Monday, November 30, 2015

Black Boards Matter

You, like many people across these United States may be oblivious to what has been happening at college campus across this great nation--the systematic dismantling and destruction of our college and university BLACK boards. That's right. Almost in the blink of an eye what our children see before them in classrooms across America is pure white boards.

This simply cannot be tolerated, it must be stopped and the clock turned back to the days when the blackness of our boards was honoured and celebrated. There will be a call to action. Protests. Sit ins. Boycotts. Rumours abound that at least one Division 1 football squad will refuse to practice or play until all sideline whiteboards are eliminated and the traditional black slates are restored.

We must make our colleges and universities safe places for boards of many colours, we must celebrate diversity and restore black boards to their former place of respect and honour.

Because Black Boards Matter.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

High Crimes And Misdemeanors

A popular first-day-of-class pop quiz in Ethics 101 is:
Suppose you walk into a room, turn on the light and find money, not yours, lying on a table. What would an ethical person do with the money?
Well, the correct answer which should be obvious is "nothing." It's not yours so if you take it you are a thief. It doesn't matter how long you keep it or what you intend to do with it. Not find the owner. Not donate it to charity. And it doesn't matter if it is a penny or a pound.

Look at how much difference a penny makes.

Another form of ethics dominates the business world. Salesman ethics:
A salesman makes a call on a prospect in Chicago and while walking from his hotel a gust blows his favorite fedora into Lake Michigan. Back at the office he submits his expense report duly noting the line item for a replacement hat. Corporate bean counters refuse payment for the hat. What does the salesman do? After the next trip he submits expenses, complete with receipts and with a handwritten note at the top: "find the hat."
You will not find any group of individuals more self-aligned or more money motivated than salesmen. Except maybe politicians.

And that IS where the fun starts. Politicians are inherently salesmen--selling themselves to voters and more importantly to Big Buck Donors. So which rules of ethics should apply and which are actually practiced?

Lucky for us, DeKalb County has been putting on a clinic.

When you are an elected official or member of their staff and thereby a public facing projection of that official the law holds you to the standard of classical ethics often touted as the highest of ethical standards. The logic is that elected officials are charged with the public's trust and violating that trust, penny or a pound, is a high crime.

Our local DA recently avoided a teaching moment to make this very point and instead accepted a plea bargain that some have deemed a betrayal of the public trust. There were probably several considerations. There is an upcoming election and these matters may seem, to him, trivial in comparison. There is also the matter of Bowers muddying the waters suggesting a larceny model should apply to government malfeasance wherein theft below a certain, arbitrary amount is considered petty and above which it is felonious.

Look at how much difference a penny makes.

Doing that which you know better than to do is a good working definition of practical political ethics.

But it IS getting better isn't is? We've commissioned investigative reports, incomplete, but they are revealing. And we've changed some of the faces so things must be better, mustn't they?

Well, Snow White blew in on promises of transparency, integrity and cleaning house. Yet she retained her deposed and now jailed predecessor's Chief of Staff removing him not because of P-Card purchases of household pet paraphernalia serving no public benefit but because a verbal altercation created untenable political liability. Quintessential political ethics. And we can expect nothing else from any of the others.

After all the indictments, plea agreements, prison time, probation and punitive public service what do we know that we did not before? We knew politics, particularly in DeKalb was rotten to the core, remains rotten to the core but now we know that as we look to the future we can only expect more of the same.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Secret Societies

You know. The kind with exclusive membership, secret handshakes and mostly likely other, deeper secrets. The kind you'd associate with DeKalb county. The kind that gets an expensive soccer complex sprung on the public and even the Board of Commissioners at the last minute. The kind providing fuel to the fires that warm the cockles of citihood advocates.

Just when you start thinking that having your own little city would solve all the problems you have with the county you find out your city politicos are just as bad and they have been doing the same thing. The latest city secret society to see the light of day is called "Peachtree Gateway" an effort between four of North DeKalb's cities that has been going on behind closed doors and outside public view for the last two years. And get this: it is intended to foster regionalism. Isn't that what the county is for? So what are they doing, creating their own meta-county?

You may be wondering what other secret organizations and operations your city is involved in. Too bad. That IS why they're called secret. Only the proper set of shakers and movers, the biggest fish no matter how small your pond, are allowed in on the secret.

And if you think this is the first and only behind-closed-doors secret machinations your "locally controlled" politicians have been involved in you're not just drunk on the Kool Aid, you've overdosed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Le Chat Est Sorti Du Sac

After this weekend's deadly attacks in Paris the French have responded to what Hollande bluntly called an act of war by flying sorties aimed at crippling ISIL. Hollande is (rightly) angry and on the verge of invoking Article 5 of the NATO agreement in order to spread the scope and intensity of the anti-ISIL efforts.

But Hollande committed a faux pas by declaring his intent to cut off ISIL's money supply by targeting oil assets under their control. Why is this so bad?

Because it begs a large number of questions embarrassing Europe, the United States and the Obama Administration.

It starts with How could that possibly make any difference--surely no one is BUYING ISIL oil, right? Certainly it is being bought, the money is fueling their terrorist enterprise and no one, not a single press or government agency is tracing the money. And no one is boycotting the sales or those who purchase this blood oil.

Then there is Why now? These targets have been known for some time and they have clearly been under ISIL control for quite some time. Why were they not taken out years ago? Before the United States had sacrificed so many on the altar of greed?

And Who has been involved in this conspiracy to soft-pedal our actions against ISIL? Has it just been a joy-stick game playing Nobel Laureate who likes to take on his own "most wanted" with predator drones? Has it been every oil-dependent country in the EU? Has some country unilaterally declared neutrality to set up an oil laundering enterprise to mask culpability?

And finally, How many more American lives will be lost because the United States and Europe have been reluctant to starve out ISIL?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Political STDs

The rage with all these new cities is "outsourcing" services to private enterprises. Dunwoody is not immune to this affliction. One government responsibility that is widely dodged is probation management and supervision. Now if you've been paying attention to what goes on in this Great State you have most likely heard of and been appalled by the role this practice plays in creating debtor prisons.

It works like this. A municipality farms out their responsibility (to the public and the offender) for managing and monitoring probationers to for-profit companies. In search of greater profits these companies not only take the probationers' money they tack on fees at the slightest opportunity. These fees are often outside their ability to pay, additional charges mount and before you know it the probationer is back in court facing not only these fees extended probation and possible incarceration. And taxpayers foot the bill for that one.

The AJC has reported on this practice and its consequences extensively. While the State Supreme Court has declared privatization legal it also declared that drawing out sentences is not. The kerfuffle lead to legislation, signed by the Governor, creating a probation oversight agency. We wait with [pro]bated breath to see how that works. It has not prevented lawsuits against companies and the governments that hire them.

One company is a standout. They are not only ordered to repay people held on probation illegally but they have been hit with more than one civil rights lawsuit and a motion for change of venue has been denied. Even [disgruntled] employee reviews are not overwhelmingly flattering.

Given all this information, readily available to the public, what government in their right mind would ink a deal with this company? That would be the Smart City of Dunwoody.

Monday, November 9, 2015

College Is Over

If you do not believe that College has served its purpose in American Society and needs to be pushed aside then read this:
The Coddling of the American Mind
Political Correctness so out of control that even Left Wingnut Profs can no longer abide it. Does anyone believe this will deliver graduates capable of entering the workforce let alone competing globally? How many generations have we lost? How many more will we lose?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What Is Austin Worth?

Austin Elementary is the center of quite the soap opera these days. The recent politician-turned-educator acting as DCSD superintendent is being quoted as voicing commitment to keep Austin at its current site and partly as a consequence, at or near current size. More recently there has been some suggestion to vacate the shadow of the power lines in favour of the ball fields but that may just be crazy talk.

Or maybe not.

Now we have a new superintendent, a for-real educational professional and we're starting to hear about "somewhere within a three mile radius" which if one assumes the school is to be located in DeKalb County loosely translates to "somewhere closer to the Mall." And we're hearing more and more about super-sizing to the arm-twisting cum mandated size of 900-1000 students.

Neighborhood school no more.

There have been lamentations over the end of Walk To School Wednesdays [do they still do that?] and no small effort directed towards convincing parents at nearby schools that lines would be re-drawn moving them out of their home school.

Then it got interesting.

After a rousing debate on the relative merits of faux stacked stone vs faux hardy plank siding the good folks at the DHA (our shadow government) heard from Fran "The Man" Millar on the impact of potential changes at Austin. "This is a big deal. If that school is moved from that area, then that will have an effect on house prices. If you affect one of the more affluent sections of Dunwoody, it's going to affect everybody."

Wow. Admittedly that is quite a bit of politician-speak but there is something in that to offend just about everyone.

Let's start with the incomplete comparison: "one of the more affluent sections of Dunwoody." Not knocking the price points in Redfield, but come on, there are more homes in that area that do not command Redfield premiums than those that do. And has the good Senator checked out the prices in Deerfield East? Or what about those Bill Grant Clutter Homes? Zillow reports some pricey condos on Happy Hollow, quite a haul from Austin. Now if those Parkway Condos go up the Austin area will see  something of a boost as these are likely to come on the market at well over $250/sq. ft. But really, "one of the most affluent?" Hardly.

Then there is the FUD: "If that school is moved from that area, then that will have an effect on house prices." Really? Which way? Would nearby home prices go up or go down, and why? Seems like the kind of assumption that brought us natural gas deregulation and the Iran nuclear deal. Why not move it towards the higher apartment density? Isn't that where the Millennials want to live? Seems to be at least fifty percent of what we hear from City Hall these days. And aren't they just a bit more likely to have young 'uns? Maybe homes in the former Austin area would become much more attractive to Old Farts, the other demographic City Hall cannot shut up about, and they might pay quite a bit for a ready-to-reno Dunwoody Four Four and a Door. Just think, they can convert the den and living room into a Masterful Retreat on Main, knock down the walls between the Kitchen, Eat-In and Dining Rooms for an Open Concept and only go upstairs to dust and chase out the spiders. It would be just like the Parkway Condos minus the hardy plank and with a back yard.

Maybe Fran is right. Maybe if Austin were moved closer to the Millennial Zone with the other apartment kids there will be "an effect on the house prices" in "one of the most affluent sections of Dunwoody." Maybe prices will skyrocket.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Right To Complain

No, this is not yet-another-whining-diatribe. It is a call-to-arms.

We at The Other Dunwoody are encouraging our three followers and the few others who, in a failed search comprising "Dunwoody" and the bluer version of "Shut The Front Door," accidentally visit this site to step away from the keyboard and get out there and vote. No one cares who or what you vote for or against, but go vote. If you don't vote, you cannot complain and if you've been paying any attention at all TOD is all about complaining.

The more the merrier.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Twenty Five Til Three

The vote for yet another round of cities in DeKalb comes up on Three November this year. And twenty five? Well that is the number of holes lining Dunwoody Parkway awaiting the much ballyhooed renewable resource otherwise known as "trees."

What does that have to do with the Tucker and Cliffside votes? Well, it is just another symbol of "be careful what you wish for." There is much irony and no small amount of hypocrisy in these fledgling cities.

See, we got ourselves an incredibly expensive teardown and rebuild when what we asked for was a simple re-furb. The original parkway plan called for some serious repaving and restriping but there are those in this here locally controlled city what would have none of that. It was Complete Streets and nothing else. Bear in mind these are Torpy's One Percenters who are demanding that any pavement touched be retouched with bike lanes even they won't use. As mentioned earlier, the protests over loss of mature trees was beaten down by the mention of renewability of these plants. Yet there we have it--twenty five gone missing and in need of replacement.

And where are these masters of our local control? Are they clamoring for action? Are they taking action by volunteering to plant replacement trees? That would be a no. So where are they? Well as it would happen they are over at the park, along the massive concrete highway that had to be installed where a nature trail was called for. Why there? Why now? Turns out that their concrete highway thru paradise required a bit of clear cutting and concrete can get bone sucking hot when left in the sun. What is their solution? Plant trees. So after foisting an unwanted Parkway upon us and a Highway thru the Park they turn up at the place they didn't say would need trees to plant trees when they should be planting trees in the place they said trees would be renewed.

Again, what does this have to do with Tucker and Cliffside?

Well, you are probably quite tired of the chant of "local control" and while the yahoos behind these two examples are local what motivates them is far from it. The come to City Hall with the full faith and backing of national groups that have conveniently supplied the ordinances we should (and did) adopt to complete their dream. How local is that? Want to complain? Too bad because you weren't around for the Master Plan (wherein they have appointed themselves Master) and it is a done deal. Case closed. Hard stop.

Not local. Out of control.

Then there is the myth of small government is better government. Do you live in a neighborhood with a HOA? Think that's all right mighty fine do you?

And what is your definition of better? Well it best not be transparent, ethically pure or scandal free, because just with Dunwoody and Brookhaven we have amassed some evidence to the contrary. None of Dunwoody's land deals have been very transparent nor has the escalation of two aforementioned construction projects that went open loop. Then there was the great ethical crisis resulting in the loss of a City Attorney and a member of Council wisely choosing not to run for re-election. Ethics charges. Costly investigation by independent outsiders. Sound familiar?

Brookhaven is no better, what with the commitment to zone strip clubs out of town followed by highly compensated capitulation. Exactly what was being bought and sold there? Or dare we even mention Lysol-gate?

You are going to hear about the Three P's: Police, Parks and Pavement. Well, in Tucker they've at least determined that DeKalb PD isn't bad at all and they'll focus on zoning. The reality is that an enforce on complaint policy will be instituted basically meaning that enforcement is basically nil. Even a Mayor's wife will not be able to get your city to address the non-compliant deck at her back-yard neighbor's  house.

The Pro-City folks will continue their small/local chant but you may want to ponder, just a bit, the gist of what Liane Levitan said: when you add more government you just have that many more politicians to keep track of.