Ellis indictment may further prod DeKalb cityhood efforts

7:11 PM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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TUCKER, Ga. -- At sidewalk level, DeKalb County still has what appears to be a strong urban pulse. At its political level, DeKalb seems chronically ill. The latest symptom is the indictment of its elected leader, CEO Burrell Ellis.

"I think it does raise the issue of whether government is serving the citizens, and probably gives cityhood a decent argument," said Ron McCauley, who is among those who see cityhood as a treatment for what ails DeKalb.

There are ongoing city efforts in the communities of Lakeside, Briarcliff, Tucker, Stonecrest and elsewhere-- and some of them have been overlapping and competitive, pitting neighbors against each other.

But the county's tumult has been an ongoing theme in the cityhood initiatives, and Ellis's indictment could become a catalyst. "I can't help but see how this moves people out of the undecided column," said Don Broussard, a city of Briarcliff backer.

The motivations run deep. DeKalb's former school superintendent, Crawford Lewis, awaits a criminal trial. The school system's entire school board is undergoing a forcible removal process, with the system's accreditation at stake. In the case of Burrell Ellis -- one lawmaker argues that his indictment represents a step forward in a county fraught with uncertainty.

"I don't think the indictment necessarily is a bad thing for the citizens because at least they feel like (allegations against Ellis are) being addressed," said Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker). "So at least the county is eventually going to work its way out of its problems."

And in DeKalb County, that's considered a bright side these days.

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