Monday, August 31, 2020

Enforce On...What?

In a recent social media interchange between a resident (AKA "nobody") and a sitting council person (AKA "somebody") nobody asked somebody how enforcement works in daVille. Naively, nobody made the assumption that enforcement is actually a thing in daVille. Somebody deftly scooted the conversation off social media to a private message lest the truth be outed to a broad audience. 

A decade ago when this goat rodeo kicked off and the city was too new for full opacity someone at city hall leaked out that enforcement was "on complaint." Unless...

Suppose you're THAT nobody. You know, the one who lives at the corner of No Truck Drive and Saint Somewhere Circle who can just sit there, any day, any time of day, and watch trucks violate the no-truck zone all in support of developers (dump trucks) and businesses (delivery trucks). 

And what will the city do? If history is any indication they'd send out a brief show of farce and then tell nobody that there are not enough violations to pay for the enforcement. Now this could be due to the fact there would be hell to pay if somebody does anything that the developers and business running this city do not like. Traffic enforcement fines would definitely fit that description.

And what will the Seven Dwarfs do? Again, history suggests not a damn thing. Nobody could ask one of them to come out for a first hand look and nobody will receive a passive-aggressive no. Why? Because somebody knows who really runs this city.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Brief Moment Of Clarity

A local teacher was recently quoted in the newspaper saying:

"Nobody has asked about curriculum this year. The purpose of a school used to be to educate children. I am not sure we can continue to say that is the purpose of schools today."
Yes, education is what schools were once all about, but unless this teacher is an octogenarian she has never actually experienced it in her work. She is a product of and (now reluctant) participant in a system that long ago pushed traditional education, teaching and learning, aside in favor of all manner of "wrap around services" with no rational alignment with learning. 

What this pandemic offers is a period of time for analysis and reflection. To question. How well is your child learning? What are they learning? More importantly, what are they NOT learning? Is it possible that learning, real learning, might actually be real work? Is it possible that the mantra of "make learning fun" is really more about fun at the expense of learning? Maybe bitmoji classrooms are far less important than educators would have us believe. 

Education seems to be all about distractors. In texts. In classroom theatrics. In school decor. Perhaps with parents now forced to monitor and supervise this educational buffet of pablum we will see parents who really care rising up and making positive changes.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Comic Sans

Guv Gunshow's latest order permits local yokels to issue their very own mask orders with some restrictions. Mayor Delay and her buddies wasted no time issuing an order all the while doing their dead level best to bypass any restriction from a higher authority. 

The Guv's restriction goes a bit like this:

The Local Option Face Covering Requirement may be enforced on individuals on private property where the owner or occupant of the property consents to enforcement.
Sounds like owner/occupants must "opt-in" doesn't it? 

But if you read Mayor Delay's edict it sounds much more like an "opt-out" scenario:

Every entity subject to this Ordinance which does not consent to enforcement of this Ordinance upon its property shall post a clearly legible sign in one inch Arial font at all public entrances of such entity stating the following: "This location does not consent to enforcement of any local face covering requirement upon this property."

A presumption of opt-in is not an actual opt-in. Unless you're Mayor Delay.

Does any of this matter? Really? 

Probably not. First we're talking about a city that has openly stated it employs an "enforce on complaint" policy, though a sitting member of council dodged the issue on social media. Then there is the fact that this city is notorious for completely ignoring, even violating its own ordinances and mostly just looks the other way when any ordinance is violated by businesses or the public. 

So is this just "virtue signalling" from the least virtuous among us?

No. It is far worse than that.

This transcends the usual hypocrisy spewing from city hall taking deception to a level that sets a new low. Quite an accomplishment for this city. 

Consider this possible scenario: Publix "opts-in" and the city sends their Mask Storm Troopers to lay down the law, but they arrive late because they're stuck behind a Publix semi that is tooling through the No Truck zone. Which ordinance do you think this city will enforce?

If this mayor and this city were trying to destroy any remaining positive regard in this community, what would they do differently?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Pandemic Shifts

Folks have changed. Some are direct consequence of impositions forced by the pandemic. Others, more indirect, are a result of time afforded by the pandemic to reflect on lives and how they are being lived. There will be changes and some, many being improvements, may well be permanent. This pandemic will not fully subside anytime soon and only the most naive believes this is one and done. 

One change taking hold is the renewed affection for suburban and rural living. Hopefully this will put a stake thru the heart of plans being made by high profit high density developers and their lackeys at city hall. God willing some of those lackeys will become redundant. In any event it is gratifying to find that the folks who moved to Dunwoody and created their sense of place, a suburban place, had it right all along. 

Folks have planted pandemic gardens, because you can do that in the 'burbs. Many have revisited a lost art called "cooking." Some have realized their home cooking is actually better than a lot of what they previously got where someone else did the dishes. Many have found life not just survivable without a daily eat-out but significantly better calling into question the viability eat-outs going forward. 

Working from home has not only worked it has proven more productive than rush hour to and fro with break room decompressions and afternoon dread. If work-from-home maintains its current level there will be fewer employees in cubby holes and consequently fewer occupational tax payments. Maybe we'll see folks at the Developers' Authority who traded away school taxes to gain occupational taxes wearing face omelets. 

Then there are the public schools. Buses are no longer schlepping kids to classes but since it is part of revenue stream they are now meals-on-wheels. Teachers have gone from heroes to traitors by insisting they be outside the classroom. A year ago teachers would have a hissy fit if someone suggested cameras in the classroom and now the classroom is the camera. And they want it that way. Or so they think. Unfortunately this form of flipped classroom does exactly what teachers so don't want: exposing classroom activities to review, particularly by parents. Now it is virtually impossible for a parent to NOT see what is going on. If Stan Da Man's post of virtual learning weekly calendar is correct, and it probably is, then DeKalb is offering three hours of instruction four days a week with the remainder mostly fluff. As a point of reference, the State of Georgia requires that home-schools provide four and a half hours of instruction for 180 days per year. And what are the teachers' big concern? That their Professional Development Institute didn't cover how to create their own bitmoji classrooms. Any parent that giggles that (it really is a thing) will likely seek an alternative to this virtual learning which is proving to be useless. If enough parents agree, this pandemic may finally result in a public school revolution where schools shed burdensome extras and return to core learning.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Snail Mail Voting

The only folks who think mail voting is a good idea are those made in the mold of Stacey Abrams who need fodder for their pontifications and lawsuits. Keep in mind that when voter registration was available using technology ensuring completion of the forms it was Abrams' groups that insisted on paper. Why? Because when these were incomplete and/or incorrect they immediately became evidence of malfeasance and voter suppression. At least in their minds. 

And so it will go with USPS mailed ballots. These are sure to get lost, misdirected or delivered too late. And the very same twits that advocate this mechanism will pounce, screaming discrimination and abuse. And how can we be certain? Easy. Even without the sudden flood of millions of ballots the USPS seems to be incompetent at their only job: delivery. Below is a screen capture of their tracking of a car part shipped from Jacksonville FL to Dunwoody GA. Somehow once arriving in the A-T-L it was routed by the twits' choice to San Francisco. Yep, that's right, the folks who invented the ZIP code apparently cannot figure out how to use them. 

San Fran: Shortest Distance Between ATL and Dunwoody

Now, given the current political climate and (non)support for the USPS coming out of DC it is entirely believable that some ballots might be more likely to get "misplaced" than others. But Abrams isn't likely to ever bring that up. No matter who wins, if the USPS is involved in ballot security the loser will claim a corruption that invalidates the vote.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

Fish Mongers

Imagine you're the fish. First you were lured to the bait. You took the bait and when hooked may have fought the good fight but were brought to net. Now you're on the table, gasping, struggling for life. Standing over you is the fish monger who you can only glimpse out of that one, upward looking eye as the other is blinded by the table. The monger stands there with the glinting knife, a fiendish smile on his face. You barely feel the blade slip in, slide down. Pain overwhelms you as your guts are ripped from your body. The peace of death comes as your muscles and nerves slowly expire. 

Now imagine not a fish, but the village overlay. And the gutting monger? That would be the mayor and council who are poised this very day to fully gut the sign ordinances of the Dunwoody Village Overlay in order to feed your flesh to their business family. That is what they really mean when they say they're here to serve you.

Some of you will simply disengage saying this doesn't affect you because you don't live near the village. But think about this: these people are voracious and there are more fish on the monger's table. They're smiling, their knives are glinting and your guts may be the next to spill.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Is This A Good Sign?

In Dunwoody you will never know. Because the city doesn't want you to know. And it doesn't have to be that way. So let's look at how professionals do it.

You start with a permitting process. That's right, you want to put up a sign then you go to the city (or online if you're in the 21st century) and you apply for a permit. Then you get a sticker to affix to the sign so that anyone who wants can check that the sign is approved as legal. This is done in neighboring cities, the ones without rampant sign pollution. Fun fact: this was actually done in Dunwoody, but that was when the county (remember Vernon?) was in charge but once the city took over the city was taken over by businesses and we are. 

Because of the city supported Uglify Dunwoody campaign, rolling out sign permitting is a start but is far from sufficient. It must be possible for citizens to quickly and easily enforce sign permitting. There needs to be an app for that. Stickers should be like license plate stickers with clearly distinguishable markings indicating type and and expiration date. They should also include a QR code used by the app to pull up detailed information on the applicant, the sign, the sign type and current status (e.g., expired). If the permit is expired an immediate notification will be made by the app to the system and a fine will automatically be issued.

Type, location and presentation would be supported by the app with the inclusion of one or more photos as well as the GPS location of the offending situation. This would require action on the part of city staff, which to date has been willfully absent, but the application will further allow anyone to access the complaint reports and monitor progress, both by the offender and the city. 

Equally important is that GPS location can be used to support varying rules, based on overlay districts or specific communities. Not only can the system provide immediate updates to concerned parties but it can provide, in the moment, the status (approved or illegal) to the resident who is concerned about Beautifying Dunwoody. 

At the end of the day, only the residents of Dunwoody will determine what is and is not a "Good Sign" and it is incumbent upon a city originally intended to serve those residents to step up and empower those residents.

Monday, August 3, 2020

When They Get Behind Closed Doors

If you were here for the big vote, the one for the referendum creating this city, then you probably remember the key elements of the sales pitch. We were going to get local representation, with neighbors running our city rather than the distant and detached government in Decatur. We were going to establish a government with the political will to put the brakes on rampant apartment development, one that would consider the impact of these developments on our children's schools. We were going to get a sincere focus on the three P's: Police; Parks; and Pavement. 

What the hell happened?

Certainly we've suffered from some very poor choices in our elected representatives which continues to this day with one member of council advocating secrecy in doing the people's business. And we know this because it was disclosed in a discoverable communication.

There are also serious structural issues, most likely by design. We have full time staff offering full time opportunities to serve businesses and developers equipped with full time liaison personnel who ensure that they get what they want. The Citizens OF Dunwoody are represented, often poorly as noted above, by a part-time mayor and council. By making our elected officials little more than casual observers with no real operational responsibilities resident voters are left with effectively zero representation. Again, by design.

Today begins the meetings of the charter review committee which offers a glimmer of hope that changes beneficial to the city can be made. This may be our only chance for meaningful, structural changes for several years which may explain why the mayor delayed the process.

There are many positive changes that could be made.

A Citizen Review Board would be a good start. Unlike those in other, well functioning cities, the scope of this board must extend beyond reviewing police activities to include all city operations. This board will set performance standards and review city operational units and employees to measure compliance and performance. The board will report directly to council making all reports public record. Selection of board members must be made by elected representatives and must be residents with a minimum two year residency requirement. City employees, even if a resident, will not be eligible for this board.

Similarly there should be Overlay District Community Boards for each overlay district in the city, and there should be more than one. Membership should be restricted to residents in adjacent neighborhoods with the same requirements and restrictions as the CRB. An ODCB is responsible for establishing performance standards and verifying city compliance and again, reporting directly to council. Any changes to the overlay district would require majority approval of the ODCB which should have six members thereby guaranteeing a "super" majority.

While certainly a stretch goal serious consideration should be given to upgrading the council and mayor positions to "real jobs" with operational responsibilities. The virtually nonexistent representation afforded residents by the current organization has proven but one thing: by any metric used to justify a Yes! vote, we were better served by the county when Vernon Jones was CEO.

Clearly we can do better than we have. It is up to the Charter Review to make that happen.