Saturday, July 14, 2012

Great Teachers Flee DeKalb County?

Imagine you are a great widget maker, working for the Acme Widget Company.  There are many widget makers as it's very easy to earn the degree in Widgetology.  But not all widget makers are equal.  Some sit behind a desk all day, never interacting with the young widget apprentices - but instead distributing widget worksheets and widget homework.  But after a year or two you adjust to the fact that Acme Widget Company has some worthless employees.  You even forget sometimes that the not-so-great widget makers earn the same pay as you.

Then things change at Acme.  They cut your pay while increasing the workload (2 more widgets per hour).  Then you start to see that there are other Widget companies out there.  Although there is a surplus of widget makers, the best will always find a job. 

(seem like you read a story like this before?  Oh yes, look HERE)

So news is out that Austin Elementary will need to fill a handful of vacancies before school starts next month.  On top of the list is a new principal, followed by some well-respected educators. Looks as though some widget makers noticed the grass really can be greener elsewhere?

The truth is the central office in DeKalb could care less.  They view vacancies as opportunities; opportunities to hire and promote more friends and family.  Dunwoody schools have done well this summer with replacement principals (DHS, Vandy, DES).  Let's hope Austin gets some qualified personnel hired the next few weeks.

Austin is not alone in this turnover issue.  But hopefully the Board will treat teachers better.  Board member Dr. Gene Walker talks about doing what's right for the teachers.  Hopefully Dr. Walker will lead that fight with his fellow Board members.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stop The Waste in Dunwoody

Back in October 2011 (back when I still covered council meetings) I wrote about the huge waste of money on Way-Finding signage for the city.  I was opposed to it then, and still opposed to it today.
One of the biggest issues on the docket tonight was discussion of a few budget items.  A few items were in the budget, but did not have 100% support of council.  First up was $150,000 for signage and monuments around the city - Way-Finding.  Of course we all know where the library is located and most of us can find the Nature Center.  But these signs are not for locals - they are for people who have not yet discovered the purpose of a GPS device.  Overall this sign project would cost about half a million dollars.  Some on council think it needs done right away, to support our logo and branding.  A couple others think it is a huge waste of money.  I agree with those opposing this expense.  the city manager pushed through $39,000 last meeting to create the sign plan, but it will be up to the next council to decide the fate of this project.  The $150,000 stays in the budget for now.  Agree or disagree?  Email your mayor and council members
Read that old blog post HERE (this is the same meeting a temporary ice skating rink was proposed)
DunwoodyTalk's FREE logo for the city

Here is a blast-from-the-past on the city's waste of money on branding.  Read HERE and HERE . Those old posts bring back so many great memories.

If you have a product to sell, create a logo and branding campaign.  Hire the best sales reps, offer a quality product, deliver on the promise, and be prosperous.  But is it the same for a city?  Can a city create a brand by using a marketing firm?  Or is a city's brand established by years of sound zoning decisions and fiscally responsible behavior?  Is a city's brand built on a catchy tag line, or is it earned by providing exceptional services and solid infrastructure to homeowners and business owners?

Here in Dunwoody we always look to our big brother/sister cities of North Fulton for guidance.  How many police officers do we need?  Ask Sandy Springs.  How much to charge for franchise fees?  Ask Johns Creek. Storm water fees?  Ask Milton.  On a side note, those North Fulton folks are smart.  They will soon control their own schools and probably have a new county.  And they have Jan Jones.  One can dream, right?

So how about Roswell, GA?  They have any good ideas there?  How about having a LOCAL design firm design a logo and branding, for the whopping fee of $0000000000.00.  See HERE. Even though they Roswell is not the Smart City with Smart People, they appear to be fiscally conservative in regards to the logo thing (remember hearing all that chatter last fall about who was/is more fiscally conservative than whom?).

So the city paved roads, installed sidewalks, improved intersections, improved parks, purchased a brand and logo with $100,000 of our money. But we are not going to continue to cry about the botched logo and branding.  After all, since the launch of that branding and new logo everything has been like Hesiod's Golden Age here in Dunwoody.  We have a rap song, a dog park, and many other great things now.  Home sales are at an all-time high, our E-911 service is flawless, occupancy rates are near 100% for commercial space, the schools are producing Ivy League candidates, a new retention pond greets visitors to our high school, girlfriends are having shopping getaways at the mall, and on and on.  If we did not spend those funds on the logo and branding, we'd probably be declaring bankruptcy with San Bernardino, CA or selling ourselves to Sandy Springs.

Now we have yet MORE money being spent on way finding signage.  In summary, the proposed signage for Dunwoody is not needed at this time.  I'll let others criticize the style, colors, and overall lack of 'Dunwoody' to the design.  No offense to the fine folks in Pennsylvania who created this work - they must have spent the afternoon at Idlewild Park prior to 'creating' the Dunwoody art.

As mentioned here before, our city does a great job of hiring people from outside Dunwoody for not only all staff positions, but also for contract work.  If we are going to outsource (outside of Dunwoody) then why not take the business to India? You can get $10 an hour web designers in India.  Maybe we should search Alibaba  for our next project.

The point is, this Way Finding and Monument project is NOT NEEDED at this time.  And council, please don't allow the city manager to chop this up into $49,000 projects.

If people have a hard time knowing where they are geographically, maybe the CVB can rent GPS devices to visitors.  Does it really matter that people know if they are in Dunwoody versus Sandy Springs as they cruise Mt. Vernon Road?  Do we need to tell all of metro Atlanta where the dog park is located?  Do we need to put up monuments promoting our Wal-Mart/E-Trade  logo?  The signs look like way-finding for Legoland more so than way-finding for a high-roller city like Dunwoody.  The anti-city folks in Brookhaven need only to point to wasteful spending like this to gain a few hundred more votes.

(I miss that pizza shop)

See all the signs HERE

I think this signage issue is a fix to a non-existing problem.  Has the city been bombarded with complaints of lost visitors from south DeKalb or north Fulton?  It's easy to spend other people's money (token acknowledgement to TOD) on monuments, but let's not do it.

Email your mayor and council members and let them know if you think now is not the right time to spend money on monuments and signs.