Thursday, April 17, 2014

Young Lectures Wiesenthal

After honing his schtick in standup venues here in Atlanta, former Ambassador and Mayor FROM Atlanta, Andrew Young is taking his "Forgive Before Forever" tour international. He recently completed a one-day engagement at the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem where he lectured Center leaders on God's role in delivering justice in this world, chastising them for "relentless prosecution of Nazi war criminals" noting that they were either "all dead or very near the end of their lives" with the implication that this somehow absolves them of their heinous crimes. He spoke fervently on behalf of those whose time here on this earth is short saying "they will face the judgment of their maker very shortly and the time for justice in this world has passed."

His attempts to characterize this as some noble form of mercy was not well received with one attendee remarking "the Jewish people empathize with the plight of African slaves in America and persecution African Americans have endured but we suspect that they have neither forgiven nor absolved those who held their ancestors in slavery nor those who persecuted them and to suggest that we should forgive perpetrators of the Holocaust is baffling." Another audience member noted the former Ambassador's ignorance of Jewish history observing "he seems to think 'Set My People Free' was written by Dr. King and is about the Civil Rights movement in America." This elicited observations from her partner, "perhaps Young can learn something from us regarding enduring slavery and persecution. We dedicate ourselves first to God and then to knowledge and education. Perhaps he should go home and apply these principles to set HIS people free. Instead he seems to fighting to keep his own people ignorant."

Musical Chairs

A tri-state corruption investigation has resulted in a Federal indictment that cites a yet-to-be named DeKalb County Commissioner as someone who has solicited bribes.  The case will be prosecuted this summer in South Carolina at which point the individual will be named in public testimony.

Until then the band plays on but when the Feds lift the needle it will be interesting to see who's seated in the audience and who's standing in the docket.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Big Bother And The Holding Company

Eee-Laine won't you P-Card my Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Audis--I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from your friends,
So Eee-Laine won't you P-Card my Mercedes Benz?

Eee-Laine won't you P-Card a 4K TV?
None of your staffers have gotten back to me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So Eee-Laine won't you P-Card my 4K TV?

Eee-Laine won't you P-Card our night on the town?
We're countin' on Eee-Laine to help us party down.
Prove that you love us and buy the next round.
Eee-Laine won't P-Card our night on the town?

EVERYBODY!

Eee-Laine won't you P-Card our Mercedes Benz?
Our friends all drive Audis--we must make amends.
Worked hard all our lifetimes, no help from your friends,
So Eee-Laine won't you P-Card our Mercedes Benz?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Legislative SNAFU

No not the Gun Bill, this is more local...you know where we have more "control."

Apparently a significant number of sitting County Commissioners really, really thought it went without saying that they were in elected office to piss away taxpayer money whenever and however they feel like it.

Observationally that seems undeniable.

When asked by the AJC quite a few stated they were totally unaware that administrative rules and restrictions regarding P-Card use applied to them. Upon learning that fairly well respected legal beagles concluded that these rules do indeed apply it has been determined that the first legislative order of business will be to clarify and codify these politicians' exemption from any rules, regulations or oversight.

However since this will be a legal document document they will approve and sign off on they've kinda screwed the pooch on that as well. Turns out they all approved and signed off on a commitment to abide by the same rules that apply to the "little people" when they got the card in the first place. Clearly they neither read nor understood that so why would this be different?

That's because this document ensures they can piss away our money unsupervised, unfettered and unaccountable just like they always have.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hop Scotch

For a City like Dunwoody the Manager's position is a stepping stone, a way stay on a trajectory towards bigger (budgets) and better (seats on boards). We are not likely to change this so we need to accept it and act accordingly.

When a position is transient, as this one is, the larger organization needs to understand that in the first half of a given tenure the person holding the position is very likely to align their actions with the best interests of the organization. Toward the second half these ambitious individuals will begin to act in what they perceive as the best interests of their next position which will open a gap between what is best for the job at hand and what is best for the aspirant to get another job.

This behaviour is not unusual but it is another reason why structural changes must be made in our compensation system. No one who has been paying attention to the goings on at City Hall should be surprised that our City Manager is moving on to another city and a seat on Chatcomm's board but they might want to reflect on some of the statements made about, and handling of, the CAD-to-CAD epic fail in which Chatcomm played a significant role. We were seeing second half behaviour and getting second string performance.

Let's not make that mistake again.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Love It Or Leave It

In the never ending debate over citihood we have finally reached the inevitable rhetorical deadlock: Love It or Leave It. In comments to the AJC point-counterpoint we find this nugget:
"And frankly for those who would see Dunwoody lose its cityhood, you are welcome to move to an unincorporated areas[sic] of DeKalb."
Like many of the City Crusaders this glosses over a foundational truth in this matter: many of those unhappy with current City operations and actions already moved to unincorporated DeKalb County in a nice little area known as DUNWOODY!

Or at least it was nice. Now, not so much to oh so many.

Crusaders might argue that change is inevitable (it is) and suggest that no matter what the form of government Dunwoody is not what it was 35 years ago (it isn't) and if that pastoral community enjoying the benign neglect of a distant government is what you want (some do) then it is indeed time to move somewhere that looks like Dunwoody of yore. On the other side of the ledger one might argue that those who want to live beside the Beltline or Silver Comet Trail should move to the Beltline or along the Silver Comet. Or that those who want to see the world spin around a bicycle hub should move to an existing cycle-centric city. Or if organized sports are your thing find a town with six baseball diamonds and move there. If you came to avoid traffic, you're part of the problem. Like successful city schools? Move to Decatur.

At the end of the day the "Love It or Leave It" rhetoric rings hollow. No one, not even Jill Chambers, suggested the City Crusaders should leave unincorporated North DeKalb for an existing city but instead called for moderation, vetting and debate. Instead we plunged headlong into citihood with a mid-summer vote engineered to carry the day on the backs of a minority of registered voters. Even in the weakest HOA such a dramatic change (on the order of changing the Articles of Incorporation) would require a super majority of all eligible (e.g., registered voters) homeowners. Rather than address the issues and define the details upfront we've kicked the can down the road. We seem to be out of road.

Those advocating that you love the new (and changing) Dunwoody or leave it have a point: the good ole days are gone and they are not coming back. If you've been here for more than ten years and you want to continue to live in the kind of community you got when you came here then you really need to move.

Don't look back, just mourn the loss and move on.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Street Renamed Martin Luther King Boulevard

As you may remember our soon-to-be-former City Manager and his Staff determined late last year that in order for Dunwoody to be counted as a major league southern city it would be necessary to rename a local street after civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You may also remember this decision was not taken lightly nor received well, at least in some quarters.

While there have been months of secret meetings to identify the proper street and every rumour (City Hall probably calls it a trial balloon) has been bashed in pubs, coffee shops and papers, those at City Hall who know what is best for us have rendered a decision. This august body was drawn from members of the Perimeter Center Improvement District, the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, City Council, the Visitors and Convention Bureau and local PTA groups. It was decided to hold the deliberations in secret based solely on the presumption these discussions would be contentious. Or that's just the way this City rolls. And how could we in The Other Dunwoody take issue with anonymity?

Regardless, there were leaks. No surprises there, except reliable sources indicate Bonser was not engaged in these discussions. In any event the street of the Great Gas Station Leak of oh-twelve was never under consideration. At least not serious consideration.

Dunwoody Village Parkway was a popular suggestion at the outset especially given it had at one time a "boulevard" configuration. This was defeated by those still upset that the median and trees have been ripped up for pedestrians and bikers. Logic could not prevail and it was never made clear why they cared what it is called given they so much detest how it has already been changed. But not even a jarhead wants to die on that beach.

Some consideration was given to Winters Chapel, but that was quickly batted down. While it hews true to Chris Rock's observation about MLK anything and nearby violence there was concern this would appear offensive. The real reason is more likely that Winters Chapel is a "border street" perceived by many as only partly in Dunwoody if in Dunwoody at all.

Dunwoody Club was suggested, but near the country club it suffers the same border street limitation and many feared golfers would no longer be able to find the club. After all, how could there possibly be a country club on Martin Luther King Boulevard? As for the other section of Dunwoody club there was sufficient concern that no one would be able to find the street at all so it too was taken off the list.

The suggestion to rename Dunwoody Road was met with astonishment. Most in attendance didn't even know there was a Dunwoody Road and when shown on a map they remarked "where the hell is that"?

Someone suggested some place in Hidden Branches until someone (correctly) observed "that's just mean".

It was decided, and unanimously approved, to change Nandina to MLK Boulevard. Not a person in attendance could identify who "Nandina" ever was though several concluded "whoever it was they must have been black".

This momentous move forward for Dunwoody did not go unnoticed by the King Center in downtown Atlanta and they sent a representative to the ceremony where the name change was announced.

MLK Selection Committee Receives Award
While initially mistaken for someone else when the mistake was resolved he was embraced with all the warmth and charm the South has to offer and stated "I am very glad to [still] be here to toast your good work". He left shortly afterwards explaining he had a pressing engagement across town but there is no doubt that this resounding endorsement makes our founding fathers proud.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Elaine's Restaurant Reviews

Paying homage to Angie Hicks and following in the footsteps of Dale Cardwell DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer is rumoured to be opening a new chapter in her life--as a restaurant reviewer.

What started as a hobby, a mere pastime, has blossomed in recent years expanded by her strong commitment to constituent services demanded in her role as a public servant. Of necessity this called for frequent, nearly daily contact with professionals in the food service industry and offered exposure to a wide variety of cuisines that further cultivated her interest in the culinary arts. A majority of her exposure was restricted to offerings in the local area so it wasn't until service called her to areas outside the State of Georgia that she realized how developed, how refined, how well attuned to the modern sensibilities her palate had become. What had been so obvious to others was now undeniable--by languishing in a county office she has been denying the culinary community the benefits of her true talents.

If the rumours are true and her avocation is to become her new vocation we wish Ms. Boyer all the best in her new career.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Can You Tell The Difference?

Been away so long I hardly knew the place
Gee it's good to be back home


Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I'm back in the U.S.S.R.


You don't know how lucky you are boy


Back in the U.S.


Back in the U.S.


Back in the U.S.S.R.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is Dunwoody Business Friendly?

Much of the interesting discussion in last week's City Council meeting inadvertently asked (and perhaps answered) this question.

The first was about mandating long neck garbage cans at drive-thru lanes in fast food joints and if you watch the video you're just waiting for someone on Council to jump up and shout:
"Live from City Hall---IT'S MONDAY NIGHT!"
Sadly this did not happen. They were serious.

Now those amongst us who are Southern by the Grace of God must be patient with those not so blessed but by all that is holy sometimes folks living in a world chilled by freon really stress the limits. We'll just have to ask them to imagine--not that there is no heaven...that really is easy if you try---but to imagine their drive thru experience. That's a bit more like hell.

Like the others it starts at the squawk box that makes the ESL student's voice even more unintelligible and as the queue moves slowly towards the window where you pay and you pray (that you got what you thought you ordered) you find an interestingly placed garbage can. Now the do-gooders say this is here because there are soooo many people, mostly in huge SUVs, that have run out of trash space in the back seat so they need to unload between order and fresh eats so they have room for the new garbage. Don't know what part of Dunwoody these folks live in but you can smell it before you see it. So then in their imaginary world you would gather up all the garbage (keep in mind you don't have the sense to have a litter bag in that overblown truck) and toss yesterday's junk food wrappers into the garbage can at today's junk food emporium. Because you're a junk food junkie. Anyway, that's how they see it.

But here's where the southland rises up. You know what an outdoor garbage can like this really is way down here in the land of cotton? It is a haven and breeding ground for all manner of vermin. But not just no-see-ums, flies and rats. No sir. We're blessed with a special creature. One that just loves to feast on what little Coke might remain in the cup thrown out this morning. We're talking about Yellow Jackets. Territorial. Fierce. Angry. Aggressive. Downright mean spirited. And when they launch out of that garbage can--and it isn't just any can because the City is gonna mandate it be a long-neck can with its bat-cave-like maw right beside your open window--they are coming after you and yours like Obama's drones going after a Pakistani wedding party. There will be blood.

What makes this trash can ordinance a business issue (as well as even funnier) isn't just that the City intends to foist the cost on businesses. It is because one justification was "it would be easier and better for the business instead of having to pick up trash in the drive thru." Really? You'd think a for-profit operation would have figured out which is better, cheaper and more efficient without a whole lotta outside help.

And this whole Yellow Jacket Microclimate Ordinance was just the warm-up act. It. Gets. Better. Because the on-deck issue focussed on "for profit"--something the City most certainly is NOT.

This issue was about the increasingly contentious "Arts Festival" which as we've pointed out in the past is stretching the definition of "Art" when we include booths for banks, kitchen remodeling and auto repair. However this is particularly on point when some of these booths are manned by for-profit organizations that are not even located in Dunwoody. But that wasn't really Council's concern. There was some concern about the negative impact to local business--this all but shuts down some village businesses for whom Mother's day is otherwise a big event--but the real concern was around the fact that the festival is organized and operated by a for-profit entity.

Some took issue with the perception that the City was "picking winners" amongst for-profits but there seemed to be little (some, but little) concern that this winner is itinerant and their financial victory comes at a cost to our neighborhood businesses. Of course the low-impact alternative presented earlier by TOD is impossible this year because the City has chosen to run a barrel racing contest on the Parkway while the Arts Festival is in full swing.

What was very interesting was the intense focus on the fact that the organizers are for-profit as if somehow that matters a bunch. Those who've not had much exposure inside a non-profit may believe everyone there is drunk on altruism and works for a dime on a dollar because they're doing good works they really, really believe in. Perhaps true for some folks on the front line, but by and large non-profits are driven by the same growth ambitions as any other organization money flows thru--business, government, you name it. You do remember the scandal of the United Way execs who were flying around in their G-4s and smokin' big cigars don't you? Rest assured, if this organization were non-profit the folks working there would be getting as much if not more money, they'd pay less taxes but we'd get to see their filings (after 3 years).

The profit/non-profit obsession seems deflective. Fact is the City is putting on a party and in new-city fashion we have privatized the operation by contracting it out to a party-organizer. Now before folks get their knickers in a knot, that's not quite precise as the party-organizers applied for permission to close the street and the City's involvement is only to approve and provide necessary security. Makes it a little less clear exactly who they work for now doesn't it?

And don't ask why security at Vermack/Womack isn't just as "necessary" Or why the City is more than willing to foot the bill for security at Food Truck Thursdays. And don't ask how Food Truck Thursdays can be such a raging success but relocating the Arts Festival to the very same location would be such an obvious disaster that it isn't even worth trying this one time. And certainly don't ask "if they were really trying to screw things up what would they do differently?"

Why?

Because we have a representative government and Council have already asked similar questions on your behalf. The City Manager and Staff were specifically asked to investigate moving the Arts Festival but haven't gotten around to finding an answer. Either that or this investigation is the only thing more delayed than the CAD-to-CAD interface. Or perhaps the City Manager and Staff don't believe something as silly as "Arts In The Parks" could ever work so they just don't want to waste their time.

The fact of the matter is that this train wreck is pretty much out of the Mayor and Council's control as the approval of these permits is an administrative matter not a policy matter. If the City Manager and his Staff want an Arts Festival and the third party organizer (no matter who they really work for) want it on Chamblee Dunwoody then that's what we'll have and that's where we'll have it.