Monday, May 25, 2020

How To Vote

This isn't about red vs blue. Not about getting a CPA on the school board. Even when those votes count, they don't really matter. Simply review a recent council meeting where a councilman who as a candidate promised oversight and accountability now fawns over a bureaucrat, chiding, in absentia, a resident. How long did it take to go from Red Shirt Sweeper to bureaucracy loving Brown Shirt? Proof positive those kinds of votes simply do not matter.

There is one kind of vote that does matter, now more than ever. Your money.

The current pandemic is a very dark cloud hovering over health and economy. It is the latter which multiplies your voice in this community giving you the power to make a real difference. To rebuild Your Dunwoody.

There has always been bad business behavior in Dunwoody often dismissed by the city as mere signage and traffic violations to which the city has turned a blind eye. We have recently seen the city actively encouraging bad behavior at your expense. But you can "buypass" the city and make your voice heard where it matters most--in businesses' top line.

Your money is just that. Given current circumstances many purchases that had been casual are now very deliberate, discretionary spends and business are now very aware of each and every dollar that you choose to spend on them. Your spends are an existential lifeline and your choices matter now more than ever. You have their attention. Do not squander this opportunity and forgo your empowerment. When you see bad behavior, make a mental note to never, particularly not now, spend your money supporting the misbehavior. Send them the message that unless they embrace the established values of Dunwoody residents they will see no support from the community. Letting them know that you can and will take your business elsewhere tells them to take their bad behavior to some other community.

Vote with your dollars. Vote early. Vote often. This is a vote that will be counted and will create positive change. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Education Is Bankrupt

The AJC reports that Rudy Crew and 67 others applied for the job as Superintendent of DeKalb schools. And Crew was the clear winner. Really?

Let's review some key facts:
  • Crew has not been a superintendent in over 12 years
  • Crew left district leadership for a statewide public education position
  • Crew left K-12 education for a leadership role at an urban college
  • Crew has been accused of APS-calibre score manipulation
  • Crew has been accused of financial mis-appropriation
  • Crew has been accused of obstructing auditors and investigators
We are somehow to believe this is the track record best suited to lead DeKalb schools. It is now time for those who advocated for Crew to fully disclose in a quantifiable, score-able fashion, those qualities they saw in this candidate that not only overcame, in their judgment, these obvious handicaps but also made him superior to 67 other applicants. Otherwise we are left to conclude that the education system is fatally flawed, incapable of producing leaders of great capabilities and great integrity. Or perhaps it is not humanly possible to lead a system of this size and it is time break the problem, and the system, down into more manageable components.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Carcinogens And Cancer

The hallmarks of cancer include out of control growth and disease spread, metastasis, to other critical organs. Carcinogens are environmental elements causing or accelerating the development of deadly growths.

Here in Dunwoody, the cancer is out of control greed and development. The carcinogen is the Developer's Authority and it is the City, staff bureaucrats and elected officials, who support cancer-causing behaviors as if they actually prefer a death by this cancer to a life free from it.

As with biologics there may be no cure, the disease may be too advanced. Ironically it is a true, viral pandemic that may offer some relief. Developer spinmeisters are already ramping up PR around how their high density, highly profitable residential developments will not actually be SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs as they will have a few open areas, some mini-parks. That is their pandemic-slayer. Does anyone really believe it?

Even those blessed with only minimal intelligence can see right through this. Developers have been given carte blanche when it comes to growth in Your Dunwoody, fueled by bad behavior of the city and its captive corps. But now it is no longer a matter of quality of life, it is a matter of actual life and death.

How much is your life worth? Ask a developer how much they stand to make. Better yet, ask council. They should know exactly who profits and by how much as they sell out Your Dunwoody.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Rise UP!

Finally we have someone who is standing up for residents and their children. Surprisingly, it is DeKalb County. Or, perhaps, it isn't so surprising that it is NOT the City of Dunwoody as in fact, they are the problem. Jeff Rader seems put out with cities, like Dunwoody, are ripping off our county and our schools and is trying to put a stop to this legalized theft.

What has been happening is the spread of cities, which are by design hobbled by extremely weak public representation, are offering corporate welfare to developers by taking the property off the tax rolls using their Developer Authorities. This effectively starves your children's schools of much needed funding and exacerbates the problem by bringing high-density housing that crowds their classrooms, often with transient students. Making the odor of corruption even more repulsive these organizations are often paid by the developers (PILOT), with no money going to your schools. Instead the dollars are going to line the pockets of appointees, well connected, highly paid individuals who often show little or no concern for the residents of the city they exploit.

If they were trying to harm you and your children what would they do differently?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Failed State

A failed state is something we most commonly associate with a banana republic, some third world country over-run by crime and drug cartels. But a state can also be taken over by "legitimate" business, to the detriment of life and property of citizenry.

Such is the case in Dunwoody, but unlike third world countries where the state openly denies failure Dunwoody has done quite the opposite. In our case, the city has passed ordinances which in the past they simply neglected to enforce, easily explained away as "selective enforcement" as if the cause were insufficient resources. But now, a city employee using a city email account has officially declared that they are not and have no intention of enforcing ordinances affecting resident's quality of life.

Why? Damn. Good. Question. The email indicates it is "to show compassion and empathy during a time of uncertainty."

Parse that little nugget. Empathy? And how is it the city can "empathize?" Sympathize perhaps. And with whom, exactly, do they empathize? Well it sure is hell isn't you or Your Dunwoody. Turns out it is...wait for it...that's right...BUSINESSES! The folks this city really serves. Of course they have yet to receive an end date for this state of failure, nor have they indicated from whence this notification originates, no more than they've revealed by what extra-legal process this was instituted in the first place. Since they are blindly loyal to their business colleagues you can expect this failure to persist. Forever.

Now you may be thinking this is time for some open records requests. Sunshine to sanitize. But this is far too rotten for that. We have a government bureaucracy openly flaunting the law, refusing to fulfill mandated duties and ignoring duly and properly instituted ordinances. Drastic action is called for and it is now time to contact our state representative and senator. This failure emanated from under the gold dome and that is where it can be fixed. It is time to send the Dan & Fran Freak Show packing. It is time to demand that the state step up, take action and revoke the Dunwoody City Charter.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Coke Runner

Speeding In No-Truck Zone
While the top dogs in the Dunwoody PD have everyone patrolling social media there is no one addressing violations where YOU live. In Your Dunwoody. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Magic Carpet

Try as they might there is no rug large enough to sweep some things under. They are going to need a magic carpet. The "they" in this case are the folks at the city and their captive corporations who got up to their eyeballs in the EWBOK kerfuffle they'd like to now see disappear. Sort of.

As they wound down the PR campaign waged thru local "news" outlets they pivoted to recovery mode with a YouTube video and a local podcast covering the Spruill Center and his twisted sister, Create Dunwoody, children of the Father City. These are excruciating and even those with a cast iron stomach should not attempt to get through them in one sitting lest they throw up in their mouth, just a little. Nonetheless there are nuggets to be mined here.

The video offers a level of uncomfortable juxtaposition and interplay not seen since Nixon and Kennedy. But we have a Six-Figure-Suit getting man-splained about how arts work and the intersection of the real world and the art world. Come to find out, Six-Figure-Suit had never seen past the immediate monetization of someone else's art to actually realize that the artist of that work had been promulgating it globally and has direct experience with over-saturation of his own work right here in Georgia. But that is what arts center leadership looks like in captive corporations.

The podcast is the typical pollyannish PR outlet pablum sporting the newly installed president of the [re]Create Dunwoody cap-corp. Sounding a bit like Carol Kane in Scrooged minus the moxie we find that the architect of the New Dunwoody, to replace Your Dunwoody, is a five year resident who is so in touch with the community that she had no idea that a nearby neighbor was a capable vocalist. Probably didn't know that Curtis Mayfield lived in Dunwoody and may never have even heard of Curtis Mayfield. But given a novice perspective armed with detachment and profound myopia is it any surprise she looks around Your Dunwoody and only sees blanks and empty spaces to be filled with her tchotchke-s?

These two ship dits collide in a Dunwoody-worthy fuster cluck with no skidmarks and only money as evidence of the impact. Towards the end of the podcast (do yourself a favour and skip the first two thirds) you'll hear Create Dunwoody brag of getting five grand to about seven "starving artists"--about $600-$700 per. Given they monetized someone's work without remuneration it would appear the policy is to create impoverished artists so they can "serve" impoverished artists. As if the starving artists community needs enlargement. And artists certainly don't need someone taking an enormous cut to move their own money around.

So what happened to the other tens of thousands of dollars bragged about in previous PR releases? For that you must go the the 8:15 to 9:00 mark in the YouTube video where Six-Figure-Suit defends his cap-corp with the assertion that they never took a dime from sales and everything went to support artists except direct costs. It would appear that "direct costs" are an overwhelming part of the operation and yet these have never been detailed nor made public. Perhaps this went to a sign maker. Perhaps a sign maker whose business it has been to litter Your Dunwoody with all manner of signage. Given these are the captive corporations of the city it would be most interesting to know if any recipients of sign contracts made any donations to city elected officials, before or after contract award, or to any of these cap-corps.

There is a name for this circuitous movement of money. It ain't "magic."

Monday, April 27, 2020

Pause That Refreshes

Pandemic pandemonium has some weaker minds professing boredom while others sit in amazement at what is going on out there. In education.

And there is much that amazes.

Look at what APS is replacing Carstarphen with. How do you consider this an upgrade? Simply put, Carstarphen learned a lot at Harvard, but it was all about how legacy public education is doomed, disruption is necessary and incumbency is at risk. But the incumbents are in power, by number and money, and will not go quietly. Hence the hire that will plug the drains and refill the cesspool to levels not seen since Beverly Hall.

The poster child for public school dysfunction can be found in Carrollton where the school has decided their newest role is social media's social justice police. Hence, they have expelled, whatever that means with shelter-in-place, students because these students made social media posts someone at the school didn't like. Their lawyers might want to re-read the state constitution. Children aren't really entitled to a public education but the other way around: the state is mandated to provide one. Sounds like they need to dust off their "teachable moment" bumper stickers.

Distance learning has been a schooling for some. A few attentive parents have noticed that the average school day doesn't include a whole lot of instruction and learning. Projecting the learning power of public schools into the home has some wondering if full-on, real homeschooling might not be a good option. Others, naively, are pondering a run for school board. Little do they know even should they win, they lose.

Then there is the DeKalb County School System. Whenever you need a good laugh they are always ready and willing. They've found their next Supe and hired a PR firm to make sure everyone thinks he walks on water when it isn't frozen. Given an easily Giggled track record of intense controversy, they've got their job cut out for them. Seems like he took professional development courses on obstruction of justice and "hide the rapists." He's not what this county needs but it is increasing apparent he is exactly what this county deserves.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Oprah Goes A-Schoolin'

...you'll do fine. Uh-huh.

With pandemic hysteria and education be damned, DeKalb County Schools have gone all "educational Oprah" : Everybody Gets An 'A'! That's right! Just reach under your virtual-at-home desk, grab your 'A' and run. You're done! Well except for the feeding--you're still gonna get those free feeds. It's just the education part that is being shorted and frankly you'll never notice the difference, now will you?

For some this just isn't enough. The Left Wing Exsanguinator of the AJC wants Georgia Colleges and Universities to throw their standards and integrity out the window by dispensing with grades and quality points and making every course pass/fail. You cannot make this up. Sure, the social justice warriors and snowflake profs and students are in a corner curled up in a fetal position whining how their life is sooooo very stressful. So they want a pass on that whole "grade' thing.

You have to wonder. Can you imagine these creatures under the pressure to maintain a student deferral to avoid deadly killing fields in Southeast Asia? Can you imagine being on forward patrol with one of these?

A big problem with the standards-elimination proposal is that some of these universities are R1, top notch research institutions where people actually do Hard Things[tm]. As pointed out by some of the better profs, their earned PhD, often in a competitive, difficult subject area is proof they can take on and overcome difficult challenges. Are they facing an abrupt paradigm shift? Certainly. Are the grounds shifting under their pedagogical feet? Of course, but their rigorous academic training gives them the balance, the strength and perseverance to push through. With intelligence. With ingenuity.

Some apologists point to other states where schools, that their snowflakes sadly do not attend, have shunned their integrity. Perhaps at those schools they know their customers. Or perhaps, unlike USG, they don't already have it covered. In Georgia, schools have something for those who, for any number of reasons, simply cannot complete their work: take an 'I'--incomplete. It isn't as if there is any serious damage done as most of today's crop of students aren't expected to graduate in four years anyway. The six year graduation rate at UGA (Flagship R1 University) is about 83% and bumps up by only one percent in eight years. The four year rate is above the national average but still below 60%.

So the choices are clear. Either buck up buttercup, do the work and accept the grade you earned without whining about how life is difficult--it is for everyone, or take an 'I' and complete the work and the grade when you're feeling a little better about yourself and your stress level. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Art Nouveau Riche

As folks like to say about relationship status on Facebook: "It's Complicated." In this case it is also a tangled mess, intentionally intertwined, meant to confuse. Let's unravel.

In a nutshell the nouveau riche are steeped in envy-fueled self-loathing and are characterized by a profound lack of originality. They want to use their new-found riches to buy what they feel will make them appear to be the much more respected "old money." This captures the essence of this city, founded as a copy cat clone of neighboring Sandy Springs that has been chasing trends ever since. Live-work-play. Canton Street South. Placemaking. West of Decatur. Transit oriented development. Neo-urbanism. Each convulsive twist is supported by some highly overpaid consultant given a brief constraining the outcome and whose opinions are rendered by teams that live in distant states and know little of this area and our residents. Even the branding flails between plagiarism and banality.

The city's relationship with the arts is bizarre, antagonistic and borders on mercenary. To paraphrase Mark Twain, they hate the arts and only tolerate it when it brings them money. Remember the music museum that was proposed to be located at Perimeter Mall but fell through when it was determined that there would not be enough school field trips to keep it afloat. The city picked up parks for a song including a theater at Brook Run, but rather than provide a better venue for the Stage Door Players they insisted on its destruction. Originally they claimed to keep and preserve the stained glass windows for the value as art and history, but now, quietly, these appear on the auction block.

Then there is the rather odious affair of the "Everything Will Be OK" signs, sold by the Spruill Center, who state "100% of the proceeds go to help artists in need." And yet... Not once did they reach out to the artist who created the original mural. Instead they hired lawyers to file Word Marks thereby claiming the artist's intellectual property rights, copying the practice of patent pirates in the business world.

So what exactly do they mean when they say "help artists in need?" Did the sign vendor donate all these signs, with no expectation of quid pro quo from the Center or the city?

Now before you get all pissy ponder the process by which a hotel and a restaurant appeared on property deed restricted to non-commercial purposes. And make no mistake, when there are city employees on the board, it is the city's doing. This is not how you create an NGO, but a captive corporation and were this the private sector there would be a prosecutor somewhere crafting a sentence that includes "RICO."

Do you really think there was no collaboration between developers, city and Center? And does all that money somehow elude the grasp of the newly hired suit with his six figure salary, benefits and staff? Or is that what they mean by "helping?" The only thing that is abundantly clear is that the arts community had best have  a lawyer when dealing with Dunwoody.

The city sees the arts as a frenemy: antagonist and tool. Money has been poured into consultants' purses and push polls have littered Survey Monkey, not to support the arts, but to use the arts as cover for a broader, nouveau riche agenda of destruction. In conjunction with consultancies like Civic Moxie and their buzzword laden Power Points, the city has its newest non-profit, "Create Dunwoody" under the guise of promoting public art and placemaking.

And what does "Create Dunwoody" say to you?

Any resident who has been out and about knows there already IS a Dunwoody. A community of pleasant neighborhoods with well maintained homes, manicured lawns, tennis courts and swimming pools. Interspersed are pockets of shops, restaurants and professionals who serve the community and in turn are supported by the community. A pleasant, suburban bedroom community, of, by and for its residents. Close to urban amenities, but distant enough for refuge, for peace and quiet. And this Dunwoody WAS created, and has over time, organically, reached a mature state, of continual and evolutionary improvement.

This is the Dunwoody you saw from the back seat of the real estate agent's car. It is the Dunwoody that made you want to live here, to become part of this community. It is the community you wanted to help maintain and improve. It may well have been this kind of community allegiance that led many of those who voted to vote in favor of a city. A city you expected to contain urbanism to regions around MARTA and Perimeter Center. A city you expected to support the community, its residents and their suburban lifestyle. You expected that because you were led to believe that is what was on offer.

Now you know that to be wrong. When the nouveau riche at City Hall look at YOUR Dunwoody they see something they despise, something reminiscent of their former days before riches and power and envy and new friends. Their Dunwoody, the one envisioned in "Create Dunwoody," is a cookie cutter clone of whatever trend consultants have told them will raise their profile and inflate their flagging self-esteem. That is definitely NOT a quiet, suburban bedroom community. And their developer colleagues know this is a brownfield and that YOUR Dunwoody is in their way and must be displaced before they can "Create Dunwoody" and profits.

The utter destruction of the theater at Brook Run was mere foreshadowing of what lies in store for YOUR Dunwoody. This is not an existential threat, it is fait accompli