Monday, December 31, 2018

Start To Finish

Victorian Start ... Inevitable Destination

Thursday, December 27, 2018

God Didn't Make Li'l Green's Apples

DeKalb County Schools have an exceptional HR department. Year over year, no matter who the Superintendent, regardless of BOE or SACS oversight, our schools seem unstoppable in seeking out, hiring and defending some of the baddest apples in the teacher barrel. While Carl Hudson Jr. is the latest holding DCSD HR's Medal of Dishonor, he is merely the latest [known] in a long chain of bum hires. Recency is the disturbing issue primarily because his hiring comes after personnel and process changes meant to shut down this septic pipeline of bad hires. And yet a simple Google search of the candidate's name reveals the past drug arrest:

He resigned shortly after being called out by an internet-savvy public, something he is apparently quite good at. In the face of this epic fail, the District expressed the utmost, almost Trumpian, confidence in their hiring process. We're doing great! But this isn't the worst part. Other than self-congratulatory praise all DCSD will say on the matter is that his meth arrest would not eliminate him [or presumably any other candidate] from consideration. Is it possible that DCSD considers drug arrests a good way to improve teaching staff? Or is this an admission that DCSD considers itself a pipeline to prison? Or maybe street drugs are another of Dr. Green's wraparound services since unreliable access to meth clearly undermines learning.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Mister Kaepernick Goes To Washington

Recently discussions between Colin "Take A Knee" Kaepernick and the Washington Redskins seem to have gone pear-shaped. At the eleventh hour it seems that the sometimes wannabe quarterback realized that he simply could not take the field wearing a jersey with such an offensive name and insisted it be changed. After a moment of confusion he clarified: "I'm talking about Redskins, not Kaepernick."

Reaction was quick and unfavorable. Upon hearing of Colin's demand of a Redskins name change one infuriated fan tweeted: "Who does he think he is? Michael Vick?" Another, a season ticket holder, remarked: "Doesn't seem that football is his top priority. Maybe he shouldn't be ours."

It looks like the Redskins opened an early Christmas present.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Dumb And Dumber

It has been a bad couple of weeks for the local education industry. DeKalb schools, attempting to evade any accountability for hiring a suicidal teacher with questionable sexual predilections, confesses ignorance of a fairly common industry practice: teacher certification. Was their hire really a teacher? A REAL teacher? And yet sans certification? The district claims they thought the certification he acquired, after the start of school, was somehow magically backdated to 1 July. Such flexibility with reality certainly explains other recent actions.

In an expansive riff on the "You Breed 'em, We Feed 'em" educrat anthem,  the Green Machine is now going to feed 'em two squares and a snack three hundred sixty five a year. Actually even the Green Machine takes the weekends off and dinner is off the plate as a fully comprehensive program would infringe on SNAP. This is the same old fig leaf, "hungry kids don't learn," used to mask the fact that "public schools don't teach" all the while maintaining unfettered access to our purses.

Deflection and deceit have been key tools for some decades. Look no further than the Ritalin epidemic-allegedly a therapeutic remedy for a "disease." A disease for which there is no clinical, repeatable test. No MRI or CAT scan evidence can be obtained. There is no blood test. No DNA evidence. But all you need to do is ask a teacher who gets the chemical handcuffs and on they go. Is this part of the Green Machine's "wrap around" service or just another way of saying the failure to teach shouldn't be held against the schools?

Regardless, it is an epidemic. Recent media reports indicate that twenty percent, one-in-five, of college freshmen arrive on campus under the influence of psychotropic drugs. And what is the media response? Colleges should provide more support services, mimicking the disaster that public schools have wrought, with Georgia Tech squarely in their sights. In their world, folks suffering from mental illness who readily fold under the stress of an actual, rigorous eduction should be given every possible concession on their way to a not-so-well-earned diploma. For those not in the know, most schools already have a "disability resource center" and the most fragile and delicate "scholars" get time and a half on all evaluations without any supporting research suggesting this does anything but appease whiners.

Perhaps Ma Tech should do an analysis and address the root of the problem-that students are being admitted who are not prepared to compete at Tech. Tech should take necessary steps to ensure that students are prepared mentally and emotionally for a Tech experience and that those who are not will take other opportunities--just as they always have when examining academic preparedness. The career of a typical Tech grad isn't littered with time-and-a-half handouts because someone is just too stressed out. To emulate the failures of the DeKalb school system would destroy Ga Tech and be a great disservice to tax payers. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Winter Is Coming...

...but not for the 'shrooms.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Restorah Menorah

Remember the Sayonara Menorah? The one that led the city and the DPT to expel the Menorah and the Christmas Tree from the Farmhouse exiling them to the Dog House across the street. Justification at the time suggested a fear that someone might ask the courts to intercede on behalf of the U.S. Constitution and the people it protects. But this city has grown in plain old fashion political arrogance to the point they no longer fear that Constitution or its defenders.

In holding itself above all others this city has reversed the previous decision by installing a Christmas Tree and Menorah in City Hall. Perhaps they'll argue that the Christmas Tree is just a tree. And the Menorah just an electric candelabra, somewhat broken in that many of the lights don't work much of the time and it takes their electrician nearly a week to get it fixed. Yet all the lights on the tree always work suggesting some preference on the part of the city therefore these cannot be religious icons as such a preference would be just plain wrong.

Obviously, in this city's view, these are not religious symbols. Assume they're correct. What this reversal actually symbolizes is the recurring incompetence of the city itself. Never ending tax increases. Police shootings. Bungled crime investigations. Civil rights violations at every turn. Refusal to enforce ordinances. Seeking the losing end of court battles. Ethical breaches ending in dismissals and judicial face-slaps. Given all that, thumbing their collective nose at the Constitution of the United States seems oddly appropriate and at the very least is consistent.

Let's hope someone gets the bright idea to hook up the tree and the candelabra and this union brings forth a burning bush from which a voice of high moral authority will speak, saying unto the greedy and corrupt gathered there: "Shut This City DOWN!" Were that to come to pass this would be a blessed holiday season. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

How Appropriate[d]!

Let 'em eat cake!

So say the Lords and Ladies from Their Gilded Palace. Their self-congratulatory party was rained out so now they call upon the little people to come to the Palace to eat cake.  For fifteen minutes, then you're dismissed. Again.

The Borgias would serve better. At least then  you'd know what you're getting. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Graduation Chazerai

DeKalb County Schools hold their graduation ceremony enmasse and consequently NOT in DeKalb County as there is no venue large enough and, at least this year, not on the usual date as the GWC was booked. Oops. This has some parents pretty darn upset with some suggesting having a separate graduation ceremony and location per high school. Others have floated the radical and unacceptable idea of holding graduations in churches. Definite no-no.

But all the hubbub raises an obvious question: are school systems in Georgia mandated by law to hold commencement ceremonies? Probably not. So the obvious solution is to dispense with whole Cluster-Eff this meaningless party has become. Just mail out the diplomas. In fact, there is some evidence you can mail them out at the beginning of the year. Year over year the credibility of the diploma has eroded so the end of school party is really just that: a party.

So why not let the folks who want to party hold their own party? That's right. Get rid of the school hosted graduation ceremonies and let interested parents organize and host their own. Maybe thru their own church or other local organizations. Once the government hand is off the till there is no church-state issue, opening up access to a large number of mega-churches. Maybe New Birth will have a re-birth.

Eliminating school system ceremonies like this will free that much more money to spend in the classroom, where it should be spent. Who wants to bet that is what Dr. Green's Machine is going to do?

Monday, December 3, 2018

What ARE They Doing?

Another condemnation of public schools comes by way of the AJC. This time it is the Atlanta Public Schools highlighting their own failure asking for $11.9M for an academy to prepare students for college and the workforce. No. Really. Really? What the hell do they normally do? You know, with the over three-quarters of a BILLION dollars in their general budget? Apparently what they are NOT doing is preparing high school students for college or the workforce. Rest assured, ready or not, those APS students got or will get an APS high school diploma. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

It's Just OK

It seems like every time you turn around something old is newly re-branded as racist. According to recent reports spewing from the increasingly incompetent mainstream news outlets white supremacists have a way to signal solidarity. To hear them tell it this is now a symbol of racism:

Only one problem with that. It simply is not true. Turns out it is a hoax perpetrated by 4Chan.

Says who? Well none other than the Anti-Defamation League has exposed the hoax. You'd think sharing a leftward tilt with the ADL that mainstream media would be all over pumping up their credibility creds. But ratings mean money and a tantalizing lie is worth more than a boring truth. And that's OK by them. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Why All The Mushrooms?

We in The Other Dunwoody thought that was obvious but we've been informed that it is very much not obvious. Obviously.

So what of the lowly mushroom? Good place to start. Mushrooms are not mistletoe. 'Shrooms grow on the ground, mistletoe gloriously high in trees. Folks look down on 'shrooms and up to mistletoe. They see a 'shroom and wonder "is that thing even safe?" and with mistletoe they say "give us a kiss."

Mushrooms live on the ground...actually the mycelium lives below the surface. Mushrooms must make do with the rotting detritus of the trees, with their mistletoe, that lord over them. Mushrooms are kept in the dark.

What better symbol of this city than the "Fungus Among Us?" A city working to ensure citizenry is kept in the dark and fed the rotten verbal detritus of our Lords and Ladies with their clingy toadies...a citizenry that somehow manages to thrive despite it all.

That mushrooms grow so well 'round these parts should be a clue.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Let The Backdoor Hit You In The Backside. Please!

Fulton governments...and consequently those politicians...are in a bind regarding property tax bills. Politicians are blaming market forces, almost the same as blaming the taxpayers themselves, and have worked to institute an assessment freeze as some form of "relief." Fulton isn't unique. Other local governments, including Dunwoody, have been reaping the ill-gotten back door tax increases for decades.

Pretty un-American for a bunch of dimwit politicians to hold themselves above an open and free market, but there is more at work here. First is the blame storm and to the extent that politicians control the dialogue it is anything but their fault. Then there is the bald-faced greed that permeates politics of our day. And this is where it really is on the politicians...they own this.


Because market forces are outside their control. While they hate that, it is a simple, undeniable fact. Market prices are driven by what someone is willing to offer and what someone else is willing to accept. Not what some pol or his bureaucratic henchmen dictate. But pols do have control over something other than their rhetoric. They have direct control over our tax bills. They approve budgets and they set millage rates. They. Own. This.

Respect those who vote--set a revenue neutral millage rate. Respect the market--set a revenue neutral millage rate. And if they don't have the integrity, the character, to set a revenue neutral millage rate they shouldn't let the door hit them in the ass on their way out...of office.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What I Hear You Saying Is...

As pointed out in a recent guest post folks no longer use words based on meaning and consequently are no longer even attempting to communicate meaning. Instead they're communicating feelings...if it sounds good, well then it is good. Right?

Ground zero for this societal semantic epidemic is right here in Dunwoody.


What does this REALLY mean? "Everything will be OK" is a future projection...a prediction. But if that is indeed what the future holds, some unspecified future, then what of today?

One thing is certain: things are definitely NOT OK now.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Somethin' Ain't Wright Here

In his first contested race Ken Wright has muffed it. It should have been an easy catch for the home town boy done good but he just muffed it.

What are we to make of this?

Mere ineptitude? Guns, booze and foreign exchange students a hard act to top? Or are the Blue Pant Suits right and this is a red tide washed clean by a blue wave? That would be a larger, almost national, context.

But there is a narrower context. Closer to home. Maybe this is the part of "local control" that Dan and Fran and others did not really expect. Former Mayor Wright was one of the anointed crusaders of the citihood movement. When there was one. Since Dunwoody, the "Hey Alexa-make me a city" movement has petered out with the failure of Cliffside and now the smack-down of Eagles Landing. Maybe folks inside and nearby have been watching Dunwoody and don't like what they see.

Maybe they don't like increased costs and ever rising taxes. Maybe they don't like deterioration of services, particularly police who are increasing obsessed with social media over community service. Maybe they don't like the absence of any consideration of quality of life issues. Maybe they just see another bunch of government pols and bureaucrats who are beholden to rich, powerful outsiders and who see voters as folks to feed convenient lies so they get raises and re-elected.

Maybe in the Smart City we just had a referendum on stupid. If so, we won.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Why Are YOU Here?

Not HERE...reading this blog...that's severe boredom. But why are you here, living in Dunwoody? One opinion, presented in the Blue Bag Rag, suggests that for many it may be the schools:
"We need leaders that will champion our public schools, a central reason why so many of us moved here."
Objective data do not suggest this assertion results from informed or sound reasoning. Not the "need" part of the assertion but the "reason" end of the equation. And yet the author, whose agenda is waving the blue flag in the red zone, is not alone in coming to this educational desert for the academic waters.

Can that many people really be drunk on the Koolaid?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Law Of Southern Discourse

Back in the days of analog modems, online chat rooms and bang path email addresses there was Godwin's Law. Even then, when only the brighter among us had internet access, online discourse degenerated and according to Godwin, ultimately ending with someone, or someone's argument,  being somehow related to Nazis or Hitler. Or both.

My how times have changed.

Internet speeds are faster and technology more pervasive driving online conversations from "flame-on" to "flame-out" in the blink of an eye. And, as the Greatest Generation fades into graves and from the memory of those whose freedoms they secured the currency of "you're a Nazi" has faded with them. Godwin's Law has been replaced with the Law of Southern Discourse (LSD).

The LSD could be viewed as a derivative form of  Godwin's with "Nazi" replaced by "Racist" but using the same tactic to recover from, by ending, a losing rhetorical engagement. LSD is, as everything seems to be these days, most closely associated with political issues and what is more political than matters of our public schools. This area of discourse is particularly susceptible due to historical issues around segregation and white flight, the hidden politics of what is allegedly a non-partisan government bureaucracy and the fact that parents' children are in play. Monetization of the Civil Rights Movement left society without a platform for intelligent discourse with the vacuum filled by shouting and hashtag hysterics.

The LSD differs from Godwin's largely in degree...severity of execution. LSD-ers a enormously self-righteous, entitled, immune to logic and allergic to facts. They are lightening quick to overreaction, vehement in their condemnation and severe in their demands for complete annihilation of those with whom they, often without material justification, take umbrage. They are interweb vigilantes acting as judge, jury and executioners in the virtual world, summarily, seemingly arbitrarily, executing those who meet with their displeasure.

They're like Nazis.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Guest Post: Beaten With A Culture Club

We interrupt our regular programing for a PSA from outside The Other Dunwoody. Unedited and without further ado...

culture, noun. the cultivation of microorganisms, as bacteria, or of tissues, for scientific study, medical use, etc.; the product or growth resulting from such cultivation.
Some bacteria is good. Probiotics (allegedly) are good bacteria. Some bacteria is...not so good. Staph comes to mind.

Of course, that's not the only meaning of the word culture.
culture, noun. the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
This is where we get the idea of "pop culture". This is why almost every newspaper has some section related to "Arts and Culture". This definition really all but excludes the sciences, but we'll even grant it the "human intellectual achievement" part. Why not?

That's it, though. Those are the only two definitions of "culture" (at least according to google).

Now, while these arguably are the only two definitions, there are more uses of the word. People on college campuses LOVE to use that word. Here are a few instances from my own life, and from colleagues who wish to remain even more anonymous.
  • "It's the culture here to handhold our scholars through their lifelong journeys of education and development." (spoken by a Dean telling a faculty member to be more flexible with students handing in work late)
  • "Just to tell you a bit about the culture, typically someone in my position does not grade homework." (spoken by a TA to the professor they "work" for)
  • "Well, my other professors give us typed notes of lectures. Isn't that the culture?" (spoken by many students to many professors)
  • "It's not that he's necessarily a misogynist. He's just Russian, and you have to understand their culture." (spoken by a male superior regarding a male insubordinate to a female colleague)
In each of these instances, the speaker did NOT mean the word "culture" (you might think in some weird way the Russian case was the closest appropriate use, want to talk about a comment that insults absolutely everyone involved...).

These speakers mostly meant the word "custom":
custom, noun. a traditional and widely-accepted way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time.
So why not use the correct "custom" over the incorrect "culture"? Simple. "Custom" implies tradition, tradition implies stuck-in-your-ways, stuck-in-your-ways implies inflexible, inflexible implies intolerant, and that's just bad. Even if it's what you really mean--you can't use the word nowadays without risking sounding like a bigoted oaf. "Culture", on the other hand, implies intellectual and well-rounded, intellectual and well-rounded imply of-the-world, of-the-world implies open-minded, open-minded implies good. Moreover, using the good word "culture" in reprimanding or dismissing conversations makes the person being reprimanded and dismissed feel in the wrong. Who can say you're an oaf when you're winning TWICE?!

But this is creating a wide-spread issue. Words are no longer being used because of their definitions, but because of their connotations, because of the feelings they elicit. This makes listening to others remarkably confusing--what is this person really trying to say? It also makes speaking a frightening thought--what if you don't realize a word you're using has a connotation that's going to come back to haunt you? Even I have to admit, after 15 years as a student and faculty member of various colleges, I hear/read the word "culture" and cringe.

If you're unconvinced that these seemingly minor things are having an impact, let me present one more bit of evidence (which I will completely admit right now is personal). I do contract work for a company providing pay-by-the-course online classes for 3rd thru 11th graders. The classrooms are chat-based with no video or audio. Weekly all online course instructors get a newsletter with "tips of the week" and other typical newsletter items. Here is one recent tip from a fellow online course instructor:
Teaching in the classroom happens in real time, so it's natural to make a conversational remark here and there. However, be aware of the impression your words leave on students and the classroom environment you’re creating.

For example, in a younger class, there was this [idea] that we covered, and after passing some students' positive comments about the [material], I said something like, "Yeah, it is an intriguing [idea]."  The students then began to [use] that word, "intriguing," later on in the lesson. It made me realize the impact that my descriptors have, and made me want to be more careful to ensure that my descriptors are as accurate and positive as possible.
We are joking, right?

Once more unto the lexicographic breach (but I'll take it away from here). "Intriguing" means creating a sense of intrigue. Intrigue has as synonyms fascination, wonderment, and curiosity. I will now argue that especially in a classroom setting, this word being used by faculty and student alike is GOOD. And yet this example of the use of the word "intrigue" is in a paragraph in the "pro-tip" section for online course instructors which ends with the punchline that descriptors need to be as "positive as possible".

Clearly (though this is a low blow) at least one person does not know what the word "intrigue" means. But doesn't it make you wonder what inappropriate prior uses of that word have made the pro-tip writer think it's so negative? What word was actually meant instead? Is it not sad that an instructor uses the word "intriguing" in a classroom and almost immediately regrets it?

Just remember: "culture" is a plate of bacteria. Not a socially-accepted form of traditionalism to which you must conform. Don't follow the culture--you're a better life form.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dunwoody Refurb

Recently the Blue Bag Rag reported our Mayor lecturing on the relative cost benefits of refurbishing existing buildings rather than doing a teardown-rebuild:
Mayor Denis Shortal said that space in Dunwoody is expensive, hard to find and would have to be built. To refurbish is usually cheaper than to build from scratch, Shortal said.
This was true when the theatre at Brook Run was torn down and it is true now. We didn't need to spend tax dollars on a consultant to tell us that. We didn't need to spend money tearing down a theatre but since we did let's not waste money building another one. Let's accept the reality, as demonstrated by a six to one vote, that this city had no compelling interest in the arts.

If council have changed their minds, individually or collectively, voters deserve an accounting.  And council deserves to be shown the door. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Nailed It!

To a pole:

Signs nailed to phone poles in the same week folks down at Taj Mahal nearly dislocated joints patting themselves on the back over what a great job they think they do. They cannot keep their own signs up and the illegal ones out. Only in government is that just cause for a raise. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tale Of Two Cities

A Heartfelt Welcome
A Hollow Threat

Monday, October 8, 2018

THEY Said It

They Don't Think We're So Smart
Nailed It!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Libertarians And Government

What They Wanted
What They Got

Monday, October 1, 2018

No Constitution For New Cities

A judge threw out video evidence unconstitutionally obtained by the Dunwoody Police Department in their ill-conceived and poorly executed prostitution sting. Now we find that the Georgia Supreme Court has reversed a murder conviction because the Milton PD refused to recognize the suspect's Miranda rights, an action the justices characterized as 'incomprehensible' and 'scary' in arguments put forth to rationalize this blatant attack on civil and constitutional rights.

What these cloistered justices do not understand is these new cities see themselves as sovereigns above and beyond any other law or constitution--state or U.S., it doesn't matter. These cities are operated that way by people who think that way, including those otherwise sworn to honor and uphold the laws and constitutions of this state and country. Higher courts must remain vigilant unless and until the state intercedes to remedy, by re-organization or dissolution, these "failed state" cities. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Is The Eagle Landing?

Supporters of the proposed city of Eagle's Landing are trotting out the same tired excuses used in the run-up to Dunwoody: keep tax money close at hand; add parks and libraries; and boost police and code enforcement. Just as we look northward to Roswell, perhaps the good voters of Stockbridge should look north to us, asking Dr. Phil's famous question: "how's that working for you?"

Taxes have done nothing but increase. Keep in mind, some off-the-rail Eaglets are claiming there will be no "municipal taxes" from which one can only conclude there will be every other kind of tax imaginable. Then there is the police issue. It will start small, too small, to encourage a positive vote. Then the force will grow exponentially, dominating the budget. If it follows the trend in Dunwoody, there will, ironically, be a decrease in policing within the community. Instead, expect lots of virtual policing in the world of social media. Code enforcement? In Dunwoody that is a joke. A very bad joke. It won't be too long before city staff and members of council don't even understand what the ordinances mean. That is where Dunwoody is today.

Before anyone votes into existence yet-another-city they should create a list of all the times where more government is a good thing. It is a very short list. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

How It Might Look

In reference to re-creating a position to re-hire former Chief of Police Turner with the position to be initially funded by the Atlanta Hawks, Howard Shook remarked:
"Has anyone wondered how it might look to have the same people lobbying for the Gulch deal providing the city with a thing of value?"
Maybe the smart folk inhabiting smart city Taj Mahal can offer a clue or two. Seems the smart city is in a similar position with the Brothers Crim, who want something--gutting the village overlay, and offer something--a promise to pay nearly a million dollars for a city asset. No one at the smart city has raised an eyebrow. Not even when the Good Bro's insisted on a delay on the payment side of the equation. Total coincidence that the permission to build their faux-factory building across from the farmhouse has been similarly delayed.

In the city to the south the pols on the finance committee agreed with Mr. Shook and put a stop to the arrangement. The smart city either figures no one is watching or no one cares. They certainly don't. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Suburban Re-Re Development

The Brothers Crim are in da house. In the event you've been visiting family in Argentina or have been otherwise distracted, you may not be aware that the Brothers Crim are pulling the strings down at City Taj Mahal making the mayor, council and staff dance like some of Geppetto's best.

Outside of Taj Mahal they've not been batting a thousand. Most recently they failed to round up a restauranteur whose cuisine was good enough to overcome what the Dear Brothers perceive as an out-dated Williamsburg exterior. They do say you eat first with your eyes, but these Bros are taking that a bit too far. 

Before that, the Brothers Crim had committed to take some property near Project Renaissance off the city's books. But commitments come and commitments go. So, once again, the fraternal brain trust could not round up suitable tenants for Dunwoody Green. Kind of put the slow down on their get rich quick scheme, even with the financial assistance of the city.

Keep in mind these are the folks who threatened to install undesirable tenants in the heart of the village if they didn't get their way. Now it is looking like they can't round up any tenants even when their money depends on it. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Do You STILL Believe?

Before the fateful referendum, Fran (of Fran and Dan fame) had a conversation with a member of The Other Dunwoody who felt things were moving a bit too fast. Fran ended that conversation by saying "don't you just believe we'll be better off as a City?"

And now here we are. Sure, we got a new parkway. But we also got a rapid slide into a lower level of service, particularly with regards to code enforcement and police presence. It is worth noting that a call to 911 will come up empty on the code enforcement front because that isn't what cops are for. They're shuckin' and jivin' in a lip sync contest.

So Fran, what have you wrought?

The Penzoil Sign (at the right) is STILL Illegal
Moving the sign onto the grass may have opened up the sidewalk but it remains out of compliance with city ordinances. After all, THIS is what we were promised.

Last Work By Norman Rockwell
So, yeah, moving the offending sign allows these folk their promised right of passage. But we are obviously still not paying folks at the City Taj Mahal enough to get the job done. JiffyLube may well have pastured the Penzoil sign but they also offer us this.

That's right. TWO illegal signs. You just have to wonder who is getting a lube job. Oh, and does Fran STILL believe?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

They Call It A Sign Walk...

...we call it the Walk Of Shame.

Cannot Be A Sidewalk, Can It?
So, how much do we have to pay to get a city that provides their committed services? Keeping in mind that this sign has been in this location, blocking this sidewalk on the beloved Village Parkway for several days. What pay scale does it take to get ordinances enforced?

Perhaps we're already paying too much and higher salaries are not the solution. Perhaps we have more than one problem. Maybe the salaries are low but equally matched by low capabilities and even lower work ethic. Maybe money would be better spent on fewer, better employees at higher compensation.

One thing is certain. We aren't getting what we are paying for but we are sure as hell paying for what we are getting.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Everybody Gets A Raise

The city is preparing to give everyone on payroll a pay hike with the preparation, beyond the initial decision, comprising a commissioned study supporting their decision to increase salaries. At least they get what they pay for.

But do we?

The study itself, while somewhat boilerplate in presentation, content and methodology, is not entirely unreasonable. There is a section of "peer" governments to which Dunwoody compares complete with percentiles, quartile, hell, more tiles than Floor and Decor. It is the peerage where things unravel quite a bit. Largely driven by geography, somewhat by demographics, we see the likes of Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Brookhaven and the mayor's beloved Roswell. All good, but that it leaves that nagging question unanswered: do we, the mere residents of Dunwoody, do we get what we pay for?

You see, bureaucracies, particularly government bureaucracies like relativism over absolutes. Especially when it comes to bumping their payroll. So they are more than happy to compare what a bureaucrat in Roswell gets paid to what a similar bureaucrat is being paid in Dunwoody. Especially when it suggest the Dunwoody Aeron Driver should get a bump. The alternative is to compare merit, even relative. In fact, the only comparison readily available to residents is relative.

Do we get what we're paying for now? Relative to what folks in Doraville, Roswell or Alpharetta receive? Will paying more put us on par with the city's self-selected peers with regards to service or will we simply pay more for the service we're now receiving? And lest someone suggest that we are already getting more than we pay for TOD will challenge you to survey residents of, say, Roswell regarding that city's control of clutter, ordinance enforcement and compliance, traffic control and general quality of life. If the Village would be enormously improved by emulating Roswell then perhaps there are operations at City Hall that could benefit similarly.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Family Feud... know, as in "Survey Says." Recently someone at City Taj Mahal kicked off just that. Who exactly did this or pushed for it is unknown, about as unknown as details on who actually completed the survey. Online surveys are built like that. And here is a real shocker: the survey says everyone wants the Village Overlay gutted and they really want the area to look like Canton Street in Roswell. Georgia. Just like the mayor has always waxed poetic about. Now it may be that a lot of respondents actually live in Roswell and like it. Maybe a few folk filled out the survey many, many times. Online surveys are built like that. Now if the City really wants to know what we think there would be a referendum on the upcoming ballot. Don't hold your breath.

So the mayor loves Roswell and yet, doesn't live there. Seems fixable.

Nonetheless there is much this city can learn from our neighbor to the north. First would be signs and code enforcement. Up north, you better get your sign approved, apply that sticker, or you are going to get fined. Hefty fine at that. Oh, and this is not just a do as I say, pretty please, these folks really will come to your home or place of business and write you a citation. They also have traffic enforcement. And not just right on Canton Street, but even in the neighborhoods where people live and kids play. Not only do they enforce truck zones they are notorious for keeping a lid on infractions as minor as rolling thru a stop sign. Don't even think about that illegal u-turn. Oh, and those construction sites and trucks? Thinking about tracking some mud on that city's streets, well, think again. Do that and you are going to get a very large fine. So what happens when ordinances are actually enforced? People obey the law. And the city is a nicer place.

So maybe instead of taking dictation from developers who insist on reworking the overlay to look like Canton Street maybe the mayor and council could focus on the important things that actually make a real city. If they focused on that then perhaps what follows wouldn't be just superficial appearances.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Men At Work

Are Women NOT Allowed?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Found Art Foundry

Dunwoody has long been known for its Arts Festival where folks can wander about and get information on kitchen remodeling, window replacement and home equity loans to pay for it all. Now a group of residents have caught the art bug and have formed a non-profit to encourage the collection, curation and presentation of "Found Art" in public spaces. The head and co-founder of Dunwoody's Found Art Foundry, Steve Butterworth could hardly contain his excitement saying "we're bringing out art previously rejected as unwanted imbuing the community with a uniform sensitivity for these previously unwanted artists and their art." His partner and co-founder, Ruddy Kalman added "all too often we filter out the extraordinary beauty of our environment and what we hope is for the community to open themselves to new art that offers a more universal guidance, helping us navigate the complexities of modern life."

So what is the Found Art Foundry? Well it is an increasingly cohesive amalgam of local activists and artists who have joined together to use readily available materials "found" in the public domain to create art for public display. As Ruddy describes it "we're taking public eyesores, creating compelling art and returning this to public spaces."

Sounds like a win-win-win. Here is how it works. Artists, along with a growing group of volunteer helpers, routinely scour the city collecting illegally displayed signs. These signs are then used to compose an artistic collage--writ large--again for all to see. You may already have noticed the positive community impact with the removal of illegal signage of all shapes, types and forms: from not-yet-open businesses to flamboyant (and flagrant) booster groups but what you cannot yet see is the work going on to transform these eyesores into soaring works of art.

We can hardly wait. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hickory House Returns

Well not exactly, but BBQ is on the way back to the village. And it would appear that the bank that took over the Olde Hickory House location is folding its tent and moving out. Or so one must conclude from the sign being located on that bank's property.

Illegal Seven Ways To Sunday
The sign is clearly in violation of Dunwoody's Ordinances, specifically Section 20-67 regarding temporary signs like the one above. And what does that section say? Glad you asked.

Key elements of the ordinance include:
  • "(2) Each board must be located within ten feet of a pedestrian entrance of the sponsor of the board;"
  • "(3) Such a board may be utilized only during the hours of operation of the store or entity using it and shall be removed during the hours it is closed.
This sign is located nowhere near any pedestrian entrance to any business let alone within ten feet. Then the sign condemns itself indicating that the business is not yet in operation so therefore "shall be removed" because the business is closed.

Looks pretty bad, doesn't it? Like someone is planning to lower the average IQ in this Smart City of ours. Or, could it be something else? Perhaps this is less illiteracy, ignorance and arrogance and simply a game of "follow the leader." As it happens, at the very same time, the City of Dunwoody put out their illegal sign.

A Blatant Violation Of City Code
To make it even better, the City's illegal sign was to advertise a meeting to go over proposed changes to the Village Overlay. At this point it is worth noting that the sign ordinance the City has violated is not specific to the Village Overlay but applies equally throughout the City.

Rumor has it that a mere citizen pointed out the illegality of this sign as it was being placed and was later informed by a member of council that said council member "disagreed." Can said member NOT read? Or is it a comprehension problem? Or is it simply a capability issue? Regardless, the law is in clear, plain language and anyone who cannot read and understand that ordinance and see that these signs are in clear violation has no place at City Hall. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fool's Gold

What is Dunwoody Village? That is the question of the moment and when posed by the folks we have on our payroll, it is a rhetorical question because city staff is going to do what they are told. By the developers.  But really, what is Dunwoody Village?

Well to look at the map it is a relatively small area centered around the Chevron station that started it all. Exclusively businesses but unless the map changes the upcoming Postal Townhouses on The Parkway will add "live" to work-play in the overlay. That's the geography but what is this Village? From a resident's perspective--you know the folks that live around here, shop there and keep the place alive?

You gotta start with Banks. Bankwoody has replaced Dunwoody Housewife Jokes as the Dunwoody Dig. And yes there are plenty of banks but keep in mind some have relocated keeping the net-net under control. And banks can be useful, especially if you want to buy a house or a car. Know what else is handy? Real estate agents and the village has quite the selection of those. And sneaking under the radar is a rather recent growth in law firms--in the farmhouse and over on The Parkway to name just a few. And your car? Which one of those banks holds the title on? Need new tires, service or repairs, or just get it cleaned--over half a dozen places awaiting your business. In the village. Just need to handle normal errands? Mail and shipping? Gotcha covered. Laundry and dry cleaning? How do so many even stay in business? Good eats? Pick your cuisine, price range and dining experience--you'll find multiple options from fast food to white napkin, from burgers to brunch to bar food. Into entertaining at home? Two grocers, a liquor/wine store and growler shop. In the village. Need to work off some of that fine dining? Choose your poison: yoga, pilates, hard workout. In the village. Need an MD after over-doing it, well you're going to have pick a speciality and then choose from one of many. In the village. Same for dentistry. In the village. Need a gash stitched or bone set? Two emergency doc-in-a-box to choose from. In the village. Meds involved? Two big box pharmacies and one independent. In the village. Want to get your doo on? Even without Super Signs there are over half a dozen places to get trimmed, coifed, tinted, polished and massaged. Yep, in the village. And that is the tip of the iceberg given there are multiple office condos and rentals hosting a wide variety of businesses. In the village.

There is a word for The Village: thriving. Businesses have come and gone over the years. Because it is thriving. The Village has been a place where someone with an idea, commitment and a dedication to serving the community can succeed and those with good ideas and hard work and willingness to embrace the community have succeeded. There is a word for those folks: entrepreneur. None of this happened overnight and it didn't happen because of or in spite of bricks and beige. It reflects the hard work of these business people and residents who have supported them. It is not some pre-fab, factory made spawn of a strip-mall architect's pen--it is a reflection of the community. The DVO is merely a legal document codifying what this community has built over the decades.

But developers have a new buzzword, "vibrant," and they're using City staff to get it out. What is "vibrant"? Well if you want to see what "vibrant" was a few years back drive up North Point Parkway from Mansell to the mall. What do you see? Stacked stone. Everywhere. Why? Because just a few years ago developers said that was "vibrant". No more. Now faux-factory-reno-loft-industrial is "vibrant" but what will be "vibrant" five years down the road? Who knows but it won't be what is "vibrant" today because development in this area is brownfield. It is re-development. So developers have baked in planned obsolescence and its name is "vibrant".

These developers are catering to a demographic with short attention spans who are easily attracted to the shiny, the new. The superficial. Those who will soon need something else that is shiny, new. A demographic that is shallow and transient--intellectually if not geographically.  Is that your Dunwoody? Is that the Dunwoody you want? What are you going to do about it?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Candles In The Wind

Light one or curse the darkness, or so goes the thinking behind those who are answering the Village Overlay survey. Others see it being as useful as spitting off the wrong side of the ship.

It is an odd survey having some of the aspects of a push poll. For "vibrant" they do offer their own definition, but they implicitly assume that everyone believes that "vibrant" is not only good but that it is to be maximized. If you don't fully accept their definition or their premise, that's too bad because your answers are going to be interpreted and presented in THEIR context and not yours. Even the picture selections are biased--away from what we have developed and embraced over the years in favor of what one, apparently very well connected developer wants for today. It is almost as if the developer commissioned the survey.

They ask what you'd like to see the village look like in 20+ years? Disingenuous that. The folks putting on this circus know damn well that what this developer is asking for is little more than the current trend based more on developers' version of the Hawthorne effect than any enduring societal or demographic sea change. They don't care what it will look like in 10 years let alone 20 and why should they. When a new trend surfaces, they or their followers will simply demand the old make way for the new and they will expect the City to at least rubber stamp their plan if not actually pay for it. It is almost surprising that the Brothers Crim have not demanded tax abatements.

In preparation for the tussle, forces have been sent to undermine the Williamsburg character of the current overlay. First was to broaden the definition, without asking anyone, to be "mid-atlantic" allowing them to nibble away at the existing requirements. Then they blamed it all on a gas station saying it "just happened" after one business picked that style. But that is the very essence of organic development. It started with one, was adopted by others until it because a cohesive representation of the community. Why? Because that is exactly what it is.

Now we have unelected folks at the City's Taj Mahal deciding what they will make of Dunwoody, what they will do with Dunwoody Village. As staffers, not even required to live in Dunwoody, they are beholden to developers, not those pesky but unknown and unseen residents. But they are not unlike elected officials who should reflect residents' concerns even when not facing election but increasingly seem distracted by more important issues.

There will be a presentation this Saturday and they will tell you what they are going to do. They won't say it directly because they know it isn't what you want--it is what their real bosses want--but if you listen between the lines you'll hear the end of Dunwoody Village as you know it.

Friday, August 17, 2018


What happened to the concept of "light pollution"? You remember--one of the key elements of the Village Overlay when this city was foisted and hoisted. Village lighting had to prevent overspray. Of course these ordinances have been "updated" as in "better suited to the business community" but they are very specific and actually quite stringent. And it isn't just the overlay--if your front porch light illuminates your neighbors' yards then you, sir, are a criminal. Motion light stay on for more than 10 minutes? Then it damn well better be pointed down--not that you really wanted to see what tripped it, right? Check out Sec. 27-250 of the ordinances, and for real fun notice that neon lighting is verboten by way of Sec. 27-248. Of course signs aren't lights are they?

And what IS it with the Dunwoody High School and outdoor lights? Why is this a mission ranking up there with Save Darfur or #BringBackOurGirls? And why the Trumpian propaganda that would make Goebbels blush? From the Go Fund Me blather:
"Neighborhood friendly LED lights could extend our practice time without bothering the neighbors..."
Seriously, did you guys actually graduate from a High School? A real one? So you expect smart folk in the smart city to believe you can install field lighting and magically the laws of physics will not apply and nary a single photon will escape the confines of your Blessed Child's event?

Fine, it isn't Wrigley in the Good Ole Days. You know, before they won. But they weren't playing in the dark they just weren't trying to not suck. Anyway, there are only a few ways that field lighting is "neighborhood friendly." It can either not be there at all (best); be turned off (second best); or be used only during the day (suboptimal). Somehow it seems Boosterus Maximus on City Council would not approve of any of these options.

Some might suggest it is "free lighting for a backyard 'cue" but they've not seen the number and size of bugs these lights attract. And it isn't just the bugs--that's not mustard on your dog, that's bat guano. And so what if it keeps YOUR child up late at night? Watch Close Encounters with them and they'll be so scared they'll pull covers over their heads and the light won't bother them. And you KNEW there were lights there when you bought your house didn't you? Oops--there weren't. So what. We've got someone on City Council who just loves all things Dunwoody High, so screw you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Without Character...

...there is no shame. And frankly this is shameless.

Too Bad It Is Not A "Going Out Of Business" Sale
Shameless, arrogant disregard for this community. Supported by a member of Council known to flaunt a "don't ask-don't tell" approach to any quality of life ordinance if it is the least bit inconvenient for "friends and family" in the business community. To top it off, this business has touted their ownership as residing in Dunwoody. Apparently it is the part of Dunwoody that votes poorly and cares not a bit for anyone else who lives here.

Could it be any worse? Well...actually...

Code Enforcement CONSISTENTLY Absent
It isn't just the illegal sign. That truck was barreling down Chamblee-Dunwoody having come right thru the official No Truck zone. But what the hell, if you don't ask, they won't tell. And think about it--they're actually busy lip syncing, something they CAN do, so those words are not actually coming out of their mouths anyway.

Now, one might write this off as just another bee in TOD's bonnet. It certainly has become a meme around these parts, but that can be attributed to consistent failure of the City to perform one of its most basic duties: code enforcement. And, it isn't just TOD. This was provided by another disgruntled resident (in an envelope outside the front door beside a flaming bag of poo).

Could We Add An Hour To Discuss ENFORCEMENT?
Is there anyone left who sincerely believes we're better off now than before this city was voted in? REALLY? OK. FINE! Anyone other than the business owners putting out illegal signs?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Blind Spot

The City absolutely refuses to enforce their ordinances regarding truck zones but they've found a fig leaf to cover their inadequacies. The Police have published their guidance on how citizens should protect themselves from the City's negligence.

DIY Safety--No Cops Necessary
That's right. Dunwoody willingly turns a blind eye to their own ordinances and expects you to deal with truck blind spots even when those trucks are operating in violation of Dunwoody's ordinances.

Wonder if residents can infer the Police think everyone should arm themselves as well. Just in case the Police are too busy. You know, with lip sync contests.

Monday, August 6, 2018

French Ban Distracted Learning

The French recently passed a law prohibiting smartphones and tablets in the classroom ostensibly as a means of shielding children from addictive habits and to protect the sanctity of the classroom. At least they still have that. In DeKalb schools a teacher has a good day if they can just get the buggers to sit down and be quiet--even if it is only because they're facebooking.

Friday, August 3, 2018

They're Still Here

Citizens For Dunwoody: The Original Permission Society
There's a lot of mystery here. Is this really THE Citizens for Dunwoody? Did they ever file their required IRS forms? Have they morphed into a Bingo, Eats and Drinks franchise? This does proclaim that the soirée is licensed by CfD. And you have to wonder if they have a liquor license from the CoD or are they covered under Council's Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy? After all they are selling beer and wine.

Monday, July 30, 2018

School Daze

School is about to start up for the 2018-2019 school year. Have no fear, trucks will still be barreling thru your schools zones with nary a tsk-tsk from the city.

Take care for your children as the Dunwoody PD is busy with a lip sync contest and cannot be bothered. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Who Cares

Truck zooming unmolested thru a school and no-truck zone.
No One At City Hall Cares

Monday, July 23, 2018

Guest Post: A Dish Best Served Hot

Cacio e Pepe. Roman spaghetti and cheese, a simple recipe with few ingredients: pasta, grated pecorino romano, ground black pepper, salt and water. Cook the pasta, al dente, toss it in a bowl with the cheese, pepper and enough pasta water to make a sauce and BAM! You're done. 

Sounds pretty easy, right? Watch someone who knows what they're doing and you'll be convinced it is easy. But it turns out you'll screw it up the first time. And the second time. And... When you finally get it right--smooth sauce evenly coating the pasta and not those little grey clumps of cheese and pepper--you'll screw it up the next few times because you don't really know how you did it right. We call that "luck". It is going to take time and practice to develop the skills, adjust to  the nuances of temp, liquid and time to get to the point where you can "just do it".

If you're doing this for fun, for friends and family of the patient variety, you'll probably be OK turning out a few dozen mishaps before you finally get it right and dozens more before you get it consistently right. But if you have a restaurant you better be able to whip this out fast and perfect every time before you even consider putting it on the menu. Otherwise you won't really need to learn how to make Cacio e Pepe because you'll be out of business.

But if you're really interested, here is:

How To Make Cacio e Pepe  (the long version)

  • ​Grated pecorino romano, about a cup, you can always use leftovers.
  • Salt, less than you usually use.
  • Water.
The cheese can be grated the day before and kept in the fridge, uncovered, but it should be up to room temp before you start. The most critical thing to manage in this dish is the temp which is a bit odd since water pretty much boils at the same temp in most places. If the sauce gets too hot the cheese will clump. Too cold and it may never melt enough to even make the sauce. 

​Cook the spaghetti in a large skillet with just enough salted water to cover. ​You will have to stir often to ensure the pasta doesn't stick together, but using much less water than usual increases the starchiness of the pasta water. This helps the sauce coat the pasta. You'll want to cook the pasta 1-2 minutes less than called for in the instructions. 

About halfway thru the pasta cook time put a couple ladles of pasta water into a bowl swirling it around. This heats the bowl and brings down the temp of the water. Add the pepper. Add at least half the grated cheese and blend into the water with a fork. 

When the pasta is done (al dente) turn off the heat and use tongs and put it in the bowl. No need to strain as you'll probably add more water anyway. Here's where things get tricky. You want to toss the pasta about, some say "furiously" but others would probably say "with purpose" and it is often best to use the tongs. As the pasta is getting coated with the sauce add more cheese and more pasta water until you have the level of cheesiness and coverage you're looking for. 

Serve immediately.

What Can Go Wrong -- Will Go Wrong

Then there is cheating and cheating is, well, wrong--which doesn't keep very many folks from doing it and you'll find that most YouTube videos on this dish are cheating. Cheating usually involves adulteration by way of added oil and fat, usually EVOO and/or butter. While this does decrease the likelihood of cheese coagulation what you end up with is not Cacio e Pepe. Because you cheated. The other common cheat is to mix in a pan over heat with this cheat being combined with the oil/fat cheat. This *seems* like it should work, but improper control of heat on the pan exacerbates the cheese coagulation and you will end up with a pan that is a pain to clean. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Paving A Path To Perimeter City

Stockbridge's attempt to deny Eagle Landing a chance at cityhood has failed in the courts. We are at the brink of a precedent-setting de-annexation and incorporation to form a new city providing a template for more to come. The most important of these will be Perimeter City (of course) but the first is likely to be Buckhead, whose biggest challenge will be finding a name. Maybe our Smart City Namers and Branders can help out...Not! Once Buckhead gains independence we can expect the dominos to fall.

Perimeter City will be a slam dunk. By mixing in a healthy dose of "politicking" to Live, Work, Play we will be at the forefront of how aging Millennials and their offspring choose to live. And it is a developer's wet dream--that simply cannot be overstated.

So what of the rest--some say the best--of us? Where does that leave us? First, we're in control of our destiny, unbeholden to powerful developers leaking their greed outside the PCID into our neighborhoods. And we can remain the "City of Dunwoody" or we could dispense with the additional layer of government and return to the liberty of unincorporated DeKalb. Or, we could annex into a neighboring city in DeKalb. Brookhaven offers the growing pains of a new city appealing to the masochists amongst us. Chamblee is an option with nicer restaurants and downtown. But these would span the region's ITP/OTP divide--as painful as slipping off the pedals and crushing jewels on the top bar.

That leaves Doraville which is a good fit--if they'll have us. Joining "A Touch Of Country In The City" would certainly please the Farmhouse-ers and even the Williamsburg-ers would not be fish out of water.

There is a lot of work to do, obstacles to be overcome, but with the right people involved, smart people, we can get this thing done.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Greener Shade Of Beige

The City is well on the way to gutting the Dunwoody Village Overlay as part of their indefensible but unstoppable kowtowing to business and developers. The brazenness of the developer's open threat to bring in undesirables if they don't get what they want is clear indication that City Hall has their back and that they have your number. That is if you happen to be one of those simultaneously fond of the Williamsburg requirement and appalled by its imminent demise.

But what the shiplap is this Williamsburg thing and what does it mean? Of course it is symbolism but what does it mean?

Leading the list is homogeneity, the only "homo" some will tolerate. It is not limited to the uber-HOA, all houses look the same. When you see a community of ticky-tacky all in a row you kinda know what is inside and Williamsburg, even with the beige, screams lily white. And that screams Dunwoody--Olde School.

Then there is superficiality. It is bricks and beige and slate-look roofs but little substance. It is as if someone played architectural spin-the-bottle and this is what we got. At least it isn't shiplap.

Perhaps it is a flag, or a pennant for what would have been a visiting team. One that seems to have decided to stay but insisted on the literal and figurative reminder of home. White flight may have been the Dunwoody zygote but that grew by attracting that "special demographic" from locales far from ITP. Where "Williamsburg" actually means something.

What was once bucolic farmland was overrun by urban sprawl, development guided only by greed and a population fueled by local white flight and opportunistic northern invaders. If tradition trumps all why was there such a battle over urban henhouses? Should we have farmhouse styling with barn wood, white siding and tin roofs? Or should we recognize that Williamsburg, like the farms beforehand has had its day?

What should be remembered is that which is constant. Politicians are beholden to business, turning blind eyes when expedient, writing custom laws when necessary and taking liberties with the power and prestige of their positions. They will gut this city like a sturgeon to get anything they can serve up to their business buddies as caviar.