Monday, January 30, 2023

The Great What?

When the pandemic (remember that) was in full fury offices across the globe were vacant. Everyone who could was working from home (those who couldn't were "heroes"). When the pandemic terror subsided folks who were working from home were more than reluctant to return to the office with many, particularly high-tech workers, resigning to find WFH jobs. 

Is that loyalty? 

Now we're seeing the economic impact of just one too many rounds of "stimulus" payments as Biden tried to one-up Trump despite some economists' warnings. Inflation ensued and the economy cooled. Major high-tech companies are now "right-sizing" by laying off significant headcount. Interestingly these employees are trying to play the "loyalty" card claiming that the companies should be more devoted to their employees. But where were these voices when they, or their colleagues, were showing how loyal they were to their employer (and their colleagues)? 

Is that loyalty? 

What is stunning is that anyone working in high-tech can somehow believe they are guaranteed a job. One with far above average pay and very often significant stock opportunities. They seem unawares of the fact that most of them are, well, average. Or that there are as many that are poor performers as there are that walk on water when it isn't frozen. Probably more. A lot more. They cannot grok that they work for a business. One that has to make money. Money used to pay their salaries. When the money goes south almost no employers cut pay across the board and if they tried there would be mutiny. Managements only lever to pull is reduction in force (RIF). 

It is simply amazing that folks, who claim to be so smart, don't get this.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Who Was Arrested?

And when? These questions regard the double murder of Roger and Dorothy Abbott who were murdered in their home July 1, 2010. Why does anyone care about a 12+ year old crime? Because one group, Dunwoody Police, seem to have "forgotten" as this crime is not listed amongst their unsolved crimes. Does that mean they've bagged the bad guy? Or does it mean their failure is a black mark, far worse than their bungling of the Schneiderman murder investigation, that they would prefer everyone forget. Just like they have.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Will It Go Round In Circles?

Have you ever wondered why it is that any change proposed by bureaucrats at city hall, many of whom do not live here, are characterized as "improvements," or "upgrades," or the now popular "re-vitalization?" Is it because at heart they are political creatures and as we all know when politicians say something is "A" it may not actually be "B" but it certainly is NOT "A." So it is with proposed "traffic upgrades" for the intersection of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon. What does that even mean? Aren't they actually proposing to spend buckets of money to improve the intersection? Is the spirit of George Carlin haunting city hall: drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? 

The original plan, now implemented, apparently was not enduring so we have yet-another-plan. Sorta. When plan changes are made so it really a plan? So now the plan is to re-jigger the intersection to add double left turn lanes from C-D to MtV with the southbound lanes encouraging increased drive-thru traffic on C-D and Roberts, each with school zones. It also seems some kind of closed-door session was held to discussing a two-lane roundabout but this was dismissed due to cost. Apparently you can all but steal property from a church but businesses have immunity from imminent domain. Or maybe it is the political cost of doing away with the farmhouse. 

But the plan, as has been presented, will go forward. It will require substantial changes to bike lanes (an entitlement that cannot be taken away) which has caused some concern regarding emergency vehicle response times. One council-folk wanted to know where these cars/drivers are coming from and where they are going to and even had the audacity to suggest that a traffic study be done. WTF? They've got this plan all but in flight w/o doing a traffic study? Why, you might ask? Well, it is Dunwoody 101: the city was recently awarded $6M by ARC to fund this so, well, you know, when it comes to clutching Other People's Money haste doesn't always make waste. And even then your tax dollars will be thrown at this. Without a proper traffic study. 

When an outside agency, the Atlanta REGIONAL Commission, all but dictates, by dangling cash in front of bureaucrats, changes in our community is this the "local control" we were promised by Dunwoody Yes! and Citizens for Dunwoody? Because this is what we got.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Honeymoon Cancelled

Mableton hasn't even seated a mayor, or anyone for that matter, yet thousands have signed a de-annexation petition. Hardly in the city and they already want out. Not since Brexit has there been such a wave of voter regret. OK. Fine. Not since Biden has there been such regret. 

It will be very interesting to see how this de-annexation plays out. Might be some folks round these parts, maybe those getting a highway lane in their back yard, that might want to follow suit.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Education: Florida Leads The Way?

This isn't about recent assaults on the tenure system in Florida (and other states') universities. This is about a new alternative to the (failed) Common Core curriculum for K-12. At least one organization is holding this up as an example for others to follow as well as defending the Florida curriculum from assault from the Fordham Institute. 

Fordham, lilting to the left, takes issue with Florida's B.E.S.T. not because of pedagogical weakness or probable educational outcomes but because B.E.S.T. does not follow the current trends toward non-objectivity and P.C. content of questionable value. In effect, Florida attempts to institute a meritocracy that runs afoul of the participation-award philosophy dominating schools throughout the country. 

The Independent Institute performed their own evaluation of B.E.S.T. as well as addressing Fordham's issues head on. This article is well worth a read in the hopes that such a curriculum might take hold in Georgia.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Can Politicians Fix The Economy?

We all know that members of the US House and Senate dramatically enlarge their net worth upon taking office but do they do anything for (or to) us? After all, don't these multi-millionaire politicians promise to do just that in order to garner votes? A recent article in Better Investing suggests these are idle promises. At best. But...two charts tracking the S&P index against House and Senate majority margins does tell an interesting story.

The author did not differentiate between parties in the majority nor is there any indication when a single party held the majority in both the House and the Senate. It is interesting to note that there were times, long ago, when the "majority party" held less than 50% of the seats in the House. Back in those days the country was blessed with more than two parties which now look and behave strikingly similar. No matter what you believe.

What is striking about these charts is that the best S&P returns coincide with the weakest majorities in the House and Senate. And there is reason to believe that our recent (2022-2023) plunge in S&P returns might correlate with the same party holding a majority in both chambers. 

That, as they say, is a topic for further research. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

We Heart...

...Tongue 'n' Cheek

Heart. Tongue. Cheek. 

And...Bringing Up The Rear...

Friday, January 6, 2023

Only Happens Here

Looks like there is going to be some belly-bucking between DCSD and some cities hereabouts over traffic cameras. Some background...

Cities, including Dunwoody, have been pushing DCSD to install these traffic cameras to enforce traffic ordinances and collect revenue from issuance of tickets. As it sits right now the money collected would not necessarily go to DCSD because the law says the administrative agency will not be DCSD but the local jurisdiction. In a nutshell, Dunwoody would get revenue and would escape all costs: DCSD installs and maintains the cameras and service and DPD would not (and never have) bear the cost of traffic enforcement. Our chair force can cool their jets in those Aerons. 

DCSD will lobby for legislative changes to set this right. DCSD Board Chair sees this as win-win: DCSD will keep Dunwoody safer; and DCSD will be duly and properly compensated for doing DPD's job for them. Common sense. 

Not to Dunwoody's mayor who has reportedly been pushing hard for these cameras. The city, through one of the top bungle brothers who is directly in charge of traffic enforcement in this city, whines that they cannot come to an agreement to get DCSD to submit an application to GDOT for the cameras. Well chief, how about until they do you actually have your troops do the very job we voted this city into existence to get done: enforce the traffic laws. 

Feigning surprise that money is involved the mayor laments that if student safety is paramount these cameras would be in place. J.M.J! Maybe, just maybe, the mayor has been pushing on the wrong lever. Maybe the mayor should look inward where the mayor's responsibility lies and push hard, really hard on those levers. Maybe then the city would be informed, with empirical evidence, of the cost of actual police enforcement of these traffic safety measures and then, and only then, an informed cost/benefit evaluation could be made. This would aid any revenue sharing discussions with DCSD as the city would know exactly how much money would be saved with traffic cams over actual policing. Only that revenue in excess of the policing costs should stay with the city and the rest should go to DCSD? Why? Because this city and the mayor and the council have demonstrated time and again that safety if NOT a priority and their not ensuring safety for our school children. Frankly the city doesn't deserve a single dime of this revenue. 

If Dunwoody, if the mayor, if the council, if the city manager, if the police chief, if any of them were doing their job to protect our community this would not be an issue at all.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Hitchcockian? Orwellian? Or...Just Dunwoody Dystopian?

Turns out those cameras popping up all over are not going to serve the community and certainly will not be used to keep trucks from blasting through school zones. Seems nothing with ever stop that. No, these are Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs). Flocks of them. Being small-b black perhaps even a murder of crows. 

These spies-on-poles are not the first deployment of ALPRs  by the increasingly Orwellian state. These first bedecked patrol cars giving black sedans and SUVs something of an Evil Empire vibe. Apropos. The major benefit to these deployments is court engagement: cases have already resulted in decisions suggesting a proclivity by the state to abuse historical data and establishing a clear need for judicial oversight--warrants before fishing expeditions. Police who play fast and loose with constitutional and civil rights are playing techno-legal arbitrage hoping to "ask forgiveness rather than permission." Like the Dunwoody PD run by our very own bungle brothers. And by now it should be obvious that this city actually relishes spending our money on hopeless courts cases. So expect there are more to come regarding this Orwellian murder of crows. Maybe they should float a "Police Bond."

Precedents established because of the use (and abuse) of Cell Service Location Information and increasingly ALPR databases suggest a legal trajectory towards oversight and protection of Constitutional and Civil rights. Fortunately experts have begun recommending some best practices to protect rights while supporting legitimate use that serves the public good. These are what might be called common sense, detailed in this article, summarized as:

  • Adopt retention limits and require warrants to search historical data. This should be a no-brainer. We'll see.
  • Institute a two-step scanning process. Initial lookups should not reveal protected personal information and this information must support sufficient probable cause to conduct a further search. Expect an argument suggesting there is no such thing as protected personal information when police are involved. Expect that argument to cost a lot in legal fees.
  • Require verification of hot list data. Government (like credit bureaus) have a habit of making unfavorable data more persistent than favorable data meaning that independent verification is necessary to protect citizens' rights and limit exposure to legal risk. 
  • Require transparency and invite community input. Very, very problematic. Governments abhor transparency and will do much to prevent automatic implementation. Consider this: automatic license plates readers are wonderful but a publicly searchable database of government that database is unacceptably difficult or expensive to implement. Ask them. This city's track record of "inviting public input" is superficial, bordering on dismissive. Look no further than the parks master plan and the back-door "trail."
  • Maintain audit logs. Who did what and when seems like table stakes. The amount of pushback will be enormous. If there is capitulation on this point it will be insincere: they will say they will implement audit trails, but somehow they just won't get it done. 
This is a very serious matter. Our privacy is at very serious risk and while the courts will ultimately uphold our rights, police departments will use the technology-legal arbitrage in the interim hoping to establish an "acceptable existence" to keep the technology in place and then operate at the very edge of the line. The very fact that these departments are aggressively installing these devices rather than community policing exposes their desired trajectory. And this will be costly. The cost of the cameras and service will be dwarfed by legal costs we'll surely incur. 

Is this really worth it?