Saturday, January 14, 2017

Shame is not a strong enough word. John Lewis vs Trump

Like most of the people in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs I did not support President-elect Trump during the primary races.  When he won the nomination, I withheld my support hoping that his inflammatory rhetoric and tweeting would be brought under control and we would get clear picture of what his policies were going to be.  That never quite happened. After the election I waited to see who how he would perform as the President Elect. 


I am still waiting to be impressed. 

This fact that he uses Twitter as the new way to communicate to his base is shaking up the political world and conventional media.  However his continued attacks on US Intelligence Agencies, his obvious attempt to use Twitter to inflame and misdirect the public. His tweets that dismiss US Intelligence findings and takes the “word” of the Russians are  embarrassing.


But the recent attack on Representative John Lewis, a true American Hero, in his latest round of tweets is  disgraceful  and sad.  In Trumps usual style, he aggressively attacks the person and tries to humiliate and call in to question decades of Representative Lewis’s selfless service to this country.
He seems to forget that a Congressman can only do so much at the local level with local issues.  But when you are ignorant of so many things like Mr. Trump, why let the details crowd out your message.  After all you only get 140 Characters.


Shame is not a strong enough word.  For my Republican brethren who continue to find no fault or express any concerns over Mr. Trump’s behavior, step back and look at what he is actually doing.  If you are following blindly which a lot of you seem to be doing, shame on you 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Governing as the result of fear

When you are elected to “govern” whether it be the President of the United States or locally, a Mayor and City Council, you are chosen to lead for the best interest of those who elected you AND what is best for the jurisdiction you were chosen to represent.

Sounds simple but it is not.  It is not supposed to be simple. 

Simple is governing by polls.  You vote for something simply because a poll or the number of phone calls leads you to believe that your constituency is demanding you vote a specific way.  It is easy to claim publicly that you have received thousands of emails regarding a specific issue.  (Just a side note, the current Mayor and former Councilman Danny Ross made such a claim to justify their anti-chicken vote in the early years of city hood.  Upon scrutiny it was discovered that there were less than 20 or so original emails)

If governing were that simple we could phone in our votes, after all majority rules.  (Not really)
Elected officials are also charged to lead.  To make tough decisions.  Decisions that might actually go against what the outspoken constituency is telling you to do.  We elect LEADERS.  Sometimes leaders need to consider more than the number of phone calls or emails.  Making those choices are a bit tougher.

The WORST way to govern is to govern through fear of being sued.   “We must do this or we could be sued and we can’t afford it.  Such was the case that was highlighted by the Mayor’s actions to ban DHA members from sitting on City boards.  The Mayor who was clueless became an expert overnight and simply attempted to change and implement new policy out of the FEAR of being sued in the future. He did this despite the fact the was no case law cited in the City Attorney’s opinion nor any record of case law in Georgia.  He acted on an irrational fear placed in his head by lawyers of the city.  You do not govern out of fear.  You do not govern out of fear of being sued.

You govern because you know it is right.  You govern, reaching decisions that you are confident are what is best for the community.  You govern knowing that you may have to defend yourself in court if challenged.  But you govern.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Dunwoody Politics.. What is the status?

Several weeks have now passed since the Mayor took it upon himself to execute powers he did not have according to the Dunwoody City Charter.  Changing city policy the implementing it without city council review and approval is not something the Mayor can just do.



The action of the Dunwoody legal team, advising the Mayor and writing the memo that in essence forced DHA member to choose who they wanted to serve, makes them complicit in the Mayor’s actions. Adding to this, informing the members that they would face ethics charges or State charges if they discussed the issue with other calls their behavior into question as well.

The city’s response to these very distressing actions was to hire outside attorneys to investigate themselves.

I have several questions regarding these issues:


Are the citizens that are nominated by the Mayor to the Board of Ethics vetted by anyone on the city council prior to the nominations going forward or are these "nominations” taken and approved as a courtesy to the Mayor?

What is the current status of the legal review by outside council of the actions by the Mayor regarding the controversial Executive Session and illegal policy change regarding Board appointees and the DHA?  Will any part of that investigation be public?

Is not an investigation of these actions better and more correctly addressed by a Board of Ethics review and not an attorney hired by the Council to investigate itself?  A negative ruling by the BOE on any of these issues would result in consequences and send a message that these behaviors will not be tolerated.

As I have said before publicly, these action weakened if not destroyed the trust that citizens of Dunwoody had in its city government. I believe that these events should undergo a complete legal review by the process we already have in place and that is Board of Ethics

Monday, July 18, 2016

"WE CAN NOT TURN ON EACH OTHER"



“We cannot turn on each other” (President Obama)

It has to stop. People who know me know that I am a Republican. That does not forbid me from respecting the Office of the President of the United States. It does not mean that I participate in the blanket hatred that some right wing conservatives heap upon President Obama.

There my preamble is done.

This however is a time for politics and the hateful rhetoric of all people to be set aside. Whether it be Trumps often hate filled rhetoric, or the sometimes mixed message of Black Lives Matter, we all need to stop, step back, take a deep breath and see what is happening to us as an American people.

We need to stop posting and re-posting half-truths or opinions as fact.

Do not waste your breath telling me I do not understand, BLM or Liberty Party/Tea Party/Trump messages. If you do, you are missing a MUCH bigger picture.

Rhetoric from both sides fuels the hate. The hate of a few that erupts in death, often of the innocent. As President Bush said in Dallas last week, we then go on to judge the whole by the actions of a few.

Rhetoric from political parties immediately tries to change the focus to their causes such as gun control or the uncontrolled right to own and carry a hand gun. Again do not waste your time by replying and spouting more partisan political views. If you do you are a bigger part of the problem than you realize.

We need to all sit down and face the real issues of the day and find the way.

Slain Baton Rouge Cop’s Haunting Facebook Plea: 
‘Please Don’t Let Hate Infect Your Heart.’ (Montrell Jackson)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Battle is Over, Time To Move ON

The final decision on the fate of the Brook Run Theater was made on Monday night. It was a long battle by a group of dedicated Dunwoody volunteers who despite having years to come up with a plan, failed to garner city wide support and failed to raise a single dollar or committed sponsor. 

Their first feasibility study was incredibly weak on details and financials based on wild guesses and data that could not be justified by any method. The follow up report where they were told specifically what the council expected to see was even weaker than the first. In fact the report they submitted and the chief flag waivers comments in the Reporter News Paper exposed they did not have community wide support. 140 signatures on a petition is an incredibly small number despite having a booth at Lemonade Days (the largest city function held every year) where they actively solicited visitors for signatures. Their Facebook page had 150 people in the group. Once again minuscule numbers coming from a city with a population of +/- 45,000 residents. 


So a well thought out motion made by Councilwoman Deutsch was immediately seconded. Before a vote was taken the Mayor properly offered a substitute motion of $500,000 dollars in cash and $500,000 in Parks Bond money be directed to the Save the Theater/Center group. This coming from the Mayor who only a few weeks earlier had said "no tax payer money would be used" The result was a deafening silence from the other 6 councilmen and councilwomen. The Mayor’s motion failed for lack of a second. The original motion to seek bids to demolish the theater passed 6-1 with Mayor Shortal the lone NO vote.  After the vote the mayor was quoted as saying:

“We’re undermining a lot of citizens tonight, a lot of our rich 
talent” Reporter News Paper Juy 11 2016

I am done with this issue. The battle is over and we all need to move on. Mr. Ross (chief flag waver) was visibly upset after losing the vote and said: 

"To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement,” he said. “They’re going to kill the community … the spirit of volunteerism. ”Reporter News Paper Juy 11 2016

If he and some of the members of his group believe that, it is a sad statement and a sad day if they follow through with it.

These volunteers have an incredible track record working with various groups that have been critical to the growth of the city and community of Dunwoody. I urge and hope that every one of them realizes that while they lost this battle, there are many more battles to fight. If they take their ball and go home, the city might be diminished. The very city they worked so hard for could suffer. I believe however that the spirit that has led this community for 50 years and guided this city since it was created will recover with new generation of volunteers. This is what Dunwoody has always been about. 

So Danny get angry, vent; get it out of your system and find a new project. To all of the volunteers, do not let Danny’s and the Mayor’s prediction come to fruition. There is so much to do and the city can always use your help 




We did not become a city so you could get your own way. We became a city so our neighbors who serve as our leaders could make these types of decisions locally. Their message Monday night was clear. Now it is time to reunite and move on.   

Friday, July 8, 2016

TIME IS UP,,, There is no money, no plans to raise money. What we have can't pay their way and the Mayor needs to RECUSE himslef.- TEAR IT DOWN




he feasibility report about the Theater in Brook Run indicated that the Dunwoody Stage Door Players would be a primary user of the restore theater. In order to meet the numbers in their projections, the Stage Door Players would have to increase the number of shows they produce each season, increase attendance from the 125 seat theater at the Spruill Center to a 350 seat theater, cut expenses and so on. Here is the Financial Report through 2014.



Well it seems that the Save the Theater at Brook Run overlooked the fact that at its current location, the Dunwoody Stage Door Players are losing money at an amazing rate through 2014.  If these were your financial records, you would be heading to bankruptcy court.  As of 2014 they were in the hole over $49,000.  Not a strong beginning for a tenant that you are counting on to pay the majority of the bill.

The Save the Dunwoody Theater group is a spinoff of the Preservation Trust.  Maybe not officially but the membership from both groups overlaps significantly.  This group already has control of the Chestnut Farm on Chamblee Dunwoody.  Since they are a vendor for the city, I think their financial records should be made public as well.  How much of the funds raised at Lemonade days and other events is being spent on the farm house?  How much money if any has been spent from that organization for the Theater cause?  These are funds being used on properties owned by the city.  The citizens have a right to know this information.

RECUSAL

It has been told to me by several people that there is a conflict of interest involving the Mayor.  I do not think it is a conflict simply because the Mayor’s wife is on the Save the Theater Board, although there may be an appearance of a conflict.  I am more concerned that it appears that the first person to know about the County/City settlement was Danny Ross.  No sooner had the Judge signed the order, it appears that the Mayor and Mr. Ross were talking about using $1.5 million could be used as seed money for the restoration project.  With this in mind it is clear to me that the Mayor should recuse himself from any vote on the Theater project to avoid any and all inference of conflicts

City Investment and Subsidies


Finally, there is a concern over the ongoing expenses that the city will incur yearly.  Perhaps a subsidy for the Stage Door Players, operating costs, a manager to schedule the many activities that we are told will be occurring.  Again from the feasibility report,

An open ended expense that the tax payers of this city will be responsible for.  If the Stage Door Player cannot meet the revenue expectations, that subsidy would undoubtedly rise.
The financial report being presented on Monday is no plan at all.  Of its 50 some pages most are press clipping and supporter comments.  Pages are dedicated to a petition that shows “overwhelming support” for the Theater.  It does not make clear if those who signed it were actually residents of Dunwoody.  I know several names right off the top of my head where the people live in Atlanta or Sandy Springs.  45,000 people in Dunwoody and 150 or so signatures is NOT overwhelming support.
Time is up-Time to tear it down


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Time is Up - Tear It Down

Save the Theater at Brook Run
No wait, Save the Brook Run Community Center
SAVE THE BROOK RUN BOMB SHELTER


REALLY?
They have had over a year, at least it feels that long, to come up with some compelling reason to save the Brook Run Theater.  They were given 3 months to come up with a plan to raise the money to restore the Theater.  What have we got?

It is an announcement that the cause was going to be rebranded as a Community Center.  I am sure that the appeal to council will be we need more time for a “plan” because now we are saving a Community Center, which just happens to have a theater attached to it.  Stop the insanity

I love Danny Ross’s quote in the reporter last week, “If they want to tear it down, they can. But they do so at their own peril”.  Peril, really ?  Peril?  Someone define this for me.  They have a Facebook page with (nearly) 150 members and have been pushing a petition that has a whopping 140 signatures. (Just curious, how many of these supporters actually live in Dunwoody? Who exactly does that put in “peril?

So after a year of trying and given 3 months to come up with a plan to save whatever it is they are saving, they have changed direction and now will be asking for MORE time to raise money for this Bomb shelter. 

Now here is where it gets interesting.  The Save the Theater, Community Center/Bomb Shelter is now admitting that the City has to pony up some cash to make this work. Without a city commitment they claim that they cannot get a “major” corporate sponsor. The Mayor has made several comments in advance of all of these meetings so understanding where he is headed is more confusing than ever. 

Upon hearing of the bond settlement with the county, the Mayor immediately suggested that the city give $1.5 of that settlement as seed money for the Save the Theater campaign.  After feeling some blow-back on that idea he then said that no taxpayer money would be used. I can only hope he understands that whether it is tax money or the bond settlement money, it is ALL tax payer money.

Here is a kicker: “We’ve got to get our council on board, but also back away and give us time to do it.” 

OK, we give them money and back away. Got it.  Just one question, has anyone ever seen the Dunwoody Preservation Trust’s financial statement?  How about that of the Save the Theater group itself? How about the suggested primary users of a restore theater, The Stage Door Players?  

Not a big fan of giving money to anyone where the city and the public do not have a complete accounting or say in where that money is going and being spent.

I love the spokesman’s statement,” It is not their money it belongs to the people of Dunwoody” Let‘s remind the spokesman that we elected the Mayor and City Council to be good stewards of “our” money, not some special interest group.

So the update that this special interest group will give at the City Council meeting will be more talk. There will be no mention of a financial plan to raise the money as they were instructed to do by the Council three months ago.  Instead we will get a plan to hire someone to come up with a plan.  We get that only after the City agrees to support (not moral support, but a financial commitment) the restoration. After the initial contribution, the city will be on the hook for annual expenses to operate and staff this facility.

We should move this city out of the 1970’s and 80’s and build for our future.  Improve the parks, add restrooms, rest stations, water fountains, a community rec center and oh god forbid some playing fields.  How about all weather fields that kids, friends and family could have access to all of the time? Check out Hammond Park in Sandy Springs are a prime example of what we could and should do.


The future of Dunwoody should be directed at young families with kids and the young millennials that studies have shown want to move here. Build for tomorrow.  Do not waste any more time or money on retrofitting a 1970 structure with no historical significance other than it is old for the benefit of a few privileged end users and an elite special interest groups