Almost two years
ago, DeKalb County citizens from neighborhoods all across the county
came together and began a process to redefine our County government. We
called it a Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb. With last Tuesday’s election
and the success of the ethics
reform ballot measure, DeKalb can look back on those two years of work
and see how much has been accomplished. Together, we have brought about
three key reforms.
We are on our way to an Independent Auditor, independent of the
CEO and Commission. The Auditor is empowered to conduct financial and
performance audits of all county departments to determine objectively
whether county departments use resources economically
and effectively, whether the desired results are being achieved, and
whether departments have proper operating procedures. Fraud, abuse, and
illegal acts can be uncovered and subject to investigation.
We are on our way to Consistent Codified Procurement Policies,
requiring sealed bids on all purchases over $50,000 and requiring
Commission approval on all expenditures over $100,000. Contracts cannot
be subdivided to skirt the rules and there will be
legal accountability to follow standard purchasing procedures.
With last Tuesday’s vote we will have a reformed Board of Ethics appointed
by groups of concerned citizens instead of the officials they oversee.
Members of the new Ethics Board have to undergo an education and
employment background check. Jurisdiction
includes all county elected and appointed officials, employees and
contractors. The Board has the power to subpoena and compel testimony.
So no matter how daunting the task of reform might seem in DeKalb, we
have made progress and those reforms will help us moving forward.
We agree that fundamental reform is still needed. The urgency has
increased given a growing “feeling” that something needs to change and
The two-year process of BLUEPRINT I and implementation of reforms that
matter offers guidance as committed and engaged citizens look for
solutions that address the many challenges that remain. We took time.
Consensus emerged slowly. Exploring issues in depth
counted. Diverse voices enhanced understanding. You listened to each
BLUEPRINT I shows that citizen-driven reform works. As important as
those successes are, the challenges have grown and clearly call upon us
all to begin this process anew. As we begin, it is worth recalling the
broad principles that guided us to this point:
Marginal adjustments no longer suffice. We need comprehensive solutions as big as our problems.
No one change suffices. We need approaches as multi-faceted as our problems.
Many levels of government must be involved. The Board of Commissioners
can and must play a key role, but so too must the Board of Education,
the DeKalb delegation in the State Legislature, our municipalities, and
our business and private sector leaders. Each
must act, do so in concert, and proceed on a jointly agreed timetable.
Governmental transparency is a must. We cannot negotiate changes so fundamental and so diverse behind closed doors.
Citizens’ voices count.
We seek reform that
lasts. The array of issues is broad. Solutions that are as big as our
problems demand a deliberative, consensus forming, and fact gathering
process. That is what made BLUEPRINT I work.
Many are now focused on the Form of Government. Handing off the task to
elected officials or a Charter Review Commission charged with proposing
legislation for a new form of government assumes answers to questions
not yet asked. Deliberations, consensus and
facts matter. Structural reform is the end goal of the process, not
Is it time to tackle the Form of Government? Do you agree that we need
to delve deeply into the issue? Are you ready to broaden the circle of
citizen Blueprint team leaders and build on the strengths of BLUEPRINT
I? Then it’s time for BLUEPRINT II.
KICKOFF Nov. 16, 7:00 pm
The NEW South DeKalb Senior Center
1931 Candler Rd., Decatur, GA 30032
Won’t you join us in this work? And bring a friend.
Contact the Blueprint DeKalb Leadership Team: BlueprintDeKalb@gmail.com