Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dunwoody Organ Out of Tune

It is not surprising that it took a violin teacher to point this out.

In the event you are new to Dunwoody there have been fewer issues more contentious than individuals providing private music lessons in their homes. You might also be unaware that musicians are generally what we mere mortals consider "perfectionists". They have to be. See, if you blow five percent of the notes in a thousand note piece you'll get boo-ed off the stage, and rightly so. In any other area of endeavor ninety five percent correct is considered a solid A.

What we've seen recently is these two worlds colliding.

The teacher, wanting to do the right thing and do it the right way, followed the procedure for obtaining a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) for her home business. She did everything required, including posting notice in the Official Dunwoody Organ.

That's where things fell apart--based on performance to date, Dunwoody would be awarded a Gentleman's 'C' far from an eighty, let alone a ninety five. And it is by the City's own admission that the Official Organ is declared inadequate as this particular petition requires a county-wide notice. Sadly this tired old parlor pump organ we picked up from a deceased relative is not only out of tune it seems to be missing entire registers.

And what should happen now? Well, one frustrated citizen just got an object lesson in "layers of government" and we have learned once again that folks down at Smart City Hall didn't even read ordinances they wrote and voted into law.  There is one thing we can be certain of--that the City Organist will not replace the Official Organ.  Instead look for him to rewrite the score so we can continue to limp along with the decrepit old instrument of yesteryear. And everyone in the recital hall will applaud. They must all be deaf.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Micro-Philanthropy Comes to Dunwoody

It has only taken two years for the City to position itself to "need to raise taxes". As expected, the blogosphere has seen more than it's fair share of outspoken advocates of City government taking your money to support their whimsical "must haves". Recent examples include:
"I'm totally fine with a moderate increase in taxes..."
"It's time to increase taxes..."
But there is also a new voice being heard. It is the voice of those who, while they want something, are willing to pick up the tab for their own flights of fancy:
"We are more than willing to pay a couple hundred dollars more a year for an improved quality of life for us and our children."
Bravo! This is a voice of reason emanating from the relatively new movement known as "Micro-Philanthropy". As the name suggests it is a grass-roots, locally targeted form of philanthropy, a means to throw your own money directly at those things you wish to support.

This is not without precedent. For years State and Federal tax forms have offered those who wish to selectively and individually increase their taxes the opportunity to do just that. But now we're seeing this take hold at the local level, where people of integrity and honor are standing tall and saying
"Yes, take my money, but only my money, because I want you to build these things for me."
You might call it "voting with your wallet" and it is even rumored that Dunwoody is teaming up with PayPal to offer Micro-Philanthropy opportunities on the City website.

And to those who say we should all "just man-up and pay whatever taxes the City wants", these progressives, dare we say, these intellectuals, offer a clear, firm message:
"Grow a pair for yourself. Then trot down to City Hall, cut them off and hand them over. You clearly have no need for them." 
So the next time someone attempts to cajole you into joining in a chorus of "Please Mayor, Raise Everyone's Taxes For Little Ole Me", ask them how much of their money they've donated to their pet causes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Brings You Here?

Not to this posting. To Dunwoody.
Why did you choose to live in Dunwoody?
It should come as no surprise that most folks in Dunwoody were neither born here nor raised here. They moved here. The question is "why"? Why, given all the options, did folks move here in say the last five or six years?

Was it the parks? What, did they find a real estate agent recently released from a mental ward and fresh off her meds who drove these prospects around pointing out vacant lots that might become a park someday? And did these tragically "smart people" then buy a house close by...but not too close by? After all, if you don't want your own kids literally playing in your backyard you sure as hell wouldn't want other folk's brats playing right behind it, right? And is that what all this "send your kids to the park to play" is really all about? Are people in Dunwoody so uptight they cannot tolerate the neighbor's kids playing in their own backyards?

Perhaps it was the schools. Legend has it that a house in Vandy commands a premium of as much as fifty thousand dollars. For K-5, now K-3, perhaps back to K-5. Call it six years, because no one is suggesting the middle school or high school are worth any premium. So let's call it $50K. That's well over $8000/year. let's check on this...yep...there is absolutely no way could you buy, on the open market, five years of elementary education for $8000/yr. And if you could, there is just no way it would be as fine an education as DeKalb County offers at Vandy. can't really be about schools. Surely "smart people" would have done a little research and found out that East Cobb's public schools routinely kick Dunwoody's ass when it comes to academics.

Were they forced to live in DeKalb? Did the courts make it condition of their probation or what? Then did they decide Dunwoody was the best DeKalb has to offer? What, Smokerise not good enough for you? Decatur too funky? Chamblee not have (good) enough restaurants? Doraville missing a farmhouse? Stone Mountain not have enough parks and recreation nearby? Surely it can't be that houses in Avondale all look the same or that Brookhaven is too close to MARTA.

And why is this even worthy of a rant from The Other Dunwoody? Shouldn't we be discussing Ernie's neon sign which is in violation of a silly city code?

This is topical because a vocal, if otherwise insignificant, group of fairly recent Dunwoodians apparently moved here to raise taxes. They seemingly come from a land where it is accepted practice to appropriate other people's money to spend on their whimsical fancies and toys for the kids they have but cannot afford. They're here. They're mouthy. They're posting all over the blogosphere. It demands a response.

So it has been left to The Other Dunwoody to ask the obvious, and apparently hard question:
"If you don't, and didn't, like Dunwoody, why the hell did you move here?"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

City Increasing Taxes

You heard it here first. Actually if you really heard it here first you haven't been listening.

For quite some time the mayor and city council, all very smart folks, have been working to fritter our money away on their pet projects while ignoring core services. Ultimately this achieves the goal of every politician: increase their power by increasing the money available to wield power. And just where does that additional money come from? You guessed it: tax increases!

Have you noticed the poor condition of streets in Dunwoody? Do you realize that the referendum was a stop-work order to the county's road repair crews? Or, that Dunwoody has done little or nothing to pave and properly maintain our streets in two years? Ah, but some consultants have been paid. Smart consultants. Sadly that won't keep your front end aligned now will it?

Have you also noticed the bloated police department? Perhaps if fewer officers were sent on international junkets to Israel and Georgia, or patrols spent time in the city rather than cruising 285 we wouldn't need the bloat. We might even go round up burglars, for whom we have solid physical evidence, rather than calling them up and inviting them for coffee and donuts. Guess what, the perp didn't show.

And then there is legal. If a certain startup had shown the growth that the city attorney's office has, well we might have quite a savings in that department as well.

But routine negligence and excessive overhead are simply not enough. By delaying work on core needs we built up a surplus and that just had to go. And it did -- to buy the "PVC Farm". Why? Not because it was a good land deal and certainly not because we lacked other, more important uses for the money. The real reason is much simpler.

It seems some folks, probably from neighboring apartments, have installed a basketball goal. In Dunwoody!!! Not very smart, eh? As you may know, we've had heated debates over where the next baseball fields are located, but basketball courts? Fuggedaboutit! Dribble, dribble, fake-pump, shoot is a sports analogy about the lack of transparent government in Dunwoody, not something we want to see on the commute home.

Ahhh but baseball. That's the pure American sport for the pure unhyphenated-American. For loyal Dunwoody fans this purchase was a triple play. It eliminated a majority of our surplus funds. It will eliminate the basketball goals. And it prevents the construction of apartment homes. Clearly a higher priority than roads and sidewalks.

It doesn't take Nostradamus to have seen this coming. After all when we voted for a city we immediately made it more expensive to live in Dunwoody. The county, being unincorporated, doesn't levy franchise fees, while our fledgling, now poor-mouthing, city does. Fees that we all pay. And it is quite the line item on the income side of the ledger.

So there you have it. The city started off with more funds and a new, larger source of funding than the county ever had and now look at where we are: two years of decaying infrastructure and a decimated surplus followed by a call for tax increases. Some are saying Dunwoody really is full of smart people who certainly should have known this would be the direct consequence of forming this city. Though we don't get a "do-over", when you go to the polls this fall you might want to ask yourself: "are these people worth what I'm already paying, let alone more?" Show them how much smarter you've become.