Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Momentus Day

December 1st marks the end of the 2008 Hurricane Season. It offers a time to reflect on the pre-season predictions and assess the accuracy of the experts. As sometimes happens, the predictions didn't quite meet with reality.

But December 1st is also the first day in the existence of the City of Dunwoody. This also offers the opportunity to reflect on where we are and how we got here, the end of our first season of Dunwoody.

Given that Dunwoody doesn't even officially start until Monday December 1st this might seem difficult, but...Dunwoody's Mayor and City Council have been in operation since being sworn in and prior to that operated under the auspices of the Governor's office and prior to that these very same folks who comprise the fledging government of Dunwoody operated the wholly political and quasi-governmental Citizens for Dunwoody and Dunwoody Yes! organizations. And as Dr. Phil likes to say "the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior". This gives a significant body of work to evaluate.

To make the job more manageable, let's look at some key metrics: No Taxation without Representation, Service Value, Integrity, and Transparency.
Taxation: D. This covers not only the taxation of various businesses operating within Dunwoody which likely have little say in city operations, but also the imposition of the Franchise Fee Tax which negatively affects everyone who lives in and uses utilities in Dunwoody, but more importantly represents a tax levied by Dunwoody on Georgians who live outside Dunwoody. Remember the primal scream of cityhood? No Taxation Without Representation!
Service Value: C. This is one political hot potato. On the plus side: a city hall not in the city because it is cheaper; and dodging the CH2M bullet, but on the minus side: tacit acknowledgment that the CVI study was bogus; serious, allegedly surprising, startup cash flow problems; insufficient funds for promised police staffing; and no immediate prospects for park or road improvements.
Integrity: F. There is just no other way to say it: the citizens of Dunwoody have been lied to from the beginning. A now suspect Carl Vinson Study produced under the direction of cityhood proponents. Task Force reports withheld until after the referendum. The Citizens for Dunwoody and Dunwoody Yes! operating outside public view and review as was their legal right, but since they were influencing events affecting us all there was a moral imperative to operate openly. A moral imperative they diligently ignored.
Transparency: F. You probably cannot have integrity without transparency, at least in government, and when the first official meeting of the City Council results in the first official open records request, you get a pretty good idea how committed the Mayor and Council will be to their pledges of transparent and open government. One might accept them as technological novices but for the fact that someone associated with CfD and DY! demonstrated an amazing ability to put up (and tear down) websites and post Shrill Jill videos when it suited their purpose.

So there you have it. On the issues that matter most to most of us, Taxes, Services, Integrity and Transparency, this city earned a first term grade of D-, far short of their original promises. Maybe next year there will be a hurricane Dunwoody that meets predictions.