Friday, May 10, 2013

Dunwoody Arts Festival May 11 & 12 2013

It's Mother's Day weekend and that means the Dunwoody Arts Festival is back.  More people walk the streets of Dunwoody this weekend more than any other time of the year.  Only the Independence Day parade comes close.  Food, music, crafts.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Exhibit A for Gene Walker Trial Just Submitted

Walker now has 7 million pieces of evidence in Exhibit A

It's no secret to those living in DeKalb County that Gene Walker is challenging the State of Georgia and the governor over a law that removed him from the school board.  I've written here before that I think the law is bad.  People should be voted out of office or recalled from office. I still think Walker wins in front of the Georgia Supreme Court and the entire school board is reinstated.  And we'd be in no worse situation with the old board than we are with the new Board and Thurmond.

The big scare in DeKalb was losing accreditation.  That can be solved in ninety days without doing much of anything.  Step 1 is move away from system-wide accreditation (like 90% of other school districts in Georgia).  Step 2 is to have each high school receive its accreditation from GAC, not SACS.  The problem of accreditation would be solved.  Mr. Walker is one of the top political men in Georgia over the past 30 years. He continually outflanks his opponents and haters, and seems to take great pride in doing so.  He is playing chess and his political foes are playing checkers.  But Walker did make one error - he failed to get the board and superintendent  to move the system away from SACS.  He underestimated Elgart and Fran. When Walker is reinstated his first move will be removing SACS.

Accreditation is no longer an issue in DeKalb.  Elgart and SACS will move them up a notch before the legislators meet early in 2014. A move is on to go to dual accreditation, allowing high schools to receive accreditation from a secondary source (GAC).  SACS doesn't like this idea, but they can't stop it legally.  Thurmond is playing hardball on the dual accreditation issue, but the Board seems to favor it, as a backup plan. The new Board also sees how SACS can bully them and the new Board does not want SACS pulling the strings.  All the new Board members (appointed) will run for office next year, and the dual accreditation issue will look nice on campaign literature. But Walker will soon give Thurmond the wink and nod to support the dual accreditation. Why?  It protects DeKalb students and paves the way for a smoother triumphant return for Walker & Co.  With all high schools fully accredited (we hope), the people of DeKalb will again bury their collective heads in the sand dunes of DeKalb.

The other SACS complaint and reason for placing the district on probation was due to financial issues.  Claims were made the Board mismanaged funds.  This was not true with a deficit and not true with the new false surplus.  It was the central office employees (hired and kept in place by the Board) that were/are incompetent.  And under Thurmond they are not going away so we are right where we were a year ago.  But the BIG NEWS is that the DeKalb School System is not broke, but in fact has a surplus of $27 million dollars, $7 million of 'found' money.  This is Exhibit A for Gene Walker.  There was no financial wrong-doings under Walker's watch is what we will be told, and he now has 7 million pieces of evidence.  But those of you new to DeKalb doings realize there is no surplus.  These funds were mostly set aside dollars for after school programs and funds used for active boards and books.  This $27 million was simply moved from schools to the general fund.  A shameful accounting trick no doubt.  But hey, we have a $27 million surplus.  Tell that to the kids and parents and teachers suffering in this corrupt school system.

Of course we have a new CFO.  The prior CFO pulled a disappearing act as soon as the $7 million was "discovered".  The former CFO was doing too good of a job, that's most likely why he is gone.  His replacement was CFO under Vernon Jones.

As Mr. Walker awaits his Due Process (something not granted to him or the other Board members when they were removed from office), he will continue to orchestrate his plan of discovering evidence, all from the sidelines.  The governor, the local political posse, and Mr. Elgart, like all before them, will be out maneuvered by one of the best.

Touché, Mr. Walker.

But the local strategists can still win, but only if Independent School Districts are created in DeKalb.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

South DeKalb Residents Our Ticket to a Dunwoody School District? City of Stonecrest?

Residents in south DeKalb have joined the movement for a new city and possibly a new school district.

Jason Lary

Here's a link to a story about the proposed City of Stonecrest. Senator Ronald Ramsey supports the idea, as do Sen. Jason Carter and Sen. Gail Davenport.  Not quite a "when pigs fly" scenario, but we  loo forward to Tom Taylor and Fran Millar meeting with Senator Ronald Ramsey and discussing something they can do together, as a team - pass legislation to allow us to vote on the Independent School District issue.

Not my map, but one "borrowed" from some guy in Tucker

City of Stonecrest would be lower right corner of the above map

Down in the southeast corner of DeKalb there is a movement to become a city.  Although not entirely, part of that movement is to separate from the DeKalb School System.  Depending on how the lines are drawn, the new city could include Arabia Mountain, a top DeKalb high school that is on par with Chamblee and Dunwoody high schools.  The city could also pick up the Miller Grove area. 

Hopefully Senator Fran Millar can discuss this city/Independent School District issue with Senator Ramsey. 

Here's a link to the City of Tucker Initiative blog

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dunwoody School Report Card Scores 2013

The State of Georgia released the grades for public schools today.  What grades did your schools earn?  Keep in mind the scores are for ALL the school's students. As a parent the only thing that matters is YOUR kid, so don't push the panic button if your kid's school is lower than others.  Is your kid learning and gaining skills they will need for college and the work place?

 See scores at the AJC

Dunwoody Crier Story on Campaign Contirbutions and Zoning

The Dunwoody Crier has a story this week regarding zoning and campaign disclosure forms.  See HERE for story.

Here's the story.  Bob Dallas ran for mayor against Mike Davis.  Mr. Dallas accepted campaign funds from lawyers and developers.  We have no issue with that.  Mr. Dallas did nothing wrong in accepting campaign funds. He ran for office and people wanted to contribute to his campaign. People contribute to campaign for many reasons.  Mr. Dallas did not win the election, but he is on the Planning Commission.  Mayor Davis did not seek to replace his campaign opponent, but instead recognized Mr. Dallas' experience in government and so Mr. Dallas is vice-chair of Dunwoody's Planning Commission.

Down on Ashford Duwoody Road a group going by the name of HDP Acquisitions needs the city's blessing to change their site plan and change zoning.  For this particular case, HDP presents to Community Council, then Planning Commission, then City Council.  Prior to meeting with the Community Council and Planning Board, HDP is required to submit a packet of information.  The packet includes site plans, maps, city forms, and financial disclosures.

They need to first go to the Community Council (they did, and that Board voted 5-1 in favor of their changes.  I was the lone 'no' vote, full disclosure.) I feel this Board was strongly influenced by the city attorney's testimony regarding a 1980 deed at the hearing. I think the city attorney is wrong on basing his decision of allowing the curb-cut based solely on one document and more on this will be posted soon.

Next HDP goes in front of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission voted 'Yes' also, in a 4-3 vote.  So far, so good for HDP.  The video of this hearing is available on the city's web site.  Bob Dallas, a Dunwoody resident, is on the Planning Commission.  You can watch and listen to him promote to fellow Board members the full approval of HDP's requests. No issue with that.  He has experience in this area and he should speak his mind.  There's a reason he is on that Board.

But here's where the story takes a slight turn.  The Dallas campaign received $500 from one HDP attorney, $1000 more from the firm employing her and another attorney (the 'other' attorney was the person presenting to Dallas and the Planning Commission).

Incomplete document.  Perhaps the two attorneys should have left both boxes unchecked as well.

In addition, the Dallas campaign received $1000 from Hotel Equities.  Hotel Equities appears to be related to the applicant, HDP Acquisitions.

According to signed documents neither attorney or the hotel group admitted to these campaign contributions.

All committee members received this packet in advance.  Part of these packets are the sign campaign disclosure forms.

I'll go out on a limb here and state that Mr. Dallas would vote to approve this project even if he had not received campaign contributions from the two attorneys and the developer.  I don't think for a moment the money had any influence on him.  But I do think both sides of this issue should have informed city staff and fellow board members of the contributions.

So now what?  Do the votes on the Community Council and Planning Commission still stand?  What action does the city take regarding the inaccurate and incomplete disclosure forms?  Will 'Dunwoody Community' tweet this story?  Will the rain stop so I can mow the lawn?