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????

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
City Manager Eric Linton
Assistant City Manager Jessica Guinn
Community Development Director Richard McLeod
Parks & Rec Director Brent Walker
Public Works Director Michael Smith

All in one (Copy/paste);;;;;

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,