By C. Julia Nelson
cjnelson@reporternewspapers.net

Becoming politically savvy in Sandy Springs just got easier.

In an effort to publicly track and publicize Sandy Springs City Council decisions, the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods (SSCN) has launched the Get Smarter Sandy Springs online database.

Hosted at its Web site, www.sandyspringscouncil.org, the statistically-based, vote-tracking database offers an unbiased compilation of every vote council has taken from December 2005 to January 2008. SSCN members introduced the new database at its 8th annual meeting on March 27 at City Hall, located at 7840 Roswell Road.

Mark King, SSCN vice president, said Get Smarter Sandy Springs will be beneficial to residents as an easily accessible tool for finding all council decisions in one convenient location.

“This is a good thing for people to have and be able to review what their elected representatives are doing,” King said. “The community will be better informed.”Susan Joseph, a newly elected SSCN Dist. 3 representative, developed the database from council minutes to include all pertinent information for any decision made by council. It is modeled after a national bipartisan database.

Each council member and their respective districts are outlined on the first page. Subsequent pages feature actions taken, how each council member voted, case numbers, the intent of the motions made, the date on which action was taken and whether council passed, failed or deferred the matter.

“Much of this information is not black and white – but very complicated,” Joseph said. “It must be looked at with a questionable eye.”

Key issues relative to zoning, parks, environment, transportation and planning are featured on the database. To date, Sandy Springs City Council has taken 282 actions, of which 55 percent have been zoning related, 19 percent have been about transportation and 10 percent have been relative to planning and the environment, individually.

Joseph said the database is a work in progress and more information is still needed to make the document as comprehensive as possible. Some information she is still gathering includes the number of requests before the city, the number of administrative approvals that never come before council and tracking multiple zoning case numbers for single projects when related issues come before council at different times.

“We’d encourage the city to find a way to make these things available,” Joseph said, “so (citizens) can vote in a knowledgeable way. I want this to be a document people use to make up their own minds.”

The database can be downloaded from SSCN homepage the using the Get Smart PDF link.

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