Sunday, January 26, 2014

Letter to the Editor - Dunwoody Crier

I just submitted the following letter to the Dunwoody Crier: I would have said a lot more if I could have gone up to 1,000 words... (It's 554, so we'll see if it gets published).

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There’s been an increasing perception from Letters to the Editor that we are less than happy here in Dunwoody. Have you considered how these messages are perceived by prospective home buyers or CEOs looking to relocate their businesses? Have you asked a realtor? Becoming a city means more than having autonomy; more than just zoning, code enforcement, paving and police. Being a city is allowing us to fashion and INVEST in our own future, based on citizen input through our vetted & approved master plans. All the while, the average homeowner in Dunwoody pays more for trash collection than city property tax. Talk about an ROI!

Care to have input into our community’s direction? Please don’t wait until elections every two years. Or with a 3-minute one-way Public Comment during Council meetings. When I moved to Dunwoody, we had just become a city and I didn’t know a soul. Yet in the first months of moving here, I met in person with every elected official. I met city staff members, had coffee with the President of the DHA, joined the Chamber of Commerce, volunteered and just immersed myself in developing relationships.

We have a small, dedicated and professional city staff. They are accessible and approachable. So are our Councilors and Mayor. Get to know them. Meet with them one-on-one whether you voted for them or not.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” See the world as “the glass is half full”; be positive, collaborate and willing to compromise. None of us always get everything that we want. Just ask anyone who’s been married, it’s about compromise. When we moved into our house, I wanted a “Man Cave”. I got the big screen TV and an awesome sound system. My wife ended up decorating it (Oh well…). But it works and we’re both happy.

If you find yourself getting caught up with an issue, please be careful with whom you partner. The adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is temporal. Be aware of their ulterior motives. Do they really share the same values and are truly your friend? Are they “using” you and adding another excuse to oppose some initiative that they just plain ‘ol don’t want? If it’s an “Organization”, verify its background. It is legally incorporated with the Georgia Secretary of State? Is there an elected board, with announced open meetings? How is it financed? Are annual reports available? Who decides the messaging & direction of the group? Who runs the website and sends emails?

Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify”. News is someone’s version of what happened. Knowing the facts requires gathering information from multiple sources. We all know that opinions are like a certain part of one’s anatomy: Everyone’s got one. Aside from Executive Sessions, we as citizens have access to ALL of the same information and data as our Councilors. Subscribe to the city’s email alerts.

Back in the Regan era, at the end of the day, the President & Tip O’Neil would set aside their differences, and have a drink or two. Instead of showing up en masse to a public forum in an acrimonious fashion, perhaps we should be doing more of the same at one of our fine establishments right here in Dunwoody.

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