Vickie B. Turner and Rob Turner held their inaugural monthly community breakfast, “The Cultural Exchange,” on Jan. 14 with several elected and appointed officials, community leaders and constituents in attendance at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur.
Among the speakers were Congressman Hank Johnson, DeKalb Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green, State Rep. Howard Mosby, and Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary.
Vickie Turner, who represents District 5 on the DeKalb School Board, and her husband, Rob Turner, who represents Stonecrest City Council’s District 2, said they launched The Cultural Exchange as a way for constituents and local leaders to connect s every second Saturday of the month. Stan Watson, a former DeKalb County commissioner and State Representative, had held a monthly Community Cabinet breakfast meeting in South DeKalb for 20 years until 2016 and the Turners say they want to resume what he started.
Congressman Hank Johnson, who represents Georgia’s Fourth District, and his wife, DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, who represents the county’s District 5, brought greetings at the Turner’s first meeting. The congressman denounced President Trump’s latest racist remarks criticizing immigration from Haiti, El Savador and Africa to the U.S. News agencies around the world reported Trump calling the group “sh—hole” countries.
“We have a Hurricane Category 5 that sits in the White House—Washington D.C. It’s not about the country they were talking about, it’s more about the people,” Johnson said. “He (basically) said ‘We don’t want them. Get rid of them. Don’t bring them here.’”
Despite the President’s remarks, Johnson said that he and other leaders remain vigilant in their tasks.
“…Even though things look bad, that’s when we know we’ve got to get to work and turn up the burners and work even harder.”
Johnson told the audience he was holding a meeting later that day to discuss new federal tax legislation that could have a negative impact on millions of Americans.
State. Rep. Howard Mosby said he is looking at introducing a bill to decouple the federal tax codes from the state’s tax codes to help taxpayers avoid “a backdoor tax increase.” Mosby said those who take a standard deduction on their federal tax returns would have to do the same on their state tax return. Likewise those who itemize on their federal tax returns also must itemize on their state returns.
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green provided an update on the district’s progress under his leadership so far. Green said the district has achieved full accreditation for five years—through 2022, touting increases in SAT, ACT and CCRPI scores, as well as an increase in graduation rate, specifically praising Arabia Mountain High School in the city of Stonecrest for having the highest graduation rate in the district (99 percent). Green also said about half of the 25 DeKalb schools had been removed from the takeover list targeted by Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District.
“We’re about results. We’re about outcomes,” said Green. “We will continue to improve and continue to get better.”
Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary discussed the abrupt closing of the Stonecrest Sam’s Club.
The next community breakfast meeting will be held on Feb. 10. The time and location will be announced in On Common Ground News.
To view the video of the entire meeting, click here.