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.