Thursday, August 6, 2020

Is This A Good Sign?

In Dunwoody you will never know. Because the city doesn't want you to know. And it doesn't have to be that way. So let's look at how professionals do it.

You start with a permitting process. That's right, you want to put up a sign then you go to the city (or online if you're in the 21st century) and you apply for a permit. Then you get a sticker to affix to the sign so that anyone who wants can check that the sign is approved as legal. This is done in neighboring cities, the ones without rampant sign pollution. Fun fact: this was actually done in Dunwoody, but that was when the county (remember Vernon?) was in charge but once the city took over the city was taken over by businesses and well...here we are. 

Because of the city supported Uglify Dunwoody campaign, rolling out sign permitting is a start but is far from sufficient. It must be possible for citizens to quickly and easily enforce sign permitting. There needs to be an app for that. Stickers should be like license plate stickers with clearly distinguishable markings indicating type and and expiration date. They should also include a QR code used by the app to pull up detailed information on the applicant, the sign, the sign type and current status (e.g., expired). If the permit is expired an immediate notification will be made by the app to the system and a fine will automatically be issued.

Type, location and presentation would be supported by the app with the inclusion of one or more photos as well as the GPS location of the offending situation. This would require action on the part of city staff, which to date has been willfully absent, but the application will further allow anyone to access the complaint reports and monitor progress, both by the offender and the city. 

Equally important is that GPS location can be used to support varying rules, based on overlay districts or specific communities. Not only can the system provide immediate updates to concerned parties but it can provide, in the moment, the status (approved or illegal) to the resident who is concerned about Beautifying Dunwoody. 

At the end of the day, only the residents of Dunwoody will determine what is and is not a "Good Sign" and it is incumbent upon a city originally intended to serve those residents to step up and empower those residents.

Monday, August 3, 2020

When They Get Behind Closed Doors

If you were here for the big vote, the one for the referendum creating this city, then you probably remember the key elements of the sales pitch. We were going to get local representation, with neighbors running our city rather than the distant and detached government in Decatur. We were going establish a government expressing the political will to put the brakes on rampant apartment development, one that would consider the impact of these developments on our children's schools. We were going to get a sincere focus on the three P's: Police; Parks; and Pavement. 

What the hell happened?

Certainly we've suffered from some very poor choices in our elected representatives which continues to this day with one member of council advocating secrecy in doing the people's business. And we know this because it was disclosed in a discoverable communication.

There are also serious structural issues, most likely by design. We have full time staff offering full time opportunities to serve businesses and developers equipped with full time liaison personnel who ensure that they get what they want. The Citizens OF Dunwoody are represented, often poorly as noted above, by a part-time mayor and council. By making our elected officials little more than casual observers with no real operational responsibilities resident voters are left with effectively zero representation. Again, by design.

Today begins the meetings of the charter review committee which offers a glimmer of hope that changes beneficial to the city can be made. This may be our only chance for meaningful, structural changes for several years which may explain why the mayor delayed the process.

There are many positive changes that could be made.

A Citizen Review Board would be a good start. Unlike those in other, well functioning cities, the scope of this board must extend beyond reviewing police activities to include all city operations. This board will set performance standards and review city operational units and employees to measure compliance and performance. The board will report directly to council making all reports public record. Selection of board members must be made by elected representatives and must be residents with a minimum two year residency requirement. City employees, even if a resident, will not be eligible for this board.

Similarly there should be Overlay District Community Boards for each overlay district in the city, and there should be more than one. Membership should be restricted to residents in adjacent neighborhoods with the same requirements and restrictions as the CRB. An ODCB is responsible for establishing performance standards and verifying city compliance and again, reporting directly to council. Any changes to the overlay district would require majority approval of the ODCB which should have six members thereby guaranteeing a "super" majority.

While certainly a stretch goal serious consideration should be given to upgrading the council and mayor positions to "real jobs" with operational responsibilities. The virtually nonexistent representation afforded residents by the current organization has proven but one thing: by any metric used to justify a Yes! vote, we were better served by the county when Vernon Jones was CEO.

Clearly we can do better than we have. It is up to the Charter Review to make that happen.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

PSA: Boycott "Sign-aholic"

We have a new, most egregious member of the Uglify Dunwoody campaign supported by city hall, but with your help they can be shown down the path paved by DaVinci Donuts, another eye assault offender. The task at hand is simple: just do not buy their crap.

Now some might say "them's fightin' words," so let's be clear: during this COVID pandemic co-morbities exacerbate that disease and increase mortality. Sign-aholic's nuggets of instant diabetes attack the body on two fronts. First,  Wheat Belly launches you towards obesity, a known friend of COVID. Then, "instant diabetes" isn't that hyperbolic as these gems contain gobs of sugar. Even without COVID, type 2 diabetes is a slow, painful killer. With all the nutritional value of carnival cotton candy would you really feed this to your children? Would you eat it yourself?

Well, you've gotten this far so the answer is probably "Yes." So let's do what daVillians do: make lemonade. 

You can fulfill your civic duty, resisting the city's Uglify Dunwoody campaign and satisfy that craving you first acquired arriving home from that long flight welcomed by the smells of Cinnabon on Concourse A. You can make your own, learning not just about sticky buns but a little something about YouTube. You see, YouTube is more than just cat TV. Sure, there are lots of cat videos out there but there are also some really good, educational videos. "Trained by YouTube" is really a thing. So we're going to point you to a purveyor of excellent cooking videos consistently second to but one (you really should watch Jacques Pepin bone out a chicken). If you haven't already, cruise on over to Bon Apetite's YouTube channel and let Sohla school you on the simple pleasures of making your own sticky buns:


You'll be stunned by how easy this really is. Seriously, if you need some fun activities with the kids (or grandkids) it doesn't get much easier. Plus, you get a new, creative way to use your cast iron skillet. 

While these are still going to be like putting your pancreas on a monster sugar roller coaster without the benefit of that security bar you will at least have the benefit of ingredient selection and quality control. You can choose to lessen the amount of sugar. You might experiment with alternatives to over-hybridized wheat flour or possibly use heirloom wheat flour. And you have complete control over the fruit used in the filling. It would be a stretch to call them "healthful" but you will be certain there are no unnecessary additions for appearance, "shelf life" or taste enhancements. (For a cinnamon junkie looking for a healthful alternative TOD wholeheartedly recommends Carrots Ottolenghi style.)

So that's as good as it gets: fun with the kids, as healthful as something like this could ever be and a valuable contribution to stop the city's efforts to Uglify Your Dunwoody. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Bursting Bubbles

One really shouldn't rubberneck. Everyone knows it. And whenever there is a fiery wreck everyone does it anyway. So it is with Stan The Man's Actual Factual blog which covers a wreck that is never-ending and yet so compelling. It is the crack cocaine of stupidity. The irony is the greatest stupidity is concentrated in the teaching corps, or at least those willing to put it on public display. Perhaps that is a harsh assessment. Maybe these folks live in a bubble and have lived there so long they have lost any clue they may have ever had regarding How Things Work in The Real World. So. Let's clue up.

Let's wrestle the 800 pound gorilla: compensation. Tenure may not have an identified cost but it certainly impacts compensation. From a practical point of view any teacher that clings to the job for three years cannot be removed. You'd have better luck trying to scrape a barnacle off a battleship with a salad fork. Guaranteed job...guaranteed pay. Then, and this is really hard to believe, teachers not only enjoy a guaranteed paycheck, they expect and demand a yearly raise. Yep, they expect a raise for simply staying in a job from which they cannot even be fired! Needless to say this is not How Things Work in The Real World. OK. Fine. Let's say it anyway. In The Real World folks don't get tenure, they don't even get furloughs, they get laid off. In at-will states your boss can, on any given day, let you know that YESTERDAY was your last day on the job. COLAs disappeared decades ago so in the absence of a merit raise, which means you, your work and your contribution are measured and evaluated, you get an annual pay decrease equal to that year's rate of inflation. 

Tenure and guaranteed raises have negative operational impact. If you cannot fire a lemon what's the point in even looking for them? Perhaps that is why there are no meaningful mechanisms in place to evaluate teachers other than longevity or degrees, often from very questionable diploma mills. Tenure makes these schools veritable lemon orchards and guaranteed raises are potent fertilizer. 

Then there is the incessant chant of "we're professionals--pay us like professionals!" Well, you are certified. Fair enough. But just not enough. In The Real World professional are responsible and accountable. A doctor screws up and faces malpractice charges. An engineer signs off on a hotel walkway that collapses and we're talking civil and criminal charges. What are the consequences when a rising junior cannot read at the seventh grade level? Nothing. If this happened in The Real World every teacher that child ever had would be run out of the "profession" if not indicted on criminal charges. But the "teaching profession" doesn't work that way. So is anyone surprised there are no consequences when a teacher sets a student on fire? 

And what other "profession" excuses incompetence? Deflective references to the 20-60-20 rule are just that: deflective. This rule was derived from The Real World when employees were evaluated and either earned raises or their walking papers. Under this constant grooming of the workforce there may be "only" twenty percent deadwood. If you do not clean out the deadwood, and schools do not because they cannot, then you will accumulate deadwood. And in The Real World the 20-60-20 rule has been superseded, at least anecdotally, by "the dumbbell" curve which acknowledges the mythical mean. Under the influence of tenure that dumbbell curve is heavily weighted toward the low end. In The Real World employees are often stack ranked with the lowest performers kicked off the island resulting in a dumbbell curve that tends to be more skewed towards the top end. Maybe that is why those who can, do and those who can't, well...

Teachers incessantly threaten to quit as if that is a legitimate threat. In The Real World you will threaten to quit exactly once because Real World employers will take you up on the offer and use the opportunity to improve their team. Malcontents are not welcome and not tolerated for long. Maybe teachers can get greased by being squeaky wheels but in The Real World these wheels get replaced. 

And this constant complaining is quite odd as it seems one of the key characteristic of a teaching schedule is the frequent breaks. In fact, should the administration present a calendar that removes a break, as has happened recently, teachers will squeal like a three year old who had their crayons taken away. Real World jobs most often come with something called PTO: Personal Time Off, which you accrue by working and which has replaced both vacation and sick leave. And while teachers may be able to accumulate a dozen weeks of sick leave, many Real World employers have a use it or lose it policy limiting PTO to as little as four weeks. Let's not even go into the "teachers get summers off" rat hole. 

Perhaps more baffling to folks in The Real World is this odd notion of "professional development" as Real World professionals enter the profession capable (giggle "Disgrace of the GACE") and are expected to maintain their knowledge and skills at a professional level. Often on their own time and dime and no matter what they will not get a pass on their work commitments. And if they don't maintain their skills they will be replaced with someone who has those skills. If they don't maintain their marketability they remain unemployed. 

Then there is the whole management-mismanagement trope where teachers complain that they suffer at the hands of incompetent administrations. Perhaps. So what? Do you really think employees in The Real World don't suffer when managers, executives and boards make bad decisions? Or is it that you just don't care? Seems as if you only care about yourself, often not even fellow educators and certainly not the public or their children. You complain that teachers' opinions aren't solicited by management. Do you really think Real World managers let the inmates run the asylum? 

Hopefully this has burst your little bubble. Maybe you now have a bit of a clue why you're not getting an outpouring of support from a public suffering layoffs, salary compression and who work 250 days a year to your 189. Maybe if we didn't have a BOE member who correctly identified your enterprise as a "jobs program" and if you actually enjoyed the same employment conditions as the rest of us you might get a little more sympathy. But that's never going to happen, is it?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Doing Time

George Carlin liked to point out there are still some guys in hell doing time on a meat rap. The moral logic underpinning this odd reality is that at the time the offenders did the crime it was indeed a crime. That it is now no longer a crime does not absolve them of deliberately doing what they knew to be wrong. We have something similar with city hall politics though it is neither moral nor justifiable. 

At issue is visual pollution in Dunwoody Village. City bureaucrats and some on council are for expanding unsightly signage and are no longer content with on-the-QT support and negligence in enforcement. They now intend to allow by ordinance the promotion of their previously clandestine Uglify Dunwoody campaign. This was announced in a public notice in this week's Blue Bag Rag, the city's official organ, as an addition to the previous notice a week prior. Reports indicate that on Monday the mayor sent a resident a terse message indicating that a matter of egregious sign violations would be addressed that day. Perhaps Mayor Tardy was referring to this notice and the actions sure to be taken at the upcoming meeting on 10 August. 

Of course if you go to the City website to get the specifics of the text changes presumably allowing all manner of visual clutter you will come up empty:

Could They Be More Opaque?

Not a single link, not even to the items in the public notice a week prior. Let the open records requests begin and rumor has it they have. Rumor further has it that these requests are for communication between city bureaucrats and elected officials. Good, but not good enough. Yes, citizens do need to know which elected officials are behind the Uglify Dunwoody campaign if only to cast a more informed vote. 

Citizens also need to know, and deserve to be told, specifically which bureaucrats and businesses are involved in these community defacing activities. To know who made first contact. Know where contact was made, what records have been made and what actions were taken to avoid discoverable records. Citizens deserve to know who, and there may be more than one, is championing this through the process. To know who is responsible for drafting these changes, to know who has input and who approves the drafts. Citizens deserve transparency around the actions of the economic development group within the city which acts as little more than an unconstrained internal chamber of commerce free from any community consideration or oversight. After all, they can run a poll asking for community input on arts, why not do the same for their negative arts, their visual pollution? Is it because they really do not give a hairy rodent's rectum what you think when the businesses tell them to do something? 

Rest assured, this mayor and this council will pass the changes provided by their bureaucrats to align the ordinance with their deliberate acts and their passive-aggressive inactions. Nonetheless this will not, this cannot absolve bad actors of their prior bad acts for which they must still be held accountable. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Dereliction Of Duty

This is a sordid tale of politics over service, personal interest over common good with a healthy dose of negligence and incompetence. Despite having occurred over a brief time the telling takes a bit.

It all began with SARS-CoV2 and the (under/over)reactions by politicians to the spread of the virus and the impact of COVID19 which in Georgia quickly turned into a Blue vs Red pissing contest. Dunwoody's mayor just could not keep her nose to the grindstone and do her job.

When this started those knowledgeable in all things disease made policy recommendations suggesting actions the Dunwoody mayor chose NOT to take. Actions some would later characterize as "taking a stand" and one can guess this inaction was out of political considerations or perhaps standing with and listening to certain voices.

Bear in mind that at this point in time the Governor had deferred to local authorities, including this city, to take actions in their communities that would protect their community in the way they determine are best suited to local conditions. Sounds like "local control," doesn't it? Did Dunwoody's mayor take action? Exert local control? Show leadership?

Nope.

Instead, she had to join the political hashtag flash mob of mayors screaming for the state to step in, to take actions requiring courage and leadership lacking in these mayors.  And of course, take any associated political heat. Dunwoody's mayor took to media to disparage the governor because of, in her opinion, his reluctance to take a stand.

And then he did, relieving any political pressure she might receive from her business constituency. But the Governor, who is responsible to all of Georgia, made good on his promise to craft an executive order covering the state in its entirety and with uniformity. As city leaders had clearly demonstrated reluctance to act when given the chance, his executive order did not allow them to now that his order was in effect. And it remains in effect.

Some mayors, ours included, took issue with that, and free of political liability began advocating for the passage of local mandates exceeding the Governor's. Dunwoody passed an ordinance mandating masks and it is worth noting it was not a unanimous vote. Shortly after Dunwoody approved this illegal ordinance the Governor updated his executive order making it clear to even the densest local politicians that any city's ordinance not aligned with his executive order was illegal. Hard Stop.

Our mayor's reaction? Quick to twitter she proclaimed the Governor's action "incredibly sad for my community and Georgia." She then accused the Governor of politicizing your health, exhibiting hypocrisy that knows no bounds.

But there is a greater context than even a pandemic. This city is operationally in shambles. The police department is a public disgrace. The city openly, willingly violates its own ordinances. It has established agencies that serve not the public but are mere tools of powerful business interests. While Dunwoody's mayor was busying herself with issues beyond her ken she was ignoring her actual responsibilities. While she was distracted by her hashtag flash mobs she was supposed to be appointing a charter commission member as the city charter is up for review, and frankly given recent performance should be up for revocation. But the mayor was just too busy.

And how does this all stack up? Well, for the most part it is signalling and it is signalling something far from virtuous. Our mayor leads a city flagrantly ignoring city ordinances signally total disrespect for rule of their own law. Further undermining the rule of law, the mayor pitches a hissy fit when the Governor doesn't meet with her approval and then she advocates illegal and frankly unenforceable ordinances in a city known for lax enforcement of unprofitable infractions. Perhaps that is why she set her fines so high. And really, how would it be enforced? Skip through pages of "WHEREAS" and you'll find a definition of face covering you could comply with by wearing a bridal veil. Is she really claiming this is more important than delivering on a well-known, long standing deadline? Is this incompetence on display? Is it negligence? Regardless of the underlying pathology it is dereliction of duty.

So what should this mayor do? She would not lead; she will not follow; she must get out of the way. She must step down. Let someone with demonstrated intellect, exhibiting logical, rational thought and who has a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of governments step in and do the right thing and do that thing the right way.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Our Floundering Fathers

Our founding fathers were stung by a recent news article covering the racial underpinnings of newly formed cities, including Dunwoody, a previously unincorporated suburb created by decades-long White flight. 

Did 'em's get 'em's li'l feelin's hurt?

Apparently, because these White men, and they are all men and all White, are basically shouting "I'm not a racist." Perhaps, but they were, and remain, clueless as any White man knows that is exactly what NOT to say. Not at this moment; not with today's movement.

They kick this off by claiming that a historian (we're going to grant a history professor, emeritus, that designation) had no evidence. How could that possibly be? Could it be that the founding fathers did their work behind the cloak of private corporations, Dunwoody Yes! and Citizens for Dunwoody? Could it be that there are no published meeting agendas or minutes? Could it be that there are no interim or final drafts of "Task Force" reports? You know, the reports that informed, mayhap even "drove," the actions of the founding fathers? Could it be because there is no historical record? Could that be because of the actions of our founding fathers and their co-conspirators?

They go on to enumerate what "drove" them to form a city as if it were out of their control, not an ambition of theirs, not a projection of their own egos. These drivers include areas where the city has shown epic failure but end with the old bromide of local control: "the desire to improve our community and control our own destiny, thus enhancing the quality of life for all our citizens." [emphasis added] They actually just laid that stinker right out there. They, who have turned this city over to any and every business that wants to exploit "their" citizens. They, who rose to power on promises of stopping apartment development built a city promoting expansion of rental properties throughout Dunwoody. Their city is notorious for police malfeasance and incompetence ranging from bungled investigations to DWB enforcement to citizen shootings to enforcement neglect to civil rights violations to odious sexual hijinks. It is a city well known for ethics violations and being on the losing end of numerous court cases. It is a city that has deliberately acted against its own ordinances and now has passed an ordinance violating the rule of law. Is this where they were driving? Were they driving drunk? Not unheard of.

If these drivers were so obvious, were indeed an existential threat, were the truths they hold to be so self-evident why did they schedule the referendum vote for the middle of July? Was this not to ensure minimal voter turnout so their small, but fervent group of supporters could dominate the outcome? Could it be that a November vote, in a presidential election year with a Black candidate on the ballot would all but ensure failure? Do they have a credible way to spin those facts? Do they have a credible way...

Not content with those insults they drag out the whole racial smoke screen saying that "Dunwoody had long since ceased to be a Whites-only enclave." True dat. The Whites-only enclave is called "city government." All White, predominantly male council. Only white mayors. Exclusively White male city managers. White male chief of police. Do they really expect anyone to believe that reflects the demographics of this city? That it ever did? That they ever cared that it would? Or perhaps they wanted to ensure that it didn't? Which is more plausible?

And one of the first efforts of this White Enclave was the plan to destroy the homes of people, people of color, in order to build expensive housing and ball parks effectively using housing economics to engineer, to their liking, the racial makeup of their new city. They started a promotional campaign and when that gained insufficient traction began a PR campaign based on crime in that area and the cost to "the rest of the community" in addressing that crime. This only came to a crashing halt when one otherwise loyal minion blurted out the critical role of this redevelopment in keeping those people out of our schools.

And they just cannot put down the shovel, continuing with "Racial and ethnic diversity was and is a driving force of Dunwoody’s success." Yet they would engineer a system that is exclusively White and mostly male at the topmost levels of its power structure, that is so paternalistic it is all but a modern re-creation of a plantation society. Yet we're supposed to believe there was nothing racial going on, by accident or by design.

So why has council and mayor been lily-White? Well that actually is by design. The city map was sliced up into voting regions and there were many ways to do this. The most obvious is just to divide the city into three parts, each region running east to west. This would all but guarantee a minority seat on council. Instead our founding fathers chose to slice and dice into regions running north to south. Why? As mentioned, no documents are available, but this layout all but ensures that the minority areas are divided allowing them to be conquered by White areas. Three at-large council seats ensures representation for the dominant, White voting pool. Would they have you believe this is merely coincidence? Can they still assert they actually designed this city if so much were left to chance? That anything, including diversity was a consideration?

It is worth noting these founders chose not to involve their necessary co-conspirators, Dan Weber and Fran Millar, in their retort. We have heard from Rusty Paul, mayor of the city we most want to emulate and former state Senator fighting alongside Dan and Fran, who has acknowledged "that there were issues on both sides that had racial overtones." Perhaps, no longer in the fray, Dan and Fran have had time to reflect, perhaps to regret. We will never know.

They may take umbrage at how history has judged their motivations and intentions, but we, the citizens OF Dunwoody continue to suffer from what they actually did.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Gap Year

Teachers are in quite a bind. They absolutely do not want to go back to the classroom for fear of contagion. They kinda want to be considered "essential" in the hopes this guarantees their paycheck - hastag nofurloughdays and all that. In fact they'd like to see a pay raise and have compared themselves to...wait for it...doctors! Now, they are significantly closer to nurses both in level of education and ongoing training but it sounds so much better when you claim you're like an MD, eh? Ballsy move.

Here's an alternative plan: let's have a gap year. Just call off the whole damn thing. No furlough days. An entire furlough year. Spend the money saved on infrastructure. Facilities expansion. HVAC upgrades to include UV-C sanitizing. Might want to consider copper handrails and cafeteria contact surfaces.

Upgrades to content delivery may be in order. Books? Why? No books? No lockers? Current technology can do much to reduce dilly dally.

The timeout can also become the pause that refreshes. There will be time to ask and answer some serious questions. If we had nothing, as would temporarily be the case, is what we now have what we'd build? Is it really a good idea to use DeKalb Schools as some half-assed health care platform? Really? Should that be the county health department? And is a school system really a reverse Uber Eats, where you bring 'em over and we'll feed 'em. Is this really the best way to provide government funded daycare? This is a wonderful time for parents to get in touch with their little darlings and maybe realize they're not all you claim they are.

Maybe a gap year will help streamline social services, removing them from an already overburdened education system and move the teaching and learning back to front and center. Of course there would have to be a "hold harmless" policy for all students. All would receive a gap year promotion and with colleges and universities dropping requirements for objectively measured academic accomplishments it really would be no-harm-no-foul. Honestly, until we get serious about learning most students would be no worse off taking a gap year than going through the motions of the current system.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Nonessential Service

A recent post over at Stan The Man's Actual Factual blog is ostensibly about DCSD reopening plan but the comments are the real story [and no, TOD is NOT going to allow comments]. If you read them all and try to absorb the chatter it is as if your head fills with an explosive word map with biggest bubbles around things like "no furlough" and "daycare" but "learning" not so much. Of course this speaks to a growing realization that parents rely on schools for daycare and teachers rely on the paycheck with neither actually that concerned about real learning---actual academic performance. Throw SARS-CoV2 terror into the mix and there is a widening rift. 

At one point the moderator posed an important but seemingly innocuous question: is education an essential service? Some reflexively responded in the affirmative mistakenly thinking this would support the notion that not only should furlough days be banned but that perhaps pay increases could be justified. The more circumspect remained silent (the question was asked more than once) or noted that teachers have not signed up to go into harm's way. This is in contrast with others providing essential services in hospitals, as first responders or even at the grocery checkout. But not teachers. 

Education may not be an essential service, but it is mandated by Georgia's Constitution which requires that the state provide an "adequate education" to all residents. Because DCSD has diverted so much of the budget and efforts away from the classroom to admin and wraparound services their definition of "adequate" is a very low bar indeed. That becomes important as parents investigate their options. 

Since teachers, fearing for their health, are at the brink of mutiny (some expect to break their contract without penalty) parents who are presented with "virtual learning" delivered by ill-equipped and unenthusiastic classroom teachers are investigating other, better established options. And there are multiple choices.

First DeKalb Schools run their own Virtual Academy but this only covers upper level classes. 

The most obvious is the appropriately named K12 which covers all of K-12. Another K-12 option is Georgia Cyber Academy. If you are not interested in elementary school Georgia Connections Academy handles 5-12. Another option for middle and high school is Georgia Virtual School. These are organizations built from the ground up with the staffing, the training, the technology and the pedagogy for distance learning. If your children are learning online shouldn't it be from capable educators? These options also offer the advantage of "the money follows the student" which may free up some DCSD teachers to work for Instacart. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Finding Our Way From Here

Clearly Dunwoody has lost its moral compass if ever it had one. As there is now one serious member of the Fourth Estate who is taking a hard look into the steaming manure pile on Ashford Dunwoody, TOD will defer. Instead we'll look at important but perhaps a bit more subtle takeaways from Billy Boy's CYA report from the perspective of Action Items.

Topping the list: all Police Officers under the rank of lieutenant must be paid a living wage. It was clear from the report that higher ranks were (ab)using the power of their office forcing subordinates to do literally obscene things in order to access extra work necessary to feed their families. Even other perks of the job, like take home vehicles, can be bent to this purpose. The solution is as simple as it is obvious, simply pay these officers a living wage. Furthermore the pay scales should overlap such that an officer who wishes to serve the community as an officer is not forced to abandon that path to "move up the ranks" for greater pay. It is not unreasonable that a senior officer be paid more than a rookie lieutenant. This also produces a system where recruitment pressures are relieved allowing the department to leverage turnover, even create it, in order to improve the ranks. This may appear expensive, but clearly there are some in the higher ranks whose salaries can be repurposed to this end. Even should the payroll increase we have clearly been confronted with "you pay for what get." If nothing else changes as a result of this train wreck, this is the change to make: pay these Police Officers a living wage.

Establish a Citizen Review Board. This is not uncommon and not always opposed by the Police Department. Due to the structural constraints imposed by the city charter the Council simply cannot effectively take on this responsibility. The events leading to this report make it painfully obvious adult supervision is required as the bureaucracy has steadily and deliberated moved away from the original mission of serving the residents of Dunwoody to serving the business interests exploiting the community. Consequently the CRB's scope must cover all operations of the city including captive corporations where city employees sit on boards. The CRB must report directly to Council, must have authority to access all city records, and must be able to interview city employees as required to fulfill oversight responsibilities. There must be a mechanism for the public and employees to anonymously identify issues warranting investigation and upon recommendation of the CRB and approval of council a special investigator with subpoena powers should be appointed working under the supervision of and reporting to the CRB.

HR policies are profoundly FUBAR and need to be fixed ASAP. Even the CYA report seems dismissive of intra-departmental fraternization, when it should result in immediate dismissal with cause. Even inter-departmental fraternization should be verboten. Nepotism restrictions should be expanded and rigorously enforced. These employees are being paid to do the people's work not operate a bordello.

It is time for a power-down reset. Council must convene a Citizens Task Force (remember when those were THE thing? Before the referendum) to review the organization of the city bureaucracy and examine unit missions. This must result in a streamlining restructuring that eliminates organizational units whose operation is not mandated by charter nor supported by founding principles of the citihood movement. The money saved by mission realignment and reorganization should be diverted to aforementioned proper compensation of Police Officers.

There is more that can and probably should be done but if only two (one in addition to Numero Uno) are expeditiously implemented this city might just stand a chance of being the city we were promised.