ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
79°
Partly Cloudy T-storms
H 93° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy T-storms. H 93° L 75°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    93°
    Today
    Partly Cloudy T-storms. H 93° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    91°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 75°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

    The city of Decatur has replaced an outdated apartment complex with dozens of new units designated as affordable housing. Officials are set to celebrate the grand opening of “Oakview Walk” on Wednesday morning. The project, spearheaded by the Decatur Housing Authority, involved demolishing the old apartment building — nearly 60 years old — and building 34 new one- and two-bedroom units. The new complex, on the corner of Oakview Road and Maxwell Street in the Oakhurst neighborhood, follows the DHA’s redevelopment of the Trinity Walk apartments in Decatur. With the opening of Oakview Walk, Decatur has increased its number of affordable units from 475 in 2014 to 518 this year, the DHA said in a statement. Twenty-seven of the new apartments are for families earning 30 to 60% of the region’s median income, with monthly rents ranging from $625 to $925, the DHA said. The remaining seven apartments are “workforce housing,” for families earning 80 to 120% of the median income. Those rents will range from $1,000 to $1,350 per month. The median family income for metro Atlanta is $79,700, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The original Oakview Apartments were fully occupied, but “the apartments were physically and functionally obsolete for today’s families, with poorly-designed floor plans and lacking modern energy efficiency and amenities,” the housing authority said. The new apartment complex includes a community room, onsite laundry, a children’s play area, a community garden and more. The units are also energy-efficient. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » Body cam catches Atlanta rapper, reality star in racist tirade during arrest » Inside a ‘food desert,’ group plans fresh, community market “The City of Decatur is relatively unique in that its affordable housing communities are part of the fabric of the city, and not constructed some distance away. This allows students to attend the award-winning public schools and offers easy access to public transportation and area jobs for adults,” DHA Executive Director Douglas Faust said in a statement. The grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17 at 10 a.m. at 1111 Oakview Road. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • Several Georgia Republican lawmakers bristled late Monday at a series of tweets from President Donald Trump that urged four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from, even as they defended his border policies and declined to call for an apology.  Others sought to steer clear of Trump’s controversial remarks, which were directed at U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, progressive freshmen who have been highly critical of the president and his policies.  No Georgia Republicans publicly joined their African-American colleague Will Hurd, R-Texas, who called Trump’s tweets “racist and xenophobic.”  Instead, many were critical of Trump’s words but agreed with the sentiment that Democrats’ shift to the left was hurting the country.  “I’m not as concerned about where people are from as I am about the radical agenda of the socialist wing of the Democratic party in Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. “The very public infighting among Democrats continues to escalate and it’s happening at the detriment of the American people.”  >> Related: In suburban Atlanta, Donald Trump’s ‘go back’ rant could be costly for GOP in 2020 U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said Trump is “frustrated that Congress has not acted to solve the crisis at our border, and he expressed his frustrations in a way that didn’t promote reconciliation across the aisle and across our country.”  Without a unified directive from the party, the president’s Capitol Hill allies were left scrambling to formulate a response to the remarks, which began on social media Sunday. Trump is broadly popular among GOP base voters, and in general the party’s elected officials have avoided criticizing the president directly. However, the sentiment behind Trump's 'go home' comments is one that has deep, painful roots in American history. It’s been hurled at most immigrant groups at one point or another.  U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, emphasized the point during an appearance on MSNBC.  “We heard this during the ’60s when little children were trying to desegregate schools, when we were trying to desegregate lunch counters and restaurants, when were trying to get the right to vote, to go back,” Lewis said. “We’re not going back. we’re here to stay.  “What he said and what he continues to say is racist. It is racism. You cannot hide it, you cannot sweep it under the American rug.” Of the four congresswomen targeted by Trump, three were born in the U.S., and the Somalia-born Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen.  The president doubled down on his remarks on Monday and Tuesday, saying that the four Democratic lawmakers hate America, and “if you’re not happy here, then you can leave.”  House Democratic leaders teed up a vote on a resolution condemning the president’s comments for Tuesday, and local Democratic candidates were quick to pounce on social media.  Trump’s “xenophobic comments further fan the flames of his hateful rhetoric towards our black and brown communities and places them in harm’s way,” said Nabilah Islam, a Democrat running in Georgia’ 7th Congressional District.  Carolyn Bourdeaux, one of Islam’s primary opponents, said Trump was trying to distract from “human rights abuses at the border and the corruption of his administration.”   Congressman Jody Hice, R-Monroe, who has been an ardent supporter of the president through his leadership role in the House Freedom Caucus, said “I don’t believe the president is a racist.”  “Although I wish he had been more diplomatic, I share his frustrations in regard to Members of Congress making repeated derogatory statements about the Nation we love, serve, and defend,” he said.  Two Georgia Republicans, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, more directly condemned Trump’s remarks, with the former saying “there is not a debate about whether or not it’s acceptable.” Isakson said Trump’s comments were “totally inappropriate.” 'I wasn't elected to make excuses or explain the statements of somebody else, and so I'm just not going to do that,” said Isakson, a three-term Republican who sharply criticized the president for dishonoring the late John McCain earlier this year.  Isakson’s Senate colleague, David Perdue, said it was “outrageous” to consider Trump’s comments racist.  The Republican golfed with his White House ally in Virginia on Saturday and said he was focused on funding the federal government and recent hostilities with Iran rather than Trump’s tweets.   
  • The potential for tampering in Georgia’s elections last fall prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to warn election officials to be on guard against foreign interference. A recently released DHS memo, titled “A Georgia Perspective on Threats to the 2018 U.S. Elections,” listed concerns about hacking, misinformation spread through social media and disruptions to election infrastructure. The federal advice came as attorneys for state election officials argued in court documents that fears of hacking and vote miscounting were little more than “a theoretical possibility.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said Monday that cybersecurity has been an ongoing priority since well before the 2018 elections. “This memo is standard information sharing and shows what all levels of government are doing to protect our elections,” said spokeswoman Tess Hammock. “DHS prepared a similar memo for every state. There is no evidence of any successful attempts to interfere in Georgia's elections.” The unclassified DHS document became public Wednesday when it was included as an exhibit in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to prevent the continued use of electronic voting machines. “Foreign governments may engage in cyber operations targeting the election infrastructure and political organization in Georgia and engage in influence operations that aim to interfere with the 2018 U.S. elections,” according to the Oct. 2, 2018, document prepared by the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis Field Operations Division for the Southeast Region. The two-page memo didn't specify who might have attempted to tamper with Georgia's elections, but it said their goals could have been “to disrupt political processes, sway public opinion, or to undermine certain political organizations.” In July 2016, a Russian agent visited election websites in Cobb and Fulton counties but didn't gain access to election systems, according to the Secretary of State's Office. The DHS said in a statement Monday that it’s not aware of any specific targeting of Georgia’s election infrastructure in 2018 by a foreign government. The department shared information with state officials across the country before last year’s election. “These potential tactics are not specific to Georgia systems and could be applicable to elections across the United States,” said spokesman Scott McConnell. “Election security is national security, and we are continuing to engage our election partners as part of a collaborative effort to protect the 2020 election.” Jeanne Dufort, a voter worried about election security, said Georgia election officials should do more to ensure safe elections. “Our election officials said, ‘There’s nothing to see here, there’s nothing to worry about,’ ” said Dufort, a real estate agent in Madison. “I wish they would treat election safety the way most of us treat our personal home safety. We take reasonable precautions, we listen to experts and we try to protect ourselves rather than saying there’s no problem unless someone can prove there’s a problem.” Potential threats identified by DHS included: Unauthorized entry into polling places or voting facilities used to store election equipment. Emails sent to government agencies, including the state's department of motor vehicles, that include malicious links that could be used to hack voter registration systems. Attempts to hack or disrupt the processing of absentee ballots sent through the U.S. Postal Service. Social media messages or robocalls falsely reporting changed or closed polling locations. Disruptions to polling places such as power failures or internet, cellphone and traffic control outages.
  • No place stands to benefit more than Georgia if the Trump administration succeeds in its effort to transform kidney health in the United States. Millions in the state live with conditions that can lead to kidney disease and death. Advocates were thrilled when President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that would, among other things, promote organ donations and reshape kidney care. They said the disease has gone ignored too long. The question remains how much concrete change the administration’s actions this week represent, and how much they will move the needle going forward on public kidney health. “I’m excited about it,” said Dr. Stephen Pastan, the medical director of kidney and pancreas transplant at the Emory Transplant Center. “I think it’s going to give a lot of publicity and shine a lot of light on the problems kidney patients are having” as well as on the struggle to treat them, Pastan said. “I think if they follow through on them they will have a major impact. There were not a lot of specifics about how they were going to carry out the goals.” The goals are ambitious. They include reducing the number of Americans developing end-stage renal disease by 25% by 2030, and by 2025 to have 80% of all newly diagnosed patients either receiving a transplanted kidney or getting dialysis at home. That has huge implications for Georgia and other Southern states, which are the nation’s worst-ranked in important kidney health factors. More than 1 million Georgians live with diabetes, one of the two top conditions that lead to kidney disease. The other is hypertension, or high blood pressure, which afflicts more than one-third of Georgians, according to the American Kidney Fund. As a result, the state has a thriving dialysis business, with more than 21,000 people in end-stage kidney disease receiving the treatment. “It’s a big deal,” Trump said at the ceremony where he signed the order. ‘Paying for sickness’ The proposal contains a raft of ideas. Some can be implemented immediately, some not. One would use federal money to incentivize organ donation by live donors. One would promote invention of an implantable artificial kidney; others would revamp the system to take better care of the organs that are already donated or shake up the regions that do a poor job of encouraging donation. Of the 5,000 Georgians waiting for an organ transplant, more than 90% need a kidney. Reforming the organ procurement regions that aren’t up to snuff could help Georgia, which is in danger of losing more organs to areas where donation rates are lower. The proposal that drew the most attention in news accounts would seek to shift dialysis from clinics to homes, and take aim at the archaic system that has given rise to the hundreds of dialysis clinics across Georgia. That proposal may have the most concrete impact, testing out new incentive plans for half of the nation’s dialysis patients. If it works, those patients at home will have a more comfortable dialysis experience and are likely to spend hours longer on the procedure, which is more natural for the body. If they can do dialysis while they sleep, they also have a better chance of keeping a job. In the 1970s, Congress simply agreed that Medicare would pay for dialysis for anyone who needs it. The problem is, that created an incentive for health care providers to invest in treatment of the worst stage of the disease — but it created nothing comparable for the earlier stages, much less for preventing it altogether. Alex Azar, Trump’s health secretary, in announcing the changes, said: “For decades, across all of American healthcare, and kidney care in particular, the focus has been on paying for procedures, rather than paying for good outcomes. We need to flip that around.” Praise has been virtually universal for the goals, for the intention to take a new look at kidney disease, and for the proposals outlined so far. Where critics find fault is in the modest plans for the first goal: to prevent, detect and slow the progression of kidney disease in the first place. The administration plans an education campaign, as well as some pilot programs testing incentive programs for better care. The key to significant impact on that goal doesn’t require reinventing the wheel, critics counter, but simply ensuring access to basic health care, especially among the poor. “Are all admirable goals, and the federal government should be working toward that,” said Laura Colbert, the director of Georigans for a Healthy Future, which has advocated for coverage of poor Georgians through Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. “When you contrast those goals with the other actions the federal government is taking around health care they don’t necessarily line up,” she said, specifically citing the administration’s legal arguments that same week against the Affordable Care Act. Georgia’s GOP leaders declined to expand Medicaid to all of Georgia’s poor, citing the cost to the state and to the federal government. Gov. Brian Kemp is currently developing a more limited plan for Medicaid coverage. ‘The Diabetes Belt’ Dr. Karen Kinsell is often sought out as an expert on rural Georgia health care because she is the only medical provider in Clay County. She said she’s watched about three dialysis clinics spring up in her area, one of them smack across from the local fast-food restaurants whose popularity contributes to kidney disease. Part of the problem is patients’ own choices in whether to take care of their health, she said. But not all. “Yesterday I had a patient come in with blood sugar of 589,” she said. Normal is in the low 100s. “He realized he hadn’t taken his (diabetes medications) for six months because he couldn’t afford them. He is going to end up in the emergency room.” That patient can’t get funding for pills or for insulin — whose price is soaring — or help with his diet, and he’s afraid of being evicted to boot, she said, which complicates everything including keeping up with health care. But if he got end-stage renal disease, he’d receive dialysis paid for by Medicare. “If he had Medicaid, he wouldn’t be in quite this fix,” Kinsell said. “We know all these poor sick people are out there with diabetes and blood pressure out of control,” she said. “That is a crisis; why are we not addressing that now? … We know how to do this. Get the medicines and work with them to make sure they’re doing it correctly. Then addressing the complications as they come up.” Mike Spigler, the American Kidney Fund’s vice president of patient services and kidney disease education, finds himself seeing both sides. “To us in the kidney community, this was huge,” he said. He was in the room as Trump signed the order. He’s also been in Georgia, doing kidney screening events at Stonecrest Mall and other sites. “We frequently find people with uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure — blood glucose in the 300, 400, 500, 600 range, blood pressure 200 — not taking their meds,” he said. “Not only Georgia but the whole South, what they call ‘The Diabetes Belt,’ is disproportionately affected by kidney disease. Having this focus and attention from the federal government is a good thing,” he said. And noting the transplant and dialysis initiatives, he said: “All those things are very, very good things. All extremely good things.” However, he added “Without question that is the most important to us: preventing kidney disease in the first place.”
  • The email warned that the legislator was in the crosshairs of Republicans for opposing the anti-abortion bill that has rocked Georgia politics, and it invited donors to a fundraiser to give $481 contributions “in honor of our fight against” House Bill 481. Several of Democratic state Rep. Mike Wilensky’s supporters came to a Sandy Springs mansion with donations in hand, and a message to send, as they listened to actor Ric Reitz outline his fears that the new abortion restrictions will gut Georgia’s film industry. That kind of fundraising has spilled over into conservative coffers, too, though some Republicans are deliberately not raising money on the issue. Joshua Edmonds of the Georgia Life Alliance said that anti-abortion causes are enjoying unprecedented interest from donors and volunteers that will pay dividends in 2020, when every legislative seat will be up for election. “It speaks volumes that the pro-life community overwhelmingly supports this bill and the lawmakers who voted for it,” he said, “and they’re mobilized to defend it.” It’s impossible to pinpoint how the new law, which seeks to ban most abortions as early as six weeks, will influence next year’s election. But an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of the most recent fundraising figures offers a glimpse of the issue’s political potency. Some donors dipped deeper into their wallets in support or defiance of lawmakers who embraced the bill. Anti-abortion groups report an uptick in contributions and volunteers. Abortion rights supporters touted donations from megawatt stars. Candidates in competitive districts reported big hauls. “It’s going to be absolutely helpful to fundraising,” said state Sen. Elena Parent, an Atlanta Democrat and outspoken opponent of the measure. “People see how important it is to have a strong voice represent their values in the state Legislature. And they see how extreme the legislation is.” The amount of energy and enthusiasm surrounding the law, which is now tied up in what could be a lengthy court battle, has also sparked a backlash. Some candidates are taking pains to avoid appearing like they’re cashing in on the issue. Democratic state Sen. Zahra Karinshak, who raised $75,000 over the past three months in her Gwinnett County-based district, said her vote against the abortion law “certainly didn’t hurt” her fundraising, but that she also earned contributions for her positions on health care and veterans’ rights. And state Sen. Renee Unterman, the Republican sponsor of the measure in the state’s upper chamber, is not highlighting her stewardship of the anti-abortion law as she runs for one of the most competitive U.S. House seats in the nation. “I’ve watched Democrats be very crass about raising money off the bill, and Republicans haven’t been as aggressive,” said Unterman, one of several contenders competing for the 7th District GOP nomination. “I’m a multidimensional candidate, and the heartbeat bill is one part of my record. My donors aren’t giving to me based off one issue.” ‘Speaks volumes’ Whatever the reason, they are giving. The AJC review of thousands of financial records found that the amount of donations to state politicians and political action committees shot up by $200,000 the week after the bill was signed into law compared with the previous seven days. Some of the most prominent figures in the clash over the bill had the strongest fundraising quarters. State Sen. Jen Jordan, whose speech opposing the measure went viral on social media, took in about $74,000 since the legislative session ended — including about $4,500 the day HB 481 was signed. Other Democrats used their campaign accounts in symbolic fashion: Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson didn’t collect a single dime — he recently announced he would not seek another term — but gave thousands of dollars of his campaign funds to abortion rights organizations. Those groups are also netting bigger fish. Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health organization, received a $250,000 contribution from Ariana Grande after a June concert in Atlanta. Hollywood producers J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele both wrote hefty checks to the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is leading the legal fight against the law. And the Fair Fight Action voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, the runner-up in last year’s gubernatorial race, sent a flurry of fundraising emails that quickly amassed $110,000. That money was divvied up in $10,000 increments to 11 abortion rights organizations. Anti-abortion causes say they welcome the celebrity attention, hopeful that it will backfire by energizing more Georgia Republicans. Gov. Brian Kemp raised more than $200,000 the week before he signed the law. Much of the money came from corporate lobbyists and business boosters, but some came from small-dollar donors. “I’ve got no problem with him on abortion, and our views are very close on social issues,” said Russell Wilder, the owner of a tobacco store in Martinez who stroked Kemp a $100 check. “He’s a regular guy even though he’s the governor — he gets us. We’re from Georgia, not Atlanta.” There’s more where that came from, said Cole Muzio, an anti-abortion activist. He said the “radical, pro-abortion forces from California and New York” will spur more donations through November 2020 — and he scattered a few hundred dollars to several Republicans over the past few weeks to emphasize his point. ‘Sickened’ One of the contributions went to state Rep. Ed Setzler, the Acworth Republican who authored the measure and made it a point not to seek donations over the past three months. It’s not that he doesn’t need them: After running unopposed for three consecutive races, Setzler narrowly won another term last year and is preparing for a tough race next year. But Setzler wore the $265 he received since April as a badge of honor, writing in a campaign filing that he was “sickened” to see efforts to raise campaign cash on the issue. “This is such a serious issue, and the other side was so engaged in national fundraising that I am willing to spot them 90 days in fundraising,” Setzler said in an interview. “I want folks to understand the substance of this issue and the dignity of the children we’re seeking to protect. It’s not only what we do, but the way we do it, that matters.” The people gathered at Wilensky’s fundraiser would have a different take. They mingled in a two-story living room ringed by delicate antiques and family portraits before Reitz, the veteran actor, stood before a marble fireplace to urge the crowd to pull out their checkbooks. The room around him nodded in agreement. “Nothing is more fundamental to our individual right to freedom than the right to bodily autonomy,” said Valerie Habif, a retired psychologist and Democratic donor. “Now is the time for women to exercise our very hard-won right to vote.”
  • The city of Avondale Estates did not approve a Donald Trump campaign sign that appeared during its annual Fourth of July parade last week. But the city reaffirmed the participant had the First Amendment right to display the sign. In a statement Wednesday, Avondale Estates said it “regrets that the divisive nature of a certain float that participated in the parade had a negative impact on some community members’ enjoyment of the event.” At the end of the beloved parade through the small DeKalb County city, a silver pickup truck rolled down the street, with a large sign that said “Trump,” “Pence” and  “2020” pinned to its front, according to a  video stream of the parade posted to YouTube. The sign also said “Make America Great Again.”The truck was pulling a float that said “friends of Santa,” which was partially covered in Christmas decorations. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » Shared WeWork offices coming to large mixed-use complex in downtown Decatur » Winning $50,000 lottery ticket sold in DeKalb County In the past, the city said, “floats have respected the nature of the parade by avoiding displaying divisive political messages.” It clarified that the Trump sign was not approved by city officials, and it only expressed “a participant’s private opinion.” “However,” it continued, “the city believes firmly in the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment and will continue to respect this fundamental right.” In the video posted online, some spectators are seen shaking their head at the float. Some residents posted on social media and expressed their frustration with the Trump sign. In comments on the city’s official Facebook page, several people said they were shocked to see politics play a part in the parade. Others, however, said they were not offended by anything they saw, and emphasized that the First Amendment gave the float the right to display the Trump sign. The city itself, like much of DeKalb County, leans decidedly liberal. In the 2016 presidential election, more than 70% of the area voted for Hillary Clinton. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • Hundreds are expected to gather at vigils across metro Atlanta on Friday to protest the treatment of immigrants at the United States’ border with Mexico. The largest event is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway in Chamblee, but people are also set to gather in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Cumming, Holly Springs and Lawrenceville. The “Lights for Liberty” vigil is “part of a national campaign to draw attention to the crisis of immigration detention and the victimization of children in a broken immigration system,” according to the lead organizing group, the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta. In recent months, reports of overcrowding and poor conditions at shelter facilities in Texas and Florida have dominated headlines and led to strong criticism from many national political figures. Several migrant children have died in the last year in these centers. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would step up deportations of undocumented immigrants. LOCAL COVERAGE: » Atlanta immigrants change ways amid threatened deportation crackdown » Trump’s threat of major deportations sparks fear, confusion in Atlanta “We are outraged that migrant children have been denied the most basic of necessities and that these egregious violations of their human rights have gone unchecked” Rev. Fabio Sotelo, the Hispanic missioner at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, said in a statement. U.S. Senate candidate and former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Congressional candidate and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero are expected to speak at the Chamblee vigil. Clergy from multiple faiths are set to offer prayers. An estimated 375,000 undocumented immigrants lived in Georgia in 2017, down from a high of 425,000 a decade ago, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • Various factors in DeKalb County are offsetting the impact that rising property values have on homeowners’ tax bills. They include credits resulting from the new EHOST sales tax and lower property tax rates, which work together to lower the amount residents will have to pay later this year. Last year was the first year of EHOST, but it was implemented in April so 2019 is the first time this credit reflects a full year of the impact of residents paying more in sales tax to receive a break on property taxes. DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said EHOST will especially benefit elderly residents in older neighborhoods that are rising in popularly and experiencing skyrocketing property values. “DeKalb County’s property tax relief plan will help mitigate the negative impact of rising home values and property taxes in our rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods,” he said. The amount homeowners pay in taxes relies on a formula that includes the value of their property and tax rates set by counties, cities and school districts. Those amounts are offset by various exemptions and credits, including EHOST. The EHOST 1% sales tax everything except food and drugs will result in $119 million in revenue passed on the homeowners. On average, DeKalb residents with homes valued at $250,000 will receive an $889 credit. Prior to 2018, county residents had a similar .5% HOST sales tax in place and therefore the resulting tax credits were lower. The DeKalb County commission signed off on property tax rates and midyear budget adjustments during a meeting Tuesday morning. The county kept the tax rate consistent for residents of unincorporated DeKalb and Stonecrest, but residents of 12 other cities will find their county tax rate is lower this year. Related | Here’s how your property taxes in DeKalb could change this year Commissioner Nancy Jester, who usually votes “no” on the budget, praised the process that resulted in the EHOST credits and declining tax rates. She also noted that unlike previous years, the CEO’s office did not recommend sizable new spending projects that were not in the original budget approved in February.
  • DeKalb police officers will soon tap into private license plate readers stationed in communities across the county. The county commission voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve an agreement with Flock Safety, an Atlanta-based company that markets itself as a crime-solving tool for neighborhoods. Communities can purchase one of Flock’s license plate readers for their area, using the device to log the license plate numbers of cars that pass by. They can read plates on cars going up to 75 mph, during both day and night and from up to 75 feet away, according to Flock’s website.  The neighborhoods that have Flock cameras can now opt into the public-private partnership with the DeKalb County Police Department, at no cost to the county. Police officials said investigators will use the cameras to investigate specific crimes, and not to monitor everyday drivers. “When a crime is reported we can then look to see if a particular vehicle was picked up in that area during that period of time,” interim DeKalb County police Chief Joseph “Jack” Lumpkin told the commission Tuesday. He clarified that communities can ultimately choose whether to share the data with the police department. About 50 neighborhoods in DeKalb have a Flock camera, the police department previously estimated. They cost $2,000 each. “It actually builds a digital, electronic neighborhood watch that the citizens actually control,” Lumpkin said. The agreement is somewhat similar to the police department’s relationship with doorbell camera company Ring, which allows officers to access camera footage posted by homeowners. Investigators are able to monitor the security videos that residents voluntarily upload to the doorbell security system’s neighborhood portal.  » RELATED: DeKalb approves partnership with Ring doorbell security system In Marietta, the police department purchased five of their own Flock cameras and stationed them around the city. Officials said in April that a camera used during a trial run helped lead to a reduction in crime near Bells Ferry Road at Williams Drive.  Crime rates dropped 34% between July 2018 to March of this year in the area where Marietta police installed the trial license plate reader, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. However, the department couldn’t immediately provide data on how many crimes the cameras had helped them solve. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter 
  • Federal officials seized $80,000 from the campaign account of suspended Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, who is accused of stealing from his employer in part to fund his race for office in 2018. That seizure was contained in a campaign finance report Beck filed Monday with the state ethics commission, paperwork that also showed he was raising big money from insurance interests days before he was indicted. The seizure is being contested by Beck’s lawyers, and the feds did not close out his campaign account. According to his disclosure, Beck still had $171,000 left in his account as of June 30. The federal government in mid-May unveiled a 38-count indictment accusing Beck of developing an elaborate scheme to steal $2 million from his former employer. At least some of the money, federal prosecutors say, went to fund his campaign for insurance commissioner. Beck denied the accusations but asked Gov. Brian Kemp to suspend him from office so he could devote his time to fighting the charges. While suspended, he continues to be paid his $120,000-a-year state salary. John King, a former longtime Doraville police chief, took over for Beck as acting commissioner last week. Beck put about $1 million into the race, largely self-funding his Republican primary victory. Once he won the primary, checks from insurers came rolling in, including from people such as former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who paid for a fundraiser. At least nine board members of the company he is accused of defrauding, the Georgia Underwriting Association, also donated, mostly after the primary. Among those board members were then-Gwinnett County state Sen. David Shafer — now chairman of the state Republican Party — and then-state Rep. Rick Golick, a lawyer for Allstate Insurance and a longtime Smyrna legislator. Federal prosecutors say the scheme continued into last summer, at least two months after Beck won the primary but before the general election, when he beat insurance agent Janice Laws, a Democrat, by 3 percentage points. Beck spent about $27 for every $1 Laws did running for insurance commissioner. Beck was legally prohibited from raising money during the 2019 General Assembly session, but he picked up where he left off collecting checks in April and early May, until a few days before his indictment. His reports shows he raised $93,250 in a little over a month, much of it from those in the insurance business. Among his biggest donors was Oxendine, who used $14,000 in campaign money he had left over from his 2010 race for governor to give to Beck. That donation came May 10. Beck was indicted on May 14, and the U.S. Marshals Service seized some of Beck’s campaign money that day. Oxendine’s contributions were the maximum donation he could give Beck for the 2022 primary and general elections, races the suspended commissioner may never run. Oxendine, who has been fighting state ethics commission complaints for a decade, had previously contributed about $15,000 to Beck. Among other charges, one of the complaints filed against Oxendine is that he’s used leftover campaign money illegally for personal gain. Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.

News

  • The brother of a woman shot by her husband at a medical clinic in Potts Camp, Mississippi is honoring his sister’s life. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, state representative candidate Carl Robinson shot and killed his wife – Latoya Thompson – before turning the gun on himself inside the Williams Medical Clinic. The couple had been married since 2014, but court records show Robinson, 43, and Thompson, 33, had filed for divorce in April.  According to legal records, the two filed a joint complaint for divorce April 26. At the time, only one lawyer was involved.  That changed Tuesday morning. Records show that Thompson hired her own attorney and that she changed her mind about a previous agreement she signed about child custody, support and other details July 15.  Now, Thompson’s brother said his family is remembering her for her love of life and passion for singing. “She was a singer, she was our little songbird. Ever since she was a kid, she was always singing something. Beautiful smile, beautiful spirit,” said Kevin Thompson. Thompson said his sister loved her family, especially her 3-year-old son.  His last memory with her is from Saturday, when he traveled in town for their grandmother’s funeral in Lamar, Mississippi. “She was just real happy this weekend, and that’s what I take from all of this,” Thompson said. Three days later on his way home, Thompson found out his sister was shot by her husband.  Investigators said Robinson shot Thompson inside the clinic, where she worked as a receptionist. He then killed himself. Three staff members tried to help Thompson after she was shot.  According to Marshall County officials, staff attempted to perform CPR on Thompson to resuscitate her, but she died before she could be airlifted to a hospital. Robinson was running for state representative in Mississippi, officials confirmed. According to Robinson's campaign Facebook page, he was running in District 5 for the upcoming election. “I was mad at what happened to my sister. I was sad at the fact that I lost my sister, and I was numb because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thompson said. Thompson said he knew her husband, but he did not know the specifics about their relationship. “I knew he had a temper like most of us did. I didn’t know to what extent,” he said. “You may know someone is off but never think they would go to this extent.” Thompson said his focus now is being there for her 3-year-old son. He said he will include Robinson’s family in the child’s life. “We are going to work together to make sure he has the best of both. It would be unfair for us to shield him and hold onto him,” he said. He said a memory he will hold close to his heart is their last conversation – when she told him that she loved him. Funeral arrangements have not yet been planned.
  • A Mableton man is accused of hiding his 5-year-old son from his wife — who has a temporary protection order against him — before leading deputies on a three-hour manhunt, authorities said. Quantavious Carrol, 27, faces 10 charges after the Thursday chase, which ended with deputies using a Taser on him, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Deputies tried to pull over Carrol’s vehicle, which also had a passenger inside, near Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard, the release said. Carrol, who allegedly knew he violated the restraining order, drove away from the traffic stop on I-75 North. While driving, he’s accused of throwing a stolen handgun of the window. The gun was stolen out of Gwinnett County, the release said. The chase continued onto I-285 and ended on Fairburn Road, where Carrol got out of the vehicle and ran away, the release said. The passenger was blocked inside the vehicle and was captured by deputies. His charges have not been released. Carrol continued to run, and deputies found him after searching for about three hours, authorities said. He allegedly fought with deputies after they located him, which is why a Taser was used. The 10 charges against Carrol include fleeing police, obstruction, not having car insurance, theft by receiving and multiple driving citations, records show. He remains held at the Clayton County jail without bond. The 5-year-old has been reunited with his mother, the release said. In other news:
  • An Indiana man has been charged with endangering the welfare of children after authorities said he took kids to Kentucky and forced them to sell candy for him. >>Read more trending news Shawn Floyd, 54, of Indianapolis was arrested last week in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement. The 12 children involved in the case were taken into protective custody. Floyd is accused of taking 12 Indiana children to Kentucky and forcing them to sell candy for profit, the statement said. The children were allegedly made to sleep in one hotel room with three adults, and had to purchase their own meals and water, according to the statement. The youngest child was 11, the office said. Kentucky labor law requires a person to be at least 14 years old to be employed. Beshear's office was notified July 12 of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors. The office had also received previously reports of Floyd possibly being involved in human trafficking in several Kentucky counties, the statement said. 'I want to commend the work of the Bowling Green Police Department and our human trafficking investigator,” Beshear said. “Their actions prevented any further possible exploitation or suffering for these children. When it comes to preventing such crimes, it requires cooperation across agencies and promoting awareness of such actions in every community.” Floyd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 4 in Warren County, Kentucky, WANE-TV reported. Online records show Floyd has bonded out of Warren County Regional Jail. Anyone who has information on people being exploited for commercial sex or labor can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (or text 233733) for immediate assistance.
  • A California family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter and warning others about the dangers of underwater pool lights. >> Read more trending news  McKenzie Kinley, who was just shy of her 10th birthday, was killed Sunday after she was electrocuted in her family’s backyard pool in Citrus Heights, according to news reports.  The child was killed after touching an underwater light fixture that was not sealed and was under repair, KOVR-TV reported. “As much as we know, she grabbed the pool light, and it electrocuted her,” the girl’s father, Cliff Kinley, told the news station.  Sacramento County rescue crews rushed to the scene, but were not able to save the child. “Thank goodness it didn’t get anyone else, because there were four other children in that pool,” Kinley said. Kinley said the family is talking about the tragedy to warn other people about the potential dangers in backyard pools. “If nothing comes from losing my daughter, at least this could save others,” the child’s mother, Lisa Moore, told KOVR. The family started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
  • A former Atlanta attorney and his son were sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for a banking and investment scam that netted them more than $15 million, authorities said. Donald Watkins and his son Donald Watkins Jr. were convicted earlier this year  of deceiving former NBA star Charles Barkley and using the name of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the scam. Watkins was sentenced to five years in prison, while his son got 27 months behind bars, The Associated Press reported. The elder Watkins was also ordered to pay $14 million in restitution.  During the trial, witnesses including Barkley testified about losing more than $6 million in investments and loans to the former attorney. Barkley said he was friends with Watkins, who split his time living in Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Other athletes who lost money in the scheme included former NBA player Damon Stoudamire and former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas. Rice testified that Watkins used her name to promote an energy business without her permission, the AP reported. She declined to get involved, but Watkins included her name in emails to investors anyway, she said. As a lawyer, the senior Watkins once served in Montgomery as a city council member. He helped defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in a fraud that nearly bankrupted the company, now known as Encompass Health. He has also worked on various civil rights cases. Watkins reportedly only had a net worth of few thousand dollars despite portraying himself as wealthy, the AP reported. He attempted to purchase a major league baseball team and the the St. Louis Rams before the team left for Los Angeles.  In other news: 
  • A couple in Clarksburg, West Virginia, is in jail facing child neglect charges after three children wandered off from their home. >> Read more trending news WBOY reported that Clarksburg Police Department officials said officers received a call on June 1 about three children who were seen in the area and were not wearing clothes. A criminal complaint obtained by WBOY said one of the children was carrying a steak knife. >> Read more trending news According to the complaint, the children were away from their parents for about 25 minutes. Police located the children about a quarter of a mile away from home. Two of the children, girls ages 3 and 2, had no clothes on, the complaint said. A 4-year-old boy was only wearing a diaper, which was full of feces. Police contacted the children's mother, 24-year-old Sarah Nardo. They learned Nardo and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Donald Johnson, were sleeping when the children got out of the house.  Johnson and Nardo were arrested and charged with gross child neglect creating risk of death or injury, WBOY reported. According to North Central Regional Jail records, they were booked Tuesday. They are being held on $50,000 bond.