STONECREST, GA—The Stonecrest Citizens Coalition is demanding an explanation for the departure of Janice Allen Jackson, who abruptly resigned as city manager on last Tuesday (Sept.20).
Mayor Jazzmin Cobble confirmed Jackson’s departure during a brief interview with On Common Ground News on last Thursday, Sept. 22, two days following Jackson’s resignation. Cobble, however, declined to state what led to Jackson’s sudden departure. Jackson confirmed that she resigned but also declined to discuss the matter further.
Cobble said in a statement that interim acting Deputy City Manager Gerald Sanders and City Finance Director Gia Scruggs would oversee city administration, operations and finance, until a new city manager is named.
In a statement to the media today (Sept. 26, the Stonecrest Citizens Coalition blasted the Mayor and City Council, saying in part “So far, this Mayor and City Council have not done the work necessary to earn back the trust of the citizens. There has been no consistent outreach or responsiveness to citizens on their part, an ongoing lack of transparency in carrying out the City’s business, and no attempt to put forth a vision or plan for our city’s future.”
Cobble told On Common Ground News this afternoon that she had not had a chance to review in detail the Coalition’s statement and could not provide a comment on it.
The coalition outlined several steps it is calling on the Mayor and Council to take to conduct a more transparent government and to adhere to the spirit of the Open Meetings Act. The full statement, which was e-mailed to On Common Ground News at 3:28 p.m. today is as follows:
OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE STONECREST CITIZENS COALITION
“Stonecrest citizens were dismayed to learn of the sudden departure of our City Manager, Janice Allen Jackson. Because there has been no official communication on this matter, speculation and rumors have become the primary sources of information. Additionally, citizens’ direct requests for an explanation have been met with rote and uninformative responses.
Therefore, we are calling for the Mayor and City Council to do the following:
- Address the circumstances surrounding the City Manager’s departure, specifically whether she was asked or pressured to resign and if so, their basis for that decision and how it aligns with the Charter and/or the terms of Ms. Jackson’s contract.
- Publicize and conduct a transparent and open professional recruitment process for the next City Manager that engages Stonecrest citizens.
- Ensure that the next City Manager possesses the relevant experience, credentials, and professional reputation as a local government executive to effectively lead the largest city in DeKalb County.
- Prominently post and maintain weekly on the City’s website a list of major city business that must be addressed in the next 30, 60, and 90 days (e.g., appropriation of ARPA funds, completion of audit, purchase of Strayer building, zoning decisions, etc.), and commit to conducting that business in open session.
- Adhere to the letter and spirit of the Open Meetings Act with regard to the advertisement of meetings, posting of related documents, and the conduct of executive sessions.
- Follow through on the appointment of a Charter Review Committee within the next 30 days.
- Adopt an Ethics Ordinance based on the input of citizens and ethics professionals before the end of 2022.
Stonecrest experienced a damaging, high-profile corruption scandal that has plagued this city almost since its founding and is still not behind us. So far, this Mayor and City Council have not done the work necessary to earn back the trust of the citizens. There has been no consistent outreach or responsiveness to citizens on their part, an ongoing lack of transparency in carrying out the City’s business, and no attempt to put forth a vision or plan for our city’s future. And while it may be legally permissible to conduct certain business in executive session, it is not beneficial to do so in an environment that is already absent of trust. Continuing the status quo will not result in our city living up to the expectations that were set when Stonecrest was founded. Mayor and Council must do a collective about-face and demonstrate in word and deed that they, and in turn city government, will act in the best interest of all of Stonecrest’s residents.”
The City Council will meet in person at City Hall today, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. The meeting also will be available to the public via the City of Stonecrest’s YouTube channel.
The Stonecrest Citizens Coalition was founded in 2018. The coalition’s mission is to improve the quality of life and prosperity for Stonecrest residents, business owners and other stakeholders through education, advocacy and action. We envision “One Stonecrest” – united under the concept of Ujima (collective work and responsibility), where the city government cooperates with its citizens to establish and maintain a government that is ethical, transparent, and accountable. And where the citizens of Stonecrest are engaged collectively, to improve our quality of life.