Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My top priorities for Dunwoody

In preparation for this evenings political forum (Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 7 pm) the Dunwoody Homeowners Association asked each of the candidates for a quick bio of their qualifications and their highest priorities for the new city.

Once seated on the City Council, my initial priorities will be as follows.

Do we accept the sole source bid of CH2MHill? Are there other options available?

The biggest issue facing the new city council will be one of the first decisions that they will be forced to make and that will be whether or not to accept the master contracting bid from CH2MHill or to look for other options as to the day to day operations of the city. It is my belief that the contract negotiations going on now are being productive but with only one bidder on the contract, the city council should be willing to scrap the only proposal if it comes in too high to either rebid or find other solutions. Choosing the CH2MHill bid would mean a relatively smooth start up and running of the backend city services but if the cost is too high, acceptance of this bid would mean very little money for capital improvements and extended police services, both of which the city drastically needs. This decision would also tie the hands of the City Council for the term of the contract, possibly up to 5 or 6 years. The elected officials need to have options to decide what is best for the long term viability of the city and being locked into a long term, over priced contract doesn’t look like it offers the best deal, especially if we won’t have money for needed expenses other than general operations.

I believe that smaller government is better government and that the contracted out model of one company to do all essential backend services is very attractive. But if the master contract of CH2MHill doesn’t make sense at the time of proposal, I will be looking for other options which may include rebidding the original RFP or going with a highbred contracting model whereby City Department Directors are hired and then they bid out individual contracts for their respective needs, be it Roads, Payroll, HR, etc.; instead of CH2MHill having one master contract for all such services.

Public Safety – Dunwoody Police Department

The Dunwoody Police Chief position will be one of the first positions filled and I take it for granted that the candidate selected will have vast experience in local law enforcement and possibly experience in working for a local start up police department; therefore the person hired will have my utmost trust as far as setting up the police department. I want a police force that is visible in the community serving & protecting the citizens and what DeKalb County previously offered Dunwoody citizens didn’t come close to what I envision for Dunwoody. I want regular patrols ready to respond to emergency calls but I also want dedicated officers patrolling the high crime areas of the city protecting the innocent citizens while letting the criminal element know that they should move elsewhere. I want crime statistics online, searchable and mapped to clearly identify trends so to target our resources. I want enough detectives on the force so that they can actually solve crimes vs. just being glorified insurance adjusters who barely have enough time filling out reports, jumping from case to case because they are overworked. I want Code Enforcement Officers to enforce the codes currently on the books while doing so in a neighborly way, if possible. I would also like to offer incentives to police officers to live within the city limits so that they are closer in case of emergency, their police cars are parked in our neighborhoods and they become entrenched in the community in which they serve. The above staffing levels may not be possible the first year but that is where I hope to be as soon as our budget allows.

Zoning, Land Use & Transportation.

A comprehensive land use plan which also is linked to a transportation plan must be developed for the city and citizen input is imperative. Zero growth is not an effective city planning strategy but smart growth is; therefore I promise to always consider the needs of the current residents prior to deciding what is best for a specific piece of property. I want walkable neighborhoods, dedicated bike lanes, improved cross walks, transportation options, conservation of open lands, local character and a vibrant Dunwoody Village and other town centers.

Starting out SLOW, proving revenues first, being Open & Transparent

Dunwoody doesn’t have a proven track record to know exactly what our revenues are, therefore I promise to be especially fiscally conservative the first year and always work to obtain a balanced budget to keep tax increases at bay. DeKalb County purposely worked at hiding public information from the citizens they are entrusted to serve; and I promise that I will do everything in my power to have every important government document published to the web to keep the citizens informed. Transparency in Government breeds self-corrective behavior and I will work hard to be the exact opposite of the DeKalb County Administration that we have just broken off from.

Coordination with other governmental agencies, DeKalb County School System / Ga Perimeter College.

I will encourage coordination with the school systems in the area to possibly find solutions to transportation and infrastructure issues impacting our roads and over all quality of life. If the Mayor doesn't appoint an official city liaison to the schools, I with two children scheduled to be in two different elementary schools next year will continue to be active in this area.


gsakas said...

A Sole-source contract is reserved in government for limited instances:
1. There is only one qualified provider.
2. The product or service is unique to the municipality.

CH2M OMI is clearly a leader in this field and has a lot of local experience.
Let's assume CH2M can do the job and the commission can negotiate a reasonable contract now.
The bigger question is, "How long will city services be contracted out?" Once CH2M is entrenched, they have all the negotiating power. There is a scenario where a few years from now they ask for greatly increased fees simply because Dunwoody has been lax in developing alternatives- another contractor or an actual city staff.
There MUST be a plan for evaluation and development of long-term services.
If you have a short-term problem, think long term.

Thaddeus Osbourne Dabell (TOD) said...

A potential conflict of interest exists as well. It turns out that the spouse a high ranking official with Citizens for Dunwoody is a former CH2M employee who lists themselves on a business networking site as a member of the 'CH2M Alumni Association'.

Given that, is anyone really surprised the other company's bid was considered inadequate? Given the recent startup of nearby cities using the same company and some of the same consultants it is no wonder CH2M considers this a done deal. They have already identified employees and found us a city hall. How nice of them.

Tom said...

I’m Tom Taylor. I’m the person mentioned in the blog. My wife was an employee of Lockwood Greene Engineers here in Dunwoody and left the company in 2001 before CH2MHill acquired that company in 2003. Subsequently, she worked on a few small contract projects in her specialty (Supply Chain)for the Lockwood Greene Division (by then a subsidiary of CH2M Hill) after the acquisition. So yes, my spouse did technically at one point perform work for CH2M Hill, but in a completely separate business unit (Supply Chain Consulting) from the part of the company that does city services and never as a full time employee. At the time that she was performing this work, neither Sandy Springs, John’s Creek, Milton or Dunwoody had even been incorporated, nor do I believe the business unit that does city services even exist. She does have an entry at the Alumni site, this is a job networking site for engineers, much the same as as Spoke of Zoominfo. I hope that this answers any questions that folks may have. If anyone has a question or wants more information, please call me.
Tom Taylor