Yesterday afternoon I received a mass e-mail from J. Max Davis’ campaign, titled “What are they really saying about J. Max Davis?” Several supportive quotes were included in the e-mail, one from former Representative Mike Jacobs. No date or source for the quote was given, however.* Within the next hour, two more nearly-identical e-mails were sent, the first adding a date (“7/31/14”) for Jacobs’ quote, and the last providing a source (“Introductory remarks given at the State of the City”). Here is a screenshot of that final e-mail:
Video of that entire State of the City event is available on YouTube, courtesy of the Brookhaven Post. Rep. Jacobs’ introductory remarks begin at the 10:25 mark, and conclude at about 19:35.
Nowhere in those nine minutes does Rep. Jacobs speak the line quoted in Davis’ e-mail: “J. Max listens. He’s the right man at the right time.”
At 14:12, Jacobs says “And what I’ve noticed about J. is that he listens. He listens to people…”, but does not follow that with the second sentence ‘quoted’ above. Approximately a minute earlier, he does say “J. Max Davis is particularly well suited to this moment,” which one might very loosely paraphrase into that second sentence above, even though it contains literally none of the same words, other than “is”.
Additionally, I might be more inclined to entertain that the source and date information for the quote are what’s erroneous, rather than the words themselves, if it wasn’t for the fact that the source and date provided were the campaign’s third attempt to get that right.
Now if you’re expecting me to wrap this up with a broad and sweeping attack on credibility, prepare to be disappointed. I’ve been fact-checking quotes and misinformation long enough to know that falsehoods are not always malicious or intentional.** Sometimes they are, but sometimes it’s just sloppiness. What likely happened here is that someone (or rather, given the size of his campaign, several someones, including Davis himself) failed to adequately fact-check the information they were telling the public, and turned a half-remembered paraphrase into a literal quote. (Then again, perhaps they did conspire to manufacture a fake Jacobs quote; I just find that rather unlikely.)
Given that the quote was attributed to the very man we’re seeking to succeed, one would think they should have been more careful in getting it right. So make of it what you will. This also illustrates why my own attitudes towards skepticism and fact-checking are part of why I think I would be a valuable voice in the State House.
And ultimately, I just find it ironic that an e-mail titled “What are they really saying about J. Max Davis?” should include a supposed Mike Jacobs quote that he didn’t really say about J. Max Davis.
*Georgia’s Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits sitting judges from endorsing political candidates. Jacobs himself has abided by this rule and has not publicly endorsed any candidates in the race. This prohibition is the likely reason why the first two Davis e-mails, while not providing a specific source, were careful to still state regarding the supposed quote “Statement made prior to his appointment as a state court judge.”
**We’ve seen as recently as yesterday, with the break-in Ms. Bernard’s campaign office, that people are often eager to attribute specific motivations to general acts simply because they fit a larger, preferred narrative. And although more information may come to light, what was originally assumed to be a targeted political attack now appears to be mere random vandalism.
Postscript: On the one hand, I hate to make a negative post on election day. But fact-checking quotes has long been an odd hobby of mine, both online and in print, such that I’d likely be writing this even if I wasn’t on a ballot today. Plus, the quote in question was first circulated less than 18 hours before the polls opened. If I spot a candidate using a made-up endorsement quote the day before an election, it feels wrong to wait until after the election is over to share my findings. That only serves to protect the last-minute misrepresentation from timely criticism.
You may not have heard about it before, and you won’t learn about it from City Hall, but if you own your home in Brookhaven, you may be entitled to some significant savings on your property taxes.
Section 5.08 of the Brookhaven City Charter, entitled “Homestead exemption; freeze”, provides for homeowners in Brookhaven to effectively freeze the value of their home and save on their property taxes. The full text of the provision is attached to the bottom of this post.
In short, if DeKalb County appraises your homestead at a higher value (which has happened to many, many DeKalb County homeowners this year), then you are entitled to an exemption on your home from your city ad valorem taxes in an amount equal to the increase. When you apply for this freeze, it sets the previous year’s assessed value of your home as the ‘base year’ for your property taxes, and if your property value continues to go up, your city taxes will remain frozen in place.
The exemption isn’t automatic, unfortunately, because the homeowner must first file an application with the City of Brookhaven, including the appropriate information and documentation proving that he or she is eligible for the exemption. But once the application is filed, the exemption is automatically renewed each year, with the same base year in effect, as long as the owner occupies the home. (Increased assessments due to home improvements or additional land also don’t qualify for the exemption.)
An obstacle to fulfilling this requirement, however, is that subsection (c) of 5.08 says that “The governing authority of the City of Brookhaven, or the designee thereof, shall provide application forms for this purpose.” As of mid-June 2015, some two and a half years after incorporation, the City of Brookhaven still does not have any such application forms to provide homeowners.
So since the City hasn’t much advertised this, I’m spreading the word. Especially because with assessment appeals deadlines coming up, I know property taxes are on people’s minds. So take advantage of what you’re legally entitled to, lock in your base year now, and start saving some money!
Homestead exemption; freeze.
(a) As used in this section, the term:
(1) “Ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes” means all municipal ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes levied by, for, or on behalf of the City of Brookhaven, including, but not limited to, ad valorem taxes to pay interest on and to retire municipal bonded indebtedness.
(2) “Base year” means the taxable year immediately preceding the taxable year in which the exemption under this section is first granted to the most recent owner of such homestead.
(3) “Homestead” means homestead as defined and qualified in Code Section 48-5-40 of the O.C.G.A., as amended, with the additional qualification that it shall include not more than five contiguous acres of homestead property.
(b) Each resident of the City of Brookhaven is granted an exemption on that person’s homestead from City of Brookhaven ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of that homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of that homestead. This exemption shall not apply to taxes assessed on improvements to the homestead or additional land that is added to the homestead after January 1 of the base year. If any real property is added to or removed from the homestead, the base year assessed value shall be adjusted to reflect such addition or removal, and the exemption shall be recalculated accordingly. The value of that property in excess of such
exempted amount shall remain subject to taxation.
(c) A person shall not receive the homestead exemption granted by subsection (b) of this
section unless the person or person’s agent files an application with the governing authority of the City of Brookhaven, or the designee thereof, giving such information relative to
receiving such exemption as will enable the governing authority of the City of Brookhaven,
or the designee thereof, to make a determination regarding the initial and continuing
eligibility of such owner for such exemption. The governing authority of the City of
Brookhaven, or the designee thereof, shall provide application forms for this purpose.
(d) The exemption shall be claimed and returned as provided in Code Section 48-5-50.1 of the O.C.G.A., as amended. The exemption shall be automatically renewed from year to year
so long as the owner occupies the residence as a homestead. After a person has filed the proper application as provided in subsection (c) of this section, it shall not be necessary to make application thereafter for any year, and the exemption shall continue to be allowed to such person. It shall be the duty of any person granted the homestead exemption under subsection (b) of this section to notify the governing authority of the City of Brookhaven, or the designee thereof, in the event that person for any reason becomes ineligible for that
(e) The exemption granted by subsection (b) of this section shall not apply to or affect state ad valorem taxes, county ad valorem taxes for county purposes, or county or independent
school district ad valorem taxes for educational purposes. The homestead exemption granted by subsection (b) of this section shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any other homestead exemption applicable to municipal ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes.
(f) The exemption granted by subsection (b) of this section shall apply to all taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013.
I was at the Secretary of State’s office bright and early this morning, filing my paperwork right as soon as qualifying opened. It appears that my efforts to be the first candidate to qualify might have been a tad overenthusiastic.
Lawyer Loren Collins, a Republican, filed to run for the post that had been held by former Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), according to the Secretary of State’s website. Jacobs resigned the seat last month after he was appointed to a judgeship.