Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dunwoody Crier Story on Campaign Contirbutions and Zoning

The Dunwoody Crier has a story this week regarding zoning and campaign disclosure forms.  See HERE for story.

Here's the story.  Bob Dallas ran for mayor against Mike Davis.  Mr. Dallas accepted campaign funds from lawyers and developers.  We have no issue with that.  Mr. Dallas did nothing wrong in accepting campaign funds. He ran for office and people wanted to contribute to his campaign. People contribute to campaign for many reasons.  Mr. Dallas did not win the election, but he is on the Planning Commission.  Mayor Davis did not seek to replace his campaign opponent, but instead recognized Mr. Dallas' experience in government and so Mr. Dallas is vice-chair of Dunwoody's Planning Commission.

Down on Ashford Duwoody Road a group going by the name of HDP Acquisitions needs the city's blessing to change their site plan and change zoning.  For this particular case, HDP presents to Community Council, then Planning Commission, then City Council.  Prior to meeting with the Community Council and Planning Board, HDP is required to submit a packet of information.  The packet includes site plans, maps, city forms, and financial disclosures.

They need to first go to the Community Council (they did, and that Board voted 5-1 in favor of their changes.  I was the lone 'no' vote, full disclosure.) I feel this Board was strongly influenced by the city attorney's testimony regarding a 1980 deed at the hearing. I think the city attorney is wrong on basing his decision of allowing the curb-cut based solely on one document and more on this will be posted soon.

Next HDP goes in front of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission voted 'Yes' also, in a 4-3 vote.  So far, so good for HDP.  The video of this hearing is available on the city's web site.  Bob Dallas, a Dunwoody resident, is on the Planning Commission.  You can watch and listen to him promote to fellow Board members the full approval of HDP's requests. No issue with that.  He has experience in this area and he should speak his mind.  There's a reason he is on that Board.

But here's where the story takes a slight turn.  The Dallas campaign received $500 from one HDP attorney, $1000 more from the firm employing her and another attorney (the 'other' attorney was the person presenting to Dallas and the Planning Commission).

Incomplete document.  Perhaps the two attorneys should have left both boxes unchecked as well.

In addition, the Dallas campaign received $1000 from Hotel Equities.  Hotel Equities appears to be related to the applicant, HDP Acquisitions.

According to signed documents neither attorney or the hotel group admitted to these campaign contributions.

All committee members received this packet in advance.  Part of these packets are the sign campaign disclosure forms.

I'll go out on a limb here and state that Mr. Dallas would vote to approve this project even if he had not received campaign contributions from the two attorneys and the developer.  I don't think for a moment the money had any influence on him.  But I do think both sides of this issue should have informed city staff and fellow board members of the contributions.

So now what?  Do the votes on the Community Council and Planning Commission still stand?  What action does the city take regarding the inaccurate and incomplete disclosure forms?  Will 'Dunwoody Community' tweet this story?  Will the rain stop so I can mow the lawn? 


Anonymous said...

Dick Williams had to dig pretty deep to research these facts, I applaud the effort. He is a master of the craft...

Unfortunately, not disclosing prior political contributions is either an oversight (sloppy) or intentional (stupid). Ms. Zwickert is one of the best zoning attorney's in Georgia, a sad situation. This sort of impropriety is easily sloughed off as a 'technical foul,' but OUGHT not be tolerated. Out on a limb here, but I imagine this is a common practice, all over.

How these revelations may affect City Council passage of the Sterling project is anybody's guess, obviously it is not helpful.

I think this drives home a point - Aren't we glad we got Mayor Davis?

Bob should have known better.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that Dallas also took in a lot of money from folks that wanted Dunwoody to annex the Perimeter Summit area, which would have screwed the Brookhaven city movement.

When he lost the election he still tried to get it done. The perpetual candidate Bob Dallas is and has always been looking for his next job. Not to be trusted at all.

Anonymous said...

Did this happen during the ethics moratorium?

Anonymous said...

Bob did not break the law. The attorneys for the developer and the developer broke the law.

It is a GA State law, not a city code of ethics.

I hope the city acts and just doesn't look the other way.