By George Chidi
I’m saying her name aloud, again, and that’s half the problem.
Elections are not won by a candidate who can make most people happy. They’re won by someone who can make a small number of people angry enough to pay attention.
Consider the madness of Diane Daniels Adoma, former city councilwoman of Stonecrest. I say former because the Georgia state constitution says she surrendered her seat when she signed up to run for mayor last week. She is pretending that the law that vacated her seat doesn’t apply to her. Like … nope. “I didn’t resign. I’m still a councilperson,” she says, fingers figuratively in her ears saying la-la-la-la-la.
And, for one Kafkaesque evening, the leaders of the city of Stonecrest half-pretended along with her, just to keep from making a scene.
The day before, a DeKalb judge told Adoma to pound sand: the law was the law. She ignored him and showed up to council anyway.
One might have expected the mayor and council to invite her to the peanut gallery with the rest of us.
They expected a scene. A beefy DeKalb SWAT sergeant sat next to the city clerk Tuesday night. A couple more cops sat in the back — heavier security than usual for a city council meeting with little more than a zoning hearing on the agenda.
A scene, however, was exactly what the council and Mayor Jason Lary wanted to avoid: an image of a diminutive woman being hauled by a cop from the dais, screaming about the injustice of it all — true or not — tailor made for viral video and a public that only pays attention to city politics when it looks like they’re screwing up. Drama looks incompetent, and the two-year-old city wants to project a sense of competence.
So they let her steal a chair from councilman George Turner and sit on the bench. They let her put up her hand and pretend to vote. They even let her stay in the room when they held the executive session earlier in the day — a move that almost certainly invalidates the closed meeting rules, rendering the discussion subject to open records and hearing rules.
Imagine an evening at Applebees, watching a kid have a five-alarm shin-kicking meltdown at the next table while the parents pointedly ignore it. You might think about their embarrassment, but you might also think the call to child protective services would be worse.
This is the price we are paying for political myopia in America. Spectacle rewards her misbehavior, because it puts her name in the mind of voters who probably couldn’t name their state rep or county commissioner with a gun to their head.
Article II, Section 2, Paragraph V of the Georgia Constitution isn’t some crazy secret. It’s not mysterious. It’s not fine print. It’s a touchstone of Georgia politics. Resign to run: that’s the law. The law is as plain as it is unassailable.
I talked to her after she left the meeting. Adoma claims that there is some kind of ambiguity about the term “qualifying” (there isn’t) and that the rule needs to be in the city charter to take effect (it doesn’t) and that requiring her to resign when two other city councilpeople could have run while keeping their seats is unfair (it’s not). It’s just … dumb.
She filed her emergency injunction in DeKalb without an attorney. “I’m working with pro bono lawyers all over the nation,” she said. I asked her which ones. She wouldn’t tell me.
Right. Sure. OK. They’re real. They exist. Surely.
No need to know their names, of course. They’re not running for anything.
George Chidi is a local journalist who shares his opinion on hot topics on his YouTube channel. He is a former writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and his opinions are his own.