An Open Letter to Mayor Reed

Since this letter was sent, there has been a great deal of focus on the Office of Code Compliance, which has been suffering from the same lack of accountability as the Arborist Division.   Peter Aman, the City's COO, is now publically acknowledging that the city government is largely broken

June 13, 2010

Dear Mayor Reed:

As written, Atlanta has the strongest, most comprehensive and effective Tree Protection Ordinance in the nation.  However, in its latest Reduction in Force, Atlanta has chosen to retain on staff the weakest, least capable and professional field arborists to enforce the Tree Protection Ordinance.

The City recently fired Ibrahim Maslamani, Director of the Bureau of Buildings.  We enthusiastically applaud that decision.  Maslamani initiated and oversaw a policy of non-enforcement and “accommodation” that severely undercut the Tree Protection Ordinance, enabled lawbreakers and encouraged a “look the other way” ethos in the Arborist Division.

The City had the chance to begin to address this destructive policy in the latest round of forced layoffs.  Your administration chose instead to retain Maslamani’s policy and compound the problems he created.  Your staff chose to layoff the two field arborists whose records indicate some professional pride and competence and some willingness to enforce the law.  They chose to retain the two field arborists whose records show none.  Keeping arborists Stan Domengeaux and Michael Franklin on the payroll is a colossal waste and misuse of taxpayer money.

Mayor Reed:  Clean up the mess in the Arborist Division. Get rid of Domengeaux and Franklin.  Seniority does not protect Atlanta’s trees; only professionalism and dedication to enforcing our Tree Protection Ordinance will save our urban tree canopy.

Very truly yours,

Sheldon Schlegman, Chair
The Tree Next Door
“An Organization of Neighbors Dedicated to Protecting Atlanta’s Tree Canopy”

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Cc:  Peter Aman, Chief Operating Officer
       James Shelby, Commissioner of Planning and Community Development

Check out one Atlanta resident's call to action as a response to this letter.
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