Saturday, March 30, 2013

Black On Black Crime In Metro Atlanta

Beverly "Mama Doc" Hall
Crawford "Cee Loo" Lewis

They called it "Education".

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gateway To Smart City Of Fun

Welcome to the Smart Party City!!!

Who says people in Dunwoody don't know how to cut loose and have some fun? These party favors were found at the gateway intersection smack dab between the Party Parthenon and the more uptight City Central, where if you will recall even minor traffic violations receive harsh but swift police action. No police action at this happenin' place so feel free to be gittin' down!

Clearly someone was having the kind of fun that we all recommend children not try at home. While suggestions that the condom simply fell off support the theory that City Hall is involved no one is suggesting that empty packs of cigarettes indicate completion of anything but a smoke.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Costco has been in the news[1] lately  with regards to their passive aggressive stance on "donating otherwise unsalable produce to food banks", to wit, they don't. This has left advocates of food "trash to treasure" baffled but more importantly frustrated to the point of abandoning the effort.

Let's look at some explanations that go a bit beyond "cold hearted corporate assholes" and perhaps explain a bit of what is going on. This will be rambling and for those who really couldn't give a shit one way or the other this is a good time to read Dilbert or People Online.

Costco is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ:COST) which returns value to investors by capital appreciation and dividends. Relative to Walmart Costco stock sells at a premium with a P/E of 24 compared to Wally World's 15 while the dividend rate is less than one half at a little over 1%. Net income is 2% of total revenue which is to say that Costco is profitable and margins are razor thin. In the recent issue of Better Investing an analyst observes that Costco makes their money on membership fees and not on products.

How does Costco do this...maintain a profitable operation, gain and retain members and garner the approval of the stock market while enduring a competitive environment offering a near-zero margin? The do two things. They treasure their brand and they are efficient.

Anyone who has shopped at Costco and either of the two major competitors (Sam's or BJ's) knows immediately there is a noticeable difference in product quality and offerings and in general presentation and operation. Costco product lineups do not smack of surplus that wouldn't sell in the main stores and Costco constantly evaluates products for inclusion in their Kirkland private label offerings. Stores are clean, consistently laid out and product presentation is top notch with store associates ensuring product is properly in its place.

Many Costco products compete with online offerings and their supply chain must be every bit as cost effective to the customer as FedEx or UPS as they also bear the burden of sales tax. And it is, with container shipments going from port to store in 24 hours. They move product and they move it quickly and efficiently. This is no less true of fresh food than blenders and televisions. Customers rarely find produce after the sell-by date with only a superficial glance required to ensure quality is a consistent as always.

They've done this by building a corporate culture that values and rewards brand and efficiency. They attract, hire, train and retain intelligent hardworking employees. Management is clearly incented to maintain high quality and efficient operations in their area of responsibility.

And here is where it wraps back around to free food. In an efficient operation "otherwise unsalable food" is called "waste". Efficient operations ALWAYS look to improve efficiency and finding alternative uses for waste is not directly supportive of that goal. To the extent that donating the waste product of operational inefficiencies mitigates the negative feedback required to drive down the waste in the process it is in fact a bad thing. A corporate culture that detests operational inefficiencies needs no explicit statement to prevent these donations and no policy that "leaves it up to the store management" will result in donations.

Many a Volvo-drivin' Birkenstock-wearin' Good Earth activist[2] will see disposal of any recoverable food as waste heaped upon waste and is probably offensive to their sensibilities. It is presumably quite frustrating to knock on their door, make your presentation and get zero results. Perhaps there is another door.

What if these advocate/activists became "shareholder activists[3]"--stockholders often present shareholder proposals voted on by the entire shareholder community and items of merit garnering wide support will become corporate policy. It may be no more effective than previous attempts but given Costco's recent stock performance and if you believe that is an indicator of future performance[4] then you will at least get a bit of lucre for your troubles. You could use that to buy food for the food bank.

[1] After Maureen Downey's latest faux pas regarding Nancy Jester's blog we at The Other Dunwoody are now convinced that the "legitimate" Fourth Estate has abdicated leaving the blogosphere to take up the slack. And so it shall.
[2] Volvo has probably been replaced by "Prius" and it is a mystery why that has not been supplanted by "Leaf", but then again, the whole Volvo thing is a mystery.
[3] This is in no way meant as a stock recommendation and individual judgment should be applied to any stock purchase.
[4] Of course there is no reliable indicator of future performance or we'd all be rich.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Came For The Waters

How many times have you heard a parent say something along the lines of
My daughter's teacher is wonderful, we just love her!
or how about
My kids go to Vanderlynn and they're getting the best education possible!
or the less frequent but even more alarming
We're new...we moved here because we heard the schools were so great!
Usually these folks are a bit less Dunwoody than the Farmhousers and you want to believe it's just because they're new but honestly this is a bit like Rick's explanation of why he came to Casablanca
I came for the waters
Of course he was in a desert and his was a deflective deception...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Good Teachers Leave

If we correct to a lower level and agree that "better" teachers are actually leaving DCSS because of the recent troubles how do we reconcile that with over 93% of teachers being rated "proficient" or "exemplary" even with the new more "objective" rating system? Sounds like a majority of teachers are on their way out the door. If you believe these ratings are inflated, and most folks do, just how many of "the best" need to leave before we've nothing left but teachers who were they ever subjected to an honest evaluation would struggle to be merely "ineffective"?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Pope and God Particle

First a new Pontiff and then barely a day later certain confirmation of the God Particle.


Friday, March 15, 2013

What SACS Has In Store

SACS isn't holding a gun to parents' heads...

...they are holding it to students' heads.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Deal Caves--Agrees To Incompetent Blacks

After a brief meeting with local NAACP representatives Governor Nathan Deal has backed down from his "Get The Best, Forget The Rest" stance on turning the DeKalb County Schools around and will establish a quota system for Board appointees to ensure "adequate black representation". When challenged to "get involved and make sure these black candidates are good black candidates" the NAACP refused that race-bait responding with their own: "if they're black enough, they're good enough."

Deal's preemptive attempt to avoid the situation, appointing R. L. Brown as co-liaison, met with derision from the NAACP who claim it is too little, too late and observed that he was just a "token" added at the last minute and if Deal really understood the situation then Brown would have veto power over any appointment. When asked whether repeating what most observers see as obvious mistakes of the recent past propelling us to potential loss of SACS accreditation the NAACP said they "have it handled" and made a compelling case. "If that son of bitch don't restore accreditation NOW we're gonna pull his lily white ass down off his high horse, drag him through the court of public opinion bleeding from a thorny crown of racism and then we'll nail his honkie ass to a cross and leave him hanging there 'til his mama cries." Now that's commitment to the cause.

Deal concluded if the black community cannot control these fools then he had a redneck's chance in Watts and if Elgart wants to take them on he can do it on his own. Having washed his hands of this drama he is now certain to appoint the next six blacks who cannot get away fast enough and is said to be considering a reversal of his decision not to suspend the other three Board members in an effort to purge the recently elected whites. When asked if this was nothing short of ethnic cleansing, the Governor observed "no, this is only about race".

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dunwoody Party Parthenon

Dunwoody has built a brand spanking new rendition of the Greek classic Parthenon. This version meets Dunwoody's de facto Williamsburg requirements and sports the ever handy money disbursement machines which play such an important part of our daily lives.

The Dunwoody Parthenon is expected to become the cultural center of the Village and the City has planned a "grand reveal" complete with musical entertainment provided by none other than Banks and Shane. For newcomers and those farmhousers who've been living under a rock for thirty years, Banks and Shane is a local duo with a band that is one half folk, one half brass, one half Jimmy Buffet cover band and one hundred percent pure entertainment. Expect to hear all the classics including "The Birthday Song", "Jimmy's Best Ever Sailing Ballad" and all the other Banks and Shane hits. And because this is such a special occasion, Steve Hawes,  Banks and Shane's best bass man of all time will rejoin the group to sing his heart-rending a capela version of Dixie. There won't be a dry eye in the audience.

Master of ceremonies for this grand gala is none other than our very own Mayor Pro Tem who assures us that the festivities are free for everyone--the City is picking up the entire tab. So you won't need that charge card, but you best charge up your Die Hard because it will be one hell of a party. And if you happen to find yourself down at City Hall before a council meeting you just might run across a certain someone battering his brain with earbuds and singing, off key, his own words to his favorite tune:
"We took enough money to buy Miami
Then we pissed it away so fast...
Never meant to last, never meant to last..."
So tune up that blender, dust off the tin cup, stock up on Caldewoods and green label, patch yer flip flops, then crank up that Little Willie John and shag on down to the Party Parthenon.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mary Steenburgen Heads Home

Mary Steenburgen, in an effort to prepare herself for an upcoming dramatic role has been researching the inner workings of post civil rights era urban public schools for her part in an upcoming made by Netflix TV "series".  Unbeknownst to many this has been taking place for the last two years right here in Georgia, in our very own DeKalb County School System.

Some expect the show to be a dark comedy, but others close to the writing team characterize it as sardonically witty, more like Dilbert goes to school than Yossarian goes to war. Witty repartee and intellectual comedy runs deep and strong with Whoopi Goldberg cast as a snarky but passive aggressive school superintendent--a stark counterpoint to Steenburgen's role as a newly elected school board member. Steenburgen's character, who only recently moved from a distant, more rural state sports a bambi-in-the-headlights demeanor backed by a sharp analytical mind and reveals herself to be a mental fencer who deftly kills with the sharp point rather than the dull edge. Ted Danson, who is directing is also co-producing the program with Steenburgen and insiders are expecting a lively set with out-takes that may become a movie unto themselves.

The actress was briefly interviewed while leaving her limo to board a private jet out of PDK and she expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to gain first hand experience in a modern urban school setting and acquire a better understanding of the practical underpinnings of diversity in culture, ambitions and goals as it relates to the community and the practical realities of complex social and political systems. She has been quoted as saying "there are things out there you simply cannot learn by reading a book and are never found in a script's stage directions." Her parting words, "I learned it truly takes a village and a big enough village can afford a number of idiots", will surely find a place in the script.

Mark your calendars, the first season is expected in fall of 2014.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What Accreditation Means

What does accreditation really mean, especially to parents of students and students themselves? This question underpins the current thinking of ax and pitchfork wielding villagers intent on tossing out most of the Board. Actually, to have someone else toss them, but this is about Public Schools and Public Schools are all about someone else doing something. So in the context of "someone else" what is accreditation?

Does accreditation guarantee that your child's teacher is teaching in their subject area or that they are competent and qualified regardless? That would be NO.

Does it guarantee that the proper resources, human and other,  are available in each class and each school. That would be a big ole NO.

Will it ensure that schools have top notch curriculum supported by proper texts and ancillary material? No, but it will ensure that you buy new textbooks every five years, even if you don't actually get them, because the accrediting agency has ties to textbook vendors.

Will you have assurances that your school administrators are accountable and dedicated to continual improvement of student achievement? Of course not since the most obvious function of the accrediting agency is to protect administrators from scrutiny and criticism. After all it is the administrators who write that big check to the accrediting agency--you just "underwrite" it.

Will you at least know that your tax dollars are not frittered away on meaningless, trendy and vapid "education" packages, nepotistic hiring, and vendor cronyism? No, not really as the accrediting agency is singularly focused on ensuring that they and their cronies get paid.

Well at least accreditation guarantees that any given student achieves more academically, that their knowledge base is broader and deeper, that they think and communicate more clearly than they would without accreditation, right? That would be no, No and HELL NO!

So why are folks getting their knickers in a knot because DeKalb is collaborating with the State to lose accreditation by next year? It's as simple as following the money. The accrediting agency is recognized by the Feds and that means these parents will find it harder for their children to get access to government scholarships, education grants and even HOPE. Not impossible, just harder. And...they would have to do something.

At first glance this looks like a foolhardy trade of constitutionally protected rights for very little gain but when considering those that have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure and defend these rights discarding them so casually is reprehensible.