Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mining The Vain

Snow White has been picking choir leaders from her posse of little people to lead the chorus of "Hi! Ho!" as they head off to her little gold mine.

It hasn't been working out so well. She tapped Grumpy and then Dopey but they both peed on the political third rail disappearing in an acrid cloud of smoke left behind from spectacular fireworks.

Wonder who she will pick next.

This Is NOT A Race

What is it with the long lines at early voting? In fact, what is it with early voting? Surely we all wish the campaign were over but fact is it ain't over as long as the Wiki leaks. Seems some folks think their vote counts for more because they got it in early or maybe this is just the first step in "vote early, vote often."

Monday, October 24, 2016

Somebody Said It Better

Right here in our li'l village. One of our very own elected officials speaking about the hasty, if not per-emptive demolition of the theatre in Brook Run is quoted in the AJC claiming to have said:
"If a check came in tomorrow from an outside person, we'd have us a new theater"
Of course this would require that over half of Council reverse their votes reneging on their well reasoned commitment to a teardown. And it plainly states that City Council can be had for a price. If there is a better way of saying "this city is for sale" it has yet to be articulated.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nogo Logotherapy

The great thing about "branding" of new cities is that they get to "re-brand." Over and over and over again. Being geographically adjacent to the original "New City," Sandy Springs, Dunwoody seems content with the role of follower, even plagiarist. Perhaps due to a general co-opting of "Smart City" lingo or because Dunwoody proved how stupid it sounds, even Plano has moved forward with a graphic logo eschewing the needy, pushy "the lady doth protest too much" effort. Maybe it is time to toss "Smart City, Smart People" into the dustbin alongside "Every Day Is An Opening Day."

But maybe that does not justify eighty large on a new "brand." Even the spendthrifts at City Hall are arriving at that conclusion, but make no mistake this is not a wave of virulently infectious frugality. One would be hard pressed to find someone who'd admit they liked, or voted for the current brand and if you did and if they said anything it would certainly be deflective. There may also be some concern that those who brought us a logo done in crayon using a color palette obtained by closing your eyes after staring at a bright light are not stewards of good taste. But this is not a problem that will be solved by a monochromatic shift to pen and ink and a new font.

The real problem was the common co-branding of related but distinct operations. There are many reasons, some of which are good, for the separate legal constructs underpinning the City, the CVB and the Development Authority. Common branding makes it appear that when you get one you're going to get the other two. This seems so cute, like three kids playing with lincoln logs, until the inevitable fight breaks out.

So when the Development Authority wagged its lap-dog tail because Greedy Developer demanded a development "incentive" for an all-but-complete project, City Hall, both staff and politicos, were put in the uncomfortable position of explaining that the Development Authority is not really part of the City. But eyes glaze over when the explanation requires statements involving "o.c.g.a section so-and-so" as yet another politician hides behind "legal if not right" as a defense.

Advocates say moving, with the required address change on letterhead (do people still USE that?) is a good time to re-brand. Perhaps it is a good time to re-think many more important things. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Water Water Everywhere

Overall the State of Georgia has some serious water woes caused by uncontrolled growth and what appears to be trend towards more frequent and longer periods of drought. One has to wonder when that becomes the new normal.

DeKalb County, in its own inimitable way, has self-inflicted water woes. This county is so well run that the folks in charge cannot line up enough capable friends and family to reliably and accurately take a number from a water meter and convert it into a dollar amount on a bill. They did attempt to automate their way around incompetence by installing electronic remotely readable meters. Apparently vendor selection was based more on relationships than technical assessments. While their inability to issue accurate bills makes a great platform for photo-op politicians to get some lense-time rate-payers are increasingly put out. And given that the politicos are working to their own best outcome the most a mere citizen can hope for is collateral benefits. Trickle down politics.

Or you could take matters into your own hands: install your own water meter between DeKalb's and your house. Then when you get one of these outrageously high water bills you'll have your own usage records to make your case. You may not win against a "we're here to help" government but you will get some face-time with the photo-op-ers.

An accurate potable water supply meter can be had for between $50 and $150. At the low end you will find BPA-free plastic meters with low-lead brass alloy breaking the hundred dollar barrier. Stick with mechanical readout to lower the price and eliminate one more thing that can and as DeKalb has proven, will fail. You should also check the flow and accuracy curves and select a meter meeting the AWWA standard. A removable inlet filter is a good option if you consider that a water works that cannot issue a valid bill probably cannot keep crap out of the water either. You will want to install it as close to DeKalb's as practical while installed in a separate water meter cover (~$25). All in this should set you back less than $400.

Sounds like a lot doesn't it? When you consider the high probability that DeKalb will send you an outrageously high and incorrect bill it will be well worth it to be able to contest that bill with your own readings from an AWWA compliant meter.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Halloween Comes Early

Ticky-Tacky is back! Back in the sometimes enforced "right of way."

Doesn't This Get Your Goat?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Genius Envy

There is quite a bit of idiocy swirling around a leaked Trump Tax Return that revealed The Donald reported a loss of nearly one billion dollars in one year. Tax code allows this loss to be carried forward offsetting future profits. Almost every individual investor has done this, just not to the tune of a billion dollars. A pertinent example would be one Hillary Rodham Clinton who did exactly the same thing, but could only muster a mere seven hundred thousand dollar loss. And this doesn't include the three hundred thousand ripped off by her good friend, convicted felon, father-in-law to her daughter and one-time investment guru as that loss long predated her recently reported loss. Of course both candidates have, legally, used these losses to minimize taxes on income. Anything less would be stupid.

But then her inner spin-ster kicked in with her pondering "If not paying taxes makes you smart, what does that make the rest of us?" The snarky comeback is "jealous." A more nuanced response demands we push back against Clinton Fatigue to again parse various examples of "to be" in order to explore the domain of "who be us?"

First HRC wants you to know that the Don ain't one of "us" but what about Her Highness? She differs, in this matter anyway, only in degree but not in kind. She's a tax loss Mini-Me to his Jabba the Hut. Perhaps that is her problem. If he is "genius" she is so far behind on the smart scale she is looking at the Village Idiot's ass. So we know two people who ain't us but assuming "us" is the "stupid us" paying taxes who does that really include?

We can start by tossing the infamous forty-seven percent into the dustbin alongside Don and Hill. These are the folks the Brookings Institute singled out in the last Presidential dustup. But they claim this was a bad-economy peak and that by 2020 the percentage will be down to...wait for it...

only THIRTY FOUR PERCENT.  Look to the guy on your left. Then the gal on your right. One of you is a genius. So by the time the First Freeloader finishes his or her first term we'll have almost two thirds of taxpayers picking up their tab.

Surprisingly it is not easy to earn your way to genius. The Tax Foundation reports that the top fifty percent paid 97% of taxes but by working your way in to the top five percent you'd be amongst the group paying 50% of federal income tax. If you claw your way into the top one percent you and those like you will be paying over a third of the tab. Seems like sliding down the ladder is more effective than climbing up when it comes to tax avoidance.

This is one of those times when you have to relax to a solution. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Power Grab

Opponents of question one on the upcoming ballot call this a government "power grab" which it probably is. The problem with this argument is that it grabs power from one totally unaccountable group, superintendents, principals and teachers protected from our elected board by SACS handing it over to a superintendent appointed by our elected governor. One has to wonder if SACS has the stones to pull accreditation on the Opportunity School District should the guv get as pissy with his superintendent as the DeKalb BoE did with theirs.

Ironically some educrats opposing the move cite the lack of evidence that these uber districts work. Interestingly they have never held any of their hair-brained schemes to "fix education" and spend more of our money to the same high minded requirement. But as it turns out there may be a benefit, reported in the AJC, even if indirect:
"Georgia's design may be most similar to an experiment in Tennessee called the Achievement School District, where Vanderbilt professor Gary Henry has seen little data to indicate a great effect beyond scaring local districts into doing better to keep control of their schools."
Send in the Clowns! The scary ones.

So the early indication is what many suspected all along: educators are not doing the job to the level they are capable, but given sufficient motivation they somehow improve. While direct impact is not discussed:
"Henry notes that the Tennessee experiment may be too new to have taken full effect."
Placing the states' scheme on par with anything coming out of the incumbent education industry during the last few decades. So why shouldn't taxpayers give this scheme a chance? We have to do something, this is something, so let's do it. Right?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Nobody Says It Better

The words of Fran Millar as reported in the AJC by Jim Galloway:
"It's the aftershocks of the earthquake that concern me. After Emory goes in, a neighborhood might try to follow," Millar said. "My problem is I see the liberal white neighborhoods around these abandoning the DeKalb area and going into the Atlanta school system -- and basically leaving all these minorities behind."

The biggest champion of new cities for DeKalb takes offense at non-citizen entities tossing their lot in with a city. Could this be that it drains the tax base needed to fuel new cities in DeKalb and diverting those funds to the ATL? And what is that racial politics remark all about? Is DeKalb a better place for Republicans because liberal whites and liberal blacks will set aside philosophical leanings to vote strictly along racial lines? Or perhaps this is more about precedence than aftershocks. Maybe when a community willfully leaves a non-stop failure of a school system to join with a failed but recovering system a model will emerge that undermines the Every New City Gets Schools movement.

Sunday, October 2, 2016