Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Podcast Interview on Biking in Dunwoody: Yesterday, today and the future

Do you enjoy multi-use trails, bike lanes & sidewalks in Dunwoody? Want to know some juicy details on the history of some of these projects, how they came to fruition and what it takes to make ideas become reality?

Listen to Part I of my interview on this podcast by What's Up Dunwoody In Part II, we'll talk about regional trails and how we'll eventually connect to the Beltline and more!




Click HERE to listen.




Share/Bookmark

Saturday, April 6, 2019

City of Dunwoody 2017 Sustainable Hero: Joe Seconder

Editor's Note: Okay, so I received this award in February, 2018 and now it's April, 2019. Yes, it's basically not "timely", but what the heck. Better late than never, right?


Receiving the 2017 City of Dunwoody Sustainable Hero Award.
L-R: Debbie Warner Gordon, Joe Seconder, Mayor Denny Shortal


In February, 2018 I was honored to receive the City of Dunwoody Sustainable Hero Award for 2017. It was presented during the annual State of the City address, where various civic leaders provide updates and talk about their achievements,  plans and vision for the future of our community.



If you care to spend five minutes of your time, feel free to watch this video of my acceptance speech*. Normally, I'd have spoken a bit slower with more pauses & emphasis. But this was a diverse crowd and I didn't want to monopolize the evening.



I give many thanks to my wife, Kathleen for giving me a long leash and letting me attend various community meetings day & night over the years. She's been a huge supporter of my efforts in working on our city to become a safe place for folks to simply jump on a bike from their house and ride a mile or two around town.


* And if you aren't inclined to watch the video, this is pretty much the transcript:

Hi. I’m the “bicycle guy”. I’d first like to give a big shout out of thanks of support to my wife, Kathleen. 15 years ago on Valentine’s Day, I hung up business suit, put on my US Army Desert BDU’s as an Infantry Major in the Reserves, kissed Kathleen goodbye and deployed to Kuwait to an unknown future before the invasion of Iraq. I returned a year later. Now I kiss Kathleen goodbye when I head off to attend a public information open house, city council or DHA meeting, meet with staff from the city, GDOT, Perimeter CID, neighboring cities, elected officials and fellow advocates. And come home – USUALLY -- only a couple of hours later. Along the journey, I’ve been blessed to develop great friendships, build coalitions, experiencing human-powered fun times outside simply surrounded by air, had joy & some disappointment; and yes – new sidewalks, bike lanes and trails; It takes a village.

This award is not simply about Joe Seconder. And I’d like to call out and recognize some of the people and organizations who have helped along the way. From the working parents with a cram-packed schedule that can’t make it to an evening council meeting, but send an email or tell their friends & neighbors of a particular initiative. From the folks with Dunwoody Preservation Trust & Lemonade Days for allowing me to serve for 4 years as the ride director of the Bicycle Ride around Dunwoody (Thanks to Danny Ross & Sam and Molly Portis) From the volunteers with the Dwy Women’s club who assisted in putting on a children’s bicycle safety rodeo in Brook Run. To the 70+ year old retire just coming off dual knee replacement surgery whose doctor said that bicycling would be an excellent way to rehab – in asking for safer places to ride a bike. To the individuals, sponsors & merchants who have made donations, provided support and even free custard after rides! To the Dunwoody Police Department, for their continued enforcement, education, escorts for events and support of activities.   To anyone who has “just showed up”. To a public meeting, spoken out, provided feedback or volunteered. Like the crew running the Monthly Community Bike Ride (first Sun of each month at Village Burger) – Shout out to the Metzger’s, the Miller's, Glen Engels, Karl Welsher and the rest of the crew! To our city staff, who are proactive in engineering and creating safer & Complete Streets for all. And lastly but not least, our elected officials. From Council 1.0 in 2009 when I was a cold-calling stranger pitching the benefits of a bicycle friendly community, to today. You have been accessible, open and have put in place the plans & policies - backed up with budget priorities -- to move the needle forward.
Is the Glass is half full or half empty?
Who would have thought 10 years ago that a person could get on a bike on North Peachtree & Peeler, ride over to Chamblee Dunwoody without ever getting on a road? In a few short MONTHS, you’ll be able to continue onto Old Spring House Lane – a neighborhood street -- and cross a new bike/ped bridge directly behind where we are right now -- and ride all the way to Alon’s, or CafĂ© Intermezzo. And in as short as the next FIVE years ----with the help of our friends in Sandy Springs -- , you’ll be able to ride from Perimeter on a separated facility / Trailway all the way to Atlanta, Buckhead, Piedmont Park, Ponce City Market and points beyond. So I’d say the glass is half full, and getting fuller every year! As Mayor Shortal closes out his emails, Let Us Continue to Build Our City Together!
Thank you BONUS:

The following was omitted during the speech due to time constraints: In transportation planning and developer speak, you’ll hear about the term “Level of Service”. It’s about moving cars as quickly and efficiently as possible. Instead, let’s talk about Level of Service for humans. Safe Streets. For those that live, play & go to school HERE. We’re in the midst of re-designing our city & streets for people. When you’re out walking or riding a bike to school or the coffee shop, it’s humanizing. It creates a sense of place. It physically & metaphorically connects people together within our community.
Share/Bookmark

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reminder: Don't take good people in your life for granted


Reminder: Don't take good people in your life for granted. Miss you my friend, Bob Lundsten.

Here's some great thoughts & perspective on the positive impact Bob made over the decades to the Dunwoody community over on Heneghan's Blog. 


Share/Bookmark

Friday, November 2, 2018

Dunwoody & our Partisan 2018 Elections


Here's some of my thoughts on our current election cycle here in Dunwoody. And by the way I'm voting a straight Democratic ticket in this general election.

In the perfect world we wouldn’t have political parties, no PACs, and folks would run strictly on the merits of their platform and of which they stand. And how do you know where they stand? There’s a thing called the Internet, and I appreciate candidates who post readily available public details online of their personal platform, detailing what they will work towards and believe in. If the individual has no information, then you have to look at the party’s platform. Besides, what are they hiding? In addition to the major points that folks talk about, I also look to see where they stand on matters of Sustainability, Environment and Human-Powered Transportation options. -- Imagine a world where 50% or more of our K-12 children are walking or riding their bikes on a daily basis to school. Yes, that could be a reality if the majority of our local & state officials wanted that to happen.

I get it that having a track record of local, non-partisan accomplishments is a good thing at the city government level. Think about Paving, Police, Zoning, Code Enforcement and Stormwater systems. Maybe even Parks and Recreation. The list goes on. On many local issues, I've seen both Democrats and Republicans on the same side of an argument. Generally, there's no clear ideology to say if you support project X or oppose it that indicates your national party affiliation. Everyone I know wants transparent, accessible and fiscally responsible government. I'm a big fan of local control with responsive elected officials that you see out & about in your daily life.

But at the partisan office level, political parties have distinct and clear differentiation on major issues that go well beyond our Dunwoody borders and the work of our city government. Think about issues like healthcare, public school funding & oversight, social rights, the environment, true regional planning, post-secondary education & workforce training, criminal justice reform, and public transit. These fundamental issues are heavily debated regarding the role of government; and how and who should pay for services & capital goods. Did you know that libraries where fundamentally opposed because it wasn't supposed to be a role of government? The list goes on.

Want to outsource and privatize everything, and leave in place a "pay to play" system that only benefits the "haves"? There's gotta be a balance. When I see the athletic fields at Dunwoody High School requiring private donations to repair and upgrade, and being successful in raising locally to-date over three quarters of a million dollars, I ask myself, what about those kids down in South DeKalb? How will they have nice facilities? Every child in Georgia deserves to be on a level playing field when it comes to education, healthcare, and more. That's what good government does.

It's not a surprise, but I am not aligned to many of the current goals of the Republican Party. After 14+ years of our state being ran by the GOP, it's time to give the other side a chance.
I’m voting a straight Democratic ticket.

I’ve voted Republican in the past. Right here in Dunwoody (it can be looked up). In my decade living here, more than once have I been “talked down to” by prominent civic leaders because I’ve been labeled a Democrat. Or spoken to with a “we know what’s best, don’t you worry about it” attitude. In this election, how I’m casting my vote isn’t about the person asking to hold that office (Until 2020 for President, that is). And it certainly shouldn’t be about the party. It’s about how close ones personal beliefs and values line up with the candidates and initiatives listed on the ballot.

Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg being close friends with Antonin Scalia, yet being on opposite sides of many court opinions, let’s hold each other to those same standards. When we see each other in person in the coming weeks, let’s respect one another for our differing points of view. And simply enjoy a human to human conversation and relationships.

PS: I can’t WAIT to get into the midst of our local city elections for 2019 (!). I won’t be on the sidelines for that one. Who will earn our vote to be our next mayor????
Share/Bookmark

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dunwoody Park Improvements and our Future Direction

Today (5/21/2018) at 4 pm, the Dunwoody city council is hearing Brook Run Park design options. For the proposals, click here.

As my day job took precedence, I sent the following email with my overarching feedback to our mayor, council and key staff:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Email addresses are:

Mayor & Council Members CouncilMembers@dunwoodyga.gov
City Manager Eric Linton Eric.Linton@dunwoodyga.gov
Assistant City Manager Jessica Guinn jessica.guinn@dunwoodyga.gov
Community Development Director Richard McLeod Richard.McLeod@Dunwoodyga.gov
Parks & Rec Director Brent Walker Brent.Walker@dunwoodyga.gov
Public Works Director Michael Smith michael.smith@DunwoodyGA.gov

All in one (Copy/paste)

CouncilMembers@dunwoodyga.gov; Eric.Linton@dunwoodyga.gov; jessica.guinn@dunwoodyga.gov; Richard.McLeod@Dunwoodyga.gov; Brent.Walker@dunwoodyga.gov; michael.smith@DunwoodyGA.gov
--------------------------------------------------------------------------


My day job got in the way and I can't make this 4 pm public meeting. Here’s some ideas I would like you all to seriously discuss and consider:

1) No new parking spaces in our parks or new motor vehicle access points. Instead, put the money into building out a greater connected multi-use trailway network to access our parks. E.g.: Continue the trail from Brook Run eastward along Tilly Mill to Peeler (connecting with Windward Hollow park) to Winters Chapel.

2) Only spend the $$ we got from DeKalb (About $3.5M is left I've been told??). Anything more, float a well-rounded infrastructure bond & put in on the November ballot consisting of intersection projects, parks, trails, and a land bank for future park space acquisition. We have a decade-long backlog of intersection improvement projects. Acquire the cleared & vacant lot on the corner of Mt. Vernon / Chamblee Dwy - to create a welcoming community centerpiece, visually appealing pocket park. More & more. Let’s stop REACTING and be PROACTIVE.

Put a citizen stakeholder committee together to put the bond package together. Make sure 75% of them are under age 50. Or at least 50%. These folks are the future. Include a well-defined & measurable project list, legislative oversight, accountability and transparency into the Bond.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aside: For those of you who have not been trained or schooled in military tactics & strategy, allow me to provide you a pointer:

No country has EVER won a war by being on the defense. You ONLY win a war by being on the offense. We’re playing reactionary defense. Communities are the same. Be bold. Be strategic. Be visionary. Put the offense back on the field and take action. Paving is “as is” operational maintenance. Paving is reactionary. Paving isn’t why young families or businesses may choose to move to Dunwoody.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

3) Put in the low-hanging fruit items like some sand volleyball courts. Focus first on amenities that are used on DAILY basis that activate our parks, instead of "special" periodic events. For an example of a nice stage pavilion, head over to Norcross’ Thrasher Park this Friday at 7:30 pm to see the FAMOUS Ruperts Orchestra for a free concert. Get there EARLY! 4) More BATHROOMS please. Get them installed at Windward Hollow.

5) Trails, Trails and More Trails!! Connecting all points of the compass to our parks, neighborhoods, schools, retail and employment centers. Trails are the NUMBER ONE Park amenity citizens have repeatedly been asking for.

6) Tonight's agenda asks for an extra $500k to be put into the paving budget. Instead, hire at least TWO new staff members -- a) under Community Development to PROACTIVELY look out for our city, to be proactive-vs- reactive in continuing to transition Dunwoody from a 1980’s bedroom community with a mall, to a human-oriented activated community. b) under the City Manager as an Active Transportation Coordinator, building Safe Routes to School programs, encouraging folks of all ages to move around on human-powered means, leaving the motor vehicles at home; reducing cars on our streets. Can also work with Parks and support active PROGRAMING for our residents.

Many thanks,

Joe


Share/Bookmark

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

Share/Bookmark

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



Share/Bookmark