February 2020 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
February 10, 2020
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met February 10, 2020 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 20 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included Senator Donzella James; Commissioner Joe Carn; Jaceey Sebastian, deputy chief of staff for Commissioner Carn; Aaron Johnson of the Fulton County elections board; and Kelvin Jones and Jordan Presley of Fulton County Voter Education.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody reported on the rezoning application for a subdivision at West Stubbs and Cascade Palmetto roads. He met with the developer 6 times, and the two parties are in agreement. However, the decision that the subdivision should have an amenity such as a basketball court has caused a 30-day delay in the Council vote, because the City’s zoning staff has requested a 100-foot separation and buffer around a court, and the developer will have to rework plans accordingly.
Mr. Moody said that he was invited to serve on a committee formed by County Commission Chair Robb Pitts to consider whether certain services and facilities should belong to the County or its cities. Initial discussion focused on whether senior centers should continue to belong to the County or be turned over to the cities where they are located. The committee’s thinking is that the centers should remain with the County because of the costs of the services (rather than the cost of the physical facility) needed to serve seniors.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall welcomed those present and noted that the Club’s annual membership season was coming up. Annual dues, which support the Club’s website and email tree among other efforts, are $25 for a family and $12 for a family headed by a senior.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
Mr. Jones described the County’s extensive effort to educate voters about the new voting machines to ease concerns about the technology and security. The County will hold 100 events by the end of February to give citizens a chance to try out the machines. He demonstrated how to operate the three machines on display: touch screen monitor, printer for the completed ballot, and a scanner to record the printed ballot. Lastly the printed ballot is deposited in a locked box so that a paper trail will exist if ever needed.
Mr. Johnson announced that a countywide “mock election” (with choices such as a vote for state bird) will be held on February 18 to give voters a chance to try the new machines. The Wolf Creek Library and the government “Annex” on Stonewall Tell Road will be sites convenient for Cliftondale residents.
Senator James provided an update on the State legislative session. The session opened on January 13 but soon recessed to iron out budget issues. The Governor wants significant cuts in the originally proposed budget to prepare for a possible economic downturn and to find funds for his campaign promise of a $5,000 teacher raise (of which only $3,000 has been paid). Among the possible cutbacks are the popular dual enrollment program in which high school students can take college courses at no cost to them.
Senator James introduced a resolution asking for an apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws. She stressed that she is not asking for reparations, and a number of states and Congress have passed similar resolutions.
She also introduced a bill prohibiting fully automatic “long guns” and limiting them to magazines of eight rounds. The bill does not apply to handguns. In response, she has received almost 300 hostile and threatening letters and emails. One night she was threatened by a call from a truck parked in front of her house on Pittman Road; it drove away before police arrived.
To address major concerns about the City of South Fulton Charter, the Senator has written some proposed amendments, which are being reviewed at the legislature and by the City. She noted that the Charter is unusual in allowing for a House delegation but not a Senate delegation.
To keep her constituents informed, Senator James does a weekly You Tube presentation during the legislative session and monthly out of session.
Commissioner Carn reported on his first months in office, which coincided with finalizing the County’s $1.2 billion budget. He was able to get funds for a feasibility study for a multipurpose wellness-senior center in South Fulton. A possible site would be near the Annex, where land is already owned by the County and served by public transportation.
He also focused on the negotiations regarding the County properties due to the cities, such as the Southwest Arts Center and the Wolf Creek Amphitheater. Transfer of the latter will go into full effect after the summer concert series are over, so promoters can have continuity of management for their events.
He is promoting city-County school partnerships and public library-school partnerships (such as having copies of text books in the libraries). As part of his literacy program he is able to negotiate steep discounts on a wide range of community interest and self-help books, such as SAT preparation, gardening, and health. He plans to make the books available free at every community meeting he attends – as indeed he did for the evening’s Cliftondale meeting.
The Commissioner emphasized the importance of every resident being counted in the upcoming 2020 Census. The best estimate is that in the 2010 Census only 75% of Fulton County residents participated. This year the objective is 80% participation.
The Census’s significance goes far beyond the population count. It is estimated that each counted resident boosts government benefits per person by $2,000 per year or $20,000 over the ten years before the next census. The Census affects funding from all levels of government for matters such as roads, school capacity, policing, street lighting, hospitals, senior centers. It provides the numbers for redistricting all levels of government, from City councilmember to state legislators to Congress. With a full count Georgia could receive one or even two more Congressional districts.
The Census’s population count also has direct economic effects. Industries and retail businesses considering entering an area want to know the number of potential customers and labor force.
Commissioner Carn stressed that the 2020 Census questionnaire is not intrusive. It asks only 9 questions, none of which relate to citizenship. Questionnaires will start arriving March 12, slightly staggered so as not to overwhelm telephone switchboards or crash computers. Once you receive your questionnaire, it can be filled out on-line, via a 1-800 number on the phone, or on paper.
The Commissioner will be starting a mailed newsletter, with the objective of making his District 6 the best-informed district in Fulton County.
Mr. Carter thanked all the speakers for such an informative evening. The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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