Monday, September 30, 2019

Minding Inquiry

Tis the season of pondering, asking questions, getting evasions in return and casting votes nonetheless. As a backdrop, we all, deep down, knew this was not going to go our way. Lack of transparency, the transparently obvious "we're setting up a Development Authority, of, by and for developers" and a general back-tracking on anything even closely related to competent policing and code enforcement. To describe this, and all the other new cities, as mercenary is to disparage guns-for-hire all across the globe. Just look at the difference between a permit to install a garbage disposal and enforcing code violations. In the first case the city makes money and you actually are required to bring it to them. In the latter case it is just another expense that offers City Hall no benefit.

Except maybe every so often. Say at election time. Now is our opportunity to ask aspiring politicians questions and watch them hone their skills of evasion. Just ask them what they, personally, specifically intend to do about quality of life issues that are important to residents. Ask whether they will prioritize residents' concerns over catering to developer interests. Ask them if they know what happened to elected officials who have dropped the ball, been co-opted by the system, and just what they will do to avoid a similar fate. Ask them what they will do should we suffer from their failings.

Then vote.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Code Enfarcement

Council Calls This "Enforcement"

Going Out Of Business

No. No. Not the recently opened Pet Emporium. It will do just fine.

Sign Of The Times
What IS out of business is City Hall, particularly code enforcement. Their stop-work-order comes directly from council who is working real hard to craft a brand spanking new overlay ordinance that is better suited to the demands of the business at the expense of residents.

But there is an election coming up and this may be a good time to find out where candidates stand on enforcing laws that support quality of life. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Oh Black Water...

We recently endured storms that knocked out power in the Dunwoody area. One of these killed power to the nearby water treatment plant and before the generators could kick in the water pressure dropped to a level requiring boil-water advisories. While these were county-wide, the advisory lasted a day or two longer in DaVille. Watching those pots and boiling that water offered time for reflection, to ponder a few things.

First is the extremely long, automated call from the Dunwoody Police Department. How the hell did they get our phone numbers as we didn't offer them up and who the hell are they to make unsolicited calls? If someone wants alerts and calls let them register for them and leave everyone else alone. This should be exclusively opt-in and it isn't even opt-out as the City provides no [online] way to do so.

A bigger ponderance are those big blue structures around DaVille. You know that tall thing around the First Baptist Bank at Mt. Vernon and Ashford Dunwoody and the squat beast over by the Fire Station. The first is a water tower and the second is a ground based tank. Both store water. Potable water. To drink.

Where does this water (in these tanks) come from and where does it go? Well it seems to come from the water treatment plant, the very same one that lost power then water pressure and delivered questionable, perhaps non-potable water.

If DeKalb's system works like most, and given how screwed up this county is there is no guarantee, then the water from the treatment plant is pumped into the storage tank and tower and from there it is delivered to homes in the community. This raises all kinds of questions.

If the water supplied to the tower is tainted does this taint the entire tank? How much, in days of usage, does the tower hold? How does this impact (or even relate to) the number of days for a boiled water advisory? If the tank holds several days of supply how long does it take for tank water to go from potable to grey? Is there enough thru-flow to prevent degradation?

And finally, is the boil-water advisory just a CYA/PR stunt?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Journalist, Heal Thyself

This week our collective school marm, Maureen Downey, asks us to ponder why we shame girls for their bodies. Perhaps Maureen should read the paper she writes for as once a week (at least) they publish a body-shaming article of their own. They print this under the title of "Success story" where folks brag about how much weight they've lost, how they did it and how long they've kept their weight under control. To complete the body shaming of readers unable to control their portly selves they include both before and after photos. This is just filled with micro (or given the "gravitas" of their targets, perhaps "macro") aggressions. And given that Maureen's domain is education, the home turf of safe spaces, trigger words and micro-aggressions, her insensitivity is appalling.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Franchises, Fees, And White

This is not just another rant about how despicable, right out of the gate, that Dunwoody (and other new cities) have been in adding new taxes when the city started--in this case franchise fees. It is that, but it is somewhat more.

It has not been that long ago that City Hall flew the flag of "Smart City" and it still adorns our recycle bins as a weekly reminder of the lady that doth protest too much. But when it comes to utilities, franchises and fees City Hall has gone full frontal lobotomy.

It is one thing for a mere resident to open a bill, see the "Local Fees and Taxes" and think that somehow the local government provides some benefit or service on our behalf with the money they pick from our pocket. But it is another thing for all those smart folk down to the Hall and up at the GMA to be so ignorant, since they were in cahoots establishing this in the first place.

So what is the disconnect? Well, in an incessant drive to paint this city monochrome, Council has decided that all utility markings will rendered in white: paint, sticks and flags. Yep. They will mark a white sidewalk with white paint. Maybe like those white tattoos they will be visible in UV light. Maybe someone on council has F&F selling those lights or maybe the paint. Or both.

But it gets better and that is where the intense ignorance (or hubris) kicks in. Quite a while back many of the utilities lobbied under the gold dome to make some changes to how they are regulated and franchised in Georgia. What they fought for, and won, was state-wide rules and regulation: state wide franchises. What was untouchable was the money, meaning that the local yokels got the cash, but they lost their place at the table when it came to bossing these folks around. The cities were pretty pleased because their focus was, and still is, on the money. But now it seems mass amnesia has settled on City Hall and they think they have the power because they get the money when in fact they gave up the power just to keep the money.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

We'll Take Her

Mother Meria has been shown the door by our neighbors at APS with her contract conveniently ending coincident with our shutting down the Dr. Green Machine. If the DeKalb BoE has not already made overtures to Dr. Carstarphen they are fools. And yes, there is much evidence in the dossier that they fools they be.

There are many reasons to aggressively pursue Carstarphen for the DCSD job. She's smart. She's capable. She's ebullient, inciting enthusiasm in everyone she touches: students, parents, teachers and the general public. Yet she's a hard-nosed advocate for students and their education and will allow no one, even entitled stakeholders, to long impede her progress. As best as anyone can suss out she simply ran afoul of entrenched groups more powerful than competent that are directly or indirectly part of the very problem she was hired to fix. Once she'd cleaned up the stink of their cronies they re-emerged to exert their expulsive force. They wanted cleanup and coverup rather than substantial change that would disenfranchise their legacy power base.

But that is exactly what DCSD needs. We need someone who will come in unafraid of ruffling feathers if that happens in a drive to put students first. If that means personnel changes she knows how to make those changes. If it requires hard choices and hard sells, she can do it. How do we know this? Because we've watched her do it. What we have with Carstarphen that we will get from no other candidate is that we have been vicariously trying before we buy. She is more of a known quantity than any other candidate we are likely find by any other means and at any other cost. And she is a known good quantity.

In her interview the AJC closed with this quote:
"I know we are a challenge, but if you really love kids, if you really don't mind putting your back into hard work, if you want to be a full-service superintendent like I am, there's plenty of work to do."
Yeah, we'll take her. The question is would she even consider us?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Dunwoody In Black And White

Dunwoody is not just a monoculture it is obsessed with Black and White. Riffing on the "Everything Will Be OK" (just not right now) signage at the ever diminishing Spruill Center, Council has finally addressed a serious issue that has languished at the top of their To-Do list for nearly a decade. They've finally decided that all public art must be black and white. Take that, Warhol we're with Adams! But what is public art? And what about temporary installations? You know, like that publicly provided, publicly enjoyed sidewalk art over on The Knoll? Is that now verboten? Will parents now be scrambling to find black sidewalk chalk for their budding Picasso's and Dali's? Or, will they be stuck with white (not yellow) chalk with their children forced into Frogger Does Art using the blacktop for a canvas? Nervous parents need to know.

Perhaps it is of some consolation that Council's focus on this dire lacking in our community kept them from doing something really foolish. Or did it?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Unbelievable. Untrustworthy.

The nation's newspaper editorial pages have recently been home to a never-ending stream of screeds ostensibly defending the Fourth Estate with claims that journalists are foundational to a free society and that they, and only they provide reliable information. We are to trust them because they tell us to.

But they cannot be trusted because the information they spew is as unreliable as it is inaccurate. Just a single case in point is a recent article published in the AJC with this headline:
Infant dies in multi-car crash
followed by a sub-head of:
Ambulance carrying baby involved in collision on I-285.
After the by-line the author leads with "An infant died following a multi-vehicle crash on I-285 in Dunwoody on Monday morning."

Pretty horrific isn't it? A wreck involving an ambulance in which a baby dies. The facts are indeed quite tragic, they are just now what you garner by reading the headlines and first paragraph. As it turns out the baby did die, but only after reaching the hospital being transported from the wreck by DeKalb Fire. And the baby's died "from causes not likely related to the crash."

So the next time someone shame-splains to you about how critical journalists are to an informed public just point them to a self-contradictory "news" article like this. The AJC prints them every day.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day

We're from the Government and we're here to watch!