Monday, August 12, 2013

Occupy Dunwoody, aka Save Dunwoody, Hosts Town Hall Meeting

Saturday was a strange day for Dunwoody politics.  But before we get to Saturday, we need to back up a bit.  The DeKalb GOP put on its calendar a meeting for 10:30 AM on August 10th at the library.  The meeting was allegedly hosted/sponsored by the 40th Congressional district.  One problem:  Senator Fran Millar, our elected official from the 40th District, was NOT invited.  He was not even made aware of the event by its planners.  DeKalb's two other elected Republicans, Tom Taylor (State Rep) and a guy from Brookhaven, were also not invited.  Turns out the Occupy Dunwoody leaders were behind this stunt.  Once the plot was revealed the DeKalb GOP leader canceled the event by email.  But as they say in all other circuses, the show must go on!

In last week's Dunwoody crier Jim Dickson, a co-leader of Save Dunwoody/Occupy Dunwoody expressed concern over the DHA hosting a candidate forum.  Now we have a group led by the same Jim Dickson renting a room at the library under the name of Natalie O. on behlaf of the 40th District of the DeKalb GOP, possibly under false pretenses? 

Many agents of Occupy Dunwoody are Tea Party agents as well.  The Tea Party nationally, like all other political parties, is comprised by a lot of great Americans, and by some not so great Americans.  The Tea Party has had little success at the Federal level, and has made no gains at the State level in Georgia.  The new M.O. for Tea Parties across the country is to back off at the National and State level, and start grass roots at the local (city, municipality, township, borough) level.  We are witnessing this in Dunwoody and in Cobb and other areas.  I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just pointing out the obvious.   

Here is a link to Georgia Tea Party groups.  Dunwoody chapter not listed currently.

 So at 10:30 AM (after the official DeKalb GOP breakfast at Wright's Gourmet ended) the Occupy Dunwoody Town Hall meeting started.  I give credit to Occupy Dunwoody; they had a great turnout.  There were about 70 people on hand to start (perhaps 10 or so were not part of the group, but wanted to attend for various reasons).  The meeting was full of negativity and was poorly hosted.  Nothing constructive came out of this gathering except that the core supporters of the Clean Sweep candidates has shown to be limited in size and limited to see the glass as cracked and half empty.  I'm not in the political consultant business but I do know anyone running for office that associates themselves to this group has NO CHANCE of winning an election anywhere except maybe as head bottle washer of Occupy Dunwoody.  The Clean Sweep candidates may be great guys with wonderful ideas, but if today's group is their base, the other candidates should feel a little better today.  After Saturday's spectacle maybe I should toss my name in the hat for District 1. 

This group that met today fails to realize we as residents of Dunwoody are so better off being a city than a part of unincorporated DeKalb.  Our taxes are much lower than everyone else in DeKalb and we have better police and zoning.  This group wants all the roads paved yet does not want to pay a penny more in taxes.  They oppose the Dunwoody Parkway grant while complaining the roads need improved.  They oppose bike lanes but scream when trees are cut in Brook Run.  This group is like a chicken with its head cut off running around the barn yard.

There are a few controversial issues in Dunwoody, none of these alone or combined are enough evidence to suggest we should not have become a city.  

I don't like that we spent $100,000 on the ethics issue, the trail at Brook Run could have been 9 or 10 feet instead of 12 feet, the Dunwoody Parkway could have simply been repaved with no grant money while reducing the Village side to one lane with a sidewalk added, and the Vermack/Womack intersection could have a 4-way green/yellow/red traffic light 22.5 hours a day and a police officer directing traffic 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon. But all of these projects were discussed at great length many times.  

There were hundreds of other things approved the past five years by city council that I fully support, as do thousands of other Dunwoody residents.  I've been writing this blog for a few years, and sooner or later (or often and always) my opinion will differ from yours.  No one anyone agrees with me 100% of the time.  Same thing when you have a city of 50,000 residents and a city council.

What Save Dunwoody needs to know is that just because 40 loud people oppose a project does not mean the project is stopped.  Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel in Duwnoody (Save Dunwoody) does not want attention, it wants to derail us from the track.

I don't like cameras mounted on police cars that read thousands of license plates a day and I don't like the idea of cameras videotaping cars coming and going at Brook Run.  The cameras will be live on the Internet for all to see, enlisting Dunwoody residents as Brown Shirt / Big Brother agents (if Dunwoody buys or gets a grant for a drone I will officially join Norb and his Tea Party Posse).  And the city won't allow me to have chickens.  But I'll survive all these 'travesties' knowing Dunwoody is better now than it was six years ago.  

We have lots of new sidewalks, many roads are being paved, and the police department is making arrests.  Now that we are a city we have stopped the apartment loophole and I know a Dunwoody city council will not approve a transit oriented development (as I suspect Sandy Springs will).  We are attracting businesses thanks to our economic development guy.  

Is the city perfect?  Nope.  Does council sometimes vote Yes when I would have voted No?  Of course it does.  Is there a huge conspiracy at city hall to flood Dunwoody with apartments and silence residents?  No.  The Occupy Dunwoody group is being mislead, a victim of some of their own leaders, by means of the very Delphi Method they oppose.

It's a shame that some individuals of this group have talents and ideas worthy of sharing, yet their association with Occupy Dunwoody discredits them from earning worthy attention.

I took photos and video clips, but I can summarize the meeting this way:

The Red Shirts / Save Dunwoody / Clean Sweep / Occupy Dunwoody group sat around and complained over and over for two hours on the same couple of items.  Not one time did a member of the group put forth a positive idea for the city.  Not once did a member of the group (which included their candidates for city council) mention how to make Dunwoody better.  Not once did a member of the group mention anything about children.  Not once did a member of the group discuss overcrowding and financial issues with our school system.  Not once did a member of this group say one good thing about an elected official or city employee or police officer.  It was your classic "I hate everyone and everything in Dunwoody" meeting.  The tone was so negative it was nearly unbearable.  Not one thing positive or uplifting was said in two hours.  But I suppose the purpose of their meeting was to vent frustrations so maybe I should not be surprised.  This was the ultimate doom and gloom crowd. Councilman Terry Nall was there in the room,  No 3 minute rule, no giving your name and address, no public comment rules.  Just Terry and the group.  The group asked him one question on the start date of the Dunwoody Parkway project - that's it.  Why did the group not ask him all these questions they say are going unanswered and ignored? 

The group talked again and again about issues that are behind us.  The trail is done and people love it.  We have experienced more rainfall in Georgia this year than any other year to date and NO flooding in the neighborhood behind Brook Run.  Those homeowners will NEVER admit the new walkway in Brook Run has IMPROVED storm water issues.  Never (except when they try to sell their homes).

The group talked endlessly about Dunwoody Parkway.  My message to the group regarding traffic flow is this:  Spalding Dr and Roberts Dr have 50 times the daily volume of Dunwoody Parkway, yet these two roads are two lanes whereas Dunwoody Parkway is currently four lanes.  Traffic will not be an issue when Dunwoody Parkway is reconstructed.  Dunwoody Parkway is a done deal.  This group is wasting their energy complaining about this topic.  What will they complain about next, the 1991 World Series when Kent Hrebek lifted Ron Gant off first base to tag him out?

Did the city spend too much money on Dunwoody Parkway at a time when other intersections needed  to be higher on the construction list?  Maybe, maybe not.  But one thing is for sure, that road project (that will cost $30 per resident) is going forward.  It humors me to no end to hear this group dwell on two or three issues constantly as if they were discussing an arms treaty or creating peace in the Middle East.    Members of the group will say the three magic issues (Brook Run Trail, Dunwoody Pkwy, Wover/Vermack intersection) show a pattern of ignoring citizens, but that is not the truth.  Dunwoody has so many meetings and there are many times for input (input works, when presented logically and in a timely manner).  The big problem is that many decisions were made in Dunwoody while Occupy Dunwoody folks were either not involved or not affected.  All of a sudden this group wants to take Dunwoody back to 1977, and that is not possible.

The group complains endlessly about being ignored.  They feel that when they want something stopped (Dunwoody Pkwy) it should be stopped.  The group as a whole cannot accept 'no' for an answer.  On one hand they discount the Transportation Committee's priority list and the Parks and Rec survey results, then on the other hand promote their biased survey results as gospel.  Once again, you can't have it both ways.

One interesting conflict of opinion is the environmental side of Occupy Dunwoody.  Out of one side of their mouth they fight  to limit the stream buffers.  They don't want a 75 foot buffer they want 25.  Out of the other side of their mouth they complain about trees being cut.  What is it, OP, do you hate streams but like trees?  Or do you change your environmental opinion when it is convenient?  It is not okay for the city to cut trees to add access and an asset to Brook Run but not okay for the city to limit disturbances in a stream buffer?  You can't have it both ways.  

But all was not lost today.  A couple of shining moments from today.  Bev Wingate, not a member of Occupy Dunwoody, spoke today.  I don't know her well but have seen her at many meetings and social events.  To put it simply she showed the others in the room how to speak and get a point across.  Bev Wingate was firm yet polite when addressing the group, speaking a voice of reason.  


I can't see how any of the Clean Sweep candidates or members of this group felt their meeting today was a success.  They were preaching to their own choir, with no true leader and no set of goals.  They were simply there to complain and spread bad information among the already infected.

Here is the email blast sent to Save Dunwoody / Occupy Dunwoody subscribers:

Town Hall Meeting 

August 10th, Dunwoody Library Meeting Room, 10 AM.   

This is the first in a series of Town Hall meetings to be held over the next several months.   

Come prepared with your questions concerning local, state government issues and actions and meet the new candidates for Dunwoody City Council who will be attending as fellow participants 

We will discuss city issues including easements, stream buffers, projects, city charter, zoning/land use and other local issues in this first meeting. State and/or federal regulations do affect these. 
Your Save Dunwoody Team

SaveDunwoody was established in September 2012 as a voice for Dunwoody citizens – it is a coalition of Dunwoody voters not affiliated with any group or political party. SaveDunwoody has already grown to over 800 members and may now be the largest community organization in Dunwoody. ”
Like us on Facebook - Save Dunwoody

I can't believe I wasted two hours on a Saturday then the added time to type this blog entry on this group.  But it is important for Dunwoody residents to know what is happening.  I applaud Occupy Dunwoody folks for getting involved, but know your opinion is in the minority now and will be in the minority come the November election.  As Farmer Bob suggested to you at the meeting, channel your energy in a positive manner and focus on things you can change. 

It also seems as the Clean Sweep candidates has extended their quiet period as they barely participated in Saturday's unofficial Town Hall meeting.   Or maybe the three guys have already recognized the Save Dunwoody group is not the support group needed to win an election.


Bob Lundsten said...

saved me from writing a post
I will post a link
Thanks Rick, never have I left a meeting feeling the way I felt.
What I found interesting is they were quoting "what I read in the Crier" as fact and proof of their positions, when they were actually citing there own letters to the Editor.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I often disagree with a lot of your posts. You and I aren't exactly of the same wavelength.
However, I 100% percent agree with you on this post. Dunwoody is so much better due to the fine work of our citizens and city counsel. This group is negative, deceitful and counterproductive. Thanks for your well thought out, well written post.

Norb Leahy said...

The 40th Senate District officers wanted to begin hosting Town Hall meetings on local issues. I told them we could use one in Dunwoody and would make some calls to enough folks to fill the room. I worked with them on the agenda and they conducted the meeting. The DeKalb GOP Chair put it on their website and then removed it. The
40th group plans to continue to hold these meetings within their 4 city district. Glad you could come. Norb Leahy

DunwoodyTalk said...


Had you been holding the microphone and using your knowledge I think the meeting would have been better. You do a nice job at the Community Council meetings and many would like to see that at the town halls. Hopefully the next meeting will be full of ideas and some positive feedback on things we are doing right.

We need a unified front to oppose the TODs.


Anonymous said...

Was Alex the representative from the DeKalb GOP? He needs to be more vocal and do more than allow the same three elderly ladies to bitch and moan for two hours.

Anonymous said...


What is your end game? How do you plan to achieve it? Lets us, the citizens, know.

Folding your arms over your chest and yelling "NO!" at every potential solution, resolution or idea does not constitute a credible plan of action.

We want to be the informed electorate the Founding Fathers desired.

Max said...

:::::Charter Commission NEWSFLASH::::

Suggest City of Dunwoody slogan changed to choice of either:



"We're not happy until you're not happy."

That is all.

Anonymous said...

Negativity was used to rally support for the pro Dunwoody vote a few years back. Better off now; better police (Sneiderman case, Abbott case and several other events, license plate readers used on private property where our local boys confiscate expired tags.) If your worried about the drone then you might want to read up on the Iron Sky surveillance system they want to purchase. Alpharetta touts their purchase and its ability to link into Dunwoodys and share info. Other than the paving which has not been overly impressive I see little that the city can say happened exclusively because of their existence. Pardon me but I need to return to fashioning my new hat out of recycled foil and duct tape

Anonymous said...

4:45 ... and your post is not negative at ALL. Pointing a finger and saying something out loud doesn't make it true.