Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Part Time Prison

It's official. DeKalb County Schools are Part Time Prisons.

We've known for some time of the "Thug Culture" permeating DCSS: students, faculty and administration. We have close to one hundred "School Resource Officers", a secretive police force doing the administration's bidding with little or no public oversight. But now we have it all. We have Parole Officers in our schools.

That's right. Parole Officers.

The naive are wondering what in the world these officers could possibly be doing in the schools? Why aren't they out in the "real" world, where the criminals and probationers live? Sadly, it turns out they are just where they need to be because for some time now we've been creating, nurturing and harboring felons in our public schools. 'Bout four hundred. Convicted. So far.

And these are not your garden variety Mall Cop PO's. No sir, these are certified police officers. But not to fear, they'll be in their civvies and leave the "ruff 'em and cuff 'em" law enforcement to the SRO's. Jurisdiction and what not. They'll also be chatting up ALL students, not just our tatted young felons, so as not to damage the fragile at-risk self-esteem of those with whom they have official business. Right. That should fool everybody.

No doubt about it, we have come a long way from the little red schoolhouse. All of it down hill. We've burdened the system with false responsibility for every aspect of a child's life from the age of five to nineteen except the one thing it was supposed to do, and still hypocritically claims responsibility for: educating children. And heaven forbid anyone, especially a mere taxpayer, should suggest that public schools are no place for felons and parolees. On either side of the desk.

But you just keep on believing that YOUR child is getting a world-class education because YOUR child goes to the best school in the country!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dissin' Well Behaved

A recent traffic jam resulting in the time and opportunity to read a rather disturbing bumper sticker:
Well behaved women rarely make history
It should be noted this sticker wasn't actually ON the bumper but was instead affixed to the driver's side just below the back window--'twas an Ess-You-Vee. In the "no surprises" category was the driver. A female, no additional description needed. Your imagination will suffice.

Now many things are impossible to know from these chance near encounters. Might not have been the owner driving. Might have been a gift from a friend or loved one, which might explain the location. But it is much more interesting to jump to conclusions. To wit, that for a woman to make a significant impact she must be at least as big an asshole as any man might be in her situation. Additionally one might assume that the owner/driver of a 10 year old SUV isn't about the daily business of "makin' HIStory". Just isn't very likely. Probably just another asshole looking for a PC justification.

While that was fun, perhaps the bumper sticker, and the mentality behind it should be taken at face value. Is it true?


Sara Teasdale
Edith Head
Gracie Allen
Grandma Moses
Georgia O'Keefe
Beatrice Potter Web
Katherine Dunham
Emily Post
Leontyne Price
Doris Day
Mother Teresa
Laura Bush
Hillary Clinton
Elizabeth Browning
Edna Millay
Michele Obama
Eleanor Roosevelt
Sonja Sotomayor
Ruth Ginsberg
Sandra Day O'Connor
Shirley Temple Black
Golda Meir
Oprah Winfrey
Angela Merkel
Margaret Thatcher
Ruth Gordon
Reba McEntire
Dolly Parton
Barbara Stanwyck
Joyce Brothers
Clara Barton
Elizabeth Kenny
Marie Curie
Grace Hopper
Ann Landers
Rachel Carson
Ada Lovelace
Indira Ghandi
Benazir Bhuto
Maya Angelo
Niki Giovanni
Twyla Tharpe
Ana Pavlova
Pearl Buck
Ariel Durant
Edna Ferber
Judith Viorst
Abigal Adams
Barbara Jordon
Maria Shriver
Christiane Amanpour
Barbara Kingsolver
Meave Benchy
Helen Hayes
Marlene Deitrich
Sojourner Truth
Ayn Rand
Juliet Gordon Low
Harper Lee
M. Bethan McLeod
Amelia Erhart
Julia Child
Diane Fossey
Jane Goddard
Margaret Meade
Audrey Hepburn
Babe Zaharias
Julia Ward Howe
Florence Nightingale
Maria Montessori
Anne Sullivan
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Beverly Sills
Carol Burnett
Hattie McDaniel

There are probably many, many more. You may argue with specifics of the list, time frames and what constitutes "rarely" or "well behaved". But it should be clear. Women do not have to be hysterical to make history. The bumper sticker is wrong and so is the sentiment behind it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

DCSS is Doomed

Since the Whirled Wild Web is not V-Chip equipped it is only fair and right to warn you, dear reader, that the following diatribe will drop more bombs than the allies did over Dresden. If the Eff-bomb, especially when discussing the DeKalb County School System, offends your delicate sensibilities, then by all means, do us all a favor and click here NOW!

We are about to discuss, to parse, a single paragraph from our Lords of Education at DCSS that is so asinine, so intellectually bankrupt, that in the absence of profanity it leaves one speechless. So therefore we bomb not out of joy, and not without a certain degree of revulsion. But bomb we must for they have left us no other option.






What you are about to read is one paragraph of a mere four sentences spanning seven lines (in its original form) consuming one hundred words and only six hundred and thirty one characters (including punctuation and spacing). Though a fraction of the size of the Gettysburg address it clearly and completely exposes the horror that is public education in DeKalb County Georgia.

Without further ado.
The DCSS Management Information Systems Department (MIS) has created the Technology Plan to keep up with progress and excitement. The plan resonates the passion for extended and expanded learning fueled by efficient and effective integration of technology and the mission and goal of the district. The mission of the MIS Department is to establish and maintain a technology-rich teaching and learning environment where students and staff develop 21st century skills to be successful citizens in a global community. More so, the mission is to enable students with the skills they will need to work, learn, and live in their future.
Please. Take a moment and re-read this paragraph. Once more. Now, again.

Had enough?

Good. Let's talk amongst ourselves.

This was authored by three members of the DCSS administration including the superintendent with the assistance and guidance of a professor at Kennesaw State University. No kidding. Fact is you simply cannot write this kind of drivel with a routine education and a normal background. This requires the kind of PhD one is so proud of that one would never indicate the field (probably "Classroom Management" or "Playground Administration") and a background in the insular bubble of the Education Industry. These are the kinds of "professionals" whose "professional" web page includes links to "See My Children" and "Birthday Pics". No siree, it takes a special kind.

And lots of them. In addition to these four intellectual giants, referred to as the "Core Team", a "Planning Team" of four additional dim-bulbs was required. But wait! There's more! Clearly the genius of even this one paragraph cannot be the work of a mere eight educrats. And it isn't. These eight were supported by a brain trust of THIRTY FOUR others who participated in the brainstorming sessions resulting in what we have before us today. In order to appreciate this genius, the inspiration, the perspiration, perhaps the least we can do is give it just one more read.
The DCSS Management Information Systems Department (MIS) has created the Technology Plan to keep up with progress and excitement. The plan resonates the passion for extended and expanded learning fueled by efficient and effective integration of technology and the mission and goal of the district. The mission of the MIS Department is to establish and maintain a technology-rich teaching and learning environment where students and staff develop 21st century skills to be successful citizens in a global community. More so, the mission is to enable students with the skills they will need to work, learn, and live in their future.
Now admit it, you could never write something like that, even if you have an advanced degree in education something or another from a top online diploma mill. Though it will hurt, let's try to examine this masterpiece so we can better appreciate the genius behind it. One sentence at a time.
The DCSS Management Information Systems Department (MIS) has created the Technology Plan to keep up with progress and excitement.
It is common practice to spell out an acronym and immediately follow this with the first usage in parenthesis. This one sentence blows it twice. MIS should follow "Systems" and just what is DCSS? And you're thinking "it's DeKalb County School System--everybody knows that". Indeed. By the same token anyone writing or reading a Technology Plan should know that "MIS" is "Management Information Systems", but it appears this is written by idiots for even more profound idiots. Perhaps the best way to fix this slip-up is to change MIS to MISD. Pronounced "missed" as in "wouldn't be".

But that is merely the harvesting of nits. Let's look at something more significant, the phrase "to keep up with progress and excitement". "Keep up with progress"  almost makes sense as progress implies some form of forward motion. We'll pretend it is in the right direction (though we know it isn't). But "keep up with excitement"? What in the [non-educational] world does that mean? Are these people more than just figuratively circle-jerking? Do they need adult supervision? Do they need to be arrested?

But this is indeed one of the diseases that has destroyed public education in America: the notion that any activity even remotely associated with learning must be exciting. Sometimes, most times, learning is hard work. It isn't exciting. It is hard. Ultimately, where there is no hard work there is no learning and if your child is not complaining about how hard a subject is then they are not reaching their potential. And you're a bad parent.
The plan resonates the passion for extended and expanded learning fueled by efficient and effective integration of technology and the mission and goal of the district.
Now that we're all jiggy with excitement let's resonate a little passion.That's right, we just know there's a whole lotta passion out there and it's for extended and expanded learning, whatever the hell that is. And you might think, especially in a school setting, that extending or expanding learning would set a pretty high bar. You would be wrong. But it is a common mistake in DeKalb to assume there is already quite a bit of learning going on, and that any more learning might just pop all those intellectual blivets. By any objective measure (ie: not self-assessment) there is actually very little learning going on in DCSS so any additional learning would be, percentage wise, quite an increase.

We won't even talk about the "mission and goal of the district" as attempting to read even small parts of the document wherein that is revealed has been known to cause projectile vomiting. In readers with a brain anyway. So...not the target audience.
The mission of the MIS Department is to establish and maintain a technology-rich teaching and learning environment where students and staff develop 21st century skills to be successful citizens in a global community.
Wow, this is a platinum mine of insight into how genius at DCSS really works. "Establish and maintain a technology-rich teaching and learning environment"!!! This is pure edu-speak for "piss away taxpayer money on the latest and greatest toys without any proof of efficacy".

And just what are these "21st century skills" and how do they know, barely 10% into the century just what skills are needed for the next 80+ years? Seriously, if they were that smart they'd write something better than this drivel.

"Skills to be successful citizens in a global community" at first blush appears to be meaningless blather or a political nod to the money men who seem hellbent on ensuring public education produces compliant "citizens" to do their bidding. Perhaps if our children learned to read, write, do a little math and picked up a couple of challenging lessons in logic and ethics we might have a better society and a better country. Probably wouldn't have their kind of citizen though.
More so, the mission is to enable students with the skills they will need to work, learn, and live in their future.
"More so"--you gotta wonder--how did this beat out "Moreover"? Can you imagine the meetings? The emails flying around the internet? "What should we do? Should it be 'more so' or 'moreover'?" Dollars to donuts there were meetings where this was seriously debated. They probably brought in lunch. On our dime.

And "more so" than what? "More so" than the claptrap in the previous three sentences? And again with the "skills". Since when is it all about skills? Isn't the current, totally intangible education goal "critical thinking" and "high order though processes". "Skills" sounds like you're training a plumber. DCSS should be so good.

And again, they're the Great Prognosticators, with a clear vision of Other People's Futures. Perhaps it is best to live in the future when you're such a miserable failure in the present.

To wrap up, go back and read it one more time. Doesn't it just sound nice? The problem is that it ONLY sounds nice and it contains no real meaning of any sort. And this is what the entire education industry has become: people, schools, organizations, businesses, operations and processes of no real substance that simply and only sound good. And this takes a lot of hard work. Problem is it has nothing to do with educating our children.

And if you read that one paragraph with the understanding that it took forty-two highly compensated "professionals" and you think "well, that's about right", then you are part of the problem.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nattering Nay Bobs

The Voters of Dunwoody gave both Bobs, Wittenstein and Dallas and emphatic "NAY!" in Tuesday's run-off election. What are we to make of this?

The losers significantly out-raised and outspent the competition. Perhaps money isn't the deciding factor. Perhaps it was ill-spent and was a deciding factor, but not as the spender anticipated.

Wittenstein had incumbency giving him a record to run on and his opponent a record to run against. No councilman can do the job without finding themselves on the opposite side of some issues relative to some constituents. Nor will his successor. But it may be that the citizens of Dunwoody realize that with incumbency and "experience" also comes a certain comfort and complacency. A freshman councilor is not very likely to say "well, that's the way it's [always been] done", but is instead more likely to question the status quo and possibly probe for and arrive at a different and better answer to any given problem. In such a smart city with so many smart citizens it will take many election cycles before we've exhausted all our smart options.

Dallas is a bit more interesting. Whilst touting superior experience and qualification he seems to have spent a significant chunk of his funds on a campaign advisor. Perhaps this is why, in the later days of the campaign, his message went decidedly negative and he went so far as to inject alleged party affiliation into a non-partisan race. This expenditure was clearly ill-advised, but thankfully it was his money, not ours.

One would like to think that most citizens of Dunwoody would have been intellectually offended by these tactics and that alone would turn the tide. Perhaps it was and perhaps it did. But on the matter of party affiliation, it is a sad day when mere association with a party is as blemishing as a leper's sore. It is also of interest that the smearing allegations are offered with citation--county voting records--from which one infers that what really happened is his opponent "crossed-over" in a primary. (It is unlikely even DeKalb county would publish an individual's actual votes on specific ballot items, not because they wouldn't, but because they cannot figure out how.) When the Republican north was dominated by Democrats to the south, how many erstwhile Republicans didn't cross-over to vote against Cynthia McKinney? Would a "smart" voter not take the opportunity to have their voice heard in the opposing party primary if they know that their candidate, no matter how well qualified, simply will not win in the general election, or would they squelch themselves so they can claim a party affiliation as pure as the driven snow? And which action gives them the greatest representation in their government?

Regardless of their real motivations, and there are probably as many as there are voters, Dunwoody has done itself proud.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jilly Bob

Shrill Jill, meet Farmer Bob.

Farmer Bob, meet Shrill Jill.

What Shrill Jill and Farmer Bob have in common is they ran right up against the Dunwoody Cabal and have been excoriated for it.

In the case of Shrill Jill we had a harsh voice advocating that the Cabal "make haste slowly" and advising their zombie followers of the need for and availability of more information and greater details. She was right, but she was crushed, and was figuratively "run out of town on a rail".

Farmer Bob encountered his field of Bouncing Bettys with the Parks Bonds. Though originally a supporter of the bonds he did a one eighty upon learning that an important Cabal objective was the removal of five hundred undesirable families from our community, and more importantly, to the Cabal anyway, the removal of the lower caste's children from "our" schools.

Neither Jill nor Bob were unequivocally opposed to the proposition at hand, but rather objected to the means by which the Cabal executed their plan. In the first case the objection centered around lack of transparency and inadequate disclosure of facts and estimates, and insufficient vetting of plans. In the latter case, while some objected to the lack of transparency, Farmer Bob took his stand against the plans of a powerful few to purge our community of those they unilaterally deemed unfit while sugarcoating a heinous act as "something for all our residents". While he has been credited with defeating the bonds (he didn't, the voters did) he has been vilified and subjected to ad hominem attacks in comments on local blogs.

At the polls the outcomes could hardly be more different with cityhood winning by a landslide and the Parks Bonds failing by a two to one margin. So is this the beginning of the end for the Cabal? Probably not as the Dunwoody power structure is as well established as it is incestuous. Until we have an election where candidates truly feel that a track record with DHA, Dunwoody Yes! or Citizens for Dunwoody is as much a negative as a positive, the Cabal is alive and thriving.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kids 'n' Squirrels

Have you ever noticed how drivers in Dunwoody will all but stop for a jake walkin' squirrel, but seemingly couldn't care less about the safety of children in a school zone or crosswalk?

Perhaps Dunwoody drivers care more about limb rats than rug rats.

Monday, November 28, 2011


The first vote is in and the runoffs are a week away. We've had two Sundays to become intimately familiar with the distinct boundary between Dunwoody and Sandy Springs even as a new purveyor of adult libations plies his trade in our little village. As the tryptophans fade and the toddy warms, let us all pause to take stock of recent wounds and those who lick them.

The most obvious are the fans of "America's Sport", baseball, and there seems to be quite the disagreement on just how popular baseball is in Dunwoody. On the one hand, the Dunwoody Fan Rag claims without any supporting citation that "there is ample public demand for ball fields". Really?!? Sadly for these ample demanders, this did not bear up under public scrutiny nor did it survive a public vote. Frankly it is superficially incorrect: where "ample demand" exists, pay-to-play works because "ample demand" begets "ample support" with no need to tax non-players. Clearly Dunwoody falls far short of "ample" with regard to boys, their beloved balls and the sticks to beat them with.

Then there were the parks bonds themselves, invested with more than ample  histrionics and ego and whose rejection appears to have ripple effects far beyond mere boy's games. The City's immediate response was a little "tit for tat", putting on hold the purchase of property slated for the "Peachford Extension" as if to say "if we don't get what we want, we'll just take our bat and ball and go home", knowing they'll just have to call a special session to approve the purchase or lose $50K. But publicly we're treated to a Councilman saying " the voters of Dunwoody spoke loud about us buying land particularly if we’re going to buy land and pay too much for it".  Yeah. Right. Like the voters were wrapped around the axle about the price tag of those apartments and didn't care a whit about the pogrom it forces. These folks never had their fingers on the pulse of the public, and it is unlikely there was an election day epiphany at a Tuesday night pity party. It is more believable that this was a pissy fit of pique resulting in a childish tantrum.

Or perhaps the voters simply put them on notice with regards to whimsical boondoggles. This extension is to facilitate east-west travel in the area, which is located only one block from the apparently inadequate east-west conveyances of I-285, Cotillion and Savoy. Or perhaps not.

But it could be that one plan, the parks, was tied to another, the extension, by way of the general budget. Had the bonds carried the day, this infusion of cash would take parks out of the general budget freeing up funds needed for less playful commitments. Like pavement. Complete with white and yellow markings. Now that the City does not have that easy $66 million to go on a "shopping spree" and all projects must come out of general funds, perhaps  they don't have enough money to run this City in the manner they promised.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dunwoody: Startup Expertise

Most folks involved in the high tech community are painfully aware of the fact that the people who start a company are almost always NOT the people you need to run that same company once it is fully operational. Dunwoody, with a few years under its belt, is like a young company transitioning from startup to sustainability and we no longer need our current team of brash inexperienced startup specialists who require an increasing amount of adult supervision. In fact, we will not be able to survive them. It is now our time to acquire the experienced professionals we need running the show from here on out.

And we're in luck. We're all in luck.

Nearby voters already have or soon will approve and establish two new cities. This offers exciting new opportunities for our "City Entrepreneurs" while at the same time providing Dunwoody with the opportunity to grow the quality of our team. Starting now, we should be looking to upgrade our City Management staff, acquire extensive expertise in the City Attorney's Office and put a steady hand in control of our Police Force. And those currently in those positions will find themselves available to assist the newly approved City of Peachtree Corners and the about to be approved City of Brookhaven with their startup needs.

A serendipitous Win-Win-Win opportunity like this does not come along very often and we should not squander it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brookhaven: Learn from Dunwoody

Brookhaven is well along in fulfilling its destiny as the next city to incorporate in DeKalb and there is much to be learned from its slightly older sister to the north.

First, it is inevitable, don't fight it. You don't have to blindly embrace it, but fighting will be like swimming in quicksand, but with a peanut gallery rooting for the sand. In the end you're going down and all you will succeed in accomplishing is adding your name to the list that includes "Shrill Jill" and "Farmer Bob". But again, you don't have to just sit in the corner, eat your cookies and drink your milk. You can think. You can analyze. And...if you are very careful, you can criticize.

Your CVI study is complete. In terms of content this is relatively insignificant, but as a milestone it means that the dominant power structure is in place. Just check out the assumptions underpinning the foregone conclusion that "shows Brookhaven would be viable". Then pull that string. Who insisted on these assumptions? Is it the same group that paid for the study? Just who are these people--not a group--real, flesh and blood, money makin', power-hungry people? Who the hell are they? They need to be outed. Early.

These are the folks who will run your city for the first few to several years. And they will run it to their benefit, not the benefit of the Citizens of Brookhaven (see, now doesn't that just sound right?). They will be pulling the strings of council and mayor, but even before, it is these, the few, the empowered, that will draft your ordinances, set the rules that dominate your life, and unlike the benign neglect of DeKalb, these folks will see to it that you toe the line. Or else. If you're in a HOA and hate it, think of this as a HOA on steroids, with the power to tax, condemn, and compel with an armed force. If you're in a HOA and just love it, then you're probably one of the assholes that will be running the city anyway.

When it comes time to vote, not for the referendum--that will be rigged, but for mayor and council, you might want to pretend it is the second or third election, not the first. By the time you get to the third election you will have become thoroughly disillusioned with all the pompous asses that promote themselves as having been some kind of great contributor to the cityhood movement or who played patty-fingers with other power-hungry frat boys in one of the unavoidable string of "non-profits" that foisted this city upon you. Those are the people you'll certainly vote against then. Cut to the chase. Vote against them now.

And you might just want to look at the financials. See, the proponents of cityhood are gonna tell you how "we can have the same or better services for even less money". Maybe. And they love to point out the elimination of the bifurcated "Special Services Tax District" which covers two of the much ballyhooed "3-P's" of new DeKalb Cities: Police and Parks. Fact is, these have to be paid for, and you will have your own overhead to cover down at the newly minted city hall. Expect "parks bonds" to be floated within three years of incorporation. Expect a police force that is twice as large as you will be sold on pre-referendum and a never-ending stream of budget increases backed by little more than flag waving.

As you dig down into the revenue side you'll see a big chunk o' cash: franchise fees. Turns out the county gets virtually none of this money as it is not incorporated but your newly incorporated Brookhaven will, so any financial comparison that ignores this disparity is intellectually bankrupt. Now much of this money comes from folks in unincorporated areas of the state, including yourselves at this point, but it largely/only goes to cities. Some folks, often those in unincorporated areas, find this morally reprehensible. But, as has been pointed out by leaders in Dunwoody, this money is necessary to support the city, and in your case it helps eliminate that SSTD assessment. So it's OK, right? After all, you've been on the downside of this great moral divide and now it is your turn to reap the rewards. This is how "situation ethics" works. All you need to bring to the table is a very flexible moral spine and an equally firm sense of self righteousness.

But wait! There's more!

You're gonna start this city, so you're gonna need "City Services". One thing Dunwoody did right (really, you finally read it here) was to ignore the siren song of the "Shills for CH2M Hill" who were advocates of Whole Hog "P Three Uh Oh", otherwise known as "privatization". Clearly many services should not add head count to the city payroll with its generous benefit package--and yes, you will find one of the first things enacted will be generous benefits. If you have a janitor, electrician, HVAC tech, mechanic, or even an IT guy, on city payroll then you're an idiot. By the same token, you'll probably NOT want to contract for police services. But there is much grey in between. Fortunately there is a simple rule to follow in deciding whether to outsource or not: if you can envision requesting information under the Open Records Act, then you want that function in-house. Otherwise, you're screwed. Well, you're probably screwed anyway, but if they can throw up the "sorry, private business information" roadblock, then you're screwed, glued and tattooed.

And finally, don't let your guard down. You're gonna have yet another set of politicians that require constant watching and frequent changing. Buck up. You gotta do both every chance you get.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not So HOT, eh?

It appears that SRTA cannot wear down the resistance. What had been seen as a small, fragmented group of malcontents has coalesced into an uber organization, Stolen Lanes. This umbrella group claims to represent nearly ten thousand commuters who are hot. Under the collar, not in the lanes.

And perhaps they vote?

But Stolen Lanes are up against formidable opponents including a powerful state bureaucracy, well-connected private interests and the support of the Fourth Estate, notably Cox Enterprises, who thru channel 2 and the AJC have relentlessly promoted the HOT lanes. The media full court press includes daily usage counts reminiscent of the Vietnam War body counts, both in frequency and inaccuracy, as they intentionally fail to acknowledge traffic levels supported during the HOV era, or note how many carpools have been expelled from those lanes. And the smarmy financing and misuse of tax dollars is something the government is reluctant to disclose and proponents unwilling to discuss.

Clearly this new organization is fighting an uphill battle, but it is a noble cause. Give them a read. It may be your cause too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just a TAD Will Do Nicely

The Citizens OF Dunwoody rightly rejected the ill-managed drive towards deep debt represented by the two parks referenda. Whilst the approximately forty percent who voted in favour might be considered a "forty percent wrong out of a hundred" and consequently a pretty solid "F", this is politics where fifty plus one is an undeniable "A". Those forty are down.

But not out.

The Citizens OF Dunwoody have granted the City the power to create Tax Allocation Districts, allowing the City to identify an area as "blighted", issue bonds (w/o any more approval from those unruly citizens) and re-structure our tax base and expenditures. Expect this "tool" to be used by the City well before the currently sitting council and mayor leave office. And what might we expect?
  1. A blighted area will be identified and it will, not coincidentally, be EXACTLY the same area the EXACT same mayor and council had identified as the IDEAL location for a major city recreation center.
  2. Negotiations with area businesses (aka "apartments") will be revealed, preferably as a last minute agenda item at the end of an intentionally long city council meeting.
  3. It will also be revealed, unwillingly, that details of these negotiations as well as development plans have been sitting on a city computer for some time. We will never know how these "discussions" originally started and who started them nor the real power structure behind them.
  4. Though the location was ideal for "playgrounds for the children of the rich" it will have since been determined even better suited for a "Live, Work, Play" redevelopment with heavy emphasis on "Play", some on "Work" and not so much on "Live"-- and only to the extent that it is owner occupied.
  5. Deals will be signed, bonds issued, taxes pulled from the general fund and directed exclusively to the "blighted" redevelopment, and Dunwoody will be rid of its undesirables as well as off on an exciting adventure in land speculation and development.
To their credit, the Citizens OF Dunwoody exercised fiscal prudence with their vote on the bonds referenda, but until the City reflects the will of the Citizens and not a shadow power structure, the Citizens OF Dunwoody must remain unwaveringly vigilant in all matters regarding TADs.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just Say NO!

Shortly we, the citizens of  Dunwoody, will be presented with three opportunities to raise our taxes. Two take effect immediately and the third kicks in at the whim of the city, whenever they want, and whoever they may be at the time the mood strikes them.

Referendum: "Shall land be acquired and remediated for parks and greenspace by the City of Dunwoody in the amount of $33,000,000?"
  • VOTE NO: This represents almost THREE TIMES THE CURRENT BUDGET in debt load.
  • VOTE NO: We are now told the City intends to use the money to force undesirables from their homes--this plan is now as official as anything the city has ever said.
Referendum: "Shall the park system of the City of Dunwoody be improved by the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $33,000,000?"
  • VOTE NO: Again, this represents almost THREE TIMES THE CURRENT BUDGET in debt load.
  • VOTE NO: This was split out of a single, $66,000,000 bond because even the City knows this is an outrageous idea.
Redevelopment Referendum: "Shall the Act be approved which authorizes the City of Dunwoody to exercise redevelopment powers under the 'Redevelopment Powers Law' as it may be amended from time to time?"
  • VOTE NO: You, the citizens and voters of Dunwoody will be giving the city unbridled power to alter tax structure and wield power of eminent domain.
  • VOTE NO: What you give up, you will never be able to take back, and you will have relinquished all opportunity to control the power delegated to the city, as defined by whoever may be in office at the time.
Dunwoody is not yet five years old, but consistent with the personal fiscal policy of many of Dunwoody's Smartest, the City remains free of long term debt. Much has been done, and much more can still be done without incurring debt for ourselves and our children--and let's be frank, this is a debt that once adopted will be renewed and we will be locked in a fiscal model based on long term debt. This debt load can only be satisfied by growing the tax digest, and with the intent to remove more properties, especially commercial properties from the tax rolls, residents will take on a greater burden.

The rebuttal, used during the drive to form the city, is "Trust Us". However, the way these referenda were intentionally written, the way information has been intentionally withheld then leaked, and the intentional timing of any releases is indistinguishable from deceitful manipulation. Earning Trust? Hardly!

Should any of these referenda pass, our standing as a well-managed, fiscally conservative community will be shattered and there will be no looking back. Dunwoody will be well on its way to becoming just another city run just like any other city--by the same kind of politicians we thought we left behind in DeKalb.

Just Say NO!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

St. Augustine of Dunwoody

From [because '.com' would hit too close to home] we learn about one of history's most famous Saints.
"St. Augustine* of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break. "
And who doesn't enjoy a cold brew ever and anon?

It sounds like he should be the patron saint of college commencement as this modern life milestone most closely resembles his transformation, but the text provides no additional insights into his appointment as patron to that which he had so dramatically put aside.

Perhaps "Hippo" is somehow related to "hypocrite", though this is unlikely as those biblical scholars, many of whom remain anonymous to this day, were quite the sticklers when it came to spelling--regardless of the language or medium. One thing is certain, it is in no way related to "hippocratic" despite the similarities in spelling.

* Like most in Dunwoody, it is presumed our St Augustine is indeed from afar, transplanted in both time and space, and might in fact be St Augustine of Hippo. However, any resemblance of anyone mentioned herein to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to those persons and those who know them in direct proportion to their ego and inverse proportion to their desire to remain anonymous. Any events described herein may or may not have actually occurred and even if, may not be accurately related as matter of fact or chronology. The author or authors, excepting those directly cited, remain anonymous, because that is their right as Americans.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Five Percent Solution

There is an old bromide along the lines of "the first solution to pollution is dilution", but when the matter at hand is socio-economic there is no acceptable solution but to separate the effluent from the affluent. Fortunately, commonly accepted practices, particularly zoning, create a physical and economic moat around the affluent and also serve tof encapsulate the effluent thereby reducing the cost of extraction and elimination.

Such is the case with Dunwoody, which proposes to eliminate a particularly odious demographic from the fringes of the relatively recently christened city. As it turns out, a majority of Dunwoody's poor, its Hispanic population, lives in a very small area. This just happens to be exactly the same location where Dunwoody leaders intend to build the city's premier recreational facility, thereby clearing up that demographic blemish.

While the demographics are well supported by our most recent census, this is not news. The maps below, based on Y2K data show 'twas always thus. Consequently this is not a recent infestation to be eradicated, nor is it likely that the City Founders, the smartest of the smart, did not know this prior to these recent plans or even before formulating plans for cityhood.

The above map shows where the white folk live. Not surprisingly, the darker green coincides with a higher percentage of whites in the population from its lowest in the area under discussion to above 95% in the area furthest from the Hispanic fringe.

The above map shows only the Hispanics and more clearly demonstrates how the city plans to eviscerate the existing community to prevent any northward spread and slow if not reverse the westward spread.

Below the bull's eye on both maps sits an apartment complex housing 2500 residents, of which approximately 580 are students in the Dunwoody cluster of DeKalb County Schools. These residents represent approximately five percent of the City's population.

Of course it isn't just about race or ethnicity, it is every bit as much about relative income and poverty. As one moves east or south from the border with Sandy Springs one sees a drop-off in home values and household income identical to the map of "white folk" distribution. A similar map of poverty is identical to the map of Hispanic demographics. The correlations between poverty and crime, or poverty and poor educational outcomes will neither be questioned nor belabored here, but simply accepted as a fact underpinning the motives of many including the most outspoken supporters of destroying these homes.

The plan includes razing the homes of some of the poorest in Dunwoody. Without the availability of the targeted apartment homes, these people will remain poor, but they will not remain in Dunwoody. Nor will their children, poor and less equipped to keep up with their whiter and brighter neighbors to the west and north, remain a burden to the Dunwoody cluster.

Supporters claim this is about parks and recreation as Dunwoody is currently one city-owned diamond short of their desired minimum of three. And while it is not the purpose of this post to question motive or intent, there is a point worth pondering. "If you wanted to eliminate the poor, especially poor Hispanics, in Dunwoody, what would you do differently?"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Get With The Pogrom!

Help Keep Dunwoody PURE*
by making your patriotic donation today!
Just text

That's 1-666-4764766
Text "dunwoody" NOW!

  * Dunwoody PURE (Purging Undesirable Residents Expediently) is a non-existent and consequently non-profit organization. All donations will go exactly where you want them to. Trust Us! We're your neighbors.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Policing the Police

The 2012 Dunwoody budget is out and some in the blogosphere are lamenting the removal of funds for a "Crime Prevention Unit" requested by our police department, on the basis that a quarter of a million dollars is a mere drop in the bucket. In spite of the fact that the request lacks sufficient details or measurable goals to be more that "because I want it", there is a move afoot to reinstate this in the budget.

So here we are in Dunwoody, beset by "parkies" demanding it all in one huge chunk, and those that already have a significant chunk nonetheless grabbing for more. A little here, a little there.

There is also a school of thought that subscribes to the notion that we can never spend enough money on police and any idea the chief comes up with simply must be good (see "because I want it"). Special units. Anti-terrorism training. Armored Personnel Carriers. Para-Military Forces (aka "SWAT" teams). The more the better.

But, is it possible that our existing resources are being deployed sub-optimally?

Did  we really need to take an officer out of service to send him to Israel, just because it was partly (wholly?) funded by Other People's Money? Really??!!?? What about the fact that this officer wasn't patrolling our streets or even an apartment complex? Then there was the chief's junket to "The Other Georgia". That really paid off in reducing criminal activity and our backlog of open investigations. NOT!

What we really could have used is trained officers who know to "cover the back door" when going to arrest someone. Instead, the alleged perp simply fled out the back, never to be seen again. And, did calling in neighboring SWAT teams to help the bungle-brothers improve that outcome? No, but didn't they just look stunning! Consider that when the Dunwoody PD starts murmuring about "needing a SWAT team" of its own. Do you really want these people running an armored paramilitary force using no-knock warrants and pointing automatic weapons at you?

Do we really need aggressive traffic patrolling of I-285 or would we be better off if these same patrols were in our "aging inventory of apartments" around the same times (dusk and dawn) as they're collecting fees and fines from "Snob County" commuters? The official answer is readily apparent to anyone on I-285 on almost any morning.

And "Police Segways"? Really?!? Is there no toy this child will be denied?

As a another example of questionable priorities, on Saturday October 15th, there were no fewer than four Dunwoody patrol cars on Dunwoody Parkway between Mount Vernon and Village Burger for some "event". Yet we're told the DPD hasn't the resources for traffic control near schools. Now if this looks like currying favor on the one hand while "convincing" parents to vote on budget expansion on the other, well, the facts are what they are.  If crime really is a problem, then stop with the "selective operations" and ramp up the patrols--stop being boy scouts and start being cops.

As for Data Driven operations and governance...



And publish that data. Not on some pre-filtered, sanitizing web site, but as raw, CSV data. Yes, we have hired "professionals" with "expertise" who have also crafted successful careers in politically steeped areas of government. They certainly know what they're doing and why. So let's not keep it a secret. We also have a city packed with "Smart people" and some of these folks are equally capable of analyzing data. Some are old farts, retired from successful careers in business and technology with both the time and the skills for this effort. They may also come to the task without the agenda of "make myself more important by making my budget bigger".

Has the city done even a minimally acceptable job of publishing data to this self-proclaimed "Smart City"? We, the taxpayers, paid for radar speed signs that collect traffic data. Well dammit, publish that data. The city spent the money on a web page to filter police data so these data obviously exist. Run a DB dump and publish the raw data and don't tell us "that's too expensive", or "you just need to fill out an Open Records Request at a cost of $$$". We're already paying for the data to be collected and for a PR website and quite frankly if you're doing a professional job, you're backing up the DB, so you have the raw data readily available. Publish it.

Since the data are clearly available, "all we want are the facts ma'am", and we'll take it from there. If we, the citizens, determine you are doing the best you can with the little you have (currently a very significant portion of the budget), and that you could do more, with more, then we can have an informed conversation about adding resources and what we expect as a result.

But as it stands, our budget is big enough to handle the necessities if the city were properly managed. Once operations are effective and efficient, it will be time to add or expand services but only as demanded by the citizens, not as they are put forth by our employees whose self-interest may not always align with the community.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Dunwoody Than You

A recent dissin' contest on an other Dunwoody blog (not to be confused with The Other Dunwoody blog), poses a few good points to ponder.

First, is it really a good idea to allow comments on blog posts? That trail of not-so-witty repartee certainly seems to support the "No Comment" decision for this blog. These comments devolved, as they so often do, into ad hominem attacks, the most interesting being the "I've been here longer than you" machismo oneupmanship. It's like our own quaint little derivative of Godwin's Law--sooner or later in any discussion about Dunwoody, someone will be accused of "not being here long enough to have an opinion that matters". At least not as much as the accuser. It is as if there is some great manhood demonstrated by how long it has been since that last April morn you wrote your name in the snow in your own backyard.

And this happens frequently here in our little burg. You often read on blog comments or even letters to the Fan Rag about "I've been in Dunwoody for twenty years" or "We moved here in 1985 when Deerfield East was still a horse farm." You know, shit like that.

But what makes this more interesting than an otherwise childish "Oh Yeah? Yeah!" schoolyard belly-buckin' is the topic. Namely parks, and our impending, looming, over one hundred million dollar commitment to long term debt. As usual, this boils down to "You Are For Parks" or "You Are Against Parks" as you cannot be "for parks, but against monstrous debt". Ya gotta pick.

And it is just this black and white nature, particularly on the part of the "I Am For Parks" loudmouth, who also played the "Dunwoody Resident Seniority" card, that generates the belly-laughs. OK, fine.'ve been here since before the Lester Maddox clan(sic) sold their gas station at the corner of Chamblee Dunwoody and Mount Vernon. Good for you. DID YOU MOVE HERE FOR THE PARKS? D'oh?!? If parks were and are so gosh-darn important to you, why didn't you move to a PLACE THAT HAD THEM way back when?

Ain't really about parks is it?

Not that it matters, but blog comments would be of much greater value if you guys would whip 'em out, agree on which is longer, and move on. After all, it's not the length, it's what you do with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taxing the Lexus Lanes

The State of Georgia, convinced by funds provided by the Obama Administration, has determined that sections of I-85 should be used to close America's "Great Social Divide" separating the haves from the have-nots. They have done this a clever manner. They have taken a portion of the road, largely paid for by the have-nots and as an interim step (see "boiling a frog") used even more have-not money to convert these into "HOV" lanes and then, again with more money from the have-nots, completed the transformation into Lexus Lanes: high speed, low traffic lanes limited to those elites who can afford to pay a toll.

Lest you, the great unwashed, see this as unfair consider this:
  1. the tolls paid by the elites will pay to maintain these lanes, this is the last time you have to fork over money for the elites--now that they have what they want
  2. the tolls also fund a brand new government bureacracy--the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority, headed Gena Evans, well-loved in the administration, at least by other bureacrats
  3. you get to see how the other, significantly less than half, lives--really, it is all about you, and helping you understand the world around you
To ensure that the elites do not feel any sense of ill will directed towards them personally it is important that you convey your heartfelt appreciation of their position by waving. Now it is important that all proper protocols be observed and take care not to be too familiar while showing the proper respect. It is advised that the wave be brief, and lest you overstep your station, take care not to wave with all fingers as that would be a sign of too great a familiarity, as if waving to a friend or a relative. It is best to be frugal in these matters and share a wave with just a finger, but avoid being miserly and ensure that, though limited to a single digit, you share the longest one. It is also important not to wave constantly as this is a safety hazard even in stop and stop traffic, but to wave frequently, in short bursts.

And to ensure the maintenance of egalitarian social justice it is important that the have-nots step up to the plate and for all the "give" get a little "take".

The first step, after the obligatory hand jive, is to recognize a simple truth: the elites have paid for the privilege of entering the Lexus Lane, but they've not paid to exit. Any exit from the elitist left lane requires that all five lanes to the right clear a path so they can make their way to their destination unimpeded by the "little people". (Any political commentary this might suggest is totally unintentional on the part of The Other Dunwoody, and one might suppose, the elitists in the Obama Administration.)

While this is clearly the way it must be, there are a couple of simple observations. First, the elitist needing to exit need not do so in front of you, as they can do equally well by exiting behind you. Then, if your fellow members of the great unwashed agree, and act accordingly, a great equalization will spontaneously occur. Five lanes will not stop for passage of the elite, six will, as the exiting elite must surely match speeds with the traffic to the right and search for the weak and unwary amongst the have-nots.

If this leaves you unsatisfied, there is a more expensive approach to social equalization. This requires two ingredients: a Peach Pass and a firm conviction that it is inherently unsafe to drive more than five mph faster than surrounding traffic. This will require that you use the Peach Pass, that you pay the same toll as the elitists and that you stand by your convictions, your commitment to your safety and the safety of others.

But there is a way to mitigate this cost--enlist the aid of two other compatriots and you will satisfy Obama's social enginerring criteria and qualify for a "free ride". Bear in mind, in order to redeem your golden ticket you still need a Peach Pass and you must, just prior to the trip, notify Big Brother that you will be carrying adequate baggage. And should your compatriots become unavailable at the last moment, well, honestly now, how can that be your fault?

But always, as a humble member of the great unwashed, salt of the earth that you are, do not forget to wave to those far better than you. And if you find yourself in the company of the Governor, please, let him know there are no hard feelings by giving a most enthusiastic wave. And should the occasion arise that you have a similar opportunity to greet Gena Evans then by all means, share the love, but be sure to wave with both hands.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Listed below are the scheduled locations of the Citizen's for Dunwoody sponsored "Buy Our Parks Plan" Testimonial and Revival Meeting. Can we have an "amen"? Amen!

See anything interesting in this list???
Mill Glenn Clubhouse
Dunwoody Homeowners Association Board MeetingBranches Clubhouse
Dunwoody North Clubhouse
Dunwoody United Methodist Men’s Group
City Hall
Fountainbleau Clubhouse
Kingsley Clubhouse
Kingswood United Methodist Church
Georgia Perimeter College Auditorium
Georgetown Clubhouse
Dunwoody United Methodist (room 257)
Congregation Beth Shalom
City Hall
You are probably wondering just what are these things called "Clubhouse", what are they for and how did they get there? Did the county do this to us with lame zoning? Malicious intent? Did someone developer sneak them in?

Not really. As it turns out these buildings, often with large, general purpose rooms, are associated with community Recreational Facilities!!! Facilities with playgrounds. And swimming pools. Sometimes large ones. Deep too. And many a clubhouse is right beside tennis courts, some with as many as eight nets. Often there are lights and sometimes folks are actually, we hope you're sittin' down, sometimes folks actually play tennis at night! Now that's uptown. And there appear to be quite a few of these Recreational Facilities hidden away in our little village. Though only a few show up on the Glad-Hand Tax Tour, most long-time Dunwoody residents know many are missing from this list.

That would mean that there are several, if not dozens, of recreational options available to folks in Dunwoody, paid for by the very folks who enjoy these facilities, without one dime in public debt or other subsidies.

Wow! What a system. Folks "pay to play" and it doesn't cost everyone else anything.

This really is a Smart City.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making Parks Work

The PR campaign in support of the Parks Referendum has started in earnest and it has turned ugly with ad hominem attacks. Not against The Other Dunwoody, that's just too easy, but against another Citizen of Dunwoody who is a noted contributor to the city as well as the greater community. Since our pollyannish cheerleader squad has not a clue how to participate in a reasonable, adult debate that might arrive at a workable solution, it is incumbent upon The Other Dunwoody to cut to the chase and offer the solution.

The center of controversy is around the gap between the intent, to purchase land for parks, and the language and content of the referendum and the supporting legislative documents (laws/ordinances). These documents are presumed to be legislative mandates of this council guiding the operations of current and future city personnel and councils with regard to this thirty year commitment to purchase land for parks. The fixes are rather straightforward: the language of the referendum must be changed and it must be supported by city legislation and these documents MUST meet these criteria:
  • The language must require that this bond money be used for the purchase of land for Parks and only Parks and any land acquired directly or indirectly by use of these funds are dedicated in perpetuity to Parks. Think of it as the Taxpayers of Dunwoody donating land to the City with a deed restriction. 
  • This money cannot be used to acquire any property with even the threat of imminent domain, let alone the actual process of imminent domain. Any city employee caught attempting to use the threat of imminent domain in conjunction with the use of these funds shall be subject to felony charges. They might even lose their job.
  • This money cannot be used to purchase "rights of first refusal", "options to buy" or "easements". It can only be used to buy property with the full rights of the existing owner--pre-existing easements apply. This money cannot be used as a tool to cajole us into taking on more debt at a later time.
  • Any and all money collected by these new taxes must be put in escrow and used only for the purpose of paying the principle and interest on the bonds. Nothing else. No ribbon cutting ceremonies. No promotional events. No investing and spending the interest else where. Debt reduction only. And when the debt is paid, any remaining funds are returned to the taxpayers in direct proportion to their contribution to that year's tax.
  • Any future referendum with language that would alter in any way the use of property acquired under this referendum or the use of remaining funds must be approved by two thirds of the registered voters in Dunwoody. See in perpetuity.
  • Any future changes to these laws and ordinances enacted to define and control the process of acquiring land for parks must be approved by 100% of the City Council seats. Not the majority of a quorum. No "abstainers". If a seat is vacant, it must be filled before the vote. One Hundred Percent. Six "yeses". Signed by the Mayor. No "ifs", "ands" or "buts". Again, see in perpetuity.
  • And here's the "deadly embrace": these changes must be complete with all laws and ordinances enacted seven days prior to the vote on the referendum. Fourteen days it should be, but we know you're in a hurry (we've already discussed why).
These are non-negotiable.
    Fix it and you just might get to go on that "Shopping Spree". You can even buy those apartments filled with "People You Just Don't Like". Can't get it done or done "in time"? Well, just maybe the timing isn't right and you can get your act together for next year. It seems that might even be a presidential election year.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    One Lump? Or Two?

    With tax for two and two for tax,
    Just us to tax and tax on all we own!
    During the upcoming elections Citizens of Dunwoody will be presented with parks referenda:
    1. a $33 Million indebtedness to buy "parks"
    2. a $33 Million indebtedness to operate "parks"
    Even if you believe the City of Dunwoody should own and operate just as much in the way of parks, by whatever measure, as your favorite place, where sadly you do not currently reside, surely you can see how this is a bit like getting a loan to buy a car and then another loan to put spinners on it and gas it up. Most sane folks would question whether you need a car, and even if you do, can you really afford it. Again, were sanity in charge, the answer would be a resounding NO!

    It appears, in our Smart City, sanity is sadly lacking. Even still we can dismiss the latter of these proposals as over-reaching, either out of simple and pure greed, or as an attempt to position what they really want as a "compromise". In any event it is too absurd for even the most fascist purveyor of "tax you for me, me, me", but that still leaves this notion of "investing in parks". 

    That referendum and the associated operational procedures have been criticized by many, most observing that it is crafted as if by novices, who are new to this whole 'guvmint thang', and who don't really know what they're doing or how to do it. Well...that just happens to be the case. That said, when it was pointed out by many, but in particular a well-know local developer, that it is a good idea to appraise property before purchase, or, and here's a real shocker, that you get two independent appraisals, language to that effect was, however reluctantly, added.  But this lip-flapping about details and wording ignores serious structural problems and almost makes approval seem a foregone conclusion. 

    The Other Dunwoody has already made the case that Dunwoody does not need additional parks and with recent suggestions of converting undesirables' apartments into "City Parks" it is increasingly clear this is about something other than "playsets fer the kiddies". This is not a need, it is a proven greed and will start a never-ending addiction. It's pretty clear that we don't need these "parks" and the ultimate price we will pay is outrageous.

    In spite of all that, there is the distinct possibility that one or both of these will pass, and without any substantive, structural changes that constrain how and for what the money will be used. There will be no language to ensure it is for parks, and parks only, nor that surplus funds will be used only to pay down the debts with the tax expiring when the debt is repaid. And quite frankly, would you believe these politicians, or those to come after, any more than those who lied about the GA-400 tolls? Probably not.

    So just who is pushing this? Well that would be the "Citizens for Dunwoody, Inc." who when advocating for city-hood sat on task force reports until after that referendum passed. As  their website indicates (note the lack of posted referenda, calendar of events, or opportunity to comment) this organization is not one dedicated to open and honest discourse. In the past a well-informed "Smart" electorate did not suit their purpose, so again they are supporting a PR barrage to push this thing through.

    Who are these folks? As it happens, the CFO and Secretary is none other than our very own City Attorney who has influence over the language, if not the content of these documents. This Smart City would be better served if a highly compensated employee fixed the vagueness and closed the loopholes in these documents rather than supporting an organization that appears hell-bent on glossing over these problems with non-binding speeches at PR sessions.

    And the credibility of this process would be better if informational sessions were run by the League of Women voters. There are enough sessions scheduled for the Mayor and members of Council to each make two presentations and field questions from the community. Bring the city manager to each and every one. Let us hear what the architects of this proposal have to say. Then our paid staff can focus on ensuring that the referenda are properly updated to reflect any newly identified weaknesses resulting from these public reviews.

    If they cannot or will not address these issues before the vote, we can deal with it the day of the vote.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    A Tale of Two Gurneys

    Two murderers were recently executed in Georgia and Texas.
    One murderer was white, the other black.
    The white murderer killed a black man, the black murderer killed a white police officer.
    The white murderer dragged his victim behind his truck killing him and scattering his corpse. The black murderer shot his victim at point blank range when he tried to intervene in the beating of a second victim.
    There was significant physical evidence against the white murderer, but no witnesses except the victim and two conspirators. There was significant eye witness evidence brought against the black murderer but little physical evidence.
    The execution of the white murderer went virtually unnoticed, while the execution of the black murderer elicited a media circus.
    The question this juxtaposition raises regards the sincerity of those who claim so publicly to be opposed to the death penalty. Is it about the convict or the protestors' fifteen minutes in the spotlight? Does it really have anything to do with the moral and ethical issues surrounding the death penalty?

    Those truly committed to abolishing the death penalty need to understand that low hanging fruit will not suffice. While their protests that may inspire tears over the plight of a Karla Faye Tucker they also create a dark little comic theater that does little but suggest that adorable murderers ought not be put to death simply because they're attractive.

    To be effective, death penalty abolitionists need to reach higher where the strange fruit are harder to grasp. They must present a compelling argument for those convicted of even the most heinous crimes.

    They must successfully argue that the likes of Ted Bundy, described as "the very definition of heartless evil" and "a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human's pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after", should be rotting in jail rather than the grave.  If they can convince us all that a civilized society cannot morally apply the death penalty to such a force of evil, who is yet a human being, then there will never again be a need to grandstand and glad-hand over the likes of Troy Davis.

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Too Big To Succeed

    The DeKalb County School System is simply too big to succeed:
    • A huge budget allows significant graft to get lost in the fine print
    • It is so large, by any measure, that finding a superintendent from an equivalent system is nearly impossible
    • Based on their website they have seven administration positions from Principal to Superintendent, and this does not include the made-up position of "Assistant Superintendent" of which there are at least five
    • The system is divided into five regions each headed by one of these "Assistant Superintendents"
    And there-in lies a solution: break DCSS into five separate school systems, each with its own school board and superintendent. Of course there are other structural and organizational changes to be made:
    • School board is limited to three members, with one being elected each year by elections held at each school on the last day of the school year
    • Board meetings are held at district High Schools, rotating with each meeting
    • All board members are "at-large" and subject to voter approval from across the district
    • Board chair is a rotating position held by the board member in their third year, falling to the next most senior in the unusual case of no third-year board member
    • All board decisions must result from a unanimous vote, with a quorum of three
    • Eliminate, even if by phasing out over a five year period, defined benefit retirement programs for all employees
    That should take care of the school board.  Central office administration is next:
    • The superintendent's office is located in a trailer and rotates on an annual basis amongst the High Schools in the district
    • High School principals report directly to the superintendent
    • Middle School and Elementary School principals report to the HS principal whose school they feed
    • Curriculum is handled by a central office staff of one, directed to coordinate in-the-field curriculum assistants
    • Curriculum assistants are in each school
    • HR is handled by an outside organization, including stack-ranking personnel and dealing with outplacement and remediation plans
    • Currently in-sourced support services are outsourced, including fleet management and contract administration
    Staying away from "just how (un)qualified are classroom teachers", there is still much to do at the school level.
    • Eliminate "School Resource Officers", they are cops by another name, so just call the cops--let them contact the parents
    • Contract for janitorial and facility management services
    • Contract for cafeteria services
    • In fact, contract for everything but teaching
    These changes will result in smaller, more manageable and more transparent systems, and best of all...this will create four new positions for aspiring superintendents of failing one-high-school districts who want a promotion and a relo.

      Sunday, September 11, 2011


      Betty Lee Hinson was born on September 10, 1932 many miles from the nearest hospital. She was born prematurely and if family lore is to be believed began cooking the same way, stirring a pot as soon as she was old enough to stand on a chair at the stove. There began a lifetime of aromas, good food and nurishment for body and soul alike--Sunday meals were a weekly communion.

      She died on a Sunday--the day before her 69th birthday. Standing before his mother's casket her son said to those who came to pay their respects:
      Peace be with you.

      Most things in this life, especially our time in it, belong to a Higher Power and we enjoy them according to a greater, universal plan not of our own making. But we are entrusted with two gifts. We have the ability to tell right from wrong--our moral compass, and we have free will to choose a path that gives our life meaning and value within the context these universal truths.

      I learned these things from my mother by the way that she lived her life. When confronted with life's challenges she chose the path of tolerance, of forgiveness, and of self-sacrifice.

      She chose Peace.

      While her time in this life is over she lives on in the hearts of those she loved and who loved her. And so I say to those gathered here to celebrate such a life, so well lived,

      May my mother's Peace be with you all.
      That Tuesday morning in a small church in Dentsville, Betty Lee Hinson embraced the peace she longed for in life.

      Friday, September 2, 2011

      Park It

      Please quit with the "we need more green space" blather. It is unadulterated crap. And we probably don't even need the baseball fields we have let alone any more so let's just cut to the chase.

      The Mr. Hyde side of the City seems consumed by lust over other people's money and getting their chance to spend it. A city councilman was quoted in the AJC referring not only to the pre-committed purchase but others as well saying, "With $27 million left [...] we can go shopping." Wow! Did someone elect a pre-pubescent teenage girl to city council and does she think she's at the mall with daddy's credit card?

      Our version of Dr. Jekyll in the land grab debate argues this is a buyer's market, and we should act before the situation changes though it doesn't look like it will for some time. Acting soon doesn't mean you cannot or should not negotiate a better price nor does it mean that every bit of property is a good buy. And Bill Grant, who knows a thing or two about buying up Dunwoody property, has suggested that as the "only buyer" Dunwoody could negotiate a better price and shouldn't rush into anything. While he does have a vested interest in the availability of undeveloped property in Dunwoody, he also has a point. 

      But timing the market is not the real issue at hand. A high ranking city official was once quoted by one of his friends as saying "We formed the city too late. Too many apartments are already here." Well, maybe, and maybe not.

      Clearly the Pipe Farm purchase was to prevent the completion of an already in-progress apartment complex. The Shallowford Hospital property is most appropriate for high density housing rather than upscale dining, technology incubators, Rodeo Drive retail, or even parks. But god and voting taxpayers willing, Dunwoody will take that off the market as well.

      Now is a perfect time to put it to a vote. Homeowners, even in Dunwoody, cannot quickly turn their property and certainly not at the price they want. Imagine if they could. Wouldn't any sane homeowner sell, move out and up, to an area where prices have not held up, and get a bigger, newer home and better schools? Since they cannot or will not move, paying to build a moat, albeit a green space moat, is suddenly an attractive alternative, even given you would be instituting a tax that will never go away and eliminating other sources of revenue.

      So the referendum for purchasing property presents a simple question to folks in Dunwoody:
      "How much will you pay to keep those other people out"?

      Friday, August 26, 2011

      The Persecution Rests

      As soon as the solo finalist for DCSS Superintendent was announced the boo-birds came out with a fury that would have frightened Hitchcock himself. Most of the complaints are firmly rooted in a lack of appreciation for what it takes to position oneself to be the superintendent of a large, failing urban school district. To aid in that understanding there is a technique used by the "what I hear you saying" crowd that nonetheless can be effective. It is a mind's eye view--a virtual "walk a mile in their shoes". This is an exercise that will not only help you understand the candidate but also understand the thinking behind choosing this individual.

      This is best done with an assistant to read what follows while you, with eyes closed, imagine--mentally visualize--the story of another person and what they really are.
      Start by considering a youth, already committed to a life of service, convinced that by helping children achieve their potential they can be of the greatest service to their community. This is a person driven to prepare for and become a great teacher.
      Can you see it?
      With hard work and perseverance this comes to pass. But it is not enough. There are clearly opportunities to help even more children, but this requires not only giving 110% to the incredibly difficult job in the classroom, but also taking on the challenge of acquiring the capabilities and credentials required to become a principal.
      Can you see it?
      As a principal you're seeing hard work pay off in success for the school, the parents, and the children, but you do not see a complacent individual. You now see someone even more driven to improve the prospects of greater numbers of students. Someone who, while doing the heavy lifting of running a school, also takes the next step, concurrently seeking a PhD in a challenging program that provides the necessary tools to take their commitment to service to the next level.
      Can you see it?
      Now envision a successful former classroom teacher, a top notch principal taking a record of success to central administration. Moving around and moving up, but always building on the theme of turning failed classrooms, schools and districts into recognized successes that pay off in student performance.
      Can you see it?
      You see a person with a life-long addiction to helping children learn. A successful administrator poised to take their mission to the highest level, to meet the greatest need. This is a person that attracts and warrants the attention of distressed systems throughout the country.
      Can you see it?
      Now. Imagine this person is a white male.

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Failing Higher Ed

      If the APS scandal has taught us anything it is that "educators" are not the noble, self-sacrificing purveyors of knowledge they have so loudly claimed. Quite the contrary. They have diligently and successfully worked to ensure never-ending pay increases, even after retirement and this addiction to "money above all else" has been supported by fearful and pliant politicians and delusional parents who simply will not address the failure of local public schools. This private jet liner crashed into a mountain when someone put in place objective tests that unmasked the charade.

      Total destruction requires just these kinds of paradigm shifts.

      Georgia's University System is not quite as far along on this ultimate path towards greed fueled destruction but it is headed that direction. And it is accelerating. Since Georgia instituted state sanctioned gambling the supply of our Universities' drug of choice, other people's money, has seemed limitless. And, as proven by our K-12 experience, this drug is potent and these junkies will do anything, to anybody, in order to feed their ever-growing addiction. To date this has been facilitated by adding as many HOPE-funded students as possible regardless of their past educational history, current capabilities or future educational prospects. Remediation is highly profitable and does no damage to the institute's reputation as these "students" almost never graduate.

      The next step towards ultimate destruction has been planned and is being executed by our Governor and Chancellor. With the previous policy having saturated our collective college student bodies with intellectually lame remedials it is now time for the crippling shift in policy. Now, rather than packing freshman classes with grade inflated victims of self-esteem, Guv & Co. intend to immediately change the rule to "Dollars for Diplomas". That's right, instead of paying for "Asses in Classes" we'll immediately shift to paying only for those that graduate.

      And we should expect our colleges and universities to be no less resourceful, efficient and compliant with this new goal than they have been with any previous "funded mandate". These folks are no less a moral windsock than the K-12 teachers and administrators that they trained and can be expected to feed their greed by "any means necessary". And the easiest way to satisfy this mandate? That's right, print diplomas faster than the Treasury prints dollars.

      Once the destruction is complete we can expect the Guv to hand out diplomas at Georgia Welcome Centers to everyone who stops to use the restroom. The Chancellor will be found dancing with the devil on Jan Kemp's grave.

      Wednesday, August 3, 2011


      I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

      Did you notice in the recent Beltway kerfuffle that only one thing is certain: before the week is out Washington will borrow trillions of dollars. Sure, they claim they'll cut their overspending by a similar amount. Over TEN YEARS. Seriously, does anyone of voting age really believe even this pathetic charade will actually play out and these politicians will make any meaningful attempt to curtail spending?

      Looking closer to home, voters in Dunwoody will be asked in 2 separate referenda to raise their taxes. Why? So our local politicians can spend between 33 and 66 million dollars. Again, we know one thing: they will incur the debt immediately, get the money now, and spend it quickly. On well identified needs? Not really, just a "vision".

      And isn't it interesting how the numbers are manipulated. Yes, we know the bond amount, and yes we know the millage increase and based on current valuation can guess at today's tax revenue for the city. And, if we knew the bond rate, we could calculate the true cost of this loan, but a conservative estimate puts it at around $175 million so our "leaders" can get their hands on $66 million today. But that's not what we hear from proponents. Instead we hear how this is "only" a few extra dollars a month for the "average homeowner". This is the same kind of snake-oil salesmanship that caused our recent financial meltdowns.

      But what about that tax revenue? Do you really think the digest is now at its highest point or do you suppose that property in Dunwoody might appreciate over the next 30 years? As properties appreciate, will the City adjust the millage rates down so the tax covers the "mortgage on our parks" and nothing else? Do you think they would use the surplus to "pay down the principal" or otherwise retire the debt early? Are either of these fiscally prudent actions written into the referenda? If you believe politicians, any politicians, will do either of their own accord, then you haven't been paying attention.

      At the end of the day these bonds are supported by the notion that we need more parks because Minneapolis has more than we. This is clearly a waste of our money and a perfect example that even when created with the best of intentions more government simply does more harm.

      Tuesday, July 26, 2011

      T E A C H E R

      It has now been pretty convincingly proven that "teacher" is a synonym for "cheater", but those with just a bit more than a public "education" have noticed teacher is also an anagram of cheater. Coincidence? Hardly.

      So just what put all this "cheat" in "teacher"? First let's not forget this glass arrived half-full as this system has been cheating folks through for over forty years. Budding teachers have been knocking on College of Education doors with little to recommend them beyond themselves -- these are the students who cheerfully inform instructors on the first day of class that they are "A Students".

      This is a pretty good start for a career in cheating and colleges do no more to dissuade them than the public schools where they will work.

      Once they get that job we the taxpayers foot the bill for "training". In exactly what? Were they not prepared at the college level with a knowledge base at least equivalent to high school? Did they not take enough college courses where everyone puts their chairs in a circle to handle the feel-good, smarmy aspects of the daily battle against childhood and adult ignorance? About all that is left for these hardworking self-sacrificing scholar educators to learn is the system. How it works and how to work it.

      And they learn it well. The next to the last thing these "teachers" will do is reform a system providing exhaustive "due process", guaranteed seniority raises and gold plated benefits. The last thing they'll ever do is put a child's education ahead of their own interests.

      Sunday, July 24, 2011

      Revolutionary Forces Beaten Back

      With apologies to the Beatles and all their fans...
      You say you want a revolution
      Well you know
      We all want to change the world
      You tell me that it's evolution
      Well you know
      We all want to change the world
      But when you talk about destruction
      Don't you know you can count me out
      This was the message sent by the citizens of Frederick County, MD and apparently received by their local Board of County Commissioners. While some of the uproar is sure to have come from "self-serving county employees" for whom privatization meant loss of pay and benefits if not a job, there were broader concerns about how the BoCC was conducting business.
      You say you got a real solution
      Well you know
      We'd all love to see the plan
      You ask me for a contribution
      Well you know
      We're all doing what we can
      But if you want money for people with minds that hate
      All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
      As it should be in all government contracted services, transparency was a real issue. From the beginning the BoCC not only conducted much of their business in a way that came under criticism on this point, but they neglected to address transparency concerns when their revolutionary new outsourcing plan took effect.
      You say you'll change the constitution
      Well you know
      We all want to change your head
      You tell me it's the institution
      Well you know
      You better free your mind instead
      But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
      You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
      The situation started as an "electoral mandate", not unlike any election in the U.S., especially when an incumbent loses. It also created a single-party BoCC led by a recently elected Chairman who became the public face of local government outsourcing.
      Don't you know it's gonna be alright
      At the end of it all, reason overcame revolution. A hastily prepared report was reviewed by the University of Maryland after which this report was given the disposition it merited based upon that review. A consensus was reached to "make haste slowly" putting Frederick County on a path of optimizing services and reducing cost structure while retaining transparency and accountability. This approach to addressing the misalignment between public and private payroll and benefit structures is much more like what Atlanta is doing and Dunwoody has done than what Sandy Springs did.

      It bears watching.

      Friday, July 15, 2011

      A Culture of Cheating

      A recently released report accuses Beverly Hall of "ignoring a culture of cheating". Perhaps, but how could she not? It isn't like she created it.

      Let's be clear when we talk about "cheating" as revealed by the recent investigation into APS CRCT results. In this context cheating is defined as:
      lying about the actual performance of one of more students
      This cheating of students has been going on for over thirty years and the "culture of cheating" has long been well established and entrenched in our Public Schools.

      In its earliest form it was called "social promotion" and coincided with educator's adoption of "self esteem is more important than actual learning" as a model for modern schools. When called upon to explain the value of social promotion the educrats whipped up studies justifying the compromise of schools' original and heretofore primary mission by claiming more harm is done to failing students by keeping them back than by pushing them along and hoping for the best. Of course this comes with utter disregard for the negative impact on those students who were performing and who now must slow down so the laggards can appear to keep up.

      When it turned out that not only the intellectual door-stops were being socially promoted educators found it necessary to advance to "grade inflation" as a mechanism for processing students without actually teaching anything. Grade inflation removed significant friction from the entire process since it was universally applied and not subject to question. After all which student or parent will complain about 'A's?

      And this worked well...until some idiot, obviously not well aligned with the education industry, came up with the idea of testing students' knowledge.  Even worse, these tests are driven by real, highly acclaimed curriculum standards. We have long known that public school graduates are not prepared for college work, if only by the incredible growth in college remediation, but these tests reveal that remediation is needed at every step in the K-12 process.

      The extent and duration of this cheating cannot be over stated. This has been going on for decades in every Public School in America. This means that most, if not all, of the current crop of teachers, administrators, principals, counselors, Board Members and superintendents have been "cheated through" the system. One only has to look at the relative percentage of "education majors" graduating magna or summa to realize they've been "cheated through" college, and probably graduate school as well. As the product of cheating it should come as no surprise that they create a "culture of cheating" with which they are quite familiar and comfortable.

      And there really is no surprise. It is not surprising that many teachers leave the field within the first few years, nor is it surprising why. The entrenched "culture of cheating" defends itself from non-cheaters by driving them away, leaving only those who embrace that culture to join and grow that culture. Like toxic bacteria in a petri dish.

      Don't believe it? Suppose there were a newly minted teacher who escaped the gauntlet of corruption and entered a position believing that students should work hard for a good grade, that a "B" is good, an "A" is outstanding and the average student's work merits a "C". How would this teacher react when informed of the "No 'F'" policy? Or when told the most commonly awarded grade is an "A" and a "B" is the new "D"? Or that no child fails, some just move to the next level with "excess potential"? Would a person of integrity embrace this insanity or flee in terror?

      Again, this has been going on for decades. We're on our second or third generation of those "cheated through" and these folks are now cheating others through. The cycle is complete.

      And what will the collective "we" do about this?

      Most likely, we'll punish a few scape goats, pay for "ethics training", make a couple of "policy changes" and call it "job well done". We'll trot out public figures to proclaim "we have tossed out all the bad apples" and further declare "our educators are of the highest ethical and moral character". Right. And the public will fall for it because when it comes to Public Schools they have an amazing ability to believe what they know is not true.

      But most importantly we'll stop the "high stakes tests" insinuating that it was the tests themselves that caused the cheating and it is only by eliminating these tests that we can fully restore the integrity of our educators and our schools. This will return us to the glory days of grade inflation enhanced by fuzzy evaluations that elevate intangible "skills" like "critical thinking". It won't matter that your child's ignorance of arithmetic means he will never be able to balance a checkbook because he will be a "critical thinker"--just ask his teacher.

      But under no circumstances will parents demand that their children learn, especially if they receive 'A's without what we now all know is optional effort. Taxpayers, for whatever reason, show no signs of demanding an end to this fiscal fraud. And "educators" will maintain dominance over the political landscape of Public Schools thereby advancing their interests ahead of students'.

      If Beverly Hall is to be blamed for anything then let it be for triggering this tedious charade by inadequately covering up Public Schools' longstanding and incurable culture of cheating.