Friday, June 29, 2012

Articles of Faith

It all came from the Old Sanctified Churches. I can remember—way back in the old days in New Orleans, La—my home town. And I was a little boy around ten years old. My mother used to take me to Church with her, and the Reverend (Preacher that is) used to lead off one of those good ol good hymns. And before you realized it—the whole congregation would be wailing—singing like mad and sound so beautiful. I being a little boy that would "Dig" everything and everybody, I'd have myself a ball in Church, especially when those Sisters would get so carried away while "Rev" (the preacher) would be right in the middle of his sermon. Man those Church Sisters would begin shouting so—until their petticoats would fall off. Of course one of the Deacons would rush over and grab her—hold her in his arms and fan her until she'd come to.
Louis Armstrong
There's a special kind of faith running through the Atlanta region. It's called "The Faith" and you need to be gettin you some and you better be keeping it. But lord knows, it ain't easy. See, you must have The Faith to keep The Faith and you must get The Faith to have The Faith. And whilst that may sound simple, just where will you go to get The Faith? Happily--nay, joyously--it is being passed out by none other than the Most Righteous Reverend T. S. Plost of the Wholly Sanctified Church of the Congestion Congregation, Atlanta Regional Bishopric.

And The Faith will change your life. In a good way. Just ask the Righteous Reverend--he'll tell you. Or better yet drop in on any service, hear the man speak and let the spirit move you, because that is the only one and true way to get The Faith. You got to get it in you and to get it in you you better be gettin on down to The Church and hearin for yourself. Listen to how the power of The Faith will restore your family and cure your ill health. How, when The Faith is strong in you the pains you have long endured will be washed from your daily travail like red clay from white carpet. How your visions of streets of gold will be fulfilled and how these heavenly streets will transport you to a better place--a better life. Your every need, your every want will be fulfilled and you will see a heaven you can only enter, an everlasting life you can only enjoy, when The Faith is in you.

As you're listening and learning of the healing power of The Faith pay close attention for when that Most Righteous Reverend whispers from the pulpit that you must "render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's" you should respond with no more than a whispered "amen".  But when he raises his voice to heaven declaring that you must "render unto the Church, THIS Church, those things that are God's"--and God knows he means your money--you should raise your voice in prayerful acknowledgement of His Righteousness. And no mere "amen brother" will suffice as the choir in nodding approval will be singing the amen chorus. The Congregational response can be no less that shouts of "Hallelujah!" But be not tempted to speak in Tongues as that is reserved for the call to the altar though standing is allowed as it facilitates removal of wallets for the plate that is about to pass.

And you should know that in the Church of Congestion, as in any other church, The Faith cannot be bought. It can only be rented. Therefore in keeping The Faith you must ensure that each time you attend, you attend with cash. In increasing amounts. For whilst The Faith, often substituting for knowledge and wisdom, is competitively priced it is subject to inflation and unannounced price increases. And be not dismayed if your offering ranks among the least for unlike Reverend Ike who once said "Change makes your minister nervous in the service" our Most Righteous Reverend T. S. Plost welcomes with equal enthusiasm the widow's pence, your pocket change as well as foldin money. His Deacons are more than happy to roll all those coins into the billions of dollars needed to start his ministry.

And never forget the first article of The Faith: your mission is to keep The Faith. Let the dear Reverend take care of your money.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On a Soap Box

When will one of these signs...

appear in front of this project...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Don't Ban Bull Hooks

Instead ban the barbaric practice of forcing majestic creatures to perform stupid dog tricks in an attempt to entertain the over-stimulated children of parents who seem to think this constitutes "quality time".

Monday, June 18, 2012

TANSTAAFL: Bring Your Own Lunch

Think of the money to be saved in our schools by eliminating kitchens and cafeteria staff and replacing them with a lunch prepared by a parent and schlepped to school by their little darlin's. And is it really too much to ask for a parent to schmeer some peanut butter and jam, slap two pieces of bread together and cut off the crusts? Really? Seriously, how can that be too much to ask? It seems very reasonable to ask that all parents recover at least that small bit of the responsibility acquired during procreation and abandoned at the schoolhouse door.

This one little act is both a demonstration of love and concern for their child's welfare and a small token of appreciation for the importance of school in children's life and future. It is perhaps the smallest act of involvement, yet what may seem small to some is in fact a gigantic leap for those who otherwise do nothing. And let's be hopelessly optimistic and adopt the theory that "gateway drugs" can work for good and this simple act can lead to greater involvement.

And what about those who cannot or will not rise to this minimal level of parental responsibility? We must do something that seems backwards when viewed through the narrow lense of "immediate cost reduction" and establish boarding schools for the parents of these children. Yes, this is more expensive in the short term, but taking a longer view this addresses the investment in ignorance these parents are hell bent on making, a bad investment with such negative returns that the cost of boarding a student will be dwarfed.

Of course, such an arrangement would not eliminate all parental rights--visitation would not only be allowed, but encouraged. While the agreement would be voluntary, it would also come with incentives. Once in the program, a secondary and completely optional offer would include a one-time, tax-free payment to the parent in the amount of one year's cost to support one child. In DeKalb County that could easily top $50,000. Why the largess? Because in addition to placing their children in the Boarding School program, the lump sum payment is contingent on a simple, safe "snip snip" operation that ensures these parents will place no more such burdens on society and the taxpayers that support it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grant Grubbing

Grants are available for nearly any activity a government and even some business might consider. Unfortunately there are even more available for things governments might not otherwise consider. Recent examples include the Dunwoody Parkway project, the Civil Rights facility downtown, the Streetcar Project, and our police junket to Israel.

What these have in common is that without the opportunity to pick other people's pockets, these projects could not be justified on their own merits. Clearly we are not operating in an environment where needs are identified and justified and then, and only then, do we discuss funding--either in house, grants or a combination.

That's where Grant Grubbing comes in. It is no more than cart before horse--find a grant, then create the list of "needs". No other justification than "other people's money" needed. Doesn't even have to cover the full cost. Over time, and a very short period of time it is, we simply redefine our "needs" as "anything we can get someone else to pay for in whole or in part".

Problem is, this takes no account of negative consequences.

Perhaps we do need anti-terrorist training for our police. We are confronted every day with terrorism and we're not talking speeding commuters. That Israeli Immersion program dramatically improved our ability to root out the terrorists setting up the shoe bomb factory in the back of DSW and it was just what Dunwoody needed. It was certainly worth removing an officer from normal duties. Wasn't it?

Fact is, grant grubbing is a slippery slope and we have at least one foot on it. The other foot is firmly planted on top--of a banana peel. And when we slide down we have left Integrity Station and are barreling down the rail on the Train to Lovejoy. With a one way ticket.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This is a fictional story about a small high tech company that never existed and two folks who never worked there, Brainhard "The Brain" Andreesen, the corporate attorney and Derrick Vitalle, a top technology manager. Similar and perhaps true stories can be found in Wikipedia under "Small Consolation".

Lividity, like many a small high tech company started, grew, stumbled and ultimately closed. As is often the case, Lividity also created a significant amount of Intellectual Property, manifesting itself as patents, during that same brief life. At the end these patents were in various stages of processing, from initial submission, to review, to approved and granted.

Derrick, with a long career in high tech, recognized the value in the Lividity IPR and sought to purchase it, leveraging his retirement funds to make the acquisition. He also sought the services of The Brain, a natural choice since as the Corporate Counsel The Brain had working knowledge of these assets and their position in the patent process.

The acquisition was made and work began to market the IP assets. But things did not go well.

The Brain soon became distracted by novel new work, not within his domain of expertise, but interesting and associated with key members of a small country club of which he was an active member and to whom he wished to ingratiate himself. This distraction was sufficient to cause The Brain to neglect the Lividity IPR portfolio, even to the extent of not turning over Works In Progress to the lawyer Derrick had to hire to back-fill. This neglect even went so far as to include NOT forwarding the patent maintenance fee notices, causing some already approved patents to lapse.

In the end Derrick was able to salvage a portion of the IPR assets, recovering his investment and a tidy profit, but recovered less than one fourth of the portfolio's initial value. The Brain faired less well. His career diversion with his country club buddies ending in a disgraceful public embarrassment and a forced resignation. Doors to two careers were firmly closed.

While Derrick is not at all pleased with the cost and pain he has suffered from The Brain's inaction he takes a small bit of comfort in the fact that had The Brain met his commitment his share would have been over two million dollars.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s drug-addled, delusional imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This is especially true of the City of Dunwoody, recent events therein and anyone, no matter how distantly in time or space, associated with the formation, operation or future of our Smart City.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Student Athlete

Remember those? You may have to fire up the Way Back machine but it is worth it. Once you get your bearings you'll realize that one key difference between Student Athletes and today's Jocks is that the Student Athlete had to compete, successfully, in the classroom in order to play on the field.

Now how can that be any fun? Well, it isn't so we got rid of them.

First by using selective grade inflation to ensure that every boy good at juggling three balls was "qualified" to play. Perhaps this was the beginning of ends justified means that has brought rampant cheating to a school in your neighborhood. Maybe not. Maybe they'd have become cheaters without Friday night lights. Then there was the irony of hold-backs--kids that needed an extra year, not for academics as they are all Four-OH students, but an extra year to beef-up that lineman, sharpen that line backer or catch the growth spurt for the star forward. Then the under-the-table transfers. This was all a slippery slope greased with the sweat of jocks chasing championships.

Given today's sad state of public school academic achievement and unbalanced budgets that give voodoo economics a run for the money it is time to revitalize the concept of Student Athlete, but on a grand scale.

This incarnation must be much more than the individual "A fer Play" of the past. It must apply system wide and sustainable, objectively measured academic success is a prerequisite to begin and maintain any non-curricular program. Including athletics.

How will this work?

First, shut down all extra-curricular programs throughout the district. Sell off the equipment and other assets, using the money to support core education.

Next is the hard part: educate our children and prove it. But in this case "prove it" doesn't mean an endless stream of platitudes, it means:

  • 95% minimum graduation rate for each of the trailing three years using the national graduation accounting methodology
  • 70% minimum participation on the SAT with 95% of participating students scoring over 500 on the each of the Mathematics and Critical reading sections
  • All other students must take Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and 80% of those students must score 10% above the highest minimum score required by any branch of Service.
Until these conditions are met, no extracurriculars throughout the entire school system. If in any one year these fail to be met, all existing extracurriculars are shut down until the district re-qualifies by meeting these requirements. 

No IFs. No ANDs. No BUTs. Not at "your" school. Not at any other school just because it "passed" in a failed district.

The financial benefits are immediate and enduring with the reduction in personnel costs and re-purposing of expensive facilities and equipment. It is also produces demand for extracurricular activities delivered by churches, social centers, clubs and private enterprise, a model that works well today with art, music, competitive swimming and tennis, and league softball. We may find that as our schools focus on education, the other activities will have been taken care of.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Brookhaven Police Department

As Brookhaven is on the brink of becoming a city modeled closely on Dunwoody, it might be of interest for voters to examine Dunwoody's Police Department Five Year Staffing Recommendation. You will note around a half million USD increase each year increasing the budget percentage dedicated to Police from over 27% to over 34%.

The first paragraph of Grogan's "Discussion" warrants attention down in Brookhaven:
The staffing level of the Police Department has been a topic of discussion since the early planning stages of the City of Dunwoody. Staffing the Department at an appropriate level is critical to ensure we provide our community with the services required to educate, partner and protect them.
Setting aside the silliness of the police prioritizing "educate" over "protect" in this self-proclaimed "City of Smart", the basic message, "talked about all the time" and "it's always about staffing, which means MORE staffing", should resonate with folks on both sides of the City of Brookhaven issue.

Take a few moments and read the recommendations for yourself. Then ponder what it really means in the context of Brookhaven.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Double Diamond Deemed Deadly

The North American Walkable Interstate and Interchanges Initiative (NAWIII : nah-WHEE) announced yesterday that Dunwoody's brand new Double Diamond Interchange ranks as "Deadly", proclaiming it amongst the worst in the nation.

NAWIII, headquartered in Los Angeles, is dedicated to ensuring safe pedestrian passage across all interstates at or near intersections and to promote public awareness they have created a series of rankings: "Safe", "Passable", "Dangerous" and the lowest possible, "Deadly". They have been evaluating interchanges and divided highway intersections through out the US and now Dunwoody has caught their attention. There is not much about the newly re-configured intersection that meets with their approval.

They see the lane reversals as a real safety concern for pedestrians and further cited the constant vehicle movement and sustained speeds as key factors in their evaluation. An issue unique to the Double Diamond involves legal crossing. Dunwoody ordinance requires that pedestrians walk facing traffic, but the new configuration makes it impossible to cross over I-285 legally. NAWIII is publicly objecting, saying that a situation that makes someone illegal for simply crossing a line is unfair, unjust and must be undone.

NAWIII closed by expressing outrage at the potential for pedestrian death and injury, likening the new interchange to a "human game of  Frogger", even going so far as rhetorically ask: "Can you imagine a young mother with a toddler and a baby stroller trying to navigate that nightmare?"

Saturday, June 2, 2012

DCSS: Not in Crisis


Though Greek bankers could learn some innovative shell game strategies from DCSS, our school system has not yet reached a Grecian Crisis Point. They still have too much wiggle room. Witness the recent decision to retain janitors with gold plated benefits rather than put daily cleanup in the hands of commercial competitive bidders. Normal people would have found this and closing the Fernbank operation simple, no-brain decisions, but normal folks have a brain and cannot truly relate to the decision makers running DCSS, who are unencumbered by logic, reasoning or in many cases, principles. As vessels of intellect and integrity these people are leaky buckets at best and on an average day, perhaps a colander is more likely to hold water than they are to make an informed, logical decision.

It is clear that we must drive the system into crisis in order to harden the resolve of the community to establish priorities and demand these be upheld. To do this we must do what many consider unthinkable: raise taxes. To the maximum allowed by law.

Though it is counter-intuitive the only way to back the political panderers into a corner is to eliminate all potential for future revenue expansion. They must be allowed to piss away every penny (including the ill-advised eSPLOST) we can send them, every dollar from every bond they can possibly issue, and every fee they can pile on.

We must gorge them on cashflow until they drive the system to bankruptcy. Only then can we clear the delusional fog that hobbles parents' thinking. Only then will the lies masked by the bumper sticker mentality of "it's about educating our children" be exposed. Only after the current system is burned to the ground can we wipe off the ashes of this failed experiment and rebuild.