## Monday, December 30, 2019

### Holes In CVI Study

Perhaps it was at DeKalb's direction to simply focus on tax revenue and services impact but the CVI study of new city impact on the council misses significant impacts on the folk who actually live here. Fact is these new cities are not about local control, zoning, parks+paving+police. They are about establishing development authorities. Quasi-government organizations with plum jobs for the well-connected. Organizations that by their very nature issue bonds from which they skim significant sums and remove enormously profitable developments from the tax rolls for years on end. All without voter approval and minimal meaningful oversight. By anyone.

These in-the-shadow operations impact more than just the county. Yes, they shift the bond-skimming from county to city but when they decimate the tax base they do so at the expense of the school system. They are robbing your children to enrich themselves, their friends and family and wealthy developers. And no one, not DeKalb County and not CVI are willing to shine a light on these out of control enterprises.

## Thursday, December 26, 2019

### Please Santa, Don't Get Drunk Next Christmas

I don't want to see a reindeer die.

Now before you get your knickers knotted because TOD posted a bashed bambi, you might want to ask yourself a few questions. How did this happen? Hit by a car? Maybe a truck in the no-truck zone? Was the driver distracted by a handheld screen? Drunk? Speeding? Could be any of these, because none of these laws are enforced. Because that isn't what our cops are for. They are here to serve and protect folks in perimeter center and enforcing quality of life laws that annoy Perimeter Center businesses and commuters just ain't gonna happen. Not with a city government with an openly advertised "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

But it gets worse. Residents near the scene have reported shots fired. Three. They are further reporting that cops came out, shot [at] the deer with a rifle as some form of mercy killing. And then just left it. Even for this city that seems harsh and the only thing remotely believable is that it took three shots for them to hit the [immobilized] deer. Marksmanship. Not.

One thing we know for certain: when this city gets involved bambi-s die.

## Thursday, August 8, 2019

### Is Distraction The Theme?

It is easy to bash DeKalb County Schools because they give you so many opportunities. But this time they are actually trying to do the right thing, provide an environment focused on learning, and they are getting trashed because that focus results in rules viewed by armchair critics as "insensitive". This case is about hair cuts/styling. So what is the problem?

In a sane world it would be a non-issue. The specific school is a DeKalb Theme school where enrolling requires application and a commitment by the parents and the child to follow certain rules including a strict conduct and dress code. If a student wants to distinguish themselves they have one option: learn. It is an environment where no distractions, even stylin' doos, are not allowed as permitting these distractions would be "insensitive" to those students and their parents who chose a theme school because it provides them the best education.

Being a theme school it is a choice school so no one MUST attend, and if participating in a program exclusively built around learning doesn't satisfy your need to be the center of attention then stay at your home school.

## Monday, August 5, 2019

### Ask Not For Whom The School Bell Tolls

It tolls for the death of learning. This is no surprise to anyone paying attention but the eradication of learning, and teaching, from the education industry is all but complete. Systems like DeKalb have long focused on "wrap around services" emphasizing what goes on outside the classroom using this as a cover for ignoring what goes on inside the classroom. At the college level the transformation to a customer-focused service industry has been deliberate and tragic. Turning the keys to the asylum over to the inmates began with end-of-course teacher evaluations--that these often ask students who may have barely scraped thru the material "does the professor know the material?" and that these evals are a significant portion of tenure criteria pretty much tells you that academia have decided that happy students are more important than knowledgeable ones. Even knowing the depth of ignorance of these transient, self-entitled students, academia has placed their fate at the mercy of whatever incites their whiny indignation. One need look no further than Oberlin College to appreciate the existential threat academia has created for itself.

More pervasive is the societal tragedy know as the 504 Plan as this sits at the confluence of over-labeling ("diagnosing" as a disease or disorder that which cannot be shown to have a physiological basis), celebration of those so labelled and accommodations for those with "psychological impairments." The 504 scheme affords special concessions to those "students" who stress over tests and since qualifying for this program is based on wholly subjective evaluations parents are doc-shopping to get their kids in. And the "subjectivity only" evaluation model mimics what goes on in our public schools. Simpatico. At least one knowledgeable observer contends that by 2020 almost every child will have a diagnosis at which point there will really be no point. At least not where schooling is concerned.

Where will we be when our entire workforce requires time-and-a-half because they are just so stressed out? How will we compete in a global market of products, services and ideas? Maybe it just doesn't matter. That seems the message coming from the education industry.

## Saturday, August 3, 2019

### Just Say NO To GO

DeKalb County Schools, the only entity on earth that makes DeKalb County Government look well run, is at it again. In this case "it" is taking more of your money by way of a General Obligation Bond for which you will have the pleasure of paying higher taxes via an increased millage rate. This is on top of what seems like a never ending series of eSPLOST money grabs which have changed only in that there is ever decreasing explanation of or justification for these tax increases. Being DeKalb County Schools there is also no oversight or anything else that could be mistaken for fiduciary responsibility.

But DCSD cannot do this alone, it requires active participation of voters who seemingly suffer from mass delusion. On blog comments some have rationalized that "some" of the money "might" make it to the classroom, a backhanded way of saying they know this money will be wasted, but they'll hold their nose and vote for the tax increase anyway. But money is not the problem and it is never the solution to structural and process failings. So why haven't they addressed these fiscal issues? Because that would undermine the argument that they need more money and since they waste it on friends and family less money means fewer smiles at the family reunion.

It really is time to put a stop to this. Vote no on the GO bond.

## Monday, July 29, 2019

### Never Lower The Millage Rate

Our neighbors in Fulton County are at it again. The roused rabble of homeowners cannot stomach the mark-to-market increases in property value as it blows their tax bill sky-high. On the other side of the equation the bureaucrats and politicians running the show refuse to implement the simple fix of adjusting the millage rate--downwards. It is more than simply not in the politicians' DNA, lowering any tax seems to pose an existential threat. It is as if this might happen:

 Politician Lowering Taxes

## Saturday, July 27, 2019

### Milestones Or Millstones

Milestone reports are in and the AJC is declaring "impressive" gains. Of course this is relative (and propaganda) since the absolute measure shows 58% of third graders scored below proficient in Language Arts (includes the first of the three "R"s : reading). Juxtapose this with the declaration that "reading well by third grade is essential for academic success" and one has to wonder what all the chest beating is about. After all well over half do not possess this "essential" skill.

Milestones is coming under attack from another direction as some districts in Georgia are banding together to create "student focused" tests they claim will remain nationally normed. The plan is to discard the "big bang" approach of Milestones replacing it with evaluations scattered throughout the year. This caters to the current pedagogical paradigm of "get it then forget it" where students are expected to retain knowledge only briefly. Their approach aligns with teacher provided grades while the Milestones test exposes grade inflation and lack of real, substantive learning.

## Thursday, July 25, 2019

### Ethical Or Legal

The recent armored car I-285 "cash drive" brought issues of ethical and/or legal behavior to the fore. After cash from the truck littered the interstate folks stopped to gather what they saw as a windfall of free cash. The Dunwoody Police (it happened in their jurisdiction)  rightly pointed out that this was not their money, it must be returned and keeping it would be illegal. That is also consistent with Ethics 101: it is isn't yours, don't take it.

But can unethical taking be made legal? Turns out that is the case and it is something the Dunwoody Police do on a routine and regular basis. It is called "asset seizure" which is government (police) appropriation of private property on the mere suspicion of wrong doing. In theory, due process applies. In practice due process is so onerous that it is impossible for the accused, even if exonerated, to ever regain their property. So the police, DPD included, seize the property, convert it to their needs without any consideration given to the fact that a) it is not their property; and b) there exists legal due process-a law they are sworn to uphold.

So now the question is do actions speak louder than words? Are laws something that only apply to the "little people" with the police state immune to ethical, moral and legal considerations?

## Tuesday, July 23, 2019

### Guest Post: International City

From a former neighbor and Friend of TOD. Without further ado.

About ten years ago I went into semi-retirement and moved to Blue Ridge, GA. The "semi" part of retirement gives cause for infrequent travel, mostly out of Hartsfield. It's a haul and I usually park at North Springs and MARTA it the rest of the way as that is the most reliable way to get past the roadblock that is Atlanta. At least until yesterday.

I was coming back from the flaming hot mid-Atlantic to the cooler sunny South expecting to bypass rush hour traffic using MARTA and get home in time for an adult libation and at least Final Jeopardy. But there were clues this was not to be. I got on the train at Hartsfield on the side usually reserved for the Red Line noticing the sign was (still?) set to "Airport" which I dismissed as typical MARTA. Don't sweat the little things, right? Train pulls out, still indicating it is an "Airport Train" though it is clearly headed in the opposite direction and other than that everything seems normal. Until Five Points. At this point confusion reigns and it basically becomes clear that this train is going no further. I get out and see MARTA employees directing all riders up and out. It was at this point, and only because I asked, that I learned there had been a fire at the Peachtree Center station and there was a "bus bridge" from Five Points to North Avenue. Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot? NOW you tell me?

It gets better. After about over an hour waiting for, getting on and stand-riding to North Avenue I find myself standing with a lot of hot peeved folks waiting for the next northbound to Lindberg. That's right. There would be no Red Line at North Avenue, I would have to disembark at Lindberg and wait, again, for a Red Line train. It was at Lindberg where MARTA decided to rub salt in a now very raw wound.

A MARTA employee, with no need of a megaphone, basically told everyone to "get off the phone, be quiet and listen" and then proceeded to inform all southbound commuters what lay ahead. The fire. The bus bridge. The delays. All that. She even recommended that riders that need to make a flight might consider "alternative transportation" explicitly calling out Uber and Lyft. Wow! And just why was there not a similar, informative presentation at the Airport Station where there often are, and in this case were, people not even from this country who were completely confused by this dysfunctional goat rodeo. Was it because the City runs the airport and they're more beholding to medallion wielding cabbies than Uber or Lyft? Who knows. But if Atlanta fancies itself an International City, it must brace itself for the hard reality that this means its peer-cities are all in Third World countries.

This dark cloud came with a silver lining. I used the extra couple of hours to do some internet research. I already knew I was a 90 mile drive to the MARTA ride to Hartsfield, but what were the other options? Well, I'm only an 80 mile drive, through some of the most beautiful scenery in America, to the Chattanooga airport, conveniently located on MY side of their fair city. It's under 100 miles to the Knoxville airport, again on MY side of the city, only sightly further than my drive to MARTA. I'll never fight my way through Atlanta, MARTA or not, to get to Hartsfield. I know I will pay more, in cash anyway, and that I will be at that airport sometime in the future, but only to change planes. And if I ever visit another "International City" it will be in another country.

## Monday, July 15, 2019

### Deja Do-Over

If it feels like we've been here before it's because we have. Dial the Way-Back-Machine to 2011 and look up the Dunwoody Village Master Plan. Now you do have to wonder how much this cost and why it didn't even endure for a decade because now the City is shoveling more money into what is being called a Master Plan Update. This is like building a McMansion by tearing down all but the side wall of the basement and then calling it a "renovation" yet this "update" leaves almost nothing untouched or intact.

Some of this is explained by the context of the original master plan which was created when the City was relatively young, politically naive and not yet unduly influenced by outside economic forces. But now, when a developer wants the overlay in the dustbin and demands a building with floor-to-ceiling windows, stacked stone and other trendy veneers the parrots down at City Hall begin squawking "vibrant" incessantly. But this "update" is a great bit of theatre, a theatre City Hall will not vote to tear down. It is the embodiment of "practical impossibility" as it demands conversions of private property to public roads and paths (keep in mind that this City's idea of a "trail" is a super-highway lane of concrete) that is both prohibitively expensive, politically "unattractive" and more disruptive than desirable. At least if you live around here. But it may be attractive to those who will cash in on the re-development and keep in mind the very first impediment to this plan is "long-term property owners" who will have to be sated (or just pushed aside) in favor of new developers. Not likely to happen.

So what is going on? Well there will likely be limited re-development and things will need to be pushed aside to satisfy the developers' demands. The impediment in that case is the existing Village Overlay. Basically they are demanding trends that are getting close to their use-by date: new urbanism (being displaced by Avalon-type developments) and a faux-post-industrial look that peaked a couple years back. One has to wonder how long before a wave of developers descends pushing a "Williamsburg Style" as "vibrant" and "retro-trendy." Then there is the high pressure sales job--the kind that would make a Florida condo-pitch seem tame. When they are trying that hard they are either selling you something you don't need or they are distracting you from what they are really doing. Or both.

But it is the "Who's Responsible" slide that is the most odious, the most insulting, the most offensive. This characterizes "The Public" (us) as doddering old fools unable to comprehend what is going on and so stupid we are easily bamboozled by a myriad of special interests, all the while the aficionados of neo-urbanism (traffic enginerrs) are positioning themselves at the same level of honor and integrity as Girl Scouts. With an air of arrogant condescension they demean us as readily manipulated (by everyone but them) idiots and by commissioning this team and using OUR money to pay them, our elected officials are saying exactly the same thing.

Shame on them! For what they have done and for what they intend to do.

## Thursday, July 11, 2019

### So The Mountain Goes

Trying to capitalize on the PD epiphany of the Parade where many eyes were opened and more than a few Police realized that Dunwoody actually has residents, some of whom own single-family homes, some members of the community have decided that what this City really needs is a government affiliated non-profit. In this case it is the Dunwoody Police Foundation which in addition to soliciting funds and picking winners to receive the proceeds will, perforce, be a liaison between the newly discovered residents of Dunwoody--lest they forget. And honestly, what could possibly keep the forgotten masses front-of-mind better than good ole greenbacks? Now a cynic might say this is just backfilling the likely loss of highly questionable asset seizures (Jeff Sessions is long gone taking his staunch support of a militarized police state with him) but if this does anything, even a minuscule amount, to keep the PD aware of the existence of our communities, then it is, if nothing else, a good start.

## Monday, July 8, 2019

### Officer Friendly

The Fourth of July parade was a momentous occasion for the Dunwoody Police. It was the first time in their ten year history that many, if not all, have actually entered the community at large. You know, where the residents reside.

Overheard during an interview for a local rag, Officer Friendly said "who knew so many people actually live in Dunwoody?" Unable to contain himself, Lieutenant Richard Head chimed in with "yeah, look at all those houses--I thought that whole 'home alarm' thing was just standard BS from on high but it's really just another excuse for us to stay at The Mall."

Clearly a great time was had by all but let's hope it doesn't take another year before officers wander into our neighborhoods.

## Thursday, July 4, 2019

 Tall Dog

## Monday, July 1, 2019

### Blue Bag Rag Goes To Onion

Though recently rescued from the dust bin by a local media outlet it appears that the Blue Bag Rag is being positioned as the Onion-esque imprint of the local mogul. The article on Georgia City of Ethics is a nifty bit of satire.

## Thursday, June 27, 2019

### The AJC And Disenfranchised Voters

Since the November elections where darling of the left, Stacey Abrams, lost a close race, the AJC has been beating the table about disenfranchised voters. As is often the case, they beat the table because they cannot flog their case. How so, you ask? Well the numbers don't support their claims of massive voter disenfranchisement.

First let's take a look at the total population 10,519,475 with the same source (the US Census Bureau) estimating 23.8 percent (2,503,635) are under 18 years of age. There is an estimated 422,000 illegal immigrants in Georgia, with indications that number is growing. Then there are supervised felons totaling 248,751 as of 2016. This gives approximately 3,173,386 folks in Georgia who cannot even register to vote. At least not legally. This leaves 7,345,089 potential folks who could register to vote. As of 2018 there are 6,935,816 registered voters in Georgia, giving a 94.4 percent rate of registration. This leaves 409,273 potential voters that Stacey Abrams' door-to-door, intentionally error-prone paper-only registration army have yet to find.

Just looking at available numbers, we in Georgia have more illegal aliens than unregistered voters, something you are not likely to read in the AJC.

## Monday, June 24, 2019

### Rights Banned In Dunwoody

At least if you own residential property.

It all has to do with an odd-shaped 2.6 acre bit of property on Roberts, backing up to Fairfield condos and across from the new Austin Elementary site. There are some, not clear exactly who, but some, who want special treatment for this property allowing what would otherwise be high density housing, perhaps re-zoning to R50. Of course, being a HOA-on-steroids more than a local control, limited government city, Council wants to dictate what the property owner should/will/must do. With their property. At their expense. While this higher density would, perforce, dump more vehicles on a crowded thru-way, the city seems OK with that, having turned a blind eye to the triplex operating just up from Novo Cucina.

No less than the mayor himself takes umbrage at the property owner's rights suggesting if the hobnail boots of the city are not planted firmly on their throats these owners are "going to get five houses in there by right. And they're going to build what they want to build, and I don't think that's something that we want whatsoever." Who "we" kemosabe? You mean the property owner might actually build five homes on 2.6 acres? Unprecendented! NOT! One need only go to nearby Magnolia Walk where you'll find nine similarly spaced clutter-homes.

But this is Dunwoody and no way is anyone going to exercise their property rights in this town. Not while this mayor is large and in charge.

## Friday, June 21, 2019

From the AJC:
Creating East Cobb could cost residents
Really? What a shocker. Not!

One cost item the AJC points to is Franchise Fees an issue addressed time and again by TOD.

But, you say, they have a study from Georgia State saying this city is not only financially feasible but will run a surplus. Wanna bet?

Proponents, and there do not seem to be nearly as many as there are skeptics, roll out the standard lies:
according to their website they believe a new city would improve police, fire and zoning services and "create and preserve local identity" without raising taxes
So much wrong, so little time. In fact there is hardly a single nugget of truth in that statement (as printed in the AJC). Let's start with the "raising taxes" politi-speak. Those franchise fees? That's not a tax, it's a fee. See? No new "tax." "Raising" taxes means raising the millage rate. Ask any currently elected politico. We have a whole council full of them. Right now, if you are of a "certain age," you enjoy the best property tax relief in the entire state. Will your new city fall in line with the county or will that fall thru the cracks?

Then there is the "L" word : local. Their use is subtle but suggestive of the "local control" bromide. Local identity? What is that now and what do they expect it to become? You'll have to wait and see. Is their vision that Loch Highlands will carry the same identity as Indian Hills?

The implication that the city will provide fire services is ludicrous. As to police, without a significant infusion of money, from you, there will be no improvement. If Dunwoody is any guide, even with annual budget bloat, police services will degrade. And zoning? Often mentioned, but it has been nothing but a disaster in Dunwoody.

Don't you already have a HOA? Do you really want another, more expensive one? But if you're hellbent on getting a city, come on over, we've got one we'd love to give you.

## Monday, June 17, 2019

### Why?

 Pave Paradise & Put In A Parking Lot
Why did council vote to approve this? Because the developers told them to.

## Thursday, June 13, 2019

### Who Owns The FCC

The obvious answer is the correct answer: politicians. That's who own the FCC. Why is this relevant? Because it has taken so long and the technology has been available for decades. Consider this nifty little box produced by a long defunct company (yes, it is that old):

 DASTalk Call Blocker
This attaches to hardwired landlines, processes caller ID, then automatically answers any blocked number holding the line to 20 seconds of silence. Waste the telemarketers' time, not yours. And you can wild-card entire exchanges or area codes. Don't know anyone in Idaho? Block all telemarketers who've taken up virtual residence in that state.

This bit of kit was built in the era of touch-tone desk phones. Now we live in the age of cell-phones, VOIP and online access to all manner of telephony features and services. All except one. No carrier allows subscribers a flexible, comprehensive white-list, grey-list, black-list capability. With today's technology subs should be a click away from building their own no-call lists, their own "always ring" lists and their own call diversion to voice mail.

The only reason we still suffer from floods of robo-calls is because the politicians don't want to empower us to block their campaign calls. Thank the gods of Silicon Valley that other communication technology is far ahead of the slow-witted politicians. We can mark their emails as spam and let AI automagically dump them in the spam bin. Where they belong.