DeKalb CEO unsure of legality of referendum advice

Last night’s DeKalb town hall was a snooze except for the constitutional questions raised

Image I went to DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis’ town hall meeting in Dunwoody last night so you didn’t have to. Zzzz…

It’s a re-election year. I assume that’s why there were oodles of glossy pamphlets, as well as poster-sized photos of Ellis placed strategically around the chapel of Dunwoody Baptist Church. Not that there were many votes to be had in attendance. I’d guess there were at least as many county employees and cops there as actual residents. (BTW, did you know that Burke Brennan, Ellis’ spokesman, moonlights as the World’s Greatest Wedding DJ?)

Anyway, the meeting itself was a snooze, offering none of the fireworks I’d hoped for. After all, this was the community that had engaged in a fairly acrimonious incorporation battle with Ellis only three years ago. Perhaps becoming a city satisfied people’s concerns because, apart from some questions about the county animal shelter, trash pick-up, and the perennial issue — Brook Run Park — I didn’t hear any significant complaints last night.

In fact, the most interesting thing to me was Ellis’ uncertainty over whether he’s allowed to instruct voters to support the proposed Regional Transportation Tax. After spending a few minutes telling the audience why a one-cent regional sales tax to fund transit and road projects would be beneficial — creating thousands of jobs, delivering $1.3 billion in transportation funding to DeKalb — Ellis caught himself mid-sentence.

“I can’t tell you how to vote in this forum,” he said. Then he turned to someone in the wings — presumably a county attorney — and asked, “Can I?”

Apparently, that person shook his or her head because Ellis turned back to the audience and said, “No, I can’t,” before rattling off more reasons why the transportation tax is vital to the county’s future.