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Not long ago, Clayton County was metro Atlanta’s cautionary example of municipal dysfunction. Then came DeKalb. We rank each venality out of 10.
One would think that having former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers literally waiting in the wings to tell the DeKalb County Commission how riddled with corruption its county is—“rotten to the core” is how he put it in a letter this week to the county—might engender a sense of fiscal restraint in the board.
Last month, a DeKalb County patrolman shot and killed an unambiguously unarmed man, drawing an investigation and protest. Two weeks ago, a North Charleston police officer shot and killed an unambiguously unarmed man, drawing an investigation and protest.
During his seven-year stint as an Atlanta Braves pitcher, Pat Jarvis won 83 games and earned the nickname “Little Bulldog” for his compact frame and gutsy competitiveness. He retired in 1974 and two years later transitioned to political infields, winning election as sheriff of DeKalb County, which already had a reputation as a swamp of corruption.
In 2012, arts consultant Kathie deNobriga succeeded a CDC scientist as mayor of Pine Lake, a sylvan city of 800 residents and DeKalb County’s smallest. Tucked away near Stone Mountain, Pine Lake is just a quarter square mile and has a police force of three.
An undercurrent of distrust has long pervaded DeKalb County schools. Thanks to perceptions that the “other part” of the county was getting more resources, parents in north and south DeKalb were deeply suspicious of each other. It took a crisis to bring them together.
Conventional wisdom—and decades of TV cops shows—may lead you to believe that the city is dangerous and undereducated while the suburbs are havens for all things intellectual. In some places those stereotypes may well hold true.
As recently as the late 1990s, the DeKalb County neighborhood of Kirkwood was known for street-corner drug deals, blatant prostitution, and a crumbling central business district. An influx of families and commercial investment has softened Kirkwood’s hard edge, resulting in an urban village of roughly 5,000 people that residents call harmoniously diverse.
Well, no matter how statisticians choose to quantify the chasm between the country's haves and have-nots; metro Atlanta keeps coming out on top. The latest: an Urban Institute study that shows three metro counties rank in the top 10 for an affordable housing gap.