Friday, July 20, 2012

Dunwoody & DeKalb Georgia Elections July 31 2012

Not too much excitement on the ballot on July 31, but please don't skip voting.

The number one priority is re-electing Elaine Boyer as our DeKalb Commissioner.  She has been fair and honest to the taxpayers, and is often a lone voice against tax increases and inappropriate spending at the county level.  Please vote for Elaine Boyer on July 31, 2012.

Next up is a school board position.  I highly recommend Pam Speaks for DeKalb School Board, District 8.  Our local school board representative is Nancy Jester, but Pam Speaks' district is a super-type district that covers a large area of DeKalb, including Dunwoody.

For those of you outside of Dunwoody I suggest voting for Don McChesney, Jim McMahan, and Denise McGill.  We could be the only school board in the state with three 'Mc' last names, perhaps earning sponsorship of some sort from McDonald's.

Locals Fran Millar and Tom Taylor are unopposed, but they still would appreciate your vote of support. 

Two of the Public Service Commissioner spots are on the ballot.  This Board is important.  DunwoodyTalk endorses Chuck Eaton and Stan Wise.

Two judge races:  We support Gail Flake for Superior Court and Dax Lopez for DeKalb Court.

The T-SPLOST is on the ballot as well.  Back during the city council candidate forums (not sure which one, perhaps the Sustainability one) I stated T-SPLOST would fail and Dunwoody needed to have its own local plan for Mt Vernon Road.  Of course a few audience members were aghast when I made the "T-SPLOST will not pass" statement.  In a way, T-SPLOSTis like the $50 million parks bond Dunwoody voted on last year.  Both plans are too big, not enough details, and contain unworthy  pet projects.  The NO vote on the $50 million parks bond was not a vote against parks, it was a vote against a bad plan and spending too much money.

City of Brookhaven?  I don't live in Brookhaven, but I'd vote YES to become a city if I did reside in the Brookhaven area.  Dunwoody is a better place since we became a city.












Thursday, July 19, 2012

Revised Dunwoody July 31 Ballot


Here is the Republican ballot for July 31.  After intensive interviews and discussions DunwoodyTalk presents its picks for the July elections.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peppers, Parks, and Puerto Rico

Time to get serious on the blog again, allowing King John, Patch, and Blogger Bob to handle the people's business on the Internet.  Chip Bagman and Jimmie will assist.

First off - nearly time for pepper picking.  I got a late start on soaking and planting my pepper seeds, but soon all the work will pay off - I hope. 
seed from Pepper Joe's

soak


indoors pepper seed plants

outdoors



ghost pepper,( Bhut Jolokia ) not ready yet


potted pepper plant

pepper bed #1



four cucumber plants

variety of tomatoes

I have a few ghost pepper plants (Bhut Jolokia) going - one looks real strong. We'll have some pepper eating contests later this year, stay tuned.  If the T-Splost passes I'll eat a whole pepper and play the video here.  If T-Splost fails, Bicycle Joe and Bob D. each eat one.

I planted six different varieties of peppers this spring, and my second planting will be next week now that I pulled the cucumbers. One tomato plant had bottom rot, one plant half of the tomatoes have the catface/cracking.  But a couple of the plants are super stars. 

I was over at the Dunwoody Sandy Springs gymnastic / synthetic turf park on Hammond and observed some 20 somethings playing an odd game.  They were gathered around a small trampoline and hitting a ball of some sort.  The 'sport' is a cross between hacky sack, hand ball, and volleyball, I think.  Anyone know what these young adults were doing?  Consuming bath salts may be a precursor.

video

On the topic of the park, they have an adult kickball league.  Here is a highlight of Wednesday night's match-up between the Beer Drinking Blue Shirts versus the Red Bull and Vodka Brown Shirts:


video

Rule #1 of co-ed sports: Kick it (or Hit it) to a girl.  LOL

As the blog title says, we are talking about peppers (done) parks (done) and Puerto Rico.  Next up, our US-owned island to the south.  On a side note, we need some real casinos in Puerto Rico.  Can we get a Wynn or MGM down there?

By far, the most interesting thing I saw on the island was a classic Kellogg's vending machine.  They like their Tony down there.


I took a few photos for Al and Heyward while I was in Puerto Rico.  They love their banners and signs.  Not even Walgreen's on a holiday weekend can match the signs in Puerto Rico.  And they drink Medalla a lot. I think Medalla is a Spanish word meaning donkey pee.
Walgreen's in Dunwoody




Speaking of bath salts, I took a hike in the El Yunque rain forest.  The place was very nice, and it rained.  So after a hike of a mile or so down I get to a huge waterfall.  Down river from the waterfall are huge boulders and fast-moving water.  No signs to 'keep out' or 'warning'.  After all, it's a rain forest.  People seem to understand that Mother Nature can sweep you away.  So taking a photo I spy a young girl meditating way down there. You better be a Vermack swimmer if you slip into the current, or else you'll end up somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.


My kids think I should include a photo of myself from Puerto Rico, so here's one from the wonderful El Conquistador Resort Water Park




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dunwoody Mayor and Council Make Smart Decision


--- NEWS RELEASE ---

For Immediate Release

Dunwoody Logo

CITY TABLES WAYFINDING AND SIGN PROGRAM


Dunwoody, GA – July 17, 2012 – The City of Dunwoody has decided to table the current wayfinding and
 signage implementation program.  The City will go back to the drawing board to work on alternate designs
 and plans that more closely match community expectations. 
While it recognizes the importance of a well-designed wayfinding program, the City intends to focus efforts
on other services and priorities, which are considered by Council and the community as more immediate.
No timetable has been set for the redesign and implementation of the City wayfinding and sign program. 
For additional information regarding the wayfinding program or the City of Dunwoody please contact
Edie Damann, Marketing and PR Manager, at 678-382-6712 or edie.damann@dunwoodyga.gov.

###
END


I'm glad to see the city putting this on the back burner.  The positive of all this is that the decent
response to council demonstrates that many people are involved and care about Dunwoody,
its image, and its spending habits.

Mayor and council asked for input and received it from many residents (either by email or
via posts on blogs and news web sites) and took action based on that input.  Thanks to Mayor Davis,
our city council members, and staff for doing the right thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dunwoody Wayfinding or Dunwoody Marketing?




At issue is spending $150,000 to $500,000 in more signage for Dunwoody.  The first question to ask is 'Do we need any or all these signs?' and then 'Is this the best use of this money'?
After some thought, perhaps the city should move ahead with part of the sign program - but the way finding stuff only.  The self -centered 'Dunwoody' signs are over the top and not needed. let's be honest here - drivers don't care if they are in Dunwoody or Sandy Springs or Brookhaven or Doraville.  Drivers are going from A to B, regardless of what political jurisdiction the pavement flows.  The egotistical monuments declaring 'Dunwoody' and "Welcome to Dunwoody' are the equal of Government-funded art, also known as a waste of funds, and an eye sore. Factor in maintenance and we are talking big money, ongoing, forever.


Only Las Vegas has (and deserves) a 'Welcome' sign. Everything else is like those dumb steel sculptures you see out in front of Government buildings. The "Welcome to ......." signs are a thing of the past and a waste of money.



If a person driving on Mt Vernon or Spalding or Ashford Dunwoody Road has no idea where they are, who cares?  They managed to get here - they can figure out their location when they look at their fast-food receipt.

Let's take a detailed look at the way-finding signs.  Exactly to where does city Government want to direct drivers? (from the city's official sign schedule)

Dunwoody High School: okay, we do get parents and teams needing to know this locale. Plus, some of the new transfers may need the extra guidance.

Georgia Perimeter College: see above (but they can always ask Woroniecki)

Library / Arts Center: okay, people need to know where free Internet/computers are located

Brook Run Park: okay

Windwood Hollow Park: okay, since I myself don't know where this place is located. 

Dunwoody Nature Center: okay

Dunwoody Park; also known as the home to Metro Atlanta Sr. baseball league. These signs could be misleading as when one reads 'Dunwoody Park' they might think there is actually something for kids/family to do here, and the signs will create more traffic and disappointed visitors to 'Dunwoody Park'.

Dunwoody Village: not okay.  This is a commercial area.  This is not New York where we are pinpointing the five boroughs.  Why do drivers need to know when/where they are in Dunwoody Village or Georgetown area? 

Perimeter Mall: not okay.  It's not DisneyWorld or Six Flags.  The folks getting off MARTA know how to get to the mall. 

Perimeter Park: see above comment for Windwood Hollow Park

Police / City Hall: okay

Donaldson-Bannister Farm: These signs could be misleading as when one reads 'Farm' they might think there is actually something for kids/family to do here, and the signs will create more traffic and disappointed visitors to 'Farm'. Until this place is renovated and actually has a purpose and parking, why put up a sign?

Georgetown Village:  see note for Dunwoody Village.  All this talk of 'villages' leads one to believe we Dunwoodians are living in cedar-roofed flats, visiting the cobbler and blacksmith on weekends. We all know that our city resembles a hamlet more than a village.



MARTA:  okay, but easier to ask Norb how to get to MARTA.

Fire Station: okay

Williamsburg Village: not okay.  see notes for Georgetown Village and Dunwoody Village

Vernon Oaks Park:  see Windwood Hollow Park

So what did not make the sign list? 


Top 7 Sign Snubs:

#7 Fleming's Steak House - Now until July 29th, Prime New York Strip (Tuscan Style) special for $39.95 with salad and dessert



#6 Vermack Swimming Pool - Home to DJ Vermack and Dunwoody's finest swim team

#5  Dunwoody Post Office - Home to the Buick driver taking three minutes to deposit a post card in the wrong-way mail box

#4 Vanderlyn Elementary School - Vandy Runs on Dunkin (shirts still available)


#3 The bank.  Which bank?
#2 The FarmHouse  (the original, not the Bannister-Chesnut-Donaldon-Spruill wannabe)

#1 Mellow Mushroom  Home to cold Hoegaarden on draft, fresh pizza pies made with real spring water dough, calzones, hoagies, and pretzels with red sauce.
(Disclaimer: This blogger did not receive any free goods from Mellow Mushroom for this #1 snub.  However, they can email me and arrange for a date/time for a large cheese pizza and a pitcher of beer.  Otherwise Gallo's may make the list next time)

Want to see how many and where signs would be placed?  Look HERE.

And we don't need the 'Village' and 'PCID" distinctions.


The Perimeter wants their own symbol/logo on THEIR signs?  Can't really blame them, do you?  They (the PCID) recognize a botched branding / logo when they see it.  They don't want to give tours to prospective tenants and be asked, "What's up with the Wal-mart logo everywhere?  Are we in Bentonville, AR?" You folks over in Georgetown should insist on your own logo on the signs, same for the FarmHousers and the Williamsburg folks.

We all know signs were a top reason for incorporating.  So why are some of the FarmHousers suddenly supporting this signage orgy?
Future Dunwoody Village/Hamlet Sign locations

Wayfinding

r

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Time to Reduce Spending Power of City Manager

When we first became a city, mayor and council agreed that the city manager could spend up to $50,000 on nearly anything, without asking permission from council.  As a start-up city, this was okay.  No need to bother council with day-to-day purchases of office supplies, chairs, and other small ticket expenses.  Our council and mayor are part-time, and the bulk of the work in the city should be performed by the city manager and staff.  The city manager has performed a nice job and I'm not aware of any abuses of the $50,000 rule.

However, the time has come to reduce this spending cap to $10,000.  I hope someone on council will bring up this issue.  Allowing the city manager to spend up to $50,000 on certain things creates a scapegoat of sorts for council as they can simply tell us, the taxpayers, that, "we never voted on that".

So what's the worry?  No cases of the city manager blowing funds on dumb stuff, is there?  No, there is not.  In no way do I think the city manager has misspent any funds.  We have a competent council and mayor to keep an eye on everything and the city manager has proven to be competent in his position.

So why the alarm now?  Signs.  Big and ugly signs.  Big and ugly signs at the city's non-commercial underused and underdeveloped green space (aka parks).

video

Click the image above to listen to audio clip from council meeting earlier this month.

The city manager loves the logo and branding, something he and I obviously disagree on.  It seems as I am not alone in disliking the Legoland/ E Trade / Walmart themed logo.  Listen to the audio from the July 9th council work session.  The city manager tells council the cost of parks signage is under the threshold granted to him, meaning he can go buy those signs tomorrow, regardless of what residents here think.  He does offer up council a chance to weigh in with opinions before he heads out to spend up to $50,000 on park signage. He also refers to parks signs as more imminent.  Imminent?  I disagree.  Like most others, including the city manager, I'd like for the city to look nice, and have things convenient for residents and visitors.  But lets pave a couple more roads and add a couple hundred feet of sidewalks with the money budgeted for park signs and monuments.

Speaking of imminent, take a look HERE at Blogger Bob's blog.  Holding ChatComm's feet to the fire regarding our 911 system is imminent, signs for parks is not imminent. Agree?  You need to let your mayor and council know.


Do you really want to spruce up the area around a park?  Start with knocking down the ridiculous concrete mass of a sign/wall in front of Brook Run.
Mr. Mayor, tear down this wall
video


So the dialogue continues and the artwork is discussed.  But this is not the conversation we need to hear.  What we need to hear is if the city should be buying any monument signs at all!  I know, last year's council approved this line item in the budget.  But that's not the point.  This year's council can refuse to spend the $150,000 budgeted for 2012.  Furthermore, I hope this council decides not to spend any money in 2013 for monuments.  Just because something is in the budget does not mean you can't transfer those funds elsewhere.  It happens all the time.

Last year council gave the nod to spend $39,000 on the study of this sign project.  A couple of members on council were reluctant to spend that money, but the item passed.  We have the study completed, but let's sit on it for another year or so and focus on more important items.

Back to the branding.  We had lots of resident input.
See the results HERE.

So what to do?  Ask your council members and mayor to reduce the spending power of the city manager, ask to not install the proposed parks monuments in 2012.  Focus on the simple way-finding signs (police station, library, schools, etc.) but leave the monuments to lavish and art-minded places like Greece and Spain.