Thursday, December 31, 2015

When All Else Fails...

...lower your standards.

The good folks running education in neighboring South Carolina have made enormous strides in upping graduation rates, often approaching 90%. How did they do this? Did they steal a page from the APS playbook and encourage failing students to withdraw into a private school? Not at all. They just started handing out credits and diplomas.

When it comes to educators it is just as easy as turning a knob.

How were these fine educators exposed? Well, even in South Carolina you need to perform on the SAT or ACT to actually use that high school credential to get into college. On those tests these pitiable children, lied to by their teachers, by and large did not pass both the verbal and math sections of the ACT. In one school, touting an 85% graduation rate, not a single graduate passed either section.

And don't kid yourself that this is just South Carolina. The Feds are all in with Every Child Succeeds. Georgia has taken it to a new level mandating that the University System up their graduation rates. Given that in public schools, K-12 and college, there is no accountability-not in the classroom, not in the administration, not in the Boards of Education and not in the Board of Regents-Georgia is willfully creating a system of diploma mills. One feeding the other.

You probably are wondering why the government, our elected officials, would undermine our public education system. Pretty simple really-corporate relocations. Georgia is getting corporate relo-s but we're also losing some to Alabama and South Carolina. Part of the table stakes is "an educated and trained workforce." Fortunately for the state government and all our educators it doesn't have to be real--sort of like downtown crime, "we want people to FEEL safe when they come downtown." And corporate America is jiggy with it too. They started the ball rolling with "Master's in Computer Science, or FOREIGN EQUIVALENT" opening the door for less that scrupulous foreign education systems/governments to pump out credentialed, but often unqualified, holders of "Foreign Equivalents." Companies knew there was no equivalence but it WAS cheaper. The CEO of NCR had a brief encounter with reality commenting about their next relo to Tech Square when he said he really wanted access to the Tech's programming talent. NCR needs programmers from ITT, not Masters in Computer Science from Tech.

Is there anything anyone can do to prevent government and business interests from pushing a pliable education system into diploma mill status?

There is only one organization in America that can put an end to this - US News and World Report. Recently they adjusted their metrics to account for situations where grad students are filling the teaching roles of PhD wielding professors. At least one major R1 in Georgia has responded by hiring a significant number of non-tenured, PhD instructors. They are readily available because academia turns out several hundred more PhDs per year than they can otherwise absorb--they practically litter the job market. The non-tenure status (probably a good idea in general) means easy-hire-easy-fire in the event USN&WR pivots to some other criteria, say research metrics. They will, they always have.

What we need USN&WR to pivot to is remediation. Sufficient demerits for remediation will eliminate it from our R1 universities in order for them to maintain their ratings. This will  apply back pressure to the K-12 system which is, as in South Carolina, pumping out well credential, unqualified graduates incapable of embarking on an R1 calibre education. Lots of good could come from this but don't expect dramatic or even measurable improvements in Georgia's K-12 public schools. These will hew true to the internal mission of "Everything They Learned, They Learned In Kindergarten."  It is more likely that the State will establish "Acceleration Academies" for remediation and finally offer adequate support for Technical Programs throughout the state. At the end of the day that is what businesses really need and is achievable, though aspirational for the State of Georgia.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Guest Post : Good Grits Charlie Brown

In spite of calls to "Quit it with the food posts" TOD has offered this space for a holiday, hell, a Christmas, food post. A few members of TOD met up with this poster at Eddie Izzard's Force Majueure Tour stop in Athens as the Charleston show sold out before they could score tickets. Dining at one of the finer Athens' restaurants an order of shrimp and grits was secured. The general consensus was "Friends Don't Let Friends Make Bad Grits." So here we are.

While the guest author generally writes and speaks like the author of  Thug Kitchen we requested the language be a little less R-Rated. Nonetheless some of the juicy bits have been redacted and some wording exchanged for the original, spicier expressions. While humor was compromised content remains undiluted.

Without further ado...

Lobster Broth Grits With Brown Butter Lobster Medallions


I am Calinky. South Calinky to be precise but some of my favorite relatives lived and are buried up north in blue sky Carolina. Being a Calinky I know pluff mud and I've been to the Chitlin' Strut. I know the Shag ain't what you think it is and I know Dukes is the only mayo. I know ramps and poke weed and I know anyone who eats 'em is antisocial or dirt poor. Or both. I've gigged my share of frogs, the hoppity kind, and my crawdaddies are fresh from the creek. I cook in my mother's mother's cast iron and grill on my daddy's PK.

And I know grits. We're not talking hominy we're talking grits. One thing I know is if you're gonna make good grits you gotta start with good grits. And good grits don't come out of a bag with an old man on the front looking like Hillary Clinton on a bad hair day. And "Instant" ain't got nothin' to do with grits.

Good grits come from Anson Mills though in a pinch Carolina Plantation ain't bad. What makes Anson Mills grits so good? They start with good corn--heirloom dent corn as grown by American Indians. Then they work real hard not to screw it up. The let it field ripen and cold mill it. And when you get it, the freezer is where you store it.

Nowadays way too many folks can't say "grits" without saying "shrimp 'n'" first but fact is this seems to come from Yankee Honey Pots (like Hilton Head) with the idea of keeping carpet baggers from dumping sugar on Plain Ole Grits. Can't fix stupid, ain't gonna try. If we're gonna put some kinda sea roach on grits we're going to the palmetto bug of sea roaches, the lobster.

I'm gonna tell you how to cook grits 'n' lobster. Pay attention.

You'll need good grits, lobster tails, some butter and some water. Maybe salt but probably not. Oh, and some kind of garnish. Most folks stick with chives or parsley but cilantro, if you can stand it, has more to add.

You need to start a couple things pretty much at once. Put half your grits in a pot and with minimal water, bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. They'll soak a while. At the same time start a quarter stick of butter in a cast iron frying pan and put it on low heat to melt and slightly brown.

While that's going on, cut the lobster tails into sections by slipping the edge of a chef's knife into the gap between top shell joints and cut all the way thru. You'll end up with five pieces and a tail fin. Use a grapefruit spoon to fish the meat out of the shell rings. If you're careful you can get leg meat. Pull out any intestine and drain on paper towels. If you're trying to economize you can cut the larger pieces in half. Put the shells and a half stick of butter into the smallest sauce pan that will hold them. Heat to melt the butter, cover the shells with water, bring to a boil then drop to a simmer. Simmer for five to ten minutes or until you get tired of watching.

Strain the lobster shell broth into the grits, add the remaining grits, bring to a boil and reduce to a low boil/high simmer. You probably have too much liquid and you'll want to slowly reduce. You need to pay attention and stir occasionally.

As the grits reduce you cook the lobster slices. The butter should be browned and you won't need to increase the heat. The lobster will take a couple minutes on each side. Shell sides will go red and the meat white. Flip, finish, drain.

By now the grits should be done, and by "done" we mean al dente. They're called grits for a reason.  At this point you're mostly looking for consistency. Swirl the spoon in the pot and if it holds a trail they're done. If you think they're too thick add water. You should check to see if salt is needed but the lobster broth is probably salt enough.

Plate up.

Grits into bowls. Lobster distributed evenly amongst bowls and your favorite garnish on top.


Et Voila!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Wish

Speeding is a problem throughout Dunwoody and one of the worst routes is North Peachtree threading thru quiet but hilly residential areas and sporting a 25 MPH speed limit along a majority of the route. It should come as no surprise that a significant number of cut thru drivers (and some locals) exceed the limit by more than 10 MPH. Officials seem to love absolutes but 10 MPH over in a residential 25 MPH zone is significantly worse than 10 over on 45 MPH Ashford Dunwoody.

Don't expect enforcement to play a role in addressing this problem. Not only is DPD primarily Perimeter Mall Cops and unless or until someone's children lose playing North Peachtree Frogger we'll not see any enforcement. Even if we do it will be short lived serving primarily as a DPD PR stunt. This is despite a ballooning budget that not only outpaces inflation but even the rates of increase of college educations.

But we have a chance to make lemonade and quite a bit of it as we have two lemons. Whilst the DPD is standing Perimeter Defense we've been assaulted by Torpy's Spandex Army. These folks have waged a campaign with the kind of disregard for others and religious fervor one associates with ISIL and until recently have met with token opposition at best though Buckhead recently dispelled their invincibility. And Dunwoody is blessed with many riders who, as Torpy has observed, intend to self-enforce their rights to the road forcing auto traffic to queue up and slow to the pedaller's speed. No matter how slow that might be.

And there is our solution. While it is conceivable that some fit Lance-a-lots might top 25 on some downhill stretches for the most part hitting 25 will be uncommon. Combine this with the militantly arrogant, almost gleeful, rolling traffic obstruction and we have our solution to drivers speeding in the area.

The City need only make one change to score a win-win-win.

We need to change our paving plan to incorporate bicycle riders and not just bicycle lanes which to date have been totally unrelated. We need to ink an IGA between the City of Dunwoody and the fascist Bicycle State in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs (BSDSS) that requires consistent routing and properly timed bike-ride/traffic-calming crits before we pave or even stripe-out another foot of bicycle lane.

When this operational plan is in place we'll see slower traffic in a residential area, undisturbed Police operations and the BSDSS will get to exercise their legs and their rights in a worthy cause.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Master's Of Education

Our Feducator In Chief recently erased No Child Left Behind from the educational blackboard to write a new rule: Every Student Succeeds.

The political BS swirling around this had to do with NCLB's characterization as being test heavy and the fact that the tests carried real consequences. It should be duly noted that the consequences fell largely on educators who by and large represent votes. And votes often make the difference between re-election and unemployment.

It also represents a pendulum swing back towards the hens running the hen house. In the most subjective way possible. Just look at the loop holes. While NCLB emphasized "Child," ESS speaks only of "students." And guess who decides who is, and more importantly who is NOT, a student? That's right--educators, the same folks who will, in the absence of deplorable high stakes testing, define "success." Do not be too surprised when we find that in just a few short years students are succeeding all over the place but if you look closely you'll find academic ditches filled with mere children pushed aside because they are too difficult to educate.

We also got a verbal slip up from the Great Orator: the era of one size fits all is over. Really? Is that to say Feducation has not only terminated NCLB but has also mortally wounded Common Core, the poster child for one size fits all?

One thing is certain. We've (re) entered a new phase of education in America sure to be strikingly similar to the morass that drove us to NCLB in the first place.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Peekaboo Menorah

Peekaboo Menorah. Sounds like a skiing JAP doesn't it?

But it isn't. It is the wonderful compromise negotiated by Team Menorah during the Light Up Dunwoody Xmas Tree belly bucking. These hard negotiators are the kind that use Trump's The Art of the Deal to prop up a table with a broken leg.

But they did get their Menorah.


There are a couple of problems with this layout. If you happen to be southbound stuck waiting for the jerk to turn left out of Dunkin and you find yourself right beside this display you can pretty much see nothing. Because you're looking at the side of a flat Menorah.

Then there is the obvious issue when headed northbound.


You'd never know the Menorah is there because by the time you're past the tree you're looking at the side of the Menorah. And you'll have to be quick to see it in your rear view. In the blink of an eye you'll be looking at something completely different.


It does not get any better if you're walking since getting closer just makes the sign look bigger.



And yet the tree looks fine from nearly every angle because it is really more of a big cone than a tree. You know, like the styrofoam cone your great granny pinned gum drops on to make a kiddy Xmas Tree. Except bigger. And with lights.

Clearly the Tree People won having reduced the Menorah to landscape lighting for the Xmas Tree.  Seriously, if you wanted to hide the Menorah any better you'd have to put it inside the tree.

Cannot wait until next year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ask The Right Questions

The Fourth Estate has been dropping the ball regarding questions.

Case in point is the recent screw-up around the Secretary of State's release of our personal data. These bozos handed out all the data necessary for bad actors to steal your identity so if you've not done so already you might want to freeze your credit.

And what is the reaction from media? Well, they want information on the chats the SoS had with recipients who have returned or destroyed the data. Wink, wink. Nod, nod. Media attention has resulted in the Secretary issuing a promise of credit monitoring (so you know when you've been robbed) but has done little to offer insight into the SoS's Oh Shit! moments.

A bigger problem is that media are not asking the right questions.

The scape goat who was fired ratted out the process causing the security breach and in so doing did a little name dropping. Turns out this work is not done BY the Secretary of State's office but is actually done FOR them. By a yankee company: PCC Technology Group. These people, whoever they are, already have access to all the data required to manufacture the security breach and probably much, much more. That is where the questioning should begin.

Just who are these people? What security clearances (or even certifications) do they have? Background checks? Does the company outsource or offshore any activities? How are data transferred to and from their systems and how do we know it is secure? Is it link security? Are log files secured? Where are the data REALLY stored? "The Cloud?" Where is it processed? How is access authentication implemented and how are accesses logged and monitored? What security reports are delivered to SoS? What security audits are performed, how often and who initiates and pays for them?

Have the Secretary of State resign and then what do we do? Government has systemic problems often caused by a blind rush to outsource their work and our security to crony companies and those are the problems that need investigation.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Christmas Trees

The Parkway deforestation brought to us by what's-his-name has been fixed by a Ramblin' Wreck.



Monday, December 7, 2015

COP Out

Yet All We Talk About Is CO2

Look At Where That Methane Comes From

Looks Like That Cow May Be A Problem

Yeah, Cow Looks Like The Apex Gas Bag

Growth Without Bound

Enjoy That Burger Because YOU"RE Worth It

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Personality Politics

Our local elections are now in the books and the immediate, reflexive reactions have settled down. Of these reactions perhaps the most interesting was the notion that the vote for Dunwoody Mayor was largely about personality. The supporting argument is that when Council votes mattered the winner and the incumbent almost always cast their votes the same direction. As is common in political arguments it ignores that fact that the Mayor is a tie breaker whose vote is rarely recorded. Or maybe the soon-to-be-former Mayor's insistence on name and address before addressing Council, which some considered a violation of good manners and others considered arrogant, tipped the personality scale in favour of the challenger.

Or maybe not.

A notable few of our current crop of professional politicians seem less involved in personality politics and more fond of photo-op politics. For these, the Mayor included, it is almost as if there is a law requiring their presence in any picture of a positive event. They seem to expect voters to believe that there is some kind of causal relationship to the hard work of others forged by a snapshot. Politicians have many ways of demonstrating how stupid they believe voters to be and this is one of them. Perhaps voters are not quite so dumb and know that getting your picture taken is an activity, not an accomplishment.

Let's hope they make that point again at the next opportunity.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Black Boards Matter

You, like many people across these United States may be oblivious to what has been happening at college campus across this great nation--the systematic dismantling and destruction of our college and university BLACK boards. That's right. Almost in the blink of an eye what our children see before them in classrooms across America is pure white boards.

This simply cannot be tolerated, it must be stopped and the clock turned back to the days when the blackness of our boards was honoured and celebrated. There will be a call to action. Protests. Sit ins. Boycotts. Rumours abound that at least one Division 1 football squad will refuse to practice or play until all sideline whiteboards are eliminated and the traditional black slates are restored.

We must make our colleges and universities safe places for boards of many colours, we must celebrate diversity and restore black boards to their former place of respect and honour.

Because Black Boards Matter.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

High Crimes And Misdemeanors

A popular first-day-of-class pop quiz in Ethics 101 is:
Suppose you walk into a room, turn on the light and find money, not yours, lying on a table. What would an ethical person do with the money?
Well, the correct answer which should be obvious is "nothing." It's not yours so if you take it you are a thief. It doesn't matter how long you keep it or what you intend to do with it. Not find the owner. Not donate it to charity. And it doesn't matter if it is a penny or a pound.

Look at how much difference a penny makes.

Another form of ethics dominates the business world. Salesman ethics:
A salesman makes a call on a prospect in Chicago and while walking from his hotel a gust blows his favorite fedora into Lake Michigan. Back at the office he submits his expense report duly noting the line item for a replacement hat. Corporate bean counters refuse payment for the hat. What does the salesman do? After the next trip he submits expenses, complete with receipts and with a handwritten note at the top: "find the hat."
You will not find any group of individuals more self-aligned or more money motivated than salesmen. Except maybe politicians.

And that IS where the fun starts. Politicians are inherently salesmen--selling themselves to voters and more importantly to Big Buck Donors. So which rules of ethics should apply and which are actually practiced?

Lucky for us, DeKalb County has been putting on a clinic.

When you are an elected official or member of their staff and thereby a public facing projection of that official the law holds you to the standard of classical ethics often touted as the highest of ethical standards. The logic is that elected officials are charged with the public's trust and violating that trust, penny or a pound, is a high crime.

Our local DA recently avoided a teaching moment to make this very point and instead accepted a plea bargain that some have deemed a betrayal of the public trust. There were probably several considerations. There is an upcoming election and these matters may seem, to him, trivial in comparison. There is also the matter of Bowers muddying the waters suggesting a larceny model should apply to government malfeasance wherein theft below a certain, arbitrary amount is considered petty and above which it is felonious.

Look at how much difference a penny makes.

Doing that which you know better than to do is a good working definition of practical political ethics.

But it IS getting better isn't is? We've commissioned investigative reports, incomplete, but they are revealing. And we've changed some of the faces so things must be better, mustn't they?

Well, Snow White blew in on promises of transparency, integrity and cleaning house. Yet she retained her deposed and now jailed predecessor's Chief of Staff removing him not because of P-Card purchases of household pet paraphernalia serving no public benefit but because a verbal altercation created untenable political liability. Quintessential political ethics. And we can expect nothing else from any of the others.

After all the indictments, plea agreements, prison time, probation and punitive public service what do we know that we did not before? We knew politics, particularly in DeKalb was rotten to the core, remains rotten to the core but now we know that as we look to the future we can only expect more of the same.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Secret Societies

You know. The kind with exclusive membership, secret handshakes and mostly likely other, deeper secrets. The kind you'd associate with DeKalb county. The kind that gets an expensive soccer complex sprung on the public and even the Board of Commissioners at the last minute. The kind providing fuel to the fires that warm the cockles of citihood advocates.

Just when you start thinking that having your own little city would solve all the problems you have with the county you find out your city politicos are just as bad and they have been doing the same thing. The latest city secret society to see the light of day is called "Peachtree Gateway" an effort between four of North DeKalb's cities that has been going on behind closed doors and outside public view for the last two years. And get this: it is intended to foster regionalism. Isn't that what the county is for? So what are they doing, creating their own meta-county?

You may be wondering what other secret organizations and operations your city is involved in. Too bad. That IS why they're called secret. Only the proper set of shakers and movers, the biggest fish no matter how small your pond, are allowed in on the secret.

And if you think this is the first and only behind-closed-doors secret machinations your "locally controlled" politicians have been involved in you're not just drunk on the Kool Aid, you've overdosed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Le Chat Est Sorti Du Sac

After this weekend's deadly attacks in Paris the French have responded to what Hollande bluntly called an act of war by flying sorties aimed at crippling ISIL. Hollande is (rightly) angry and on the verge of invoking Article 5 of the NATO agreement in order to spread the scope and intensity of the anti-ISIL efforts.

But Hollande committed a faux pas by declaring his intent to cut off ISIL's money supply by targeting oil assets under their control. Why is this so bad?

Because it begs a large number of questions embarrassing Europe, the United States and the Obama Administration.

It starts with How could that possibly make any difference--surely no one is BUYING ISIL oil, right? Certainly it is being bought, the money is fueling their terrorist enterprise and no one, not a single press or government agency is tracing the money. And no one is boycotting the sales or those who purchase this blood oil.

Then there is Why now? These targets have been known for some time and they have clearly been under ISIL control for quite some time. Why were they not taken out years ago? Before the United States had sacrificed so many on the altar of greed?

And Who has been involved in this conspiracy to soft-pedal our actions against ISIL? Has it just been a joy-stick game playing Nobel Laureate who likes to take on his own "most wanted" with predator drones? Has it been every oil-dependent country in the EU? Has some country unilaterally declared neutrality to set up an oil laundering enterprise to mask culpability?

And finally, How many more American lives will be lost because the United States and Europe have been reluctant to starve out ISIL?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Political STDs

The rage with all these new cities is "outsourcing" services to private enterprises. Dunwoody is not immune to this affliction. One government responsibility that is widely dodged is probation management and supervision. Now if you've been paying attention to what goes on in this Great State you have most likely heard of and been appalled by the role this practice plays in creating debtor prisons.

It works like this. A municipality farms out their responsibility (to the public and the offender) for managing and monitoring probationers to for-profit companies. In search of greater profits these companies not only take the probationers' money they tack on fees at the slightest opportunity. These fees are often outside their ability to pay, additional charges mount and before you know it the probationer is back in court facing not only these fees extended probation and possible incarceration. And taxpayers foot the bill for that one.

The AJC has reported on this practice and its consequences extensively. While the State Supreme Court has declared privatization legal it also declared that drawing out sentences is not. The kerfuffle lead to legislation, signed by the Governor, creating a probation oversight agency. We wait with [pro]bated breath to see how that works. It has not prevented lawsuits against companies and the governments that hire them.

One company is a standout. They are not only ordered to repay people held on probation illegally but they have been hit with more than one civil rights lawsuit and a motion for change of venue has been denied. Even [disgruntled] employee reviews are not overwhelmingly flattering.

Given all this information, readily available to the public, what government in their right mind would ink a deal with this company? That would be the Smart City of Dunwoody.

Monday, November 9, 2015

College Is Over

If you do not believe that College has served its purpose in American Society and needs to be pushed aside then read this:
The Coddling of the American Mind
Political Correctness so out of control that even Left Wingnut Profs can no longer abide it. Does anyone believe this will deliver graduates capable of entering the workforce let alone competing globally? How many generations have we lost? How many more will we lose?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What Is Austin Worth?

Austin Elementary is the center of quite the soap opera these days. The recent politician-turned-educator acting as DCSD superintendent is being quoted as voicing commitment to keep Austin at its current site and partly as a consequence, at or near current size. More recently there has been some suggestion to vacate the shadow of the power lines in favour of the ball fields but that may just be crazy talk.

Or maybe not.

Now we have a new superintendent, a for-real educational professional and we're starting to hear about "somewhere within a three mile radius" which if one assumes the school is to be located in DeKalb County loosely translates to "somewhere closer to the Mall." And we're hearing more and more about super-sizing to the arm-twisting cum mandated size of 900-1000 students.

Neighborhood school no more.

There have been lamentations over the end of Walk To School Wednesdays [do they still do that?] and no small effort directed towards convincing parents at nearby schools that lines would be re-drawn moving them out of their home school.

Then it got interesting.

After a rousing debate on the relative merits of faux stacked stone vs faux hardy plank siding the good folks at the DHA (our shadow government) heard from Fran "The Man" Millar on the impact of potential changes at Austin. "This is a big deal. If that school is moved from that area, then that will have an effect on house prices. If you affect one of the more affluent sections of Dunwoody, it's going to affect everybody."

Wow. Admittedly that is quite a bit of politician-speak but there is something in that to offend just about everyone.

Let's start with the incomplete comparison: "one of the more affluent sections of Dunwoody." Not knocking the price points in Redfield, but come on, there are more homes in that area that do not command Redfield premiums than those that do. And has the good Senator checked out the prices in Deerfield East? Or what about those Bill Grant Clutter Homes? Zillow reports some pricey condos on Happy Hollow, quite a haul from Austin. Now if those Parkway Condos go up the Austin area will see  something of a boost as these are likely to come on the market at well over $250/sq. ft. But really, "one of the most affluent?" Hardly.

Then there is the FUD: "If that school is moved from that area, then that will have an effect on house prices." Really? Which way? Would nearby home prices go up or go down, and why? Seems like the kind of assumption that brought us natural gas deregulation and the Iran nuclear deal. Why not move it towards the higher apartment density? Isn't that where the Millennials want to live? Seems to be at least fifty percent of what we hear from City Hall these days. And aren't they just a bit more likely to have young 'uns? Maybe homes in the former Austin area would become much more attractive to Old Farts, the other demographic City Hall cannot shut up about, and they might pay quite a bit for a ready-to-reno Dunwoody Four Four and a Door. Just think, they can convert the den and living room into a Masterful Retreat on Main, knock down the walls between the Kitchen, Eat-In and Dining Rooms for an Open Concept and only go upstairs to dust and chase out the spiders. It would be just like the Parkway Condos minus the hardy plank and with a back yard.

Maybe Fran is right. Maybe if Austin were moved closer to the Millennial Zone with the other apartment kids there will be "an effect on the house prices" in "one of the most affluent sections of Dunwoody." Maybe prices will skyrocket.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Right To Complain

No, this is not yet-another-whining-diatribe. It is a call-to-arms.

We at The Other Dunwoody are encouraging our three followers and the few others who, in a failed search comprising "Dunwoody" and the bluer version of "Shut The Front Door," accidentally visit this site to step away from the keyboard and get out there and vote. No one cares who or what you vote for or against, but go vote. If you don't vote, you cannot complain and if you've been paying any attention at all TOD is all about complaining.

The more the merrier.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Twenty Five Til Three

The vote for yet another round of cities in DeKalb comes up on Three November this year. And twenty five? Well that is the number of holes lining Dunwoody Parkway awaiting the much ballyhooed renewable resource otherwise known as "trees."

What does that have to do with the Tucker and Cliffside votes? Well, it is just another symbol of "be careful what you wish for." There is much irony and no small amount of hypocrisy in these fledgling cities.

See, we got ourselves an incredibly expensive teardown and rebuild when what we asked for was a simple re-furb. The original parkway plan called for some serious repaving and restriping but there are those in this here locally controlled city what would have none of that. It was Complete Streets and nothing else. Bear in mind these are Torpy's One Percenters who are demanding that any pavement touched be retouched with bike lanes even they won't use. As mentioned earlier, the protests over loss of mature trees was beaten down by the mention of renewability of these plants. Yet there we have it--twenty five gone missing and in need of replacement.

And where are these masters of our local control? Are they clamoring for action? Are they taking action by volunteering to plant replacement trees? That would be a no. So where are they? Well as it would happen they are over at the park, along the massive concrete highway that had to be installed where a nature trail was called for. Why there? Why now? Turns out that their concrete highway thru paradise required a bit of clear cutting and concrete can get bone sucking hot when left in the sun. What is their solution? Plant trees. So after foisting an unwanted Parkway upon us and a Highway thru the Park they turn up at the place they didn't say would need trees to plant trees when they should be planting trees in the place they said trees would be renewed.

Again, what does this have to do with Tucker and Cliffside?

Well, you are probably quite tired of the chant of "local control" and while the yahoos behind these two examples are local what motivates them is far from it. The come to City Hall with the full faith and backing of national groups that have conveniently supplied the ordinances we should (and did) adopt to complete their dream. How local is that? Want to complain? Too bad because you weren't around for the Master Plan (wherein they have appointed themselves Master) and it is a done deal. Case closed. Hard stop.

Not local. Out of control.

Then there is the myth of small government is better government. Do you live in a neighborhood with a HOA? Think that's all right mighty fine do you?

And what is your definition of better? Well it best not be transparent, ethically pure or scandal free, because just with Dunwoody and Brookhaven we have amassed some evidence to the contrary. None of Dunwoody's land deals have been very transparent nor has the escalation of two aforementioned construction projects that went open loop. Then there was the great ethical crisis resulting in the loss of a City Attorney and a member of Council wisely choosing not to run for re-election. Ethics charges. Costly investigation by independent outsiders. Sound familiar?

Brookhaven is no better, what with the commitment to zone strip clubs out of town followed by highly compensated capitulation. Exactly what was being bought and sold there? Or dare we even mention Lysol-gate?

You are going to hear about the Three P's: Police, Parks and Pavement. Well, in Tucker they've at least determined that DeKalb PD isn't bad at all and they'll focus on zoning. The reality is that an enforce on complaint policy will be instituted basically meaning that enforcement is basically nil. Even a Mayor's wife will not be able to get your city to address the non-compliant deck at her back-yard neighbor's  house.

The Pro-City folks will continue their small/local chant but you may want to ponder, just a bit, the gist of what Liane Levitan said: when you add more government you just have that many more politicians to keep track of.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pencilvania

In a land not too far away in time or space there is a bucolic parish where peaceful folk, salt of the earth, live a simple life much as their forefathers before them. Whether vocation or avocation, the inhabitants of the parish are renowned for the growing of a special wood. The wood used in pencils. Every citizen contributes and like wine grapes in Lausanne every patch of even barely arable land sports pencilwood.

Traditionally the good folk supplied their pencilwood to village craftsmen who often specialized in specific types of pencils establishing relationships with growers providing the pencilwood most suited to their speciality.

Some old-school penciliers kept tradition alive and many a traditional pencil is to this day created by those growing the wood itself.



Others specialized in Beginners Pencils, those well suited to novice users and children, and these pencils were noted primarily for using pencilwood not well suited for other uses.



Another speciality with a small but ardent following were Artists Pencils.


These pencils, while not in general demand often required some of the highest quality pencilwood available in Pencilvania.

A pencil requiring moderately good pencilwood were those targeting the trades, particularly construction and wood working.



Their rectangular cross-section and consistent, relatively hard pencilwood ensured easy sharpening with tools commonly at hand for those versed in the arts of woodworking and related craftsmanship.

By far the most popular pencil, especially amongst the pencilwood growing community, was the Scholar's Pencil.



Scholar Pencils required nothing less than the finest pencilwood and immense pride was associated with having your wood selected for these prized pencils. A derivative of the Scholar was the Athlete Pencil.


In some quarters these were more prized than Scholars and some growers providing pencilwood for Athletes were known to take what some considered excessive pride.

For many a generation the craft system of pencil production served the community well but over time some began to see established grower-craftsmen relationships as closed and somehow unfair. Further there was a clear disparity in quality, cost and availability fueling a growing belief that the guild system had outgrown its usefulness and in its place they suggested a centralized system. Feeling this would be more egalitarian they also touted perceived efficiencies due to shared tooling and other resources and consistent quality by cross-training amongst the craftsmen.

Ultimately this argument won the day and a single pencil production system covering all of Pencilvania was established. While a few craftsmen and growers clung to the old ways they were marginalized by the newer monopoly.

And this system worked very well. At first.

Over time factory administrators began to question the relative cost of the various types of pencils. As so many pencils of reasonably high quality were required to complete an Artists' set these were first limited in their production and ultimately eliminated.

Next to fall were the pencils designed for the trades as these required proportionally more pencilwood and lead than other pencils. While the wood required was not of the highest quality the overall quality of pencilwood produced in Pencilvania had been in decline for years.

Some attributed this decline to overproduction and certainly those areas with the greatest production often produced the lowest quality pencilwood. Others argued that the new system eliminated any pride in the production of pencilwood. Everyone's pencilwood was tossed into the same bin at the factory giving the (often real) perception that "all the wood is the same." And one could no longer hold up a finely crafted pencil and declare "this is made from my wood." Without recognition there is no pride and without pride there is no striving for the best.

Regardless of the cause the pencilwood quality went into serious decline resulting in draconian changes. Hand selected pencilwood was chosen for the Athletes Pencil and these were crafted by the most experienced and best trained craftsmen in the factory. Many times this resulted in difficulty maintaining the Scholars Pencil line so it was decided to apply the techniques and process of the Beginners Pencil to the Scholars Pencil changing only the size and cross section. This involved pulping the pencilwood in order to extrude pencils in their final shape and finishing much as before--to the extent the new process tolerated the same finish.

There were some small pockets of pencilwood growers who carried on with the pride of their forefathers and who were dismayed, even angry, at how their wood was being disrespected in the factory process. As it became obvious their pencilwood deserved a better fate they decided to take action.

They knew they could not restore the guild system of independent craftsmen so they fought to break away from the single one-Penciilvania factory to create their own, smaller factory. This factory would be located amongst the community of pencilwood growers and would re-create the original factory model using each pencilwood for its best, most appropriate pencil and restoring the full lineup of pencils including those no longer produced in Pencilvania's factory.

The administrators of the Pencilvania factory fought hard against groups wanting to split away but ultimately these groups won, establishing their own factory. They worked hard and they met their goals. Their pencilwood was put to the use best suited to each stick. They built a full range of pencils, though Tradesmen Pencils, for some reason, saw very limited production.

The community was proud and pleased until one day they realized this was the pencil the world wanted and they had neither the raw materials nor the craftsmanship to make them.



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sayonara Menorah

We hardly got to know you!

Apparently a menorah has been cleverly wielded as an ax to chop down the traditional Christmas Tree used for Light Up Dunwoody down to the Farmhouse. Most pundits had expected it to be felled by code enforcement due to violations of the light pollution codes.

Some are offended at the loss and defend the practice of the tree lighting politico photo opportunity. A common refrain is the traditional carol of "That's the way it's always been" to which opponents channeling their inner Reb Tevye belt out "Tradition!" Some hide behind the "it's not Christmas, it's Holiday." Declaring Xmas trees secular has been a part of the politically correct way of sneaking the increasingly secular buying holiday under everyone else's noses but when a tree is sticking up an angel's arse there is something unavoidably non-secular going on.

Some embrace the Christian symbolism of the pagan-derived Xmas tree suggesting it need only be planted across the street at the Vet Office. Though this seems somehow related to the "dog spelled backwards is..." childism some have begun to ponder just what "mad dog" is backwards. Would seem like a non-starter for the non-secular, but then again maybe not*.

Thank God, whoever she might be, that no one has yet to declare it a Chanukah bush because then it would have to actually talk when lit and adding noise pollution to the mix is more than a body can stand.  Plus, it would probably speak in Aramaic, Latin or some other dead language and then who would even know what it's really saying?

Others have decided, in response to what was probably a tongue-in-cheek quizzical about Kwanza, that we should expand lighting to embrace all the diversity that is Dunwoody. The snarky comeback would be "that is EXACTLY what the Xmas tree did," but whilst we've not seen the first minaret in daVille challenging a cross-topped steeple begging God for a lightning blessing there are indeed other religions and cultures herein represented.

So yeah we've got Indians, dot not feather, so let's light up for Diwali, an ancient Hindu festival. But please let's draw the line at lights as putting up a swastika, another Hindu symbol, is likely to generate more animated opposition than any tree. And not all Indians are Hindu as Islam is well represented. Should we add in a celebration of Mawlid? Since that celebration is not  well accepted in all corners of Islam itself perhaps we're better off adding a few Toyota pickups to the Fourth of July Parade.  It would balance out the Bearcat and the parade could end with a rousing gymkhana.

Then there is the Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights evoking a pleasant mix of Buddhism and Hinduism, a cross-religion collaboration we should certainly admire. Along the lines of embracing multiple religions is Shintoism but sadly they lack much in the way of high-power-consumption celebrations fitting the time frame. Then there are the Hmong and while you may not consider animism a real religion, they do and they are blessed with Professional Shamans. We could probably use one of those about now. Plus, they were known for their wet-work during the Vietnam Police Action and could certainly find something to light up.

Or how about this: why not have all the people at the City and the NGO's that got all wrapped around  this axle spend the holiday season celebrating their religious beliefs with their family and spend all that extra energy on meaningful ways to help those less fortunate in our neighborhoods, our city and our region? Jesus!--why all the tsuris?


* It appears the DHA does its best work behind closed doors eliminating yet another mystery as to why DHA is a stepping stone to elected office.

Monday, October 19, 2015

How Is Your Carbon Footprint?

It's your nasty ole carbon footprint that causes Climate Change by creating what they call Greenhouse Gases. You're killing polar bears. Cute. Cuddly. Polar bears.

You may not know it but a lot of folks spend real emotional energy fretting about their carbon footprint. It should be noted that most do not self-identify as Republicans. To be fair the issue has been amped up by those that have made a business of it (if one considers NGOs and other not-for-profits as the businesses they really are). So we have the LEED bingo system complete with heavy metal certifications. We have Birkenstock babes pedaling around town and when they have to drive they're puttin' the pedal to the metal in a Leaf or the now-not-so-trendy Prius. They drift off to sleep with visions of solar panels and windmills dancing in their heads.

Lots of room there. Not a whole lot of intellect has been wasted on this Climate Change, formerly known as the Global Warming thingy. The problem with the carbon footprint approach is that it focuses on the wrong cause, notably carbon dioxide and the processes that produce it. Like filthy coal-fired power plants, cars and trucks just belchin' tons of the stuff and even Big-Ole-Jet-Airliners. We're practically drowning in See-Oh-Two.

Turns out there is more than one greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide is far from the worst offender. That title goes to methane. That's the stuff that DeKalb County is capturing from landfills and using to power vehicles. And methane does more damage to our climate than greenhouse gases from all forms of transportation combined.

The aforementioned NGO/NonProfits all profit from growth by which they mean revenue growth--donations. Now what if organizations representing the industry emitting enormous amounts of methane donated money to Green Peace, the Sierra Club and other loud mouth organizations pretending to act in the public's interest? What would you think? Well, given we don't hear a peep out of these groups regarding this imminent danger most folks would call it hush money.

Who is this powerful, shadowing group? Is it the Koch brothers? Surely the NRA has something to do with it. Sadly, no, as these groups are much easier to deal with. The real culprit is Big Farmer. You know, those mythical, hardworking underpaid folks that feed the planet, all the while conjuring images of American Gothic.  And they are powerful enough to own Washington, own the media and own these NonProfits. Their larcenous farm subsidies serve as enduring tribute to that power. And after the Patriot Act were Oprah to say what she said on her show she would probably face criminal charges. They are that powerful.  And oh, soooo patriotic.

Methane, and a lot of it that is released into our environment, is what comes out of the front end of ruminants, particularly cattle. It's What's For Dinner is not only a major cause of Climate Change, it is growing. It is also incredibly inefficient at converting vegetable nutrients to Large Dead Quadruped, it consumes enormous amounts of water and leaves a very healthy share of polluted water and land. Industrial "farming" of animal protein is a very wasteful business unless you're just counting your government subsidized profits.

But we just cannot get enough. Federal land is not only grazed at 18th century prices, the BLM is sending out choppers with snipers to take out indigenous predators. You really are killing cute native wolves. While timber is taken during deforestation in Brazil, trees (which we in daVille know are renewable resources) are not replanted, instead the land is turned over to cattle operations for grazing. Some might disagree over which is product and which is byproduct but at least one NonProfit representative had the courage to acknowledge that animal agriculture was the primary driver of deforestation but also noted that many remain silent because no one wants to be the next Dorothy Stang who is widely believed to have been assassinated because of her fight against deforestation and its causes.

There are some things that can be done though probably not by our current crop of bought and paid for politicians. We could force the animal agriculture industry to internalize all costs--the public needs to know what they're really paying. No more free or near free grazing. No subsidized grain making its way into feedstock. Use the water, return the water. As clean water. And when lagoons of animal waste are created it must be treated.

Pay the price, charge the price.

Then the slogan will be: Beef! It's a sometimes food! and we will have made a larger impact on Climate Change than any carbon tax ever will. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

And The Answer Is...

NO! [Update: the sign was absent by Wednesday but the remainder of the diatribe still applies...]
It's Baaaack!

Zoning Doesn't Matter.

This is truly ponderific.

Are Zoning classifications and ordinances inherently unenforceable? Are they in fact designed to apply only to new construction thereby hewing true to the Founding Fathers' intent to ban NEW apartments? Do they further only apply to the Perimeter district? Or perhaps they also apply in the neighborhoods of the Mayor and those on Council. For the rest, not so much?

At the risk of suggesting Honesty Is The Best Policy, perhaps Council should update Zoning Ordinances to reflect the reality they have created and now maintain in daVille. Some McMansions come equipped with a quite nice in-law apartment in the basement--why can't they rent that out? What if you're not blessed with a six thousand square foot Bill Grant mini-estate? Well, why not "Rooms For Let?" A regular boarding house, reminiscent of The Greatest Generation. How quaint, just like the village Farmhouse.


Our Lords and Ladies of City Hall should give serious consideration to a comprehensive examination of our Codes and Ordinances and strike all that they cannot or will not enforce. To do anything less breeds [even greater] contempt for whatever shreds of authority and respect City Hall has been left with. Ditch the single family zoning designation--clearly not working--and to be honest, what else can a debt-ridden, underemployed, well-degreed millennial afford except a basement walkout? And Dunwoody is all about attracting millennials except when they're lip flapping about what great place this is to grow old and die. Then there is the home-based business. Residential Only should be hot on the heels of Single Family on the way out the door. Agriculture? Why not? Poultry...apiaries...vermiculture... Bring. It. On.

And these changes are possible. We do have an election and there are some contested races. This Zoning Thingy was a big deal when folks were pushing hard for a new city. Some of there very same folks now hold elected city office and what have they really done? Perhaps, where possible, it is time for an upgrade. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Guest Post: My Deer Friends

There They Are!
And There...
...A Whole Herd!
And Then There Were Two.








Dog With A Phone


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Neat Freak

Would someone PLEASE take out the garbage?


Hard to imagine why anyone would oppose MARTA in their neighbor hood. They make such good neighbors, don't they?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Does Zoning Really Matter?

First, you have to give the bloke props for persistence. And he does have some respect, at least for his own property--"no pets."


Respect for zoning seems to be a distant and elusive concept.

But is it really [all] their fault?

Maybe not. Ordinances in daVille are "enforce on complaint" which does little to foster a culture of respect for the rules of the burg. But there is more. This is the same property that parked a barn right up against the back property line well within the setback buffer just outside a neighbor's garage. *

The City's response?

After-the-fact approval of the zoning violation.

Is operating multi-family rentals just a continuation of the same thinking? Are there connections in play? Is this yet another business the Mayor gladly welcomes to daVille? Or is it just one of the many commitments that were made to justify the founding of this City that remains unmet and ignored? Or is this what you get when your approach to code enforcement is "grease only the squeakiest wheel?"

When we teach people that rules are hardly even a suggestion we should not be surprised when they conclude that the only rule is there are no rules.




* To be fair, the owner does have the right to put an accessory building on the property and the non-compliant location made the barn least visible from the adjacent homeowner's deck. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Parks And Recreation

It would appear that someone at Smart City Hall has decided to take on daVille's version of a wooden stonehenge by axing the deadwood lining our not so green Village Parkway.

Sort of.

As a tribute to our former City Manager, whatshisname, one lone dead finger remains pointing to the heavens. It shall stand as a reminder to how Dumb We Were and how Smart We Have Become.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Leveling

Today's AJC editorial page has a couple of interesting juxtapositions, one from the AJC's Education Pundit, Maureen Downey and the other from our very own former-councilman Robert Wittenstein.

Wittenstein took on a previous editorial which claimed that establishing separate school systems in cities recently formed in North DeKalb would constitute separate but unequal and a clear move back to our segregationist ways. Wittenstein pointed out the racial demographics of Dunwoody but neglected to address socio-econoomic segregation these new schools would foster. As is always the case, it is all about the money. There is a point here. Given that the tax revenue per 1000 population is greater in Dunwoody than throughout the county the city schools proposal has the unseemly appearance of the Greedy Rich getting richer whilst starving out those who need it most.

Maureen was both observing that children who most need parents or other adults in their educational lives are least likely to have same whilst those with the most are rapidly pulling ahead. There was just a whiff of a suggestion that geography correlates with this effect. Her main call, sure to fall on deaf ears, was for those involved parents to extend their involvement to the less fortunate children in our midst. To align with that thinking you will need to conjure a reality where all of DeKalb is our midst. Since the only time parents in Dunwoody give a rip about the Columbia High cluster is when they play DHS in basketball or football this whirled view isn't getting traction in daVille. Imagine how well it resonates with the City Schools movers and shakers.

Where Maureen really drops the ball is when she suggests that we level the playing field. Bad analogy. First, most folks who are at the peak of an uneven field see leveling as dragging us down. The other problem is that many of these same folks already feel over-taxed (DeKalb is over the legal limit, so hard to argue that one) and that their money is ill spent. They do not see a field to be leveled as much as swamp to be filled. And Dunwoody wants none of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Orange Is The New...

...Orange.

Progress marches on and some folks just don't want to get with the program. No this isn't about an outdated mode of human powered transportation this is about wireless connectivity of nearly everything. Phones, cars, even utility meters are getting their cellular on.

So what, you say? Who cares? Well apparently our Smart City Council does, that's who. In order to make this magical interweb of everything actually work you need to roll out a whole lot of cellular infrastructure. In this case microcells blessing many a phone pole around the town. Of course these microcells are pretty useless unless they are somehow connected to the interweb, which is done with some rather straightforward technology. It is called a wire, or if you want to get your geek on call it a "cable."

And here is where Council and the problem comes in. The Feds have regulations that not only allow cell phone companies to install these bad boys, they prevent local yokels from restricting them and even have shall issue deadlines even for those installs subject to some form of permitting. Once this roadblock was clearly presented to Council by the City Attorney, the follow on question was "Can we regulate the color of the cable?" Spoiler alert: the answer is "NO!" Now this might seem the height of silliness but we will refer you to a Council proposition to force fast food joints to install yellow jacket honey pots at each drive-thru for a deeper understanding of silliness.

We were saved from a rather long and contentious debate of acceptable colour palettes for pole-climbing cables (the orange things are actually conduits--the cables inside are black). Opinions would  fly fast and furious, City Attorney would have to restore order and someone would likely demand a list of Pantone numbers.

Or maybe not. This is Dunwoody. The cable should be beige.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Are We Getting Smarter?

Are we getting smarter or did we import it? Doesn't really matter does it?

One of the things Dunwoody did shortly after gathering up some tax money was to buy a bunch of solar powered radar speed signs. As we've pointed out at least some of these are located in a suboptimal location partly because solar panels don't work so well in the shade. Other observations include the City's steadfast refusal to locate these inside a school zone allowing the City to be rather dismissive when the public asks about speeding in these zones. They honestly cannot answer because they've refused to look.

That may be changing. At least out by the Linear Park.

Southbound CD currently has a sign situated on a shady turn pointed at traffic speeding from Spalding towards lovely downtown Dunwoody. It is north of the cross walk practice dummy and barely in sight of any indication there is a school zone in the offing.


The new location is just south of the "School Zone Ahead" sign. And in the sun.


When fleeing daVille, the current sign is at the uphill section of the Fairfield Oaks which had been hacked up by the City in an effort to grab a few rays.


The new location is actually inside the school zone just past the hilltop and yes, in the sun.


To what do we owe this Sudden Onset Sanity? Some say it was just a matter of time. Perhaps if you mean by "matter of time" you are referring to the amount of time needed to upgrade our City Manager and Assistant City Manager but that sure was a long time coming.

Thank goodness it is here. Now maybe we'll see a trend of Good Things done the Smart Way. Dare we hope for download page on the City website where we can download data from these radar signs?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Lying In Your Own Bed

The rhetoric emanating from police chiefs near and far is heating up of late and comes across as something of a knee-jerk reaction to the Black Lives Matter campaign. It is a classic case of "pound the table" because your argument is so full of holes you cannot "pound the case." And if people were not actually dying out there the back and forth would almost seem like a school yard argument. "Cops are out there shooting people!" "Oh, yeah, well cops are getting shot too!" Tragic. Cops are in the line of danger and they do get killed. But the inconvenient truth is the number of cops killed on the job has declined, precipitously of late, whilst the other side is seemingly unbounded.  Facts have a way of deflating rhetoric.

We are also hearing from these top cops how "good officers are leaving the profession." Initially this comes as a thinly veiled threat. "You think it is bad now, if you don't shut up it is only going to get worse." But underpinning this statement is the fact that police chiefs know they have good cops and by implication are knowingly retaining not-so-good cops else they'd just have a smaller force.

At the same time we seem to have a never ending stream of folks shot by cops in circumstances that simply cannot pass the reasonable man test. Even in the wild west shooting someone in the back was pretty much a slam dunk hanging offense. Until video surfaced that was not so much the case in North Charleston. Nowadays when it is a service weapon that is fired the blue wall comes up and it is a clean kill. Some will even brag about their marksmanship after killing a woman they've pinned down in a car as if they were some dentist taking a wild beast. Sadly some seem more outraged at the latter than the former.

And we've yet to hear a coherent explanation of officer shootings of drivers. How does it make sense to draw your weapon, drop the safety, take aim and fire at and kill an oncoming driver only to have to jump out of the path of what is now a completely uncontrolled vehicle? Wouldn't it make more sense to cut to the chase and get out of the SUV's path rather than subject bystanders and other occupants of the vehicle to your marksmanship? Deemed a clean kill nonetheless.

Normally the Defense Of All Things Police Contingency would trot out the "bad actor" explanation. But they can't. At least not in the Dunwoody case as we would certainly get rid of a bad actor wouldn't we? And beyond Dunwoody there have been too many incidents over too great a span of time and geography to blame this on a few bad apples or a couple of mismanaged departments. This is systemic. It is nationwide.

And it has been coming for some time.

It started when police departments became profit centers. Wielding firearms for pay is the very essence of mercenary and has no place in a civil society. Some would argue it has no place at all. They started with excessive ticketing then added fine increases and were emboldened by the lack of pushback from our elected officials, their bosses. A system of property confiscation without due process before and damn little after blew the lid off any concept of revenue caps. If it was out there it was theirs for the taking with no one to stop them. It is no wonder some officers think the badge places them above laws that bind the general public because apparently it does.

Should there ever be a slip-up, say getting caught on camera whilst planting evidence, we see police and prosecutors circling the wagons to protect their own, until irrefutable evidence surfaces that exposes the now-standard-procedure police-prosecutorial conspiracy. No matter how blatant or egregious the offense they see only a "thin blue line" separating police from increasingly uncivil civilians.

And then there's that.

Just when did we, the protected and served, become "civilians" and if we're civilians, then what are they? Make no mistake, that rhetoric drives a wedge between the public and the armed forces patrolling our streets. This is no thin blue line.

It seems like we became civilians around the time they armored up. First they started, in all their regalia and assault weapons, to SWAT at us. They continued their paramilitary expansion with tank-like armored vehicles. No doubt drones are next.

Then, police chiefs, at least in this area, decided a special kind of training was needed for their departments. The kind of training that is best found in a place like Israel which is under constant siege by governments and militants sworn to wiping them and their country from the face of the earth. Pretty much sounds like Dunwoody Village, don'tchathink? What could possibly be wrong with training a metro Atlanta suburban force how to treat the general public like they are Hezbollah? Given this, how can any police chief be so removed from reality as to think this would NOT engender public suspicion?

It would be easy to say "They made their beds. Now they have to lie in them." It would also be dismissive and deflective. We have allowed our politicians, police chiefs and their high ranking police staff to create an explosive situation just one spark away from blowing up our lives. The have hollowed out our forces with poorly trained and improperly deployed SWAT ninjas at the bottom and pumped up police potentates at the top. They have been left to their own devices, which has proven dangerous and when supervised by our current crop of elected officials they have been misguided and misdirected.

This fish has rotted at the head. It is time to remove many top ranking police officials and replace the rest. We need aggressive de-militarization. Where there are bad actors they must go. We need community integrated policing with more indians and fewer chiefs. And we need to be prepared to pay for it because the average officer out there doing the right job the right way is disgracefully under-compensated. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stumpy

If you remember way back when...when the buzz in daVille was all about a park with pavement and a parkway without (or at least with less) then you may also remember the wringing of hands over the loss of trees. Collateral damage due to the annihilation of the median where they were growing. We were told this cost was easily justified as a small sacrifice to build bike lanes for Torpy's One Percent*. We were also told that trees are the ultimate renewable resource. Funny how that's not being said to slash and burn farmers in the rain forests of South America.

But back to renewables. As it turns out these trees are quite renewable. A full six have been renewed down to mere stumps


with another ten standing brown and dead awaiting the arborist's axe. This represents a significant DOA rate, perhaps as high as thirty to forty percent. With that kind of failure we will be renewing these resources for some time before we see any shade on those sidewalks.

The City's stump generation program suggests that Smart City Staff did not obtain these renewables with any reasonable guarantee. You know, like what most folks get when they buy from a reputable nursery. Maybe they were too focused on getting pavement and sidewalk contracts to the right folks to realize if you don't get a warrantee you are likely to get selections most in need of one. Seems like the closest they ever got to anything having to do with trees was sipping Champagne with execs from Treetop.

But that was Staff operating under the direction and supervision of an unlamented former City Manager. Now we have a bloke smart enough to get into Georgia Tech and with the work ethic needed to cross the stage and pick up his diploma so there is a good chance we'll have some renewables renewed before next summer.





*Bill Torpy's At Large is behind the AJC's Pay Wall.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

How PC Can You Be?

A white and apparently quite good poet, Michael Derrick Hudson, from Fort Wayne Indiana (home of WOWO Radio) was attempting, without success, to get a poem published.

Then he became Chinese.

It was accepted for print and acclaimed as one of the best American poems for 2015. Without qualification. After forty publication rejections.

Now anyone who has aced a calculus course yet struggled thru a semester of lit knows how subjective, how touchy-feely the dark arts of literature can be. And none more so than poetry. So it comes as no surprise that what one subjective grader deems literary garbage is found by another to be a rare delicacy. But this change in acclaim correlates so strongly with the choice of a nom de plume (and a hyphenated-american one at that) as to border on causality that it has raised more than a few eyebrows.

For many this is just another example of Political Correctness run amok and perhaps it is. For others it suggests what they've long suspected (rightly or wrongly) that the bar for the select, the hyphenated is hardly even a tripping hazard while the white guy's hurdle is so high Fosbury couldn't flop over it. It does seem to speak to a pervasive PC culture that dictates outcomes on almost any criteria but merit. But this is nothing new.

One need only compare To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman. The former, an American Classic, is indeed a masterpiece whilst the latter seems a bit of a patchwork with gaps, weaker plot and character development, tho there are shining moments of the quality of writing that appears throughout TKAM. Is that the real or only difference? Does it fully explain why GSAW was rejected whilst TKAM ran the gauntlet of the publishing process? Were GSAW given the same attention, the same editorial support, subjected to the same review and revision as TKAM where would the real differences appear?

Perhaps it is more about the stories being told, when they were being told and to whom they were told. Perhaps the publishers at the time did not approve of the theme in GSAW whilst that of TKAM resonated with their views and aligned with their agenda even while some reviewers today, including African-Americans, claim GSAW is a more accurate depiction of the times in which it is set.

Is the problem with those of us raised in a PC society, a group taught to adore an elevated Atticus, that we simply cannot entertain that he might have been nobly dedicated to the process of law but not the delivery of justice? Does that shatter the righteousness they wished to be promoted when publishers deferred on one and selected the other? Do we need to be bitch-slapped out of our pollyannish political correctness and poured three fingers of reality?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sex Sells

Or does it? This is about all that catches the eye in an advert prominently displayed in Dunwoody village:


What exactly are they selling? It isn't buttons.

Friday, September 4, 2015

If Words Don't Matter...

...how can letters possibly matter? And if letters don't matter what can Capitalization mean?

Apparently not a thing.

Here in daVille AT&T has been pulling fiber* for the rollout of their U-Verse(R) with GigaPower(SM) High Speed Data service. Just how high speed? Well that's where words and letters and capitalization and all that stuff begins to matter. It is, as advertised, 1 Gbps.

But what is "1 Gbps?"

Well talking heads in the local media seem to think that is "one giga-byte per second" but AT&T make it quite clear that it is in fact "one giga-bit per second." Honest mistake right? Wrong. When the "b" in xbps is not capitalized it means "bits" and when you mean bytes you write xBps. To the average geek this is a big deal since we're talking a factor of eight difference in bandwidth, but to the average journalist this is about as significant as the distinction between semi-automatic and automatic when talking firearms.

How smart can we be when we get our information from the ignorant?



* In spite of the fact that AT&T/Bellsouth horizontal bored in empty conduit around the time of the Olympics AT&T is boring in MORE conduit for this deployment. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Can't PARK There


But you can install an obstructing pedestal.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

ACT Hypocrisy

Recent ACT results indicate that Georgia has clawed its way all the way up to mediocrity.

Pop the champagne.

The AJC moderates their inebriation by saying that "Georgia can finally take comfort," as apparently they feel mediocrity is a good place to be and from a relative perspective they may be right. State School's Superintendent Richard Woods all but wets himself with excitement saying "These results are a testament to the hard work of our teachers."

Hold yer horses there Dickie. What happened to the mantra of the dark days when all we, the public, heard was how teachers are not responsible for [poor] performance, that there are circumstances beyond their control like poverty and missing or inattentive parents? We were to understand that educators only have these students for a few hours a day and could in no way be expected to overcome these other, more influential elements. Will we only hear that when declining scores must be announced?

Here's the problem with government bureaucrats and politicians, no matter whether it is the VA or public education: the minute there is the slightest improvement, even one that is statistically insignificant, they are grabbing the credit, but upon the merest suggestion of decline they obfuscate and deflect any of the responsibility.

Is it any wonder the public neither trusts nor respects these government agencies and their agents?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Good Renters Are Hard To Find

You would think that an advert right on Chamblee Dunwoody Road would bring in a lot of renters so you'd not see this sign often or for long.


You might also think it would attract the attention of someone at City Hall, perhaps someone in code enforcement. You would be wrong. Since this is not the first time this basement rental has appeared on the market there must be some special part of our zoning or a special dispensation from Smart City Hall.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Franchise Fees: With Interest

Probably the most enduring post on TOD is Franchise Fees 101 and it is generally assumed this is due to folks trying to figure out how much the plunge into the deep end of the citihood pool is going to cost. It must be noted that other diatribes on these taxes (What Do Franchise Fees Buy? and Franchise Fees: What Are They Good For?) see little or no traffic.

Perhaps when the reader figures out that it is just another tax from just another taxing authority they give up. They may not even go so far as to learn that even the cable companies are now on a statewide franchise whilst the local yokels keep dragging in the money. So you pay and you pay and you cannot even go down to City Hall to raise a stink over that cable that has been lying across your yard for the last four months. Not their problem, take it up with the State. Oh, and good luck with that.

Or maybe they just total up the cost of Franchise Fees and shrug "this is chump change." It is. In comparison to the other costs (think of FARA writing Home Alarm Registration city ordinances) foisted on you by your newly minted and inexperienced (incompetent?) City Council that would indeed be the case. The fact of the matter is that Franchise Fees are the least of your worries if you're being driven like cattle into the slaughterhouse of Citihood.

Do not let Franchise Fees distract from more dangerous problems. A quick survey can be found in Shout Out To Frederick County, MD. It is incomplete but it is a good start.

You might also look to the track record of nearby upstart Cities, particularly Dunwoody and Brookhaven if you're forming your new circle of governmental hell in DeKalb County. Dunwoody has recently employed the sneaky back-door tax increase by keeping the same millage rate but refusing to craft a revenue neutral (lower millage) tax. This allows politicians to say "we did not raise the tax rate." Legal but deceptive and exactly what they've complained about for decades when the county does it. Then there's Brookhaven. Riding in on their moralistic white horse to joust with the strip clubs only to come out of the engagement muddy and bloody but with saddlebags overflowing with lucre. We'll not go into how quickly Lysol can stain a reputation.

We'll blast past it. 

The real canary in these mine shafts is the City Attorney. If not directly involved in founding these cities they are at least well connected to the powers behind them. And that both Dunwoody's and Brookhaven's CAs have gone down in flames leaving a dark trail of ethical smoke should give anyone even pondering a vote FOR another city like these (and they're all like these) considerable pause. Who are these people? Consigliere? And who the hell are they beholden to, our local version of a political Mafia?

Now you're catching on.

These cities are based on a particularly nasty foundation of greed and a lust for power because to a large degree this is a zero sum game. In their scratching and clawing to get "their share" they will set aside the truth in favour of convincing prevarications, what little integrity they  have will disappear and any transparency will be thru their distorting prism.

Though the citihood outcome is unavoidable there is a way out. Push for an amendment to allow these cities to form their own schools. Now these schools won't be any better (probably worse) but there are enough lemmings out there who will race to the cliff of "local control" that your home value will see a significant bump. Remember the end of busing (aka M to M)? Same thing, only more so. Once the bump kicks in and before the fools realize City Schools are same song second stanza, you cash out. Just get the hell out of Crazy Towne.