy centers on how it is locally administered. Ms. Watkins noted that sentencing is purely the responsibility of the judges, not “law enforcement officers” who only make arrests.
Aaron Johnson described the roll-out of the state’s new voting system, in which the voter uses a touch screen, prints out the cast ballot, proofs it, and takes it for scanning. Voting machines are currently being taken around the County for voters to try out. On February 18 the County will stage a county-wide “election day” to test the new machines, mostly at libraries. Official voting for Georgia’s presidential primaries will be on March 24, with early voting March 2 – 20.
Councilwoman Willis reported on the City’s human trafficking ambassador program, with training beginning on January 16. We want the City to be so conscious of human trafficking that the traffickers avoid us.
She noted that the City will sponsor a Martin Luther King Holiday parade on January 20, starting at the Old National Walmart parking lot at 1 pm. Citizen organizations are invited to submit entries to participate. The parade will be followed by a Census rally at Grown Folks Restaurant following the parade.
Mr. Carter opened the floor for suggestions about speakers for future Club meetings. Suggestions included Juvenile Justice Court; probation; Police Chief Keith Meadows; plans for new police beats in the City (a study estimates that we need 17 beats); blighted property laws and programs; inviting Commissioner Carn to describe County services; gangs; Court Watch; updates on the $13 million in T-SPLOST projects the City’s Public Works department will take over; and the Community Block Grants program, which the County is not administering effectively for its cities (Councilwoman Willis noted that the City will be able to administer its own grants in 2021 because of its population size).
Mr. Carter thanked the attendees for a lively session and adjourned the meeting.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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