by Alice Murray
The labor pains preceding the birth of Georgia’s newest city began with the appointment of a pro bono city attorney and will continue at 8 p.m. Sept. 20, at the second meeting of a five-member Brookhaven Commission appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The commission’s first official actions were to appoint William F. Riley Jr. of the Marietta firm Riley McLendon LLC as its pro bono legal representative and to authorize commission Chairman Ben Vinson to establish committees and appoint committee co-chairs.
Vinson, an attorney at McKenna, Long & Aldridge, said Riley has assisted every governor’s commission establishing new city governments since Sandy Springs was founded in 2005. Riley is currently acting city attorney for Peachtree Corners, and he and three members of his firm staff the Johns Creek city attorney’s office.
The commissioners, including a representative for each of the city’s four districts, agreed to meet every Thursday at 8 p.m. until the general election on Nov. 6, when a mayor and four city council members will be held on the ballot. A run-off election, if necessary, will be Dec. 4.
The all-volunteer commission will be dissolved when the elected officials take office and the city officially opens for business Dec. 17.
District 3 Commissioner Jed Beardsley said the appointees on the commission brought with them “no egos and no agendas. We are just volunteers who are willing to work as hard as we can to do the work given to us.”
The commission has two roles as set by the statute establishing the new city. With the help of the Georgia Municipal Association and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, the group will conduct a seminar for all qualified candidates for mayor and city council on the duties, responsibilities, obligations and laws regarding service on a municipal governing authority.
The commissioners are also required to produce a written report for the new city’s elected officials to cover three specific areas: backgrounds and qualifications of possible candidates for the positions of city manager, city attorney, city clerk, and city accountant; a proposed plan for privatizing the delivery of as many city services as practicable based upon the best practices of other municipalities; and possible locations and pricing for leased city office facilities.
“We have no actual authority and no money,” Vinson said. “Our role as volunteers is to channel all the resources we can find to the mayor and council members when they take over.” He said he would announce committees and their co-chairs in the very near future.
District 1 Commissioner J.D. Clockadale said that the committees “will be the best way and the most effective way to be involved” in the work of the commission.
Beardsley added that there is “a lot of organizational work to be done, and we need volunteers.”
The new city of Brookhaven covers 12 square miles in the northwest section of DeKalb County south of Dunwoody and north of Interstate 85. Population of the area is approximately 49,000.
While plans call for the location of tof the Sept. 20 meeting to be the Atrium of St. Martin’s Episcopal School at 3110-A Ashford Dunwoody Road N.E., future sessions may be moved to a larger facility because of a standing-room-only crowd at the first meeting.
All meetings of the commission will be open to the public. Updates regarding the meeting location will be posted online at http://brookhavencommission.com/wordpress/?page_id=2, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrookhavenCommission, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BrookhavenComm, according to District 4 Commissioner Kim Gökçe, who is handling technology for the group.