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.