Friday, February 25, 2011

Rocks and Guns

Hard not to notice all the 'revolutions' going on around the world.  Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and elsewhere.  Greece has seen a little of the action as of late.  We even have cheese-heads ruffling their feathers.

Some people wonder, "Could this happen in modern-day America?" Would (Could) people rise up?  In Wisconsin we've seen a big turn out of protesters.  No violence really, just public employees demanding the right to continue to extort money from their tax-paying neighbors.  The teachers had their students show up and protest.  It's nice to see the youth turn out to protest something they don't understand.  And the reason they don't understand it is because of the people they are actually protesting with at the state's capitol (the teachers).  But this post is not about unions, it's about 'revolution'.

If a segment of the USA decided to overthrow a government, would they be using rocks like in Egypt? Would you be able to protect your family from looters and escaped convicts if something like Libya happened here?  If our Government became more like those in Egypt and Libya would people still be able to own firearms to protect their families? We see stories in the Middle East of fighter pilots refusing to bomb civilians and police forces joining in the protests.  What would happen locally?  What would happen across the country.  I doubt we'll get to that point in the next 25years, but something to ponder.

In the Middle East ownership of firearms is limited.  Thus, the good people there have a tough time defending themselves against the bad people there.
weapon supplier in USA
weapon supplier in Egypt
Here's an exert from an article on people organizing to protect lives and property in Egypt during the turmoil:
CAIRO -- When Egypt's police melted from the streets of Cairo this weekend, the people stepped in.

Civilians armed with
knives, axes, golf clubs, firebombs, metal bars and makeshift spears watched over many neighborhoods in the sprawling capital of 18 million this weekend, defending their families and homes against widespread looting and lawlessness.

The thugs had exploited the chaos created by the largest anti-government protests in decades and the military failed to fill the vacuum left by police.

On Saturday, the army sent out an appeal for citizens to help.

"The military encourages neighborhood youth to defend their property and their honor," it said in a statement.

On Sunday, joint teams of civilians and military were patrolling, some with guard dogs.

Mohammed Gafaar, a 34-year old salesman in the Nasr City area, said his neighborhood watch organized soon after the night curfew went into force at 4 p.m. They did it at the behest of residents, who appealed for protection of their property, sending out the call from the local mosque.

"I feel betrayed by the police," said Gaafar, who had carried rocks, a stick and a firebomb in a soda bottle. "They have to be tried for the protesters they killed and for their treason. They left the country to be looted. I am angry at the regime."
Remember New Orleans after Katrina?  A meltdown of society.
Side Note: People are always talking about GOLD as an investment for when TSHTF, but I disagree.  After Katrina did we see people on the streets selling gold?  Were the gold folks secure in New Orleans?  No and No.  You want to be secure in case of civil unrest?  Stock pile water (or have a well), food, and have access to something a little more useful than rocks.

Remember the riots in 1992 in Los Angeles (and downtown Atlanta)? 

I read once where a guy compared gun ownership to owning a fire extinguisher for your home or car.  Why own a fire extinguisher when you can simply call the fire department?  I think DunwoodyTalk readers can answer that question.  Here's the second question Why own a gun when you can call the police department?  The answer to both questions is the same. Of course owning a fire extinguisher requires less training and less responsibility.

I don't think the thousands of Egyptians protesting should have been armed.  I believe in the peaceful/non-violent protest as promoted by the late MLK.  But the public protests are not where people need protection. It is in small-group and at homes, away from the TV cameras. Protest organizers have long been targets of political assassinations and are in need of the right to self protection.

So go out and find that fire extinguisher that fits your hand well and put some rounds down range.  Practice, train, and keep it secure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dunwoody Buying PVC Farm

DunwoodyTalk sources have discovered that the City of Dunwoody has negotiated a deal whereas it becomes owner of a large tract of land known as the PVC Farm.  The site is an abandoned piece of property, now owned by Wells Fargo Bank, intended to be built out as a residential development.

I  thought this spot would have been plucked up by DeKalb County Schools as it is a decent size (between 10 and 15 acres) for an elementary school, but you snooze and you lose.  DeKalb Schools will have to look elsewhere for a school site. Or, the city could use the property as trade-bait with the school system.  If the penny sales tax (SPLOST) does not go through (due to City of Atlanta) DeKalb's 2020 Vision turns into 2050 Vision and no schools get built for ten years. This could be the home of the new Vanderlyn Elementary with the city acquiring the Vanderlyn site for a park.  We'd really need a vertical map then.

the big question is, what will the city do with the property?  An off-track betting casino?  Future site for a city hall and police department?  A park? How about a dog park?  Plenty of sunlight and dog owners could train their dogs to 'do their business' in the PVC stubs. 

Most likely the city will use this property in the short term as a park, but Dunwoody needs a park on the north side more so than this area.  But this is where land is least expensive in Dunwoody.  With new rules on the books for developing property, part of this property would have been green space (if it were to be developed for apartments or businesses) even if they city did not buy it.

This is the first of probably three or four land purchases by the city.  What, you never heard of talk about buying land by city council?  Well, after each meeting council adjourns to executive session.  In executive session they discuss personal business, possible real estate transactions, and also they talk about hot deals around Dunwoody made public by the A Ha Connection Lady.  They discuss real estate in private to keep speculators from buying the property in an attempt to make a quick flip on it back to the city.  But this chunk of dirt has been vacant for years so no secret that it was on the city's wish list.  The timing of this purchase has caught some insiders off guard, but nonetheless I approve of it (not that council could care what I think, but I'll use this blog to give support).  There will be critics of course, but long-term I think buying the property now is a good thing.  Aside from being a nice-sized dog park, by buying the property the city essentially blocks out any other use of the property such as apartments, pain clinics, massage parlors, or a Chick Fil A.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Green Way Discussion at Dunwoody City Hall

Dunwoody Parks and Recreation director Brent really knows how to throw a party.  Tonight the council chambers were packed.  Standing Room Only.  I knew it would be crowded, but the attendance exceeded my expectations (and obviously city staff underestimated as well).  Being fair to city staff, this meeting was bumped up a month or so and not really other options available to the city to set up a meeting on short notice. In many small towns council meetings are held in school cafeterias and auditoriums, but since we do not have our own school district having a city meeting at Peachtree Middle or Dunwoody Elementary School seems out of the question.  I don't think Dunwoody and DeKalb Schools have many intimate conversations with each other.

Anyway, back to this big Green Way love fest tonight. The room was packed, it was very warm, and people were vocal.  About 50 people could not even get in the room.  I think the room has about 200 chairs, so I put attendance at 450 people.  A few disgruntled residents left at the start of the meeting and headed to Mellow Mushroom, home of fresh hot pizza, cold Hoegaarden on draft, and the most generous  coin-operated Drop-the-Claw/Stuffed Animal game in north DeKalb County.

The meeting started with Warren, our city manager, giving a slide show presentation.  To put it gently, the slide show was not a hit with many of the residents in the room and will not be made into a musical by the Stage Door Players.  I even think the Magic Vertical Map presentation had more fans.

Warren kept his cool during the presentation and kept things professional.  Even though he had numerous interruptions he politely asked the crowd to hold questions until the end.  I know it's a hot issue for many, but we need to respect the guy when he has the floor.  You may not agree with his message, but at least let him speak. He said he would stay and answer questions after the presentation and he did.  I left at 9 PM and he was still there.  He conversed with residents and shared his thoughts.  He stayed until everyone was gone.

Part of the meeting tonight was a written survey and the famous put-the-colored-dot on-the-poster game.

 The name of the game above is called 'Place  a RED Dot in anything that looks like a Green Way'. The audience did quite well, with a few risk takers using GREEN dots.

There are a couple of ways to look at this proposed Green Way Multi Purpose Path.  The first view is from the homeowners who actually own the dirt where said green way is proposed.  For the most part, these people want nothing to do with this project.  I think that message has been delivered.  They own the land, don't want others walking on it, and sure don't want a bike/walk path on it.  End of story.

Can the city pay them for the land?  Yes, but I really doubt we'd get enough takers, and oh yeah, the city doesn't really have any money.  They first need to take it from 50,000 residents, then distribute it back out again.  Let's say there are 220 homeowners along the pathway.  $25,000 per homeowner?  $5.5 million.  Oh wait, the city actually only needs half the people.  Let's make it $2.25 million for land acquisition. $35,000 per homeowner?  $3,850,000. (I don't know how many homes along the pathway, just guessing so don't call me out on the figures until I can get a number).  Maybe 20 of the homes are rental properties? Would those be easier to acquire land from for the pathway?  Would the 98% of residents not eligible for the city sponsored land grab approve of paying out big bucks for the land?  Would they approve of the method?

How does a non-power line dweller feel about all this?  Some people I talked to love the idea of having a path connecting us to Gwinnett and Morgan Falls.  Of course they probably also have a mint-condition copy of the Communist Manifesto by their bed, with highlights of their favorite planks and one of those colorful 'Change' bumper stickers.

I have spoken to others who really would enjoy biking across Dunwoody, across GA 400 to Morgan Falls for a baseball game (since Dunwoody does not have youth baseball fields), but understand and respect property rights.  Some of these same people think the city should put a price out there and let people decide one house at a time.  And there are others out there who say 'no way' do they want their city using force to take land.

Let's get back to the meeting.  City staff had two huge color maps off to the side,  Residents were asked to draw school attendance lines for elemen.... never mind; that was some other thing I heard about. Something to do with schools and lines and roads and proximity and other stuff.

So there were two large maps.  Use markers to mark your property (or mark someone else's property if they were  (a) not looking (b) in the bathroom (c) at home watching 17 Again on Cinemax, starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, and Leslie Mann (d) enjoying a freshly made pizza at Mellow Mushroom while sipping a frosted mug of Hoegaarden)

Let's just say they had to run over to Office Depot for another box of red markers.  On parts of the map it looked like an Austin Pre-K art project gone awry.
Not sure, but I think this part of town may be a tough sell.  
The War Room
A few 'Greens' were present and accounted for
Far western part of power line, crossing Spalding into Sandy Springs and GA 400

So now what?  At the next meeting I expect Council to pull this project out of the Parks Plan.  A majority will vote for a bond to improve Brook Run and other parks and to acquire land for new parks.  Keeping the green way in jeopardizes the plan.  Green Way gone, Frisbee golf and bocce ball in.

Now all you folks that came out tonight - stay involved.  Lots of volunteer opportunities in the city.  Attend Monday night council meetings.  Eat at Village Burger.

Here's a story from the Patch on this topic.  The Patch article shows a little more anger than does my simple blog post.