Atlanta Councilwoman Bottoms “Praying For” Annexation Opponents
(APN) ATLANTA — On Tuesday, May 18, 2015, at the City Council of Atlanta’s Full Council Meeting, concerned citizens from unincorporated south Fulton County turned out to express their concerns regarding the annexation petition process for the Loch Lomond, Sandtown, and Southoak communities.
Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms (District 11) addressed the commenters, including by discussing their concerns and denying that she had a hidden agenda in supporting annexation.
“What is your hidden agenda, Ms. Bottoms?! Stop using our kids for a hidden agenda!” Damita Chatman stated at the podium.
Chatman and other speakers are opposed to the annexation attempts, as the educational fate of 1,850 school children hang in the balance of this decision.
“You have been misled about the school issue. There is no desire to kick children out of anybody’s school. What I do know about my community during the last annexation was the school issue was a huge issue. The City of Atlanta has filed a lawsuit on the school issue, to answer questions related to the schools. You have been misled,” Bottoms said to the audience.
Parents of children who currently attend Fulton County Schools are concerned that their children will have to transfer to Atlanta Public Schools. A local constitutional amendment still on the books would require those students to transfer to APS.
However, as reported on by Atlanta Progressive News on April 15, 2015, according to State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), Robbie Ashe has filed a lawsuit to rule the local constitutional amendment as unconstitutional.
Local constitutional amendments are unconstitutional anyway, and they are being repealed one by one, Rep. Gardner told APN.
Legislation to repeal the local constitutional amendment, HB 638 and SB 227, was filed during this year’s 2015 legislative session, and could come up next year if the lawsuit is not decided by then.
After numerous allegations that parents and residents of south Fulton had their names added to the annexation petition list without their consent, as well as deceased persons showing up on the lists, community members and elected officials alike have been questioning the lack of transparency of this process.
“I’ve never needed a sinister agenda to achieve anything. I’ve been quite capable of doing that through hard work. And I certainly don’t need a sinister agenda to achieve anything now. And certainly wouldn’t create one at the expense of my community,” Bottoms said.
“And so I think it’s really unfortunate that you all have been misled. There is no desire to close Sandtown Park, nobody has said that Sandtown Park would be closed. It will be part of the consideration if this annexation goes through. As to whether or not we would purchase the park… remain with Fulton County… it will not be closed,” Bottoms said.
“We do need your prayers, but when you pray please also pray for those who are manipulating the facts, please also pray for those who are playing on the emotions of this community, by misleading them and lying to them,” Bottoms said.
“And then the other thing you really should pray for, I pray for people who throw rocks and hide their hands. I pray for those who wallow in conspiracy theory, who wallow in malicious gossip, who make personal attacks. For what?” Bottoms said.
“I don’t know what their agendas are, but I do know, that there are people in your community, more than 60 percent who signed petitions saying we want to go into the City of Atlanta. And they signed those petitions because of they were afraid for the creation of the City of South Fulton. It’s what prompted the last annexation effort and is what is prompting this annexation effort,” Bottoms said.
As of this publication, there is no contingency plan in place for the parks in question. Neither the County Commission, nor Atlanta City Council, knows who will manage those parks or who will be financially responsible for a County-owned property that may be annexed into Atlanta.
Bottoms ended her comments with prayers for all.
“So, thank you for your prayers and will continue to pray for my community. Because there are people who claim to have your best interests at heart and who are seeking to divide this community… so we’re going to pray for one another,” Bottoms said, looking away disgusted.
The proposed annexation could have a major impact on upcoming 2017 elections, particularly for the three at-large Council seats, the Council President seat, and the Mayor’s race.
“Everybody is saying, I’m not sure if it’s factual, but I heard it from everybody, that the [Atlanta] Mayor’s office has been Black for forty years,” activist Debra Bazemore told APN for a story published April 15, 2015.
“Those [Black] votes were moved out with revitalization. They are trying to capture the Black vote by annexing Black areas in. He [Reed] almost lost the election to Mary Norwood [in 2009], because of the Black votes moving out. When you move people out and build out the area and they can’t afford to come back in, you lose those votes. Those people were faithful voters and now they all live in unincorporated South Fulton,” she said.