Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stop HB 515 - Gerrymandering

I just sent the below email to Georgia House Representative Johnnie Caldwell, the Chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee, Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows john.meadows@house.ga.gov and copied his special-interest friends. Apologies if this isn't a slick and engaging visual post. 

__________________________________________________________________________

Background:

GEORGIA GERRYMANDERING EMERGENCY! The Georgia House of Representatives has filed a shady last-minute bill, HB 515, to change district lines to rig some districts to protect Republican incumbents! Filed on Tuesday, second read on Wednesday. Tomorrow (Friday) is crossover day. The bill has no "Why" or Reasons". Bill is in geo-code speak without any maps to visually see. Needs to have public input from the citizens that LIVE in these NINE House Districts that are affected, and hearings held. Please loudly oppose this anti-democratic effort. Last census was in 2010 and districts have already been redrawn to show that change. Call & email Reapportionment Chairman Johnnie Caldwell, Jr at 404.656.5087 email: johnnie.caldwell@house.ga.gov. Call and email members of the House Rules Committee and let them know that you are watching and won't let them get away with this.





johnnie.caldwell@house.ga.gov


jrm2016@yahoo.com; john.meadows@house.ga.gov; brett@voteharrell.com; richard.smith@house.ga.gov; staceyabrams@gmail.com; bert.reeves@house.ga.gov; ed.setzler@house.ga.gov; earl.ehrhart@house.ga.gov; jan.jones@house.ga.gov; chuck@martinforgeorgia.com; sheila.jones@house.ga.gov; david.stover@house.ga.gov; brian.strickland@house.ga.gov; rich.golick@house.ga.gov;  elena.parent@senate.ga.gov; 

and add your own State Representative & Senator. Mine are: tom.taylor@house.ga.gov; Fran.Millar@senate.ga.gov;

_____________________________________________________________________________

March 2, 2017

Dear Mr. Caldwell,

Are you afraid that in 2018 the seats held by Representatives Golick (HD-40) and Strickland (111) may change from Republican to Democrat so much that you need to do some Gerrymandering to keep your friends in office?

Plainly state to Georgia citizens WHY you introduced and sponsored HB 515. Plainly state to Georgia citizens the PROBLEM that needs to be fixed.

As a Georgian and 23-year US Army retired Infantry Major having spent a year in a combat zone serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I am ashamed of this partisan and unscrupulous behavior by a select few “elites” that hid behind closed doors.

You work for the citizens and you do not get to choose who you work for by changing district maps arbitrarily and capriciously behind closed doors without citizen input and transparency. Stop HB 515. This is gerrymandering at it’s worse. It represents “packing & cracking” done behind the scenes weeks ago using sophisticated voter & demographic databases behind closed doors to manipulate and dilute the power of the PEOPLE. The timing has all been well-thought out to try to hide from the voters your intentions.

The bill contains a bunch of geo-codes without maps that a human could not read. Add the before & after maps for humans to read. It changes NINE House districts. The bill was introduced on Tuesday with a first read. Had a second read on Wednesday and now it looks like you want to get it to the full house for a vote before crossover day on Friday. You waited until the last minute to push this through in an attempt to sneak it past Georgia voters.

The bill as written does not contain the WHY or REASON.
How many people inside these NINE districts came to the Georgia State Assembly saying there was a problem?
Precisely WHAT is the problem that needs to be legislated?
How many public meetings were held in these NINE districts notifying the CITIZENS that you were thinking about changing THEIR districts, and/or state representatives?


House District
Representative
Area
2016 Election Result
(% win for current seat holder)
Current District Map
Proposed District Map
Reason this district map needs to be redrawn?
34
Bert Reeves (R)
Marietta
63% - Reeves
36% - HOLSOMBACK (D)
MISSING

35
Ed Setzler (R)
Acworth
100% - Unopposed
MISSING

36
Earl Ehrhart (R)
Powder Springs
100% - Unopposed
MISSING

40
Rich Golick (R)
Smyrna
53% - Dickey
46% - Allen (D)
 MISSING

47
Jan Jones (R)
Milton
100% - Unopposed
MISSING

49
Chuck Martin (R)
Alpharetta
100% - Unopposed
MISSING

53
Sheila Jones (D)
Atlanta
100% - Unopposed
MISSING

71
David Stover (R)
Newnan
75% - Stoner
25% - Bennett (D)
MISSING

111
Brian Strickland (R)
McDonough
51.69% - Strickland
48.31% - Payton (D)
MISSING



This bill wreaks of partisan Gerrymandering and must be stopped dead in its tracks.

In contract, you should support and vote yes for SR 6 & SR 7 to REMOVE party politics and put the PEOPLE back in charge of our state elected servants, going back to representing the people.

SR6: A RESOLUTION proposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to provide that legislative and congressional reapportionment be done by an independent bipartisan commission instead of the General Assembly; to provide for related matters; to provide for submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes
SR7: RESOLUTION proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Georgia so as to provide procedures and standards for legislative and congressional reapportionment; to provide for related matters; to provide for submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.



Myself and the public look forward to hearing your prompt and detailed response.

Regards,


Joe Seconder
404-545-3711
Retired Major, US Army Reserve

Dunwoody, Georgia

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Letter to Dunwoody Mayor & Council: Announce we are a Welcoming City

Yesterday in the news, the Dunwoody assistant city attorney has been put on paid administrative leave following allegations he made derogatory comments on Facebook about women and Muslims, according to a city statement.





For the story, click here


Today, I sent our Mayor & Council the following letter, asking for a proactive and welcoming response.

Hi All,

I personally know, trust and have the greatest faith and confidence in all of you as our elected & appointed city leaders. I know you all have the highest ethical & moral values. I recognize and greatly appreciate that you are taking this effort of due diligence most seriously in this matter. You could have taken a different path. But you didn't. And it is greatly and sincerely appreciated.

In that light of that and on a proactive note, could we please get a public statement by our mayor

Denouncing any racist remarks or behavior of any staff or city official, reaffirming that Dunwoody supports and welcomes people of all faiths, immigrants, ethnicity and backgrounds to our city? 

Enforcing that our police will not racially profile anyone and treat all citizens alike with the same respect that we all have for one another? 

And for those employees, contractors or persons doing business of & by the City of Dunwoody, any such behavior will be swiftly dealt with leading up to and including termination? 

This statement does not need to mention or reference this ongoing investigation.

As you know, Dunwoody voted for Hillary. The past 12 days have seen great divisiveness and angst in this country and our region that hasn’t been seen in a generation. We are a divided and polarized nation. Instead of coming together after the election, we growing apart. Facts matter and truths are indisputable. People who don’t like what they have seen the past 12 days are mobilizing, organizing, becoming informed and taking actions. Right here in Dunwoody, too. At the local level, we should not be a divided Dunwoody. A short and direct statement by our hometown mayor would go far in the eyes of the greater public.

Atlanta reference, click here.

Sincerely,


Joe Seconder



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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Get Involved in Dunwoody



The other day, I responded to a question on Next Door which basically asked about getting our Dunwoody Council members involved on that website / online message forum so as to be more engaged and responsive to the community. My reply was 180 of that, and instead focused on how we as individuals need to take personal responsibility to proactively get involved. The following was my response:

I strongly suggest first focusing on a personal responsibility level, starting with each individual. Be proactively engaged and show up to Dunwoody City meetings. Everybody has an excuse for not attending. I've heard it all. Don't be one of those single-issue NIMBY folks that only show up for one item, say some stuff, and then walk out & leave the council meeting as it's still in progress.

Our council works their BUTTS OFF making pennies on the dollar for us, attending late evening meetings (last Monday, they were in session from 6 to 11 pm), being responsive and accessible to our residents, and also (most) having full-time careers, families and other interests.

Sign up for official emails from the city's website. Sign up & follow Heneghan's blog. Follow the city on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Go to the monthly Dunwoody Homeowners Association meetings, generally the first Sunday of each month (& please consider being a paid member for $40 a year).

Each Friday before the city council meets (usually 2x/month), review the posted agenda as posted to the city's calendar.

Be in the "know". Don't just read what's published in The Crier or even the Dunwoody Reporter. If you do, you'll miss 75% of what's going on, and quite possibly the story will be biased or will leave out additional facts. --- The Crier editorials are quite a "show", of course and greatly exaggerate the views & opinions of our 45,000 residents. As it's a "free" paper, and the more letters that are published, the less the owner needs to pay for a journalist to write copy. --- . Show up, speak during public comments.

Attend the Town Halls (I went to two of them this year. I'm 54 years old and I definitely lower the average age of the attendance.).

Download & review our annual budget. --- Did you know not a SINGLE person spoke during public comments just a couple weeks ago when our 2017 annual budget was approved?

Bored? Submit an application to serve on a city board. And, personally FOLLOW up with the Mayor to make sure you will be considered. -- Send emails & make phone calls.

Submit feedback to ongoing plans. For example the PCID Overlay District, where we receive approximately 70% of our city funds.

Collaborate. Network. Those who show up get heard. I could go on & on.

I'll leave you with this: If anyone wants to start an informal "Coffee / Beer" social periodically to gather and discuss topics, I'd be all for that!
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

No to 3rd lane - or Reversible -- on Mt. Vernon

An inviting & safe street for our community???
Anyone here in Dunwoody use "Next Door" for posting & responding to community topics? Someone has proposed adding a third lane on Mt. Vernon & making it "reversible" -- like on Roswell Rd / Hwy-9 in Roswell just north of the Chattahoochee river.

Feel free to chime in too at this link HERE

What people are not discussing are things like:


- Trip origins & destinations: Do we know where these people are coming from and headed to? How far are they going?


-- Single occupancy vehicles: How many of these vehicles only have one person in them?

-- Alternative mode: Is there ANY OTHER WAY they could move around other than in their motor vehicle? (Bicycle, or course. Maybe even walking) What prohibits them?

--Safety: Does a reversible lane increase or reduce safety for the users of our street, and does it take into consideration pedestrians, disabled, people on bicycles, elderly, and the residents that actually live on the street? What studies have been referenced that show reversible lanes are internationally-recognized best practices, are proven & safe? (They aren't safe at all!)

-- Cost: Where does the money come from if we were to do this? Acquire right of way -- most likely requiring eminent domain. Moving utilities, stormwater, etc., would run into many millions of dollars. Right now for repaving alone, cars only pay for roughly 18%. So that huge expansion would represent an even greater subsidy.

-- Livability: Does a third lane help our community maintain our "sense of place"? Does it help people who are merely just passing through to SLOW DOWN and drive the SPEED LIMIT? Do passersby sense that they have ARRIVED in a place where children, families and retirees are out & about, walking, biking, and safely enjoying our neighborhoods?

-- TWO HOURS A DAY, 5 days a week: That's 520 hours out of 8,760 in a year that traffic is backed up. For the other 8,240 the current street configuration is fine enough.

-- CAPACITY BUILDING: When you plan for cars & traffic, you get cars & traffic. Add capacity, and you simply get more traffic. In the long run, you will NEVER reduce traffic. We're going to selectively add some turn lanes at key intersections at Vermack / Manhasset and Tilly Mill.

Adding a reversible lane -- or even a continuous center turn lane -- will only make this street less safe. Go look at one in person and ask yourself if you'd like to live on a street with one. It ruins the residential feel of Dunwoody.

https://thewoodlandsdunwoody.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=36453532
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I'M GOING TO BUILD A WALL



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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Misc Thoughts on Human-Scale Transportation Planning for Brookhaven




Yesterday 10/31/2016 I participated in a Walk Bike Thrive Workshop held at the Brookhaven City Hall by the Atlanta Regional Commission. It was very exciting and worthwhile and I greatly appreciated being invited. There is definitely some great momentum in Brookhaven in regards to acknowledging and prioritizing non-motorized ways for people to get about. Prior to attending, I wrote a quick list that would be appreciative of consideration in regards to holistic transportation planning.

Plan for People and Places, and that’s what you’ll get. Plan for cars and parking, and that’s what you’ll get. There cannot be disjointed and divergent planning between motorized & non-motorized transportation planning, zoning, funding and prioritization. And that is precisely what I experienced between the Ashford Dunwoody Corridor study open house held a few weeks ago, compared with the Bike/Ped/Trail plan, or yesterday’s workshop. After five minutes at the Ash-Dwy meeting, it seemed as if I was walked back into the 1960s in regards to being focused on moving cars as quickly through an area as possible.

A Real world example from yesterday:


I drove to the meeting yesterday. Due to voting and cars backed up, I drove around the backside of city hall into Town Brookhaven, got as close to the backside of the building and parked. I looked & looked for a place to walk directly across the 20 feet or so to get to the city hall parking lot and found myself looking up at a 6-foot chain linked fence. I could not see a direct entry, yet the distance was so close. I literally was just about to climb over the fence and was readying to do so, when fortunately the Brookhaven City Manager, Christian Sigman saw me, and guided me to a small undisclosed hidden opening in the fence.




This is the world that has been given to us due to the past generation of car-only planning, zoning, and land use regulations. This is the world that we must proactively work on each day to correct; to rebalance; to overcorrect; to take back to a human scale.

Brookhaven Transportation Thoughts


Leapfrog Complete Streets and move to Vision Zero. Zero deaths and minimal injuries for all uses of the street network. Checkout this video about Macon’s approach here.

Safety as the number one priority for ALL transportation planning & projects.

Slow & Calm Motorized Traffic

Trip Destination & Origins. Know where people are moving to & from. How are they moving? Incorporate into all plans.

Measure Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), not Level of Service (LOS). VMT should be provided with every new development. REDUCTION in VMT should be the city’s goal.

Every new study / plan / project: BEFORE the study is sought, have stakeholder input in the RFP to define the SCOPE, DELIVERABLES and GOALS of the consultant/company.

Holistic Transportation Planning as the movement of humans, regardless of mode. Integrate planning for all modes of travel, including motor vehicle, transit, bike/ped.

Remove parking minimums for developments. Either have maximums, or remove them completely. More from Strong Towns on the cost of free parking HERE.

New office developments – require paid parking

Remove Decel/Acel right turn lanes (etc.) requirements for new developments. All this does is increase travel speeds and make the streets more dangerous.

Reduce speed limits. Contact Decatur and follow their process. They added traffic calming measures, did a speed study & had GDOT approve speed limit reductions. (#2: Petition State Legislators to change the law / regulation / process to allow municipalities to reduce speed limits)

If traffic is moving faster than the posted speed limit, the street needs to be reengineered to slow traffic.

10-ft lane widths should be the maximum widths. Put into formal city documents for restriping. Lots of supporting guidelines.

Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study: What happened here? Who defined the scope for the consultants? Very, very dangerous proposals greatly reducing safety of all users




        1.       Increases motor vehicle speeds
        2.       Increases motor vehicle throughput
        3.       Intersections treated like expressway on & off ramps (like at Peachtree). Greatly reducing the safety for pedestrians, disabled, bicycles, and motorists. Change the approach and design them at a HUMAN scale. Checkout some great examples here.
        4.       Montgomery Elementary & Safe Routes to School – Safety of children should have been the number one priority, instead of moving cars quicker
        5.       Faster speeds are worse for local businesses. Can’t see them
        6.       Level of Service. (LOS) Why is this even in the scope and why was this presented? If LOS was a true barometer, then the Champs de Elysee in Paris would FAIL.
Safe Routes to School – Put 25% FTE staff member for active PROGRAMMING on this for all K-12 schools. Walking & Riding bikes to school CAN be a daily occurrence, and not just a 1 or 2x/yr event.  ~18% more traffic when school is in session. This small cost will have significant ROI. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nothing Personal, Just Asking: Information about Dunwoody Senior Baseball




The game's afoot here in Dunwoody with a proposed land swap between the City of Dunwoody and DeKalb County Schools. The current site of "Dunwoody Park", 10-acres of publicly-owned land presently used by Dunwoody Seniors Baseball is to be swapped and used for the new site of Austin Elementary School. Two baseball fields are proposed to be built & maintained by the city on the site of Peachtree Charter Middle School. The city would take ownership of some acreage at PCMS for these fields.  

I'll leave the school stuff to other bloggers. For details of the current proposal, please head over to Heneghan's Blog here.

My questions below are around Dunwoody Senior Baseball. Pretend you just arrived in our town and want to know the history, background and current situation. Nothing malicious. Just no assumptions. 


My overarching point of view is, “Just because we started as a city with something, does it mean by default we continue?” - for example the Dunwoody Village Overlay Zoning that specifies everything has to look Colonial. As a minimum, let's have open public meetings asking questions like, “How much does the city pay in taxpayer dollars per Dunwoody resident to play baseball with Dunwoody Seniors?” “Should the city be in this business?” “What are the Opportunity Costs that we could use elsewhere for Parks & Rec Services that would benefit a broader representation of our residents?” 

I've sent in these questions to the city (on 10/18). When I get responses, I'll post them and/or offer a link to this information. 

My Questions:


Who & what is Dunwoody Senior Baseball? Are their board meetings scheduled and open to the public? Are their meeting minutes available to the public?

How many Dunwoody residents are enrolled with Dunwoody Senior baseball? What are their ages & sex?

Who are their board members, where does their board meet? How are they elected?

When & how did they establish a relationship with the city? (As contrast to being grandfathered in by DeKalb County)

What public input was offered prior to establishing this relationship with the city and entering into an agreement?

What are the terms & conditions between Dunwoody Senior & the city? Do they have exclusive use of the public parkland?

What is the length of their contract for use of city property? Is it up for competitive bid, publicly announced prior to the term expiring? What is the mechanism for public input as the city considers renewing or granting terms to use city parkland? Is the contract voted on by the Mayor & council?

Does Dunwoody Baseball offer anything to women? Co-Ed? Recreational Adults? Senior citizens? If not, will they?

What is the mechanism for the greater public to use these ball fields? Can residents sign up & block out a date & time? 

Will the city be keeping regular open, unscheduled, unreserved dates & times of the ballfields for public at-will use?

What is the estimated cost of the new ball fields? What amenities will they have? Will there be public input prior to approving the final plan?

Will Dunwoody Senior have reserved parking spaces as is currently in use at Dunwoody Park?


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