Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dunwoody State Rep Tom Taylor Earns recognition from GA Chamber

from the web site:

Georgia Chamber names 2011 Legislators of the Year

Thursday, June 09, 2011
Ralston, Bulloch honored in House and Senate; Taylor wins Freshman Award
Three members of the Georgia General Assembly have been recognized by the Georgia Chamber for their commitment to the state’s business community.  House Speaker David Ralston (Blue Ridge) and State Sen. John Bulloch (Ochlocknee) were named the Chamber’s 2011 Legislators of the Year in the state House and Senate respectively.  Earning the Chamber’s Freshman of the Year Award was first-year State Rep. Tom Taylor (Dunwoody).

“In these difficult economic times, Georgia’s businesses need their elected officials to make decisions that will help grow the private sector and create jobs,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark.  “These three individuals have proven to be true champions of business and free enterprise.  We are grateful for their commitment and we look forward to continuing to work with them to build the most business-friendly environment in the nation.”

As the presiding official in the House, Ralston was not graded by the Chamber’s 2011 midterm legislative scorecard released in May.   His award recognizes his tireless support of key business issues and pro-growth measures during the 2011 legislative session. Since being elected Speaker before the start of the 2010 session, Ralston has led the House in passing multiple pieces of legislation aimed at improving Georgia’s business climate.  This session he supported Chamber-backed measures such as the public-private partnership bill to build local water reservoirs (SB 122), HOPE reform (HB 326), a bill to allow Georgians to make health insurance purchases across state lines (HB 47), an ethics measure protecting business owners’ rights to speak with elected officials without having to register as a lobbyist (HB 232), and a bill that mitigated a surcharge increase on employer-paid unemployment insurance taxes (HB 292).

Bulloch, whose legislative service began with the state House in 1999, scored an ‘A’ on the Chamber scorecard. He was the author of Senate Bill 10, a scorecard issue that would allow local communities to decide whether or not they wish to sell alcohol in retail stores on Sundays.  He partnered with the Chamber and other stakeholders and legislators this session to get SB 10 passed and signed into law after many years of it being stalled in the General Assembly.  Bulloch also was a key negotiator between the legislature and the business community on House Bill 87, the Immigration Enforcement Act.  He worked to ensure Georgia’s businesses and farming industry were not adversely affected by the new laws, helping place provisions in HB 87 that phased in smaller Georgia businesses into having to use the federal E-Verify system.

Bulloch is the current chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee, and also serves on the Rules, Appropriations, Banking and Financial Institutions, and Natural Resources and Environment committees.  He is a fourth-generation farmer, and operates almost 1,000 acres of farmland.

Taylor earned an ‘A+’ grade on the Chamber scorecard in his first term representing Georgia’s 79th House district in DeKalb County.  He was the only House member to vote with the Chamber 100 percent of the time in the 2011 session.  He currently sits on the House Economic Development and Tourism, Regulated Industries, and MARTA Oversight committees.  Taylor is a former Dunwoody city councilman which oversaw the new city’s startup organization and expanded services over its first 3 years without raising any taxes or fees.  Taylor has previously held multiple leadership positions in Dunwoody and DeKalb County and enjoyed a successful career in the private sector.  He also served a total of 21 years of active and reserve service with the U.S. Navy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

DeKalb's Finalist Name Leaked in Fear of A True Leader Running DeKalb?

The DeKalb County School Board is running out of time in its search for a new superintendent.  One person interviewing for the position wanted to keep his identity out of the press during the interview process.  This is not unusual for employed high-level folks to keep their interviewing under wraps.  And the DeKalb superintendent search is not supposed to be a public process during the interview / candidate search stage. But once again candidate information was leaked by someone, most likely a Board member.

Why would a Board member (or high ranking DeKalb employee) leak the information?

Reason #1
To put pressure on the candidate.  Now his name is out there, his current employer will not be pleased.  There is a chance now the candidate may bail from the DeKalb search process.  If this happens, the DeKalb job will continue to be treated like toxic waste by potential candidates, leaving us with more of the same.

Reason #2
The candidate in question is Hispanic.

Reason #3
The candidate has a history of "cleaning house" at his current school district. He fired a high percentage of principals.  Ever hear of that happening in DeKalb?  DeKalb is nepotism HQ, and fired principals means fired family members.

Reason #4
A new superintendent would change the way things are done here in DeKalb, for the better.  Remember, our school system is treated not as an education system, but as a jobs program for family and friends.  Bringing in a new leader from the outside is a threat to a decade of "work" by insiders.

The candidate in question is from Texas.  He runs a district with 55,000 students, 90+% of whom are economically disadvantaged.  And guess what?  the test scores indicate that district's kids are doing a lot better than kids in DeKalb.

His district failed only one subgroup of AYP while DeKalb failed in five subgroups.

His district takes a test that is considered more difficult than the CRCT, and their scores are better and on the rise (not declining like somewhere else I know).

DeKalb business leaders need to contact the Board to offer support for this new candidate. Where are the great members of the infamous eduKALB? if you know someone involved with eduKALB, ask them to step up and be heard.  DeKalb schools needs a strong leader now.  Every time a Board member leaks candidate information the school system becomes less attractive to the type of candidate we need.  The Board members and staff need not fear change, unless they are guilty of something.

Look for leaks on how this superintendent failed at his job.  I researched his district.  He has done an exceptional job and I feel he is the ideal candidate for what is needed here. His district did get dinged due to nine student drop outs who could not be accounted for (Texas has rules whereas dropouts count against your school scores, unlike DeKalb, unless you can show where these kids go after leaving your school) and the Board, in an election year, did not support his efforts.

I hope interim superintendent Tyson as well as the other Board members do the right thing and offer him the job as 100,000 kids, tens of thousands of parents, and thousands of business owners in DeKalb County need for a turn-around in DeKalb schools.

Robert Duron is a great choice for new superintendent.  I'm not sure (actually I think I do) the reason the DeKalb Chamber is getting involved in the search for a new superintendent.  Let the Chamber stick to filling hotel rooms and promoting whatever it is they promote and let a proven superintendent join us here in DeKalb.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meet Mike Davis at Village Burger, Free Dessert

Mike Davis launched his campaign officially via the Dunwoody Crier. Mike will be kicking off the campaign tour Thursday evening at Village Burger.  Stop by and meet Mr. Davis and enjoy a frozen custard (I know, we Americans cringe at the term "custard", but just think of it as soft serve ice-cream, good-tasting for sure).

On the topic of Village Burger, I visit there a couple times a week.  Last night I stopped by after the Roberts Road Rumble Chamblee-Dunwoody Disaster and had a couple of Fat Tire drafts.  This is swim team season in metro Atlanta.  Last week Redfield took on a tough Dunwoody North team.  King John and Dunwoody Mom's swim club did a great job, but the Sun Devils prevailed this year (Dunwoody North won last year).  Last night neighboring swim teams Redfield and Wynterhall faced off in the battle for northwest Dunwoody bragging rights.  Lots of celebrities in attendance last night.  I think TheOtherDunwoody may have even stopped by to check out the scene. Redfield picked up win #2 of the season and has a tough opponent in DCC next week.  It's great to see the kids out there having fun in the pool.

Back to the Mike Davis campaign.  The Village Burger site (formerly Bruster's) was the launch site for previous campaigns including Tom Taylor's city council run (he's now our State Rep).  Stop by and get a free frozen custard and check out the scene.  Lots of local celebrities sure to be present.  DunwoodyTalk staff will be there, and maybe a guest appearance by Chip.  The event starts at 7:30 PM tomorrow night.

As of now there are two officially declared candidates for mayor, Mike Davis and Bob Dallas.  A couple of other folks are thinking about it.

All has been quiet from District 2.  No word from Mr. Ross, and no candidates putting their name out there.

District 3 has incumbent John Heneghan running, and I doubt you'll see any opposition.

District 1 has the incumbent, Robert Wittenstein, running for re-election.  No others have yet to throw their name in the hat, but look for two, possibly three people to challenge the incumbent. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Elementary School in Dunwoody

The county school system's plans on how to spend $475 million have been modified a bit.  Of interest to readers here is the addition of a new elementary school to be built in Dunwoody, replacing Austin.

Based on school district projections Dunwoody will need more seats in upcoming years.  Projections are just that, projections.  No guarantees.  But all of the elementary schools in the area, except DES, are at full capacity.  School board member Nancy Jester requested a new school be built in Dunwoody, and that the funds for the new school should be included in the SPLOST proposal that DeKalb voters will say 'yes' or 'no' to this November. jester did not specify that Austin be replaced, she simply stated that Dunwoody needed more seats.  Central office employees decided Austin, not Chesnut or Kingsley or Vanderlyn be replaced.  At last night's meeting jester attempted to have 'Austin' removed from SPLOST and have it replaced with generic language saying "a school", but her suggestion was voted down.  The new SPLOST plan passed 8-1 with Jester the lone 'no' vote on the SPLOST plans.

There are many reasons why a SPLOST may not pass.  Voter distrust of the school board is number one.  Scandals rocked the county in years past, with funds being spent improperly.  Not just chump change - we're talking about millions of dollars.  Many of the same players at DeKalb are still in the game.  People can point fingers, but it's hard to believe for some voters that only two people (and no Board members or central office staff) were allegedly behind the scams. 

Next on the list of reasons why SPLOST may be doomed is that the SPLOST projects do not seem to address some of the main needs of the county schools.  You can read more at DeKalb School Watch.

Items one and two are county wide issues.  Looking closely at Dunwoody, residents and parents in the Chesnut and Kingsley areas are most likely upset a new school was not included for this side of Dunwoody.  Austin scored lowered than those two schools, but one of Austin's reasons for earning a low score is the lack of doors on the classrooms.  The inspectors felt this lack of doors detracts from the educational environment. I guess those inspectors don't read Dunwoody School Daze blog.  Just imagine how much higher the kids would have scored had they had doors! This SPLOST does not really affect Vanderlyn, except that a new school now for Austin does put Vandy one step closer to a new school (like it or not) as well. 

A new Austin may or may not affect life at DES, home of the Tigers. But anytime a new school is built (adding a few hundred more seats) redistricting comes with it.  Ah yes, more redistricting - I can hardly wait.

The location of a new Austin is the key.  If it is built at the same location, some Vanderlyn students would be moved to Austin, and maybe some DES as well.  If a new Austin is built to the south (in Georgetown area) then look for major redistricting, again.  You'll see shifts all across the cluster.  I'll call this the Coriolis Force.

And yes, here's the official first "If SPLOST passes" map for Dunwoody.  I'll have to fire-up the Photoshop Machine for more detailed views of the 2014 attendance lines. The image above merely shows the direction kids will move in the event a new Austin is built south of its current location.

I've been to some of the local schools, and I'd say Hightower is the one of the worst campuses I've seen.  But people living around Hightower don't vote so no elementary school for that part of DeKalb.

On everyone's mind will be the location of a new Austin building.  Will it be built on the same site?  That's where most parents will want it.  The footprint there is a little tight.  But there is room for expansion, perhaps.
Could four homeowners sell to DeKalb to expand Austin campus?

DES overlay on the Austin site

The Chamblee High School project has a new footprint, and recently received a waiver from the state so that it can be built on the same site (with some acreage added).  Could the same be done for Austin?  The SPLOST set aside $21 million for a new school, no funds for land.  But the school system comes out spending less by building on the same site and acquiring four (perhaps six) homes on Holly Bank Circle.  This would allow the 75% of kids within walking distance to still walk to school, keeping more cars off the roads.

And just when the dust around here had settled, yet another school-centered storm blows into Dunwoody.