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Wife of Clayton sheriff-hopeful free after Victor Hill-ordered arrest

Wife of Clayton sheriff-hopeful free after Victor Hill-ordered arrest

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill on Friday said he ordered the arrest of a political opponents’ wife because she wrote him harassing emails. Gerrian Hawes was released on a $1,500 bond from Clayton County Jail on Thursday and livestreamed a video on Facebook calling Hill the harasser. She said she expects to have more run-ins with the controversial law enforcement leader because of her husband&rsquo...
Roswell mayor says no tennis center will be built in Big Creek Park

Roswell mayor says no tennis center will be built in Big Creek Park

Roswell Mayor Lori Henry announced Friday afternoon that a controversial tennis center that drew the wrath of residents would not be built in a city park. “Despite the sincere efforts of myself and council to do our best to keep our residents informed and involved, it is clear we have not lived up to this goal in our handling of the proposed tennis center at Big Creek Park,” Henry wrote...
Legal defense for Atlanta judge’s ethics case climbs to $56K

Legal defense for Atlanta judge’s ethics case climbs to $56K

Legal representation of Municipal Court Judge Terrinee Gundy, which the city of Atlanta now says was improper, will nonetheless cost taxpayers $56,000, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have learned. The last of Gundy attorney Frank Strickland’s legal invoices were submitted to the city’s Law Department on Aug. 6 — two weeks after City Attorney Nina...
Think you’re finished with 2017 property taxes? Maybe not in Fulton

Think you’re finished with 2017 property taxes? Maybe not in Fulton

When the bills arrived last November, most Fulton County residents paid their property taxes. In their minds, after that, the 2017 tax year was over. For county officials, however, 2017 has raged on. Even as they prepare to send out 2018 bills, officials are still trying to get the state Department of Revenue to approve last year’s tax digest. Depending on what a judge decrees, some taxpayers...
CrossRoadsNews delivers final print edition to south DeKalb

CrossRoadsNews delivers final print edition to south DeKalb

Today is the last day the CrossRoadsNews newspaper will be dropped off at locations across south DeKalb County. The paper’s publisher recently decided to cut costs by ending the printed edition and going online only. “It was a good run, but our time is up,” read the headline on a post by editor and publisher Jennifer Parker explaining the changes impacting the free, weekly...
Gwinnett police — slowly — rolling out body-worn cameras

Gwinnett police — slowly — rolling out body-worn cameras

The Gwinnett County Police Department continues to slowly roll out body cameras for its officers. It will likely take another six months or so for the department to be covered as planned, a department spokeswoman said this week. At that point, it will have been nearly two years since the controversial traffic stop that helped spark a fresh push for the devices at one of metro Atlanta’s...
Wife of Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill rival free on bond after harassment arrest

Wife of Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill rival free on bond after harassment arrest

After being freed on bond Thursday evening, the wife of a Clayton man who plans to oppose controversial Sheriff Victor Hill in 2020 said she is fine but expects to face more harassment. “This sheriff is extraordinarily petty,” Gerrian Hawes said in a Facebook livestream she posted from her car shortly after posting bond. “I may be in and out of jail. But I was built for this.&rdquo...
Victor Hill rival says Clayton sheriff arrested wife to intimidate him

Victor Hill rival says Clayton sheriff arrested wife to intimidate him

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill had the wife of a political rival arrested after she said she penned emails to the department supporting her husband’s campaign. Wednesday evening’s arrest of Gerrian Hawes, which was streamed live on Facebook by her husband, has some questioning whether the arrest was an abuse of Hill’s power as sheriff. “This sounds like an effort to intimidate...
DEEPER FINDINGS: Fulton County DA can’t hire new attorneys after overspending budget

DEEPER FINDINGS: Fulton County DA can’t hire new attorneys after overspending budget

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has overspent its budget by more than $1 million, prompting the county manager to call for a moratorium on hiring new department staff. Without additional money, District Attorney Paul Howard said he can’t bring on new lawyers — including four that have already been offered jobs with the county. Eleven attorney positions and one administrative...
Move could raise cost of I-85 toll lanes beginning next week

Move could raise cost of I-85 toll lanes beginning next week

State transportation officials have eliminated toll limits on Georgia express lanes – a move that could raise the cost to use the I-85 lanes beginning next week. Earlier this month, the State Road and Tollway Authority repealed restrictions on toll charges, previously set at a maximum of $13.95 to drive the I-85 lanes in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. It also repealed the 90-cent-per-mile...
Cobb to start restoring Sunday library hours

Cobb to start restoring Sunday library hours

Cobb will start restoring Sunday library hours at some branches for the first time since the recession starting September 9. The Switzer Library in Marietta is scheduled to open from 1 to 5 p.m. the Sunday after Labor Day.  Plans are also underway to restore hours at three regional branches: Mountain View, South Cobb and West Cobb, according to county spokesperson Ross Cavitt. Sunday hours were...
DeKalb News: Big raise for Stonecrest mayor off table

DeKalb News: Big raise for Stonecrest mayor off table

The Stonecrest City Council rejected Mayor Jason Lary’s latest attempt to increase pay for his position from $20,000 a year to $75,000. Council members voted 4-2 against taking the steps necessary to increase the salary. Because a charter amendment is needed to change the mayor’s pay, the 2-year-old city must first take out ads and hold public hearings. The vote was against a resolution...
Fulton County libraries close for renovation, tax rate is unchanged

Fulton County libraries close for renovation, tax rate is unchanged

Fulton County commissioners agreed Wednesday to spend $44.2 million to renovate Atlanta’s Central Library, part of a $275 million investment that also paid for eight new branches and renovated two. The remaining 24 Fulton libraries will be overhauled. The Hapeville library will be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $3.2 million — $16,000 more than it would have cost to refurbish the...
Atlanta City Hall scandal: another guilty plea as probe intensifies

Atlanta City Hall scandal: another guilty plea as probe intensifies

The federal investigation of Atlanta City Hall is intensifying and adding new investigators and prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said Wednesday, moments after the probe recorded its fifth guilty plea from a former top aide to Mayor Kasim Reed. Flanked by top local agents with the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Pak suggested there are more indictments to come...
Atlanta City Council raising questions about Gulch deal

Atlanta City Council raising questions about Gulch deal

Members of Atlanta’s City Council are raising concerns about a proposed billion-dollar commitment of public money to a sprawling redevelopment in downtown’s Gulch, and what taxpayers will get in return. So far, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office isn’t providing any answers to their questions. AJC FLASHBACK PHOTOS: A look at Atlanta’s Gulch and viaducts On Monday...
Stonecrest tax increase, huge boost to mayor’s salary on table

Stonecrest tax increase, huge boost to mayor’s salary on table

The Stonecrest City Council will hold a special meeting tonight (Aug. 15) that could result in Mayor Jason Lary’s salary increasing nearly four-fold, among other hot-ticket issues. The plan to boost Lary’s annual pay from $20,000 to $75,000 is among five changes to the city charter that council members will debate. He originally sought to get the raise passed by the General Assembly earlier...
Former Reed aide pleads guilty in corruption case

Former Reed aide pleads guilty in corruption case

Former Kasim Reed aide Katrina Taylor-Parks became the second high-ranking Atlanta official to plead guilty in the federal corruption investigation of City Hall Wednesday. Taylor-Parks, Reed’s former deputy chief of staff and a 23-year City Hall veteran, pleaded guilty to accepting $4,000 in bribes from a city vendor and agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation. She faces...
After pushback on tennis center, Roswell leaders pledge to communicate

After pushback on tennis center, Roswell leaders pledge to communicate

When Roswell City Councilman Marcelo Zapata first heard about a plan to build a massive tennis center in a city park, he balked. There was no market analysis. No business plan. No traffic impact study. And no input from residents. Still, city officials moved forward. Thursday, they announced plans to begin formal negotiations with a family foundation interested in building a $50 million facility,...
DeKalb County commissioners postpone vote on booting ordinance 

DeKalb County commissioners postpone vote on booting ordinance 

DeKalb County commissioners want more time to decide whether to ban the practice of booting vehicles or allow booting but with new regulations. There is a proposed ordinance on the table to allow booting in unincorporated DeKalb, charging drivers no more than $75 to have the devices  removed. But commissioners told the county attorney last week they are considering eliminating booting like...
Atlanta City Council members say crackdown on lobbyists needed

Atlanta City Council members say crackdown on lobbyists needed

As part effort of an ongoing effort to reform how business is conducted at City Hall, four Atlanta City Council members announced legislation on Monday intended to force lobbyists to clearly identify themselves and the companies they represent. The council members are concerned about people who appear before City Council to push for action on certain issues but fail to mention they are paid representatives...
Gwinnett judge denies appeal in commissioner’s suit over ethics board

Gwinnett judge denies appeal in commissioner’s suit over ethics board

A Gwinnett judge has dismissed the appeal filed by Commissioner Tommy Hunter as part of his lawsuit against the county ethics board that, more than a year ago, recommended he be punished for Facebook comments that included calling Congressman John Lewis a “racist pig.”  The appeal was dismissed in part because of a paperwork snafu, and Hunter’s attorney said...
Henry County sets property tax rates as pay compensation debate eases

Henry County sets property tax rates as pay compensation debate eases

The Henry County Commission on Monday passed a millage rate for property taxes, a little more than a week after the board failed to pass the legislation because of concerns over worker compensation. In a 4-2 vote, the board set the millage rate at 12.73 mills, which the county estimates will bring in about $87.7 million in property taxes in fiscal 2019.  The passage will allow Henry to set aside...
GDOT, Jewish community work to keep eruv intact during construction

GDOT, Jewish community work to keep eruv intact during construction

Word spread through WhatsApp groups, email and over the phone: In Sandy Springs, a fence had come down during road construction. It needed to be reconstructed. Posthaste. Immediately, Mendy Kessler swung into action, driving to Lowe’s to buy some plywood. It was only hours before the Jewish Sabbath. Among other prohibitions during the weekly observance, religious Jews are forbidden from carrying...
Roswell residents voice opposition to tennis center plan

Roswell residents voice opposition to tennis center plan

A proposal by Roswell officials to build a 60-acre tennis center in Big Creek Park has quickly drawn opposition from residents who say the city was secretive in its plans to woo the $50 million facility. Plans for the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center were announced Thursday, and Roswell’s city council will vote Monday on a memorandum of understanding that would set the terms...
Confederate memorials removed at Agnes Scott spark deeper discussion

Confederate memorials removed at Agnes Scott spark deeper discussion

For nearly 90 years, the two marble markers stood on the campus of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, passed largely unnoticed each day by students, faculty and staff. About the size of modest headstones, the markers were weathered, gray and at first glance unremarkable. One lay beneath a tree near the school’s main entrance. The other, along College Avenue, was nearly obscured by a row of hedges...
Complaints accuse MARTA board of open meeting violations

Complaints accuse MARTA board of open meeting violations

MARTA’s Board of Directors has 10 days to respond to a series of complaints regarding access to meetings and votes on issues that weren’t listed in advance on the agenda. Paula Nash, MARTA’s active chief general counsel, received a letter from the office of Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr on Thursday. She has 10 days to respond to a series of accusations found in two separate...
DeKalb County: Comcast Xfinity outage slowed government functions

DeKalb County: Comcast Xfinity outage slowed government functions

A widespread internet outage temporarily affected some DeKalb County departments on Friday. Andrew Cauthen, a county spokesman, said certain functions affecting customers were affected during the morning. The system was back to normal function by 12:30 p.m., he said. Clerk of Superior Courts Debra DeBerry posted on Twitter that the outage affected an online system for looking up court cases....
Douglas County debate shows metro Atlanta transit remains a divisive issue

Douglas County debate shows metro Atlanta transit remains a divisive issue

This week Douglas County joined the growing ranks of metro Atlanta communities hoping to expand mass transit, and it wasn’t a pretty scene. At the Tuesday county commission meeting, the room was divided, with transit supporters in white shirts and opponents in red. Commissioners bickered about the merits of a plan to launch local bus service. After they voted 3-2 to accept a federal grant to...
One of Gwinnett’s most congested roads may get relief soon. Ish.

One of Gwinnett’s most congested roads may get relief soon. Ish.

One of Gwinnett County’s most congested roadways may get some relief in the near future.  Relatively speaking.  The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners approved this week a $4.9 million engineering and design contract for the widening of Ga. 124 — a.k.a. Scenic Highway — between U.S. 78 in Snellville and Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville. It’s the first step toward...
DeKalb County: SPLOST oversight committee to meet

DeKalb County: SPLOST oversight committee to meet

A committee of citizens that will monitor implementation of DeKalb County’s SPLOST program is scheduled to meet for the first time tonight (Aug. 9). County leaders had originally planned for the committee to be up and running by May. The SPLOST Citizens Oversight Committee includes members appointed by the Board of Commissioners and CEO Michael Thurmond. Tonight’s agenda includes...
Atlanta City Hall: Former Reed aide charged with bribery

Atlanta City Hall: Former Reed aide charged with bribery

A second member of former Mayor Kasim Reed’s cabinet has been charged with conspiracy and accepting bribes in the federal corruption investigation at Atlanta City Hall. Katrina Taylor-Parks, a 23-year veteran of City Hall, was accused of accepting a $2,000 bribe in 2013 through a company she owned. Her husband, DeAnthony Parks, also allegedly accepted a $2,000 payment but was not charged. The...
DeKalb may join other counties in ban on booting of vehicles

DeKalb may join other counties in ban on booting of vehicles

DeKalb County commissioners are considering banning the practice of booting vehicles for parking violations. If they do so, the county will join Clayton, Gwinnett and Cobb, which already have put an end to booting. DeKalb commissioners initially discussed setting a maximum fee that can be charged to remove boots, like Atlanta and the city of Decatur. The original...
Clayton’s on-air commission meetings to include public comments again

Clayton’s on-air commission meetings to include public comments again

The public comments portion of Clayton County Commission meetings once again will be televised. Almost 20 months after pulling the plug on on-air comments by those attending meetings, the board voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve Commissioner Michael Edmondson’s proposal to bring remarks back to CCTV 23 — with a caveat. Residents will have to wait until commissioners have gone through their agenda...
East Cobb write-in candidate wants to make commission non-partisan

East Cobb write-in candidate wants to make commission non-partisan

It all started when Joseph Pond was fined for keeping chickens in his backyard because, according to county code, his property was too small.  Now, the plumber from East Cobb is running as a write-in candidate for the District 3 commission seat to get partisanship out of local politics and “reel in” what he sees as over-regulation of private property.  “I think party politics...
Feds charge Reed’s deputy chief of staff in Atlanta corruption probe

Feds charge Reed’s deputy chief of staff in Atlanta corruption probe

There are new charges filed in the federal corruption investigation of Atlanta City Hall. Katrina Taylor-Parks, who served as deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Kasim Reed, was charged in a criminal information unsealed Wednesday morning with accepting bribes in 2013 from an unidentified city vendor. The money was provided to either Parks, or her husband DeAnthony Parks, according to the charging...
Report: Reed’s staff bonuses violated state constitution, city charter

Report: Reed’s staff bonuses violated state constitution, city charter

A confidential investigative report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, along with the City Council, violated the state Constitution by paying roughly $800,000 in bonuses just before Reed left office in December. The 90-page report from the Thompson Hine LLP law firm also says the Reed administration violated the city&rsquo...
County approves scaled-back version of ‘rural Gwinnett’ project

County approves scaled-back version of ‘rural Gwinnett’ project

Gwinnett’s Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday a scaled-back version of a controversial subdivision proposed for one of the county’s more rural areas.  The community group that formed to oppose the development — pitched for about 160 wooded acres near June Ivey and Indian Shoals roads, a largely undeveloped part of eastern Gwinnett — was not appeased. Justin Walsh...
National Night Out to be celebrated across DeKalb County

National Night Out to be celebrated across DeKalb County

National Night Out, an initiative to promote relationships between communities and the police who patrol them, will be observed across DeKalb County. Tonight’s event will be the seventh annual celebration in Clarkston. Free food, entertainment, books and tours of public safety vehicles will be available from 6 to 8 p.m. at Milam Park. The city of Tucker also hosted events. (Updated...
Cobb planning commissioner says she was fired for speaking out against tax hike

Cobb planning commissioner says she was fired for speaking out against tax hike

Cobb planning official Thea Powell attended her final meeting as commissioner Tuesday, telling the audience that she was being removed from her position because she spoke out against a tax hike that passed last month.  Planning commissioners are political appointees and receive a small stipend. Powell was appointed by Chairman Mike Boyce, who successfully championed the tax increase, which he...
US Justice Department adds prosecutors to Atlanta office

US Justice Department adds prosecutors to Atlanta office

U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak has added more firepower to his stable of federal prosecutors in Atlanta, including new attorneys with expertise in fraud, government investigations, racketeering, forfeiture and asset recovery. Pak announced Monday that he has hired eight new attorneys for his office, which has been investigating corruption at Atlanta City Hall for two years. That...
AJC EXCLUSIVE: Wall collapse exposed larger problem on I-75 lanes

AJC EXCLUSIVE: Wall collapse exposed larger problem on I-75 lanes

The recent collapse of a wall along an unfinished stretch of I-75 has prompted more extensive repairs and could delay the opening of 30 miles of toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties, documents exclusively obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show. An engineer’s report shows design and installation problems likely led to the collapse of the wall along the lanes near Windy Hill...
Ex-Atlanta Housing Authority chief Glover sues agency for legal fees

Ex-Atlanta Housing Authority chief Glover sues agency for legal fees

Former Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Renee Glover will go to court to try to recoup at least $235,000 in legal fees she incurred defending herself against a lawsuit filed by the city last year. Glover filed her suit Monday, the latest wrinkle in a nasty legal battle that started last year under then-Mayor Kasim Reed. In his final months in office, Reed pushed the AHA to sue companies affiliated with...
Attorney: Reed, city disguised legal fees in Southwell settlement

Attorney: Reed, city disguised legal fees in Southwell settlement

The secret settlement terms former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed agreed to with Miguel Southwell, the airport chief he fired in 2016, disguised a $65,000 legal fee as a job placement expense for Southwell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned. Last week, the AJC and Channel 2 Action News reported that the secret terms included a $147,000 payout to Southwell that came from undisclosed sources. Now...
More people appealed Fulton property values than initially thought

More people appealed Fulton property values than initially thought

The number of Fulton County property owners who filed appeals after their values increased is even higher than officials initially reported. As of Wednesday, there were 42,686 pending appeals and $5.9 billion in value was in dispute, according to a court filing. Fulton officials originally said 39,878 people had filed appeals. The bulk of them — more than 37,000 — were residential...
DeKalb County: Voters air grievances after election

DeKalb County: Voters air grievances after election

DeKalb County’s Board of Registration and Elections got an earful from residents with complaints about problems during May’s primary and last month’s runoff, as well as those with concerns about whether enough is being done to ensure the integrity of upcoming votes. Residents came to the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting to question why some people received the wrong...
Breaking: Two Spalding County jailers fired for neo-Nazi comments

Breaking: Two Spalding County jailers fired for neo-Nazi comments

Two Spalding County jailers were fired Monday after activists publicized their online comments expressing sympathy for Hitler and American neo-Nazi ideology. “Both of these gentlemen are no longer employed by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office based on some information that came to light today,” Sheriff Darrell Dix said. “It doesn’t fit what we want to represent to...
DeKalb: Interim county attorney to get job permanently

DeKalb: Interim county attorney to get job permanently

Viviane Ernstes can now remove the word “interim” from her job title. DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond announced Monday that he was appointing Ernstes to serve as county attorney on a permanent basis. Thurmond also has hired a new code enforcement director: Timothy C. Hardy. Previously, Hardy served as director of the city of Smyrna’s code enforcement division. Ernstes has...
Fulton County again petitions court to collect property taxes

Fulton County again petitions court to collect property taxes

For the second year in a row, Fulton County is asking the court’s permission to be able to collect property taxes. The request, filed in Fulton County Superior Court Friday, says taxes for the county government, school systems, cities and community improvement districts can’t be collected without the court’s intervention. That’s because of the number of appeals...
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