It Must Be Time For A Change

DeKalb reports $55 million shortfall for next year

By Megan Matteucci

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Facing a $55 million shortfall in next year’s budget, DeKalb County commissioners say they’ll consider layoffs, fire station consolidations and cuts in services to offset the lost revenue.

Commissioners learned on Friday that pension troubles, insurance increases and further erosion of the tax base have left the county with a gap of $54.81 million in the 2011 budget.

“We need to reorganize. We need to talk layoffs. Everything has to be on the table this year,” Commissioner Elaine Boyer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We said we want a balanced budget with no millage increase.”

The county identified $20 million in possible cuts, including closing libraries, recreation centers, satellite tax offices and some fire stations. Three departments face elimination — the cooperative extension office, the communications office and an agency called OneDeKalb, which works with neighborhoods.

The county also wants to stop paying for school crossing guards, raise ambulance fees and cutting food service at senior centers, according to draft budget documents obtained by the AJC.

The $55 million is on top of $100 million in cuts the commission made last year.

Last year the commission declined to raise taxes and ordered employees to take 10 furlough days, which saved almost $12 million.

Commissioner Larry Johnson said the goal this year is to get rid of those furlough days and save workers’ jobs.

But that will be tough given the county’s debt, including a $17 million more to the county’s pension fund.

Police have protested the furloughs by writing fewer tickets. An AJC investigation found officers wrote 20,000 fewer tickets between May 1 and Aug. 31 compared to the same period last year – costing the county about $3 million in revenue.

Commissioner Jeff Rader said he will not look at raising taxes until the CEO reorganizes the government.

In September, the commission passed a resolution saying they would only consider a property tax increase after an “extensive restructuring of county government and elimination of county operations of lowest priority.”

A study by Georgia State University earlier this year found DeKalb’s staff is bloated and recommended 909 positions be cut. The county lost about 825 workers through early retirement, but then filled about 600 of those positions.

“We need to reorganize, but they [the administration] snubbed their nose at the GSU study,” Boyer said. “First we need a desk audit to look at every position.”

CEO Burrell Ellis was in Washington and not available Friday, but his chief operating officer Richard Stogner said the CEO is working on the budget and will present it to the commission by Dec. 15. He was reluctant to save it the CEO proposes a tax increase.

“Everything is on the table right now. His direction is a responsible budget,” Stogner said.

Stogner said the commission needs to be concerned about morale.

“Our employees have not had a raise in three years. We’ve increased pension and health insurance. At some point in time, that creates a morale problem,” he said.

Employees’ pension contributions are expected to nearly double next year.

Rader said he will not look at raises until he sees an increase in productivity.

“If they want to get paid more, they have to carry more of the burden,” he said. “There is no way around it.”

GA Supreme Court on Land

I guess it depends on who you are, how much money you have, etc. as to whether or not they will let the Courts violate GA laws on land.  See our documents covering our GA Power suit in Superior Court and US District Court.  Judge Becker decided she don’t have to adhere to the Rules and statutes, and good ole District Court Judge Duffey, Jr. struck again, going along with anything that GA Power and Judge Becker failed to show.  Our evidence was never rebutted, and the SOB dismissed under Younger Abstention (like that was a good reason?) on scribd

February 19, 2010

Court Decides Heirs Dispute over Former Governor’s Land

Filed under: Harris Hines, property law — bce30064 @ 2:33 pm

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld a White County court’s decision in a dispute over mineral rights among cousins who are descendants of a Georgia governor.

Lamartine G. Hardman, a physician, served as Georgia’s governor from 1927 to 1931. He was known as one of the wealthiest people in North Georgia and at one point owned land in seven counties, according to briefs filed in the case. The father of four, Hardman left various farms to his children. This case involves a tract of land he left to his daughter, Emma Hardman Thomson, and the one-half interest in mineral rights on her property acquired in 1939 by his son, Lamartine G. (“L.G.”) Hardman, Jr. After L.G., Jr. died in 1978, his wife – and eventually his children and grandchildren – inherited his one-half interest in the mineral rights. After Emma died in January 2007, her heirs inherited the other one-half interest along with the land.

In February 2008, Emma’s descendants, including Caroline Wilson, sued Shell Hardman Knox and other heirs of L.G., Jr., claiming that under state law, they had acquired L.G.’s portion of the mineral rights. Under Official Official Code of Georgia § 44-5-168, a property owner may gain title to another person’s mineral rights if the owner of those rights doesn’t conduct any mining activity or pay taxes on the rights for a period of seven years. In March 2009, the court granted “summary judgment” to Emma’s heirs, finding there was no need for a trial because the law was on their side.

In their appeal to the state Supreme Court, lawyers for L.G., Jr.’s descendants argued the trial court misinterpreted the statute and ignored the doctrine that prevents a party from taking advantage of another when that other party has been led to rely on certain behavior. For 37 years, they argued in briefs, “all went smoothly” between Emma, L.G., Jr. and his heirs until she died in 2007. Until then, L.G., Jr. and his heirs always respected Emma’s control over the property by agreeing to leave the initiation of mining activities on it to Emma. In return, they trusted her to turn over to him and his heirs their one-half interest of any proceeds she received from mining activity. Over the years, the land had been mined for gold, gravel and sand.

In a decision written by Justice P. Harris Hines (data), the Supreme Court pointed out that according to Knox, Emma used to deliver “vials of gold” to L.G., Jr.’s wife, even after his death. The evidence shows “recognition on Emma Thomson’s part to respect that ownership,” the opinion says. But it is undisputed that L.G., Jr. and his descendants never paid taxes on their mineral interest, and there is no evidence they tried to work the mineral rights in the seven years prior to the filing of the lawsuit. Furthermore, “there is no evidence of an agreement by which Emma Thomson undertook to relieve L.G. Hardman, Jr., and later his heirs, of the obligation to comply with the requirements of OCGA § 44-5-168,” the opinion says, “and there is no evidence that Emma Thomson ever made any promise or commitment intended to influence the holders of the one-half mineral interest to neglect their obligations under OCGA § 44-5-168.”

More Information
Georgia Supreme Court Opinions Database: KNOX ET AL. V. WILSON ET AL. (S09A1490)
Georgia Real Estate Law Reference Page

Attorneys for Appellants (L.G., Jr. heirs): Robert Marcovitch, Dennis Cathey
Attorneys for Appellees (Emma heirs): Samuel Oliver, Jason Dean

Our Legal Filings

As a Pro Se litigant, it is often difficult to know or understand what a Motion, Objection, etc. is supposed to look like. So, what I have done is uploaded to two different websites some of the legal filings we have filed in Probate, State, Superior, District, Court of Appeals of GA, US Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Courts.

Feel free to check out the filings, they are very useful and informative. Feel free to use the case law, it has all been checked and is what it says. Feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

We supply this information only as information in hopes of a better United States and in hopes of combatting the corruption within the legal system and courts!

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DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott

Keep in mind, Judge Scott has had an Appeal and Void Judgment in front of him for over three years. He set it for Jury Trial that was to begin January 26, 2009. He failed to send Notice of trial to any of the parties.

Monday, January 26, 2009 in a wheelchair, I attended a “Jury Trial” calendar call in Superior Court before Judge Mark Anthony Scott for an Appeal from Probate Court, which was filed three years ago. When my name was called I responded; Judge asked if I was ready for trial, I responded that I was. Judge asked if I was proceeding Pro Se, I responded that I was. Judge asked if I was represented by counsel, I responded that No, I am proceeding Pro Se. The Judge asked me two more times if I was represented, and/or if I was proceeding Pro Se, I responded that I am proceeding Pro Se both times.

The clerk, very quietly spoke to the Judge. The Judge stated that there are “technical difficulties” in the file. I asked what the technical difficulties are. The Judge, very irritated stated to the Bailiff “take him out back!” I stated to the Judge: “All I did was ask what the difficulties are”; Judge responded: “I didn’t like your tone of voice!”; I responded: “I am in constant pain, I wasn’t rude”; Judge said: “Why didn’t you tell me that to begin with, I was having you arrested for contempt!”; I said nothing. The Judge then said: “Bailiffs take him out of my Courtroom!”

At that point the Bailiffs, one grabbing the handles of my wheelchair physically removed me from the courtroom. I waited outside approximately 30 minutes, decided I should go in case this Judge decided to have me arrested for contempt. I have heard nothing sense.