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THE CHAMPION, THURSDAY, DEC. 26, 2019 - JAN. 1, 2020 • PAGE 6
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A nativity scene sitting on a piano with
poinsettias, reindeer statuettes and lights greets
visitors and residents when they walk in.
Synergy HomeCare teamed up with residents
and Mansions at Decatur, an independent senior
living facility in Decatur, to decorate doors,
hallways and living rooms to spread holiday
cheer and coordinated a door decorating contest
The door decorating contest was won by
Jane Bour after residents voted on Dec. 23.
Bour’s door had an inflatable elf folding in
and out of a Santa Claus mug, a lighted reindeer,
elves, wallpaper and other holiday decor.
The Mansions at Decatur announced the
winner at the residents’ Christmas party, but
it was the process of decorating the doors that
brought out some of the holiday spirit in the
residents, according to Bour.
“I have three daughters and they were all
here,” said Bour. “I have a grandson and his
fiance, and they were all here decorating."
The door decorations don’t just bring
family members by; they also bring friends
and residents from other Mansions properties,
said Bour. Not only are the residents judging,
comparing and voting on the doors, they’re also
picking up Christmas cookies, bourbon balls and
other treats from the doors decorated with such
“They’ve brought a lot of laughs and a lot of
smiles [to other residents],” Bour said. “I have a
neighbor with a 4-year-old grandson who likes to
come up and look at the doors.”
But the sweets and treats are always a main
attraction, said Bour.
“When they know there are cookies, or
bourbon balls, or candy outside, they’re here,”
Though the door decorating contest ended
Dec. 23, residents and staff of Mansions at
Decatur have been in the holiday spirit for
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along with all other delegation members and
stakeholders in our community to produce
meaningful legislation that will enhance DeKalb
County’s ethics procedures.”
The DeKalb County Ethics Act has had its
share of issues over the years.
In 2015, DeKalb voters sided with House Bill
597, which changed the board’s structure to be
more independent, allowing outside groups-not
the county CEO and Board of Commissioners-to
appoint ethics board members. The board then
consisted of seven volunteer members appointed
by: DeKalb Bar Association, DeKalb Legislative
Delegation, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce,
DeKalb universities, Leadership DeKalb, the chief
judge of DeKalb’s Superior Court and DeKalb
Probate Court judge.
“The appointment of board members by
independent organizations ensures that the board
is not established with an inherent conflict of
interest-appointment of board member by the
same officials whom they also regulate,” the
DeKalb Board of Ethics website states.
However, in August 2018, the Georgia
Supreme Court ruled that having a non-elected
entity make appointments to the ethics board
is unconstitutional. DeKalb Bar Association,
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, DeKalb
universities and Leadership DeKalb are not
considered elected entities.
“As these private entities do not answer to
the people as required by our constitution, they
are not authorized to wield the power to appoint
public officials to the DeKalb County Board
of Ethics,” the ruling states. “The fact that the
people of DeKalb County approved HB 597 in a
local referendum does not cure the constitutional
infirmity created by the appointment process
described in the local law.”
Since that ruling, the ethics board has not been
able to hear complaints, though the complaints
have gone through investigation, according to
Stacey Kalberman, DeKalb County Board of
“We get calls almost every day asking ethics
questions; people call us for advice. The public
calls for us to report things. We spend a lot of time
advising,” said Kalberman, noting that there are
only two active board members.
In her role as ethics officer, Kalberman has
continued to train employees, public officials and
'We get calls almost
every day asking ethics
questions; people call
us for advice.'
- Stacey Kalberman
various boards on the ethics law. The ethics board
continues to administer the complaint hotline
and receive complaints, though the complaints
cannot be heard until an official board is in place,
according to Kalberman. Since the supreme
court’s ruling, the DeKalb ethics office has
received 40 complaints through the hotline and
“This number does not include complaints
that we have investigated through people who
walk into our office to discuss complaints or those
that we receive anonymously through the mail,”
Various versions of the ethics bill went
through the Georgia General Assembly legislative
session this year. Jones said some members of
the general assembly wanted to change only the
appointment process of members to DeKalb’s
ethics board, while some wanted to dig deeper
into the law and change more of its language.
Notable changes in SB 7 to the county’s ethics
law included replacing the ethics officer with an
ethics administrator who has fewer duties, and
requiring county employees to first file complaints
through the county’s human resources department
for remedy. Appointments to the ethics board were
almost the entire month of December, based on
the projects they’ve been involved with.
Residents voted for David Sass and Dianne
Thornton as Mr. and Ms. Mansions and Pat
Sims as runner up. The Dec. 11 Mr. and Ms.
Mansions contest was a red-carpet event with
Chateaubriand served for dinner.
On Dec. 9 the Mansions at Decatur donated
and wrapped presents for children at The Carrie
Steele-Pitts Home, a 3 5-acre child-care campus
in northwest Atlanta. Everything from shoes to
footballs to Elmer’s slime kits were wrapped and
donated to the children at the home.
The children came to Mansions at Decatur to
open some of their presents.
The residents also raised more than $800 for
the children’s home, according to the activity’s
director Tamara Burton.
to consist of two appointed by the county’s House
delegation; two appointed by the county’s Senate
delegation; one appointed by the county CEO
with majority confirmation of the DeKalb County
Board of Commissioners; one appointment by the
chief superior court judge; and one by the probate
Several DeKalb County residents spoke at
a recent DeKalb County Board of Commission
meeting indicating that voters want a simple fix to
the ethics law-only a change in the appointment
process as indicated in the supreme court’s ruling.
“We still need a new board. The voters spoke
in saying we don’t need a weakened ethics board,”
said Decatur resident Lynn Ganim, who also
is member of the DeKalb Citizens Advocacy
Council. “Fix the appointment process for the
members of the board. That’s all they need to do,
what the court wants us to do. Any other changes
can be made later.”
Ga. Rep. Matthew Wilson, D-Brookhaven,
announced Dec. 16 that he is planning to
introduce a bill that only proposes to change only
the board’s appointment process. Under Wilson’s
proposed bill, DeKalb delegations serving
in the both the state house and senate would
each get one appointment, in addition to single
appointments by the chief judge of DeKalb’s
Superior Court, DeKalb’s probate judge, and
DeKalb’s chief magistrate, according to a press
release. The remaining two positions would
be appointed by a consensus of the mayors and
city council members of the cities wholly within
DeKalb County: Avondale Estates, Brookhaven,
Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville,
Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Stonecrest, Stone
Mountain, and Tucker.
Jones expects about four to five house and
senate members to be appointed to the task force
within the first few weeks of the 2020 legislative
session which begins Jan. 13.
“It is a top priority to ensure that we come up
with a bill that members of both the house and the
senate can support and hopefully the public votes
for it,” said Jones.