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.