Friday, August 31, 2012

Fight the Right Fight

The Georgia State Constitution clearly states:
"The provision of an adequate education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia, the expense of which shall be provided for by taxation."
 We're not here to quibble over "adequate" nor will we remark on how one might parse "citizens" to exclude non-citizens. This is about an upcoming opportunity for the Georgians to amend the constitution to allow the State a new mechanism by which State taxation can be used to provide an adequate education.

This can be viewed as a supplement to the well-entrenched system now in place that uses State funding along with local and Federal monies to take their bite at the education apple. Many, some say far too many, make a living on this system and they vehemently disagree as they are not willingly to relinquish any money nor the power it provides. The State, which carries the constitutional mandate, is offering taxpayers the opportunity to tell their local school system  "it ain't adequate", and if they so choose to petition the State to establish a school a bit more "local" than the current district provides.

 While it is true that the State could, even without the amendment, authorize charter schools "independent" of the local districts, the authorizing office represents the superintendents more than the citizens and some have questioned just how "independent" that office really is. Recent statements from that office only fan the flames.

For decades  the entrenched education establishment has struggled to create a positive impression but has been unable to evade ingrained corruption, scandals and indictments. The character, capabilities and philosophies permeating this industry, from the preparatory colleges, to post employment training, to textbook industry, to ancillary services (building, busing, etc.), to the very classroom itself have created a system that is all, and now only,  about the money. While this is foundational, the duration of the status quo combined with the procession of incestuous generations of "educators" has created a culture of entitlement so powerful that corruption is pervasive: cheating in the classroom, textbook kickbacks, inexplicable IT operations, and unseemly diversion of contract funds. It goes on and on.

Ironically, in the one part of our society that seems to flit from experiment to experiment as if after hundreds of years they've not quite figured out how to teach children arithmetic, we have the one proposal that would otherwise fit the "we must try SOMETHING" paradigm except for one thing--money. Simply because of ego clashes over which appointed bureaucrat or out of touch politician gets to control OUR money this becomes the educational beach to die on. It is an undignified squabble that should be, but is not, beneath both parties.

Woodrow Wilson, Paul Sayre and Henry Kissinger have at one time or another observed "that one of the reasons academic infighting is so vicious is that the stakes are so small." The argument over which corruptible entity is most accountable and to whom seems to be a rather small issue in the context of our society's growing ignorance, illiteracy and innumeracy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sex Trade In Dunwoody

The title got your attention, didn't it?

WTF is wrong with you people? Two posts from many, many moons ago see continual traffic from the rather disturbing group of folks that seem to find this site via search engines. What is disturbing is they seem most interested in searching for "boobs" and the "f-bomb" right here in Dunwoody.

One post, a perennial favorite, has the keyword "boobs" in the title. This turns out to be the third or fourth definition of that word, to wit "the boobs down at City Hall doing an end-around the constitution to ensure there are not now and never will be any naked female breasts in these here parts. What is really funny is that there is a post that links to a video of courageous women baring their breasts for the "greater good". This post gets no traffic whatsoever. It must not show up in searches for "boobs in Dunwoody".

There also seems to be a rather childish obsession with the F-bomb. One can only imagine giggly readers ROFL-ing over the STFU diatribe regarding DeKalb County Schools. Yet there is another post with serious game changing suggestions that like the aforementioned "greater good" post has seen no traffic in over a year.  Maybe the Convention and Visitors Bureau should be concerned about the number of Google searches for "Eff-ing Dunwoody" instead of "Smart City".

So, to ensure that seekers of the sex trade in Dunwoody get the real story, "boobs" will be one of the labels on this post. It is up to the reader to disambiguate and determine if it is relates to the content of the post or the silliness of the seeker.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Silly Buss

Dunwoody Government 101

  1. Overview and Objectives
    The student will explore the motivations behind operating a City including gaining access to other people's money, the fungibility of ethics, manipulating contracts for power and profit, creating a para-military force, and getting all up in other people's business. This session will lay the foundation for deeper exploration of the intricacies of city politics, politicians and bureaucrats.
  2. Finance
    We'll explain the difference between taxes and mandated fees and explore successful methods used to convince citizens they are much different than they really are. How we soak businesses for every possible penny. Learn about grant applications and how to sell anything as a good thing if "free money" is involved. Find out how a loan is not really a loan if you say it isn't. 
  3. Operations
    Learn how ancillary organizations (e.g., Convention and Visitor's Bureau) are used to funnel money to Friends and Family. Gain insight into using "Penny Shy" contracts to grow and centralize your power while avoiding approval and oversight. See how branding can help you make new friends and write new contracts. Advanced topics include "consummating deals before the public knows about it", "the power gained by public involvement in real estate". 
  4. Zoning, Codes and Enforcement
    We'll explain why codes applied to citizens vary in rigor relative to those applied to politicians. Learn how enforce-on-complaint empowers bureaucrats to do what they want, when they want. Real world examples include using the "boil a frog" method to slowly but continually re-write ordinances eliminating individual and property rights and how avoiding writing ethics procedures keeps politicians in office. 
  5. Police
    Covering the basics we'll look at how a force is established and operated without a training academy. Next we look at growth opportunities on both sides of the ledger but with emphasis on revenue generation. Students will study the importance of expensive toys and junkets, and how these are justified. Recent events will be analyzed to demonstrate how significant failings are spun as justification for more money. We finish with a hands-on exercise to create "The Most Bodacious Uniform" to be the highlight of a mini-parade in the department ATV. 
  6. Public-Private Partnerships
    Explore the subtle differences between PPP and cronyism as well as how this is portrayed in a favorable light. Gain the skills required to be an insider and eligible for PPP participation. Learn how a bureaucrat leverages PPP engagements for personal gain. Hands-on exercises to ensure students understand you don't inhale when smoking a big fat cigar and tips on finding the best single-malt scotch. Additional fees will apply.
  7. Citizen Involvement
    Using citizen involvement to co-opt and silence critics. Understand how to restrict citizen involvement to PR activities and learn how to prevent erosion of contracting opportunities for Friends and Family. Critical coverage on the topic of limiting Citizen Involvement to reports and advisement without any real authority.
  8. Becoming a Politician
    Explore the malleability of truth and the avoidance of consequences. Dispel the myths surrounding "transparency" and "accountability". Understanding that "service" is what all prostitutes provide. Unravel the paradox of "one hand washing the other" all the while "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing". Special topics include "Adhering to the Letter While Skirting the Intent" as it applies to laws and ethics requirements and "How to Always Be Right, Especially When You're Wrong".
See you there!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coyote Sighted in Dunwoody

We interrupt our usual rants and diatribes for a public service announcement.

Tina Tiede was chased down her street by what has been described as either a large coyote or small wolf. And no, it wasn't Al---we're being serious here--it was a coyote. It is not clear at this point if there are two or the same animal was sighted twice.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Politicos, Police and Propaganda

In response to the never-ending attacks on and around Atlanta college campuses the powers that be created a Task Force. And what we get from this Task Force is what we get from every other Task Force: a report.

This report would not be complete without the little nugget that every official Atlanta statement on crime includes: "There's no crime here in the A-T-L, there is just the perception of crime". Explicitly:
Though campuses are safer, the criminals have become more brazen, creating "a perception that students are at an increased risk," according to the report.
Really? Just a perception, eh? What about this inconvenient truth from the AJC:
In July, a 20-year-old undergraduate awoke in his Tech dormitory room to find two men stealing his laptop, cell phone and wallet.

"Move, and I'll shoot you dead," one of the suspects told the victim at gunpoint, according to a Tech police report.
Seriously, how can any responsible member of our community, especially officials, contend that being threatened with death by an armed intruder in your own home is merely a "perception"? And this is by no means an outlier:
That incident came a little more than a week after three other students were mugged off-campus by armed thieves.
Were they really mugged, or did they just perceive they were mugged? Should we just perceive taxes and not really pay them until we get significantly less perceived crime? Perhaps the State Legislature can step up and empower potential victims to help these thugs perceive they are in real danger of losing their lives whenever they attack.

Or maybe Atlanta should consider an effective Police Force instead of a pandering Task Force. Until then let the next "report" we hear be that of a potential victim protecting themselves.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Brookhaven Yes! To Run New City

It should come as no surprise, but the folks operating under the label "Brookhaven Yes!" will indeed be running the new city. As reported in the AJC they have established many a Task Force to assess various aspects of how the City will be run. But before you ask, the answer is: No, you cannot have access to any documents or meetings until and unless they bloody well feel like it.

You see, all that transparency stuff like open records requests and open meetings only applies to government operations, and Brookhaven Yes! isn't a government. Yet.

There are a few rays of hope. First, by not opening these meetings to the public and following the requirements that will soon be applied to the real city the members of this group who are running for political office may take a serious hit. Mistrust seems a significant factor in politics these days.

And the Governor, though he has yet to act and may be stalling, will appoint a commission to coordinate the efforts of city formation. At that point there will be a legitimate government entity involved and to the extent that entity does anything it will be subject to open meeting and records law. Or it will be subject to legal action.

To date these advocacy non-profits have been hiding behind their corporate shields. That is about to change.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mo' Betta Dunwoody

Recently The Other Dunwoody has seen a resurgence of interest in More Dunwoody Than You which can be attributed to a reference in another blog's post. A blog folks actually read. That post seems related to observations of a Dunwoody schism betwixt Old Farts Who Will Not Change and Young Folks Too Busy To Care.

Some think this is a problem to be solved. Perhaps. But it is also the kind of problem that will resolve itself if the Young Folks can marshal the patience to relax to a solution.

As nature takes its course the Old Farts will predecease the Young Folks. Before that it is very likely the Old Farts will simply leave, moving on to a better place while remaining amongst the living. There are many such places. All the while the Young Folks will become the next Old Fart cohort. Then these neo-Old Farts will start bitching about the next round of youngsters who want to change everything just when they got things about they way they like it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Parkway Redux

Reworking Dunwoody Parkway was part of the Dunwoody Master Plan attacked with vigor and fueled by the enthusiasm of referendum victory. That was then, this is now. And now, there will be (re)debate of the plan and its merits. We can learn a few things from this.

First, plans are nothing more than just that. Some lines on a drawing and words on a page with little or no relationship to what will be done, when it will be done or what it will cost. Any resemblance between plan and execution is a rare coincidence.

The other thing we can learn is the destructive impact of greed, in this case known as "matching funds" or "leverage". The belief (or even the reality) that the "planners" can dip into other people's money generally inflates the plan well beyond what is needed. Often we wind up with a plan so grand that it is offensive to sensible folks.

This seems to have happened with the Parkway to Nowhere. The grand plan requires ripping everything up, pavement, median and trees so as to reconfigure to a median-less two-lane with sidewalks and bike lanes. This is the "Cadillac" plan. A simpler, cheaper, but equally effective transformation would include conversion of the outside lanes into raised sidewalks and bike lanes, add raised pedestrian crossings, repave the center lanes, retain the median with its trees and double-lanes only at each end.

This probably is not expensive enough to warrant matching funds making it a non-starter for a modern city government.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tribute to Barney Fife

We have one Smart PD right here in our Smart City. Smart looking that is.

Why just this Sunday morning a fine looking Toll Troll was established on I-285. Two officers, one car. What an excellent use of manpower.

But it isn't all about manpower. You can have your Aryans from Darien styling in their black and whites, and that is fine. But to kick it up a notch, you need some classy gear.

Nifty bit of kit, eh?

Too bad competence isn't as glam. Turns out Smart City PD has been channeling Barney. Not the purple one, the Deputy one.

To say that our Smart City PD dropped the ball with the Dunwoody Daycare Murder would be an insult to every fumble-fingered klutz on the planet. Just a few authorities on the matter:
[Investigative reporter Jodi] Fleischer asked Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan, "You never actually thought 'maybe she helped do this?"

"Not seriously, no," replied Grogan.
"By the time the police got to where they needed to be and made the arrest, a lot of evidence was lost," said Don Geary, DeKalb County chief assistant district attorney.
it gets better:
"If Andrea Sneiderman, who's sitting on a pile of millions of dollars, ends up walking away from this, she definitely has the Dunwoody police department to thank for it," said Jay Abt, the attorney representing one of Andrea Sneiderman's best friends.
after a while it is just painful:
Retired GBI agent Ralph Stone said Andrea Sneiderman should have been suspect number one.

"Oh man, you always start, always, always start with those that are closest to the victim," said Stone, who has worked hundreds of murder cases.
While Barney can field quite the Toll Trolls on 285 and is styling in the best ATV in Dunwoody he also insists he needs about a million dollars over the next three years just to keep up. Not real clear on exactly what he thinks he's keeping up with.

If there is any sanity at City Hall, then please...please tell us this guy doesn't carry a loaded gun.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Urgent Care Needed


Now that all the TSPLOST whining has degenerated into whimpering it seems reasonable to ask a simple question:
What made this a crisis?
Anyone who's lived in the metro region for more than five years knows a few things. Traffic here is pretty bad. You're one wreck away from an extra hour tacked on to a thirty minute commute. Most folks "ain't from around here" and where they're from they send their worst first. MARTA sucks. Always has, always will. Local politicians are as corrupt as they come and are second only to their greedy business cronies. Hartsfield[1] serves as proof that power corrupts and that with adequate cashflow even corruption can appear to work. Sometimes.

What we don't know is how a chronic condition, one we had learned to live with, one that had gone into a very limited remission suddenly became critical. Why 2012? Why not 2006, ten years after the Olympics when the shine had gone all patina? Why not Y2K? If you believe the loudmouth who was pumping the TSPLOST nothing has been done on GA400 and I-285 since 1972, so why not the mid-eighties?

The answer is simple and unsurprising. The Feds are cutting back on the money they will dole out to Atlanta to prop up the Georgia DOT and other local interests. And we've become addicted to Fed Funding. Intentionally. And it's not like we have used these funds wisely. We've sqandered it to keep gasoline taxes artificially low, avoid applying impact fees to address the costs associated with development and hand out tax abatements like candy. That kind of hedonistic, drug addled thinking has put us in such a precarious position that the tiniest reduction in Fed Funds pushes us from chronic but manageable to critical, near death.

[1] @TOD we've not tacked on the "Jackson" as we're not sure whether that is about Jesse, Maynard, or Michael.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


ar-bor-toir: /ˈärbərˌtwär/
NOUN: Group or organization that needlessly and recklessly destroys trees or forests.
ORIGIN: Southeastern United States, in or around Dunwoody, Ga (see "Smart City"), derived from arbor, meaning shady area and abattoir, meaning slaughterhouse.

The Smart Folks at our fair City Hall have devised an insidious plan to rid our city of overgrown shade trees that have for far too long stood over some of our major roadways. The plan is both clever and simple, and consequently very effective.

First the City plants a solar operated device as shown here, but not in a sunny location as a common not-so-smart citizen might do. No, the City plants this sign right in the shade of a majestic oak, a mere forty feet from an open, sun drenched area. An area the City intends to expand.

Then the City has a revelation--wink, wink, nod, nod. Solar panels do not work in the shade. This was apparently not in the How-To Guide for Smart Cities. So what does the City do? What any Smart City would: with chainsaw at the ready they butcher the offending Oak.

We got some real Fart Smellers down at City Hall, eh?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crazy or Stupid?

It was a dark and stormy night. And late. Sam's job sucked. On the road most days of most weeks selling blind fasteners. Pop rivets, fer chrissakes. Like there's something wrong with screws. And nuts.

Sam's mind drifted from his dead-end sales job to the Regional Mental Hospital he passes on his way home. Locals call it the Ha-Ha Hotel because most of the 'residents' are sent there by family members from far away states who can no longer bear to wipe the drool from their daughter's chin or keep their son from eating cigarette butts. And, it frees up time for tennis and golf. That's the punch line for this ugly joke.

Sometimes the residents wander the grounds and Sam has seen an unsettling look in their eyes. The same look he sometimes sees in the mirror after a bad week on the road. A week like this week---like every week. So Sam always dreaded the drive-by. Especially at night.

This night as he approached the turn-off that took him past the Ha-Ha, Sam was sure it got just a little bit darker, rained just a little bit harder. Approaching the fence he began staring only at the pulsating white lines, afraid to even glance towards the dingy facility. Afraid of what he might see. Afraid he would see himself.

Then it happened. Right past the gate. A blow-out. Stopping the car, Sam realized he was soaked in sweat. At least he wouldn't get any wetter changing the tire.

He got out of the car angry, slamming the door, and in the dark was surprised, startled, to see an 'inmate' pacing, grunting, just inside the fence. He hurried to jack and tire. Hub cap off. Inmate grunting. Lug nuts in the cap. Inmate pacing. Turning to the spare, inmate mumbling, Sam kicks the cap, lug nuts flung to the muddy, swollen ditch, gone forever. Cursing his fate, Sam notices the inmate has stopped pacing, stopped grunting, stopped mumbling, and started laughing.

Emboldened by anger, Sam yells at the soaked nut-case: "What are you laughing at? I'm stuck here, in the rain, with a flat, a spare and no lug nuts, being laughed at by the only nut I can't use!"

The inmate stared. Sam glared. Then he spoke. The inmate. "Take one lug nut off each of the other tires and use them on the spare."

Sam was stunned. "What...?" "How...?"
Then the inmate said: "I'm crazy. I'm not stupid."

Sam made it home. Less stupid. But a wee bit crazy.