I am deeply disappointed in our elected officials. Not only have they broken trust with our community by holding an illegal Executive Session to change a city policy, but have singled out the HOA that was the driver behind the cityhood efforts.
Regardless of what you think of the Dunwoody Homeowner’s Association or their role in Dunwoody, the city’s actions this week represent terrible governance and a lack of ethical leadership. If the city really wants to change a policy they are well within the law to do it PUBLICLY. While I disagree with their actions and the lawyer’s rationale, I find the method they used to be reprehensible.
The city has violated state law, its own charter and its own administrative ordinances. Here is a catalog of their misdeeds:
· They met in secret (executive) session to discuss the DHA’s role. They have alternately used attorney-client privilege and “personnel matters” to justify the secret meetings but neither of these apply since there is not current legal action pending as a result of the DHA’s role and volunteer board members are not city personnel.
· They appear to have adopted a policy without writing it down. This is a clear violation of state law, the charter and the city’s code of ordinances.
· They have adopted the policy without a public vote. While executive session allows private discussion in very limited instances, it never allows for private voting. The city adopted these policies without a public vote. Executive sessions can be used to discuss ongoing litigation such as the Manget Way case but cannot be used to discuss changing a city policy.
· They have threatened volunteer board members with city and state violations if they discuss these policies publicly or privately. Not only are they keeping secrets, they are bullying others to maintain cloak of secrecy. This is the first time Dunwoody residents need to be afraid of their government.
Despite the legal threats, the memo that no one was to talk about or release is now public. I have attached it this post.
A city that prides itself on openness and transparency has once again failed its citizens. While a public meeting is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 am to discuss the actions of the last couple of day, the damage is done. They cannot walk it back (only Trump seems to get away with that), they cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Here is the minimum of what they need to do:
· Fire the Law firm. This is the same group fired by the city of Brookhaven after they repeatedly were at odds with their city council over the same issues. Their goal was to stifle interaction between the citizens and city boards and council. Can you say PINK PONY. All done out of fear of being sued by someone. I fear that the law firm’s actions here are preemptive moves to excuse the fact that they are going to lose both the Dunwoody Club Forrest and Manget Way cases (see attached memo)
· Rescind the policy change If the city and its citizens want to ban HOAs let them do it, but do it in public after open discussions. Do not single out one HOA. Treat all volunteer groups that discuss city business or have the ability to lobby voting members of any board. That includes private conversations with groups like the Preservation Trust and the green shirted Save the Brook Run Theater group.
· Apologize to each person singled out on the original email and to the DHA membership as a whole.
· Apologize to every citizen of Dunwoody for violating their trust and pledge of being “open and transparent”. Just because a lawyer tells you to do something, you do not have to do it.
The city needs to be held accountable by the State Attorney General’s office. We created the city of Dunwoody to have transparent government closer to the people. I’m afraid in this instance, that isn’t what we have gotten. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.