Monday, September 28, 2015


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...


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 No this isn't about an outdated mode of human powered transportation this is about wireless connectivity of nearly everything.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


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... 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.