City Council Meeting 9-1-2020



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Via Zoom

Officials Present by Teleconference

Mayor:                    Awet Eyasu
Council:                  Jamie Carroll, Ahmed Hassan,

Laura Hopkins, Debra Johnson

City Manager:         Robin I. Gomez
City Clerk:              Tracy Ashby
City Attorney:        Stephen Quinn



    Vice-Mayor Eyasu called the meeting to order at 7:00pm.



      Carroll, Hassan, Hopkins, Johnson, Eyasu


C1) Approve Minutes: Council Meeting 8/6/2020 and Special Call Meeting 8/21/2020

Ahmed Hassan Made a motion to approve the Council Meeting 8/6/2020 and Special Call Meeting 8/21/2020.  Laura Hopkins Seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).



  1. REPORTS: 

1)  Planning & Zoning Report
Shawanna Qawiy reported on activities in her Department and the status of ongoing projects.


2)  City Manager’s Report
Robin Gomez discussed most recent budget to actual reporting through August 31, 2020. He provided the status of City and community operations as Covid continues. The City Courts are the only Department that will open to hold Court in September to address cases that had been previously deferred and Mr. Gomez detailed the process for attendees and court staff. The status of streetscapes project was provided.


3)  City Attorney’s Report
Stephen Quinn reported that the DeKalb Board of Commissioners has approved the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for the CARES funds and it is substantially similar to what the City Council approved.  The City has received the signature documents and city officials have signed, and the funds should be forthcoming in the next week. He discussed that the City’s portion is approximately $1.4 million and must be separately accounted for and deposited into a separate bank account and can only be spent on CARES act approved expenditures.  The City will be separately audited under a single audit. Council discussion on the spending deadline of December 20.

4)  Council Remarks
Laura Hopkins discussed the SAC for Equity, Inclusion and that Council member Johnson has agreed to co-chair. Request to notify the public to encourage residents to apply to serve on the Committee. 


Debra Johnson reported on attending the DDA training and she discussed the continued distribution of food boxes on Tuesdays and Friday.

5)  Mayor’s Report
Vice Mayor Eyasu reported on his attendance of meetings in  August, including the Early Learning Task Force and meeting with residents on development inquiries.


    Any member of the public may address the Council, during the time allotted for public comment. Each attendee will be allowed 3 minutes for comments at the discretion of the Presiding Officer. The public comment period will be limited to 40 minutes and it is not a time for dialogue. If your public comment contains a series of questions, please submit those to the City Clerk in writing. This will facilitate follow-up by the council or staff. The City Council desires to allow an opportunity for public comment; however, the business of the City must proceed in an orderly, timely manner.


Michel Marcuse spoke on issues with Ponce Sports Lounge and continued noise issues.


Warren Hadlock sympathized with Mr. Marcuse and discussed that when he was on the Council, they voted for restaurants only for alcohol businesses so they cannot disrupt residents. He discussed resident notification of the mortgage assistance funds and concerns with maintenance at Friendship Forest.


Sean Lindsey stated that Covid positive rates in Clarkston are going up in the City and for residents to be mindful to wear a mask.


The Manager for Ponce Sports thanked the City Manager for coming out to discuss with them the issues with noise and they are working on resolving Mr. Marcuse complaint.


Dean Moore spoke on evolution of businesses in Clarkston and spoke on the alcohol only businesses.


Vice Mayor closed public comments 8:07p


Jamie Carroll made a motion to amend the agenda to combine items G2 and G3.  Awet Eyasu seconded the motion.  A Vote was called and the motion was approved (5, 0).



G1) Approve Resolution to Declare a Vacancy in the Office of Councilmember and to Call a Special Election to Fill the Unexpired Term

The City Manager detailed that when YT Bell qualified as a candidate for the Clarkston Mayor Special Election, she vacated her Council seat. The Clarkston City Charter, Section 2.05 (a) provides that a vacancy in the office of Council shall be declared by the Vice Mayor at a regular meeting of the City Council and shall be affirmed by a majority vote of the City Council.  The adopted resolution will direct the City Election Superintendent, City Clerk, to call a special election to be held on March 16, 2021, to fill the remainder of the unexpired term of the Clarkston Councilmember which concludes on December 31, 2021. A Qualifying Period that complies with applicable State law shall be established and published by the City Election Superintendent.


Awet Eyasu made a motion to approve the Resolution Declare a Vacancy in the Office of Councilmember and to Call a Special Election to Fill the Unexpired Term.  Debra Johnson seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).


G2)  AMENDED COMBINED Housing relief to unemployed residents both rent and Mortgage relief by partnering with non-profit organizations and intergovernmental cooperation

The Vice Mayor discussed that the City has spent $150k for Rent Assistance and has designated $25k for Mortgage Assistance. The City Attorney advised that the City can be confident that the funds from CARES act will be coming and the adopted resolution included a chart with the intended expending by category.


Jamie Carroll felt it makes sense to allocate/spend the $25k in the fund and allocate the funds that was included in the propose IGA for either mortgage or rental relief.

Mr. Gomez detailed the expenditures to date and he discussed that the City continues to receive applications for rental assistance and that he has also provided information on 25 other agencies that provide similar assistance. The City include $450K as an estimate for total annual expenses for housing assistance.


Jamie Carroll made a motion to allocate $25k of the remaining $50k for rental relief and that we allocate $350k of the CARES funds for both rental and mortgage relief as needed between now and December 20th.  No second was received and the motion failed.


Council discussion to keep the funds separate to insure some mortgage assistance is available and not exhausted by rental requests.


Awet Eyasu made a motion to appropriate $225k for rental assistance and $25k for mortgage assistance from the CARES act funding, plus $25k from the affordable housing fund for rental assistance for a total $275k. Ahmed Hassan seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).


G4) Work Force Development for Unemployed

The Vice Mayor discussed that this item is for those impacted with their employment under covid and the hope is to provide some job training assistance. The City has proposed $100k toward this item. The Friends of Refugees are working with the City to assist with this program.


Council discussion on using the funds as a grant for training at a technical school.  CM will review details further. Any training would have to be completed in the next three months to meet the CARES act timeframe.


The City Attorney stated that this item has been included in the CARES spending budget so no motion needs to be made. The City Manager advised that once the funding is received he would look to partner with other agencies that have existing programs.


G5) Consider "Joining Common Cause's lawsuit against Trump's Census Memo"

Awet Eyasu detailed the item was for the City to consider joining the Common Cause's lawsuit against Trump's Census Memo.  He requested that the language in the last paragraph, “are also undocumented” be amended to “may be undocumented.”


Awet Eyasu made a motion to adopt the resolution to Join the Common Cause's lawsuit against Trump's Census Memo with the text change.  Laura Hopkins seconded the motion. A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).


G6) Discuss Removing Section 13-3 from the Municipal Code

Laura has realized there is valid a reason in having this in leaving this the code that over twelve years old on the baseball diamond because it is a smaller than standard field, with no surrounding fence. The outfield directly faces the swimming pool, the children’s playground and the dog park. There is a change she recommended removing from paragraph (b) the reference to “throws a baseball or softball on that field.” She felt there were resident that live in apartments that may want to throw/catch ball on the fields.  Also add phrase for the protection of park visitors on the playground, dog park and swimming pool, ahead of section (a).


Discussion for the City Attorney to draft an amendment ordinance reflecting the requested changes and to bring this item to the September Work Session and October Council meeting. 



Debra Johnson made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Awet Eyasu seconded the motion.  A vote was called and the motion carried (5, 0).