Thursday, July 31, 2008

John Heneghan announces candidacy for Dunwoody City Council, District 3 at large.

Heneghan Family

Dunwoody, GA
, July 31, 2008. John Heneghan, a resident of Dunwoody for over eleven years, announced today that he will seek the District 3 (Eastern) At-Large Councilman position in the September 16 non-partisan primary.

If this was a formal press release statement, this announcement would go on talking about me in the third person but I just can’t do it in that style. It’s just not me. I would rather just tell you who am I, why am I qualified and what do I promise to do?

I am the father of three, very active young boys enrolled in the DeKalb County School System and the husband to the most vivacious & effervescent woman in town. If you know my bride, you know that I am a merely a wall flower who fades into the background of her existence. It is only with my family’s love & support that I have agreed to be a candidate for the City Council of Dunwoody.

I am originally from Chicago where I attended the university where my father worked as a painter for 35 years, because it offered his four kids the benefit of a free college education. I majored in Public Administration / Business Law, became President of the Student Body and was then named the first student to the University's Board of Trustees. While working on my Masters in Public Administration, I was hired by the U.S. Department of Transportation to inspect trucking companies in Chicago and a few years later I transferred over to inspecting chemical companies ensuring that they ship & transport hazardous materials correctly. After 17 years of Federal Service, I have worked my way up to a senior management position and oversee my agencies regional enforcement program. After church and family, my sense of duty follows to my employer who has been very good to me, and it is only with their support that I have agreed to be a candidate for the City Council of Dunwoody.

Due to the circumstances of my Federal employment and the requirements of the Hatch Act, I am allowed to serve my community under two very special circumstances that I would like to explain. As a Senior Manager of the Department of Transportation, I serve the President of the United States and his Administration, no matter what the political affiliation happens to be. The City of Dunwoody is a non-partisan election and because of that fact, I am allowed to serve. Partisan politics has never, nor will be a topic for my blog; nor will it ever be of any relevance to me in anything I do in relation with the City of Dunwoody. If you can’t get over the fact that I will not say if I am a Republican or Democrat, then please don’t vote for me.

Second, I will not solicit nor accept any political contributions of any kind. Zero, zilch, none.

The entire election campaign will be out of my pocket and because I am not a wealthy man in terms of finances, my campaign will look different from that of others who may be running. Note that I am running in a citywide seat, therefore when you see a house in Dunwoody that doesn’t have a political sign in the front yard in early September; please know that the house is actually voting for me. In fact, if you look around Dunwoody right now, I am already very popular. I am willing to expend the necessary funds to run, as well put in the many hours needed to get elected because for the last few years I have openly campaigned for the City of Dunwoody and now I feel compelled to prove that it can work.

My mother & father instilled working class values and a deep Catholic faith into their four children and each one of us kids have jobs which strive to serve the greater good. I personally believe that when I have the ability to make a difference, I have the responsibility to do so. That being said, I try to implement that ideal into the way I raise my children, the way I interact with my neighbors and the reason that I volunteer to serve my community when I can. For as long as I can remember I have served on the board of the Dunwoody North Civic Association and took over as its President just several years ago. Our little neighborhood association representing the 1,250 households provides numerous services like an extensive neighborhood watch program, neighborhood directory, website and lately an internet blog to publicly voice our issues. My extensive experience with the civic association on topics such as proposed rezonings, code enforcement issues and every day neighborhood squabbles has given me the confidence to know that I will be a competent city councilman, if so elected.

My experience on the Board of the Citizens for Dunwoody, as well as serving as the Chair of the Transportation Task Force, has given me an extensive background into the needs of the community as well as the proposed revenues that we will have to work with. The city will need to start slow and will need to be fiscally conservative the first several years to ensure that we can meet our basic expenses. Cityhood will not be easy and the status of incorporation alone will not be able to magically satisfy everyone’s wants and desires. As a citywide candidate, I would promise to serve and do what is best for the city as a whole in order to make this a vibrant community. Tough decisions will need to be made on zoning and land use but the viability and growth of the business community is in the best interest of all Dunwoody residents. If the heart of Dunwoody is the Perimeter Center business district, it needs to stay healthy in order maintain the soul of the community which I believe are the many small residential communities which provides us with a wonderful “small town” quality of life. Development may slow down because of economic concerns but it will not stop therefore I believe that a comprehensive land use policy developed by citizen input needs to be created and then followed.

I am not afraid to fight for what I believe in, nor afraid to make public the failings of ineffective government. My little neighborhood blog started as a place to announce garage sales and to help find lost cats. Over time it has morphed into a social media tool which I have used to further my agenda of obtaining quality governmental services for the residents in my neighborhood. Transparency in Government breeds self-corrective behavior and I promise that if elected that I will do everything that I can to ensure that city information and services are open, transparent and available online for public viewing by all.

Now that I am officially a candidate for a citywide seat on the city council, I need your help. Unlike others who may be asking for money, I would rather have you my friends & neighbors read more about me, my values and my ideas for the future of Dunwoody. Please accept this blog as my position paper on the future workings of the city, I encourage you to explore it fully, enter your e-mail address in it for updates and encourage your neighbors to do the same. The blog is really easy to find on line by just searching Google for “Dunwoody Blog” therefore let your friends know that I exist and who they should be supporting in September.

I also look forward to campaigning and getting the chance to meet residents in all areas of Dunwoody. To assist me in this endeavor, I will be convening a citywide panel of “advisers” to assist me in my quest for elected office. If you are interested in helping me, please drop me a note via e-mail with your contact information, phone number and a good time of day for me to call you back, my e-mail address is Also feel free to call me at home, my number is 770-234-0678.

Thank you for not having a sign in your front yard supporting me, it is much appreciated.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ken Wright announces run for Mayor of Dunwoody

Mayor Ken Wright

08/06/2008 Update - Ken Wright named Dunwoody Mayor.

Citizens for Dunwoody chair to run for mayor
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

By Cathy Cobbs for The Crier

Longtime local leader Ken Wright wants to be Dunwoody’s first mayor. “I love this community and I feel a deep responsibility to offer up any and all talents I have to the city,” Wright said in an interview with The Crier. “I’m excited to take on this opportunity.”

Wright, an Atlanta native who grew up on the Fulton County portion of the Branches neighborhood, graduated from North Springs High School and the University of Georgia with a degree in political science. He and his wife, Terri, have two children, Cassidy, eight, and Clayton, six.

A former Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association President from 2003 - 2005, he also served as the chairman of Citizens for Dunwoody, a non-profit group devoted to educating the public about the incorporation effort. He sent a letter to that board this week, resigning his office and declaring his intention to run for the mayor’s seat.

So far, Wright is the only declared candidate for the mayoral position, although others have expressed an interest in the office. Bob Dallas, a member of Dunwoody Yes, an advocate group that also spearheaded the city movement, has indicated an interest in the office, but has not yet officially declared his candidacy. Dallas could not be reached for comment via telephone or e-mail prior to The Crier’s Monday press deadline.

Already, more than 60 residents have endorsed Wright, who, if elected, would be the city’s first mayor. (See the list).

Rob Augustine, of Dunwoody Yes, also threw his support to Wright.

“Ken Wright has a proven track record of leadership on behalf of the Dunwoody community,” Augustine said.

John Heneghan, a longtime supporter of the incorporation effort and president of the Dunwoody North subdivision, “whole heartedly” endorsed Wright.

“Ken Wright has selflessly served the Dunwoody community as the president of the DHA and then as president of the Citizens for Dunwoody committee, which successfully brought us through the incorporation process,” Heneghan said. “Ken's work ethic and dedication to the community are exemplary and he is the leader I most trust to move the city forward.”

State Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who spearheaded the incorporation effort in the state legislature, also offered his support for the former DHA president.

“He understands the zoning and codes issues in his past work with the DHA and he’s familiar with all the opportunities and the challenges ahead,” Millar said. “I can’t think of anyone more qualified to be mayor.”

In other, related news, the DHA has announced it will hold a candidate forum for the seven elected City of Dunwoody positions for all declared candidates for the mayor and council member seats on August 26 from 7-9 p.m. in the sanctuary at Dunwoody United Methodist Church on Mt. Vernon Highway.

Candidates may place printed material for distribution on the tables provided at the rear of the meeting room, however, neither candidates nor or their representatives are to distribute campaign materials on the church property.

Danny Ross to seek Dunwoody District 2 at large Councilman Position

Danny Ross, a resident of Dunwoody for over thirty-two years, announced today that he will seek the District 2 (Central) At-Large Councilman position in the September 16 non-partisan primary.

Ross, who together with his wife Queenie serves as the Co-President of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust (DPT), said: “This is a defining moment in our community’s rich history. I am excited about the opportunity to be involved in starting the new city of Dunwoody. I believe that my experience as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and community volunteer uniquely qualifies me for this position. I am anxious to continue giving back to Dunwoody, a community where our six children have grown up and that we dearly love.”

As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Ross was instrumental in starting over thirty companies in the information processing, healthcare and telecommunication industries. He served on the Board of numerous private companies and five public companies, two of which he co-founded. Ross holds two method and systems patents and has one pending patent related to syndicating commerce on the internet.

As a community volunteer, Ross led the effort to save the Donaldson-Chesnut Farm, negotiating a tax advantaged purchase option that was financed by DeKalb County Green-space funds which he was instrumental in securing. Ross continued; “With respect to the Donaldson-Chesnut Farm, if I am fortunate enough to be selected as your Councilman, one of my first priorities will be to secure this historic property for it’s intended use as a farm-life museum which will benefit Dunwoody, DeKalb County and all of metropolitan Atlanta.”

As Co-President of DPT, Queenie and Danny, working with hundreds of volunteers, expanded Lemonade Days from a one day event which attracted a few hundred participants to an annual event which last year attracted over 30,000 people to Brook Run for four days of fun and festivities. “Brook Run is one of our most valuable assets (our people are our most valuable). If I am selected as your Councilman, another priority will be to work with the Brook Run Conservancy in transforming the Brook Run auditorium and surrounding buildings into a center for performing arts,” Ross said.

Ross served as a member of the Citizens for Dunwoody Finance and Budget Taskforce and served as chairman of the Code of Ethics Taskforce. Ross has served on the Pastoral Board of All Saints Catholic Church where in 1998 he led the Building the Church of Tomorrow Campaign which resulted in over $4.5 million being raised to support the Church and the building of five new Catholic schools. In addition to serving on the Board of Dunwoody Preservation Trust, he has served as a member of the Board of Governors of Dunwoody Country Club.

The Ross’s have been married for 43 years and have six children and twelve grandchildren. Ross is a graduate of Louisiana Tech with a BS degree in Math and minor in Computer Science.

Welcome to a Sustainable Dunwoody

The Heneghan family is back from our yearly vacation to Chicago where we split half our time visiting Kristin's family on the farm and then my family in the city. A good time was had by all!

With the creation of the City of Dunwoody, blogs are popping up all over and Pattie at Sustainable Dunwoody has created one that I will be reading on a regular basis. In fact with only a week in existence, she and I seem to see eye to eye on making Dunwoody a walkable & bikeable city, with ample green space for enjoyable living. (Point taken Pattie on the bike racks, they should be added to the City's Comprehensive Transportation Plan along with the bike lanes and curb cuts.)

I still have much to learn on sustainable businesses and sustainable food but I have already been researching the Oakhurst Community Garden for it to possibly be duplicated at the available Brook Run greenhouse or maybe at the Donaldson Chesnut House (Vermack & Chamblee Dunwoody Rd)?

Pattie is planning an aggressive schedule, check back often.
* Monday: Sustainable Business (sole proprietors, small businesses, large corporations and everything in between)

* Tuesday: Sustainable Food (local organic farm and prepared food via grocery stores, farmers markets and CSAs as well as community and home gardens)

* Wednesday: Sustainable Transportation (commute alternatives, new technologies, urban planning, and did I hear talk about kudzu as a bio-fuel?!)

* Thursday: Sustainable Greenspace (parks, nature preserves, pesticide-reduction, unstructured outdoor play, and community beautification that encourages outdoor exploration and enjoyment)

* Friday: Sustainable Neighborhood (walkability, safe routes to school, lawn reduction, backyard wildlife habitats, edible landscapes, rain harvesting, increased home efficiency, solar power, etc.)
Pattie defines sustainability, when applied to urban and suburban environments, as the creation of health, wealth and community while retaining and restoring natural resources. The goals of a sustainable community, as she defines it, are to have:
* A vibrant local economy of small businesses supported by citizens as well as responsible corporations that tread lightly on the land and give back to the community

* Robust neighborhoods that enhance social capital and increase safety

* Transportation alternatives that reduce dependence on automobiles and encourage the health of citizens

* Recreation opportunities that enable safe free play and interaction with nature

* A secure, affordable local food system

* Active protection and enhancement of natural resources such as green spaces, the local watershed, and the air we collectively breathe

* Educational opportunities that enable our children to develop in 360-degree awareness of the world in which they live

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I am narrowing down to my decision, but I know I will not be running for President.

I have been fielding numerous calls and e-mails asking if I am going to be running for elected office in Dunwoody and the answer I have been telling people is yes, I will probably be running at large for the City Council seat in district 3 (Eastern Side).

For the last five years, I have been a community leader, activist and political blogger best known for exposing politicians and governmental bodies’, ineptitude and non-service. This election is now my opportunity to switch sides and prove that these governmental services can be done better, more efficiently and more effectively. As President of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, the largest outside of the DHA, I have proven my ability to lead this community. I listen to my resident’s needs & concerns and follow through to the best of my ability to assist them with their issues. My commitment to the Future City of Dunwoody is unyielding and I am willing to put forth the effort to finish what I started. If elected to a city council seat, it is my belief that I would be able to effect positive change on a city wide scale.

I still have several weeks before the election registration and I need to spend some time away with my family before embarking on this huge endeavor, but I promise that I will be announcing publicly one way or another on this site by August 1st.

If I decide to run, it will be under my terms and done in a way which will be very different than any other political campaign ever run previously.

For those who know me, you wouldn’t expect anything else.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dunwoody residence paves paradise, to put up a parking lot.

As President of my neighborhood civic association representing over 1,000 homes here in Dunwoody, I get some interesting phone calls.

Today a neighbor and good friend told me about the single family house down the street from her, which has been having some major renovations done to it. Today the new owner just extended the driveway (without permits) to the point that the concrete and residence now covers almost half the surface area of the lot, which is clearly in violation of DeKalb County Code. This single family residence zoned R85 which sits on a corner, appears to have poured a complete new street, kiddy-corner to the main intersection with the curb cut completely engulfing the corner. Besides the funky driveway it appears from the neighbors observations that the residence is being converted to a duplex in the middle of the residential neighborhood.

I flied a complaint, on behalf of the neighbor, in the name of the Dunwoody North Civic Association to DeKalb's 311 center ( and the head of code enforcement within the DeKalb County Police Department, Ms. Nancy Funny-Lawrence.

DeKalb County will have to make the final decision on what happens with the huge driveway, so we will see what happens in due time.

Until then, enjoy the music.

New City of Dunwoody proposes tough 33 page, Code of Ethics Ordinance.

The Citizen's for Dunwoody Task Forces have been busy and they are finalizing their reports for the City Council. Bits & pieces of these reports have already been released, for example the police report on crime trends, or my road committee's data on street conditions & road resurfacing, sidewalks & street lights have all been made available. None of this information was readily available from DeKalb County but because of the very hard work of these ten task forces, our City Council when finally seated will be very well informed on the needs of the City.

Yesterday, I discussed the proposed Vision & Values of the City and today in order to better prepare the future candidates, I wanted to make them informed of the proposed City Mission Statement as well as the proposed 33 page code of ethics that they will be expected to live by.

City of Dunwoody
Mission Statement

The mission of the City of Dunwoody is to provide the highest quality of life for those who live, work or play in our community and to foster an environment where business can prosper. We will serve all stakeholders in a transparent manner with resourceful, efficient, progressive and professional leadership.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dunwoody hopefuls raise their hands and the proposed Vision & Values for the City.

This morning 29 people raised their hands during the candidate training forum, indicating that they intend to put forth their name as a candidate for either Mayor or one of the six City Council seats. Besides those 29, I am aware of at least two others who were out of town and will also be tossing their hat into the ring. That being said, I know for a fact that there will be some very good candidates who are currently preparing for the campaign and will be announcing in the near future.

At the end of today's meeting I announced to the group that as I have done for my friend Robert Wittenstein, I offer to post all initial candidate announcements, along with a photo to the Dunwoody Blog and I will also post other political items of interest to my calendar as needed.

I also obtained the proposed Vision & Values for the City, which will need to be approved by the city council once seated. It is my hope that the candidates who do put their names forward already abide by and live up to the standards below and I am posting the preliminary information so that they can strive to do so.

City of Dunwoody

Dunwoody will provide quality service to our citizens and support the largest economic engine in the Southeast by carefully and thoughtfully planning. We will be inventive, transparent and embrace responsible progress which is tempered by our rich history and our desire to maintain a small community atmosphere. Dunwoody is a community where activities are centered around the family, our schools, our churches and synagogues, and our beautiful parks.


To make Dunwoody a better community, built on mutual respect and trust and to promote and maintain the highest standards of personal and professional conduct amount all involved in City government – elected officials, City staff, volunteers, and members of the City’s boards, commissions and committees.

The proper operation of democratic government requires that decision-makers be independent, impartial, and accountable to the people they serve. The City of Dunwoody has adopted a Code of Ethics to promote and maintain the highest standards of personal and professional conduct in the City's government. All elected and appointed officials, City employees, volunteers, and others who participate in the city's government are required to subscribe to this Code, understand how it applies to their specific responsibilities, and practice its eight core values in their work. Because we seek public confidence in the City's services and public trust of its decision-makers, our decisions and our work must meet the most demanding ethical standards and demonstrate the highest levels of achievement in following this code.

1. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be ethical.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I am trustworthy, acting with the utmost integrity and moral courage.
b. I am truthful, do what I say I will do, and am dependable.
c. I make impartial decisions, free of bribes, unlawful gifts, narrow political interests, and financial and other personal interests that impair my independence of judgment or action.
d. I am fair, distributing benefits and burdens according to consistent and equitable criteria.
e. I extend equal opportunities and due process to all parties in matters under consideration. If I engage in unilateral meetings and discussions, I do so without making voting decisions.
f. I show respect for persons, confidences, and information designated as "confidential."
g. I use my title(s) only when conducting official City business, for information purposes, or as an indication of background and expertise, carefully considering whether I am exceeding or appearing to exceed my authority.

2. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be professional.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I apply my knowledge and expertise to my assigned activities and to the interpersonal relationships that are part of my job in a consistent, confident, competent, and productive manner.
b. I approach my job and work-related relationships with a positive attitude.
c. I keep my professional knowledge and skills current and growing.

3. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be service-oriented.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I provide friendly, receptive, courteous service to everyone.
b. I am attuned to, and care about, the needs and issues of citizens, public officials, and city workers.
c. In my interactions with constituents, I am interested, engaged, and responsive.

4. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be fiscally responsible and transparent.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I make decisions after prudent consideration of their financial impact, taking into account the long-term financial needs of the City, especially its financial stability which are transparent to the City residents and businesses.
b. I demonstrate concern for the proper use of City assets (e.g., personnel, time, property, equipment, funds) and follow established procedures.
c. I make good financial decisions that seek to preserve programs and services for City residents.

5. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be organized.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I act in an efficient manner, making decisions and recommendations based upon research and facts, taking into consideration short and long term goals.
b. I follow through in a responsible way, keeping others informed, and responding in a timely fashion.
c. I am respectful of established City processes and guidelines.

6. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be communicative.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I convey the City's care for and commitment to its citizens.
b. I communicate in various ways that I am approachable, open-minded and willing to participate in dialog.
c. I engage in effective two-way communication, by listening carefully, asking questions, and determining an appropriate response which adds value to conversations.

7. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be collaborative.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I act in a cooperative manner with groups and other individuals, working together in a spirit of tolerance and understanding.
b. I work towards consensus building and gain value from diverse opinions.
c. I accomplish the goals and responsibilities of my individual position, while respecting my role as a member of a team.
d. I consider the broader regional and State-wide implications of the City's decisions and issues.

8. As a Representative of the City of Dunwoody, I will be progressive.
In practice, this value looks like:

a. I exhibit a proactive, innovative approach to setting goals and conducting the City's business.
b. I display a style that maintains consistent standards, but is also sensitive to the need for compromise, "thinking outside the box," and improving existing paradigms when necessary.
c. I promote intelligent and thoughtful innovation in order to forward the City's policy agenda and City services.

Bird aviary vs. needed roads improvements, we can’t afford it all, must have items will take priority over nice to have.

This morning I received an e-mail asking what I thought would happen with Brook Run Park as it relates to the master plan that was developed several years ago?

First, as I said yesterday the City has to officially obtain the park which may be difficult depending on how much the County wants to fight over the issue. Since it will probably be litigated I won’t jump to conclusions nor speculate as to the outcome.

For argument sake let’s say that the city does get control of Brook Run, what would happen then? First it depends if the County graciously hands over the unspent 7 million of the 11 million dollars promised to Brook Run in the parks referendum; which is pretty unlikely. Without the deed to the land and the promised bond funds, the park will most likely remain much like it is now.

The Citizens for Dunwoody, Parks Task Force was put together by a group of citizens who studied the issue and since I haven’t seen the final copy, I also won’t speculate at to what it says. That being said, here are some of my own personal ideas.

I have been inside and toured every building in the park and there are two buildings which I feel need to be torn down as soon as possible, they are the building next to the dog park and the building behind the theater. If we received money from the bond fund, having those buildings removed would probably serve us very well. The other buildings range from good (Theater, dormitory, maintenance shop) to fair (Administrative offices) therefore they just need to be maintained or improved over time.

Next with a limited parks budget after grounds maintenance, I would concentrate on small items which would make the biggest improvements to the quality of the park visit. First and foremost, I would want an adequate number of benches to be installed in the children’s adventure playground so that parents and grandparents could have a pleasurable experience while supervising the children. Next is supplying additional shaded areas as well as additional picnic tables, both of which are in very short supply. The same lack of proper seating is also an issue back in the dog park and with those two areas currently being the biggest draw to the park; that is where I believe the initial improvements should be. Additional crosswalks need to be installed at the entrances of the park and the internal roads need to be striped for bike lanes to encourage their use and to slow traffic. Finally, how are the bathrooms being maintained in the park, are they clean and appealing? If not, they should be. Installation of additional public water fountains should be explored so to encourage walking and biking to the back reaches of the park, which are currently away from such amenities. The City needs to ensure that the basic needs of people are taken care of first and from there; the nice to have items (like a bird aviary) can be discussed once the projected revenues are proven.

The city needs to start slow. We need to be fiscally conservative the first several years to ensure that we can meet our expenses. That being said we also need to use the available money wisely ensuring that we utilize Federal & State matching grants to make necessary road and transportation improvements.

As the Chairman of the Roads & Transportation Task Force, I have now become more in tuned to those needs and their related expenses. There are several transportation projects that I believe are priority improvements but I will leave that subject for another article.

Getting back to Brook Run, I believe that recreation partnerships will be a big issue in coming years. A partnership with the DeKalb County School System for joint programs between Brook Run and Peachtree Middle School should be explored ASAP. Finding uses and utility for the buildings in Brook Run should also be pushed as a priority, otherwise without use the infrastructure deteriorates. Cooperative agreements and partnerships with theater companies, garden clubs, Georgia Perimeter College, the Spruill Arts Center, Senior Service Centers, YMCA’s – all need to be explored.

The City needs to be exploring grant opportunities being offered by the business community, without looking very hard I was able to find that the Atlanta Falcons are offering assistance grants on playgrounds and athletic fields. Couldn’t Windward Hallow Park near the water works use a new playground and I believe the athletic fields at Peachtree (now part of Brook Run’s recreation strategy) could also use some major improvement? Innovative funding needs to be explored in all city departments to stretch our limited tax dollars.

Cityhood will not be easy and the status of incorporation alone will not be able to magically satisfy everyone’s wants and desires. The toughest aspect for those who decide to serve as Mayor and City Council will be learning to say “No”.

Bird Aviaries will just have to wait.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Robert Wittenstein announces candidacy for newly formed Dunwoody City Council

Robert & Susan Wittenstein, with sons Eric and Adam

Longtime Dunwoody resident and activist Robert Wittenstein today officially announced his candidacy for the newly created Dunwoody City Council.

“I’m excited and honored to officially announce my candidacy,” Wittenstein said today. “As a longtime member of this community, and someone who has long believed Dunwoody families deserved a stronger voice in their own community, I’m extremely excited about what this means for our community. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

Wittenstein, a director for a major healthcare information technology company, and his wife Susan have lived in Dunwoody for 21 years and are raising their two sons Eric and Adam here.

For more information contact:
Wittenstein for Dunwoody City Council

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dunwoody referendum results by precinct with a 43% turnout.

Great turnout for Dunwoody at 43% of the registered voters showing up to vote with 81% of those voting Yes for incorporation.

Official DeKalb Results

Back 30 Acres of Brook Run is now open.

After scrutinizing misstep after misstep of the demolition of the buildings at Brook Run Park, especially the $500,000 amendment to a $1.3 million dollar contract; I am happy to announce that the back 30 acres of the park are finally open. I’m both happy that it is finished and saddened at the quality of the fill dirt and/or top soil that they used. I was hoping for lush fields for grass but there seems to be more rocks then blades of green. I was hoping for relatively flat fields where soccer could be played but understandably the ground was returned to sloping hills which drains to the creek. That being said, I’m still happy those buildings are gone.

Just the other day, I walked through the area and stood in the middle of 30 acres of wide open space; it was enormous, quiet and wonderful. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to go back there and enjoy the sounds of silence, the trees rustling in the wind, the birds (and cicadas) singing and smell of fresh air.

The residents of Dunwoody and even the new City Council can dream of grandiose plans for this space but the City will have to first legally obtain the property and then find additional funding to fund those grandiose plans. It’s my opinion that both of those propositions will be difficult and because of that the land will be left in its passive state, and to be honest that is just fine with me.

The Brook Run dog park association, Just a Walk in the Park has already requested that the dog park expand into that area but a recent e-mail from Mr. Marvin Billups, Asst Director of DeKalb Parks and Rec. stated that the county is still reviewing the idea.

I don’t have enough facts to even try to have an opinion on the proposal but I do know that the more people that use that section of the park the safer it will be, therefore any idea promoting passive use is probably a good start.

The next chance I get, I think those rolling hills of open land would look wonderful speeding underneath the tires of my mountain bike. I hope to see you out there.

Directions: 4770 N Peachtree Rd, Dunwoody, GA 30338 and drive all the way to the very back, past the dog park and past the chain link fence (that should be removed soon?)

The parent group, Save Dunwoody Schools will be meeting at the Dunwoody Public Library this Saturday, July 19th, at 1:30pm.

The groups aim is to develop a practical solution to the problems created by the DeKalb School Board’s proposal to consolidate the 4th-5th grade students into the “New School” at Womack Road. We will endeavor to create a proposal which is not only achievable, but also one that is agreeable to the majority of parents of the children who attend the affected schools (i.e., Austin, Chesnut, Kinsgley and Vanderlyn). We hope that a cooperative and constructive approach with county officials will lead to a swift resolution of this matter, but we realize that we have to be prepared to take far more aggressive actions. In that regard, I encourage all of you to do the following:
  • Identify attorneys who reside in our community who recognize the problems with the 4th-5th school concept;
  • Identify additional organizations and/or e-mailing lists that can be added to the extensive list that I already have.
One of our challenges is that we – those of us who have taken the initiative to resolve this problem – have been maligned and our motives impugned by a few county officials and unknown members of the community. I can only assume that those who have instigated such negative commentary must be doing so out of desperation because their positions (in support of the 4th-5th school) can not be supported by data or logic.

The primary purpose of the next meeting (on July 19) is to review all available data that would be needed to conduct a proper redistricting, identify whatever additional data is needed, and develop a plan to obtain that data. Ideally, we will be able to develop a set of data that representatives from the four affected schools can accept as valid for planning purposes.

Be sure to encourage other interested residents to participate in our process.

Jeff Strode

Meeting Location:
Dunwoody Public Library
“Williams Room A”
5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd
Dunwoody, GA 30338

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog

When I have the ability to make a difference, I have a responsibility to do so.

Transparency in Government breeds self-corrective behavior.

My little neighborhood blog started as a place to announce garage sales and to help find lost cats. Over time it has morphed into a social media tool which I have used to further my agenda of obtaining quality governmental services for the residents in my neighborhood. With the creation of the City of Dunwoody, my little neighborhood blog needs to morph once again away from the Civic Association and be placed solely under my name. I came to this decision for many reasons, some personal & some political but in the end I thought it was the right thing to do, as well as the right time to do it.

I don’t expect many changes in the content of this site and I fully expect to continue being an equal opportunity pain in the ass when necessary. Where in the past I’ve had a tendency to print direct statements from politicians & governmental officials, to shine a light on what they said in order to get my point across; I may want to rethink that political strategy. Now with the City of Dunwoody in front of us, I may need to be a little more congenial, a little more tactful in dealing with my friends and neighbors who will be serving as Mayor and City Council.

Who knows, I may even decide to throw my hat into the ring to be one of those positions?

Welcome to this little corner of cyberspace that I have renamed, Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog.

Briers North Community Yard Sale, Fri & Sat 8 am - 2 pm

July 18-19

8 AM - 2 PM both days

The Briers North subdivision off Tilly Mill Road is mostly known for Halloween but I'm told they need to clear out the cobwebs and sell a few skeletons in order to prepare for this years festivities. Numerous houses along Briers North Drive and Brierwood Place will be participating.

Please stop by and good luck beating my wife there because she always goes early in order to bring home the "bargains". At least that what she calls them?

A couple of final Dunwoody election stories.

It looks as if the election coverage on the city is dwindling down with the focus starting to turn to operations. The next big item on the agenda is the candidate forum, Saturday morning.
AJC - Dunwoody gears up for city elections

Much needs to be done. For example, task forces that have been studying how Dunwoody might provide critical city services including police protection, parks and recreation and zoning and planning will soon complete their work. The groups will issue recommendations to city council and mayoral candidates running in a special election on Sept. 16.

Among the recommendations will be a suggested budget. The task forces will also offer guidance on the benefits of a public-private partnership to provide some city services and lay the groundwork for various intra-governmental agreements.

New Chesnut Charter & welcome Dr. Reid & Ms. Williams

Dr. Richard Reid and Veronica Williams

Chesnut Charter Elementary School's, Charter Council had the opportunity to meet the new Principal, Dr. Richard Reid and Assistant Principal Veronica Williams last night to discuss the new Charter Document which is available at the links below. Parents will be asked to vote by secret ballot on registration day – August 6th from 7:30 am - 3:30 pm. There will be a table set up in the front lobby to fill out your ballot to vote on the new Charter. The Charter Council would like you to review this document prior to registration and if needed the charter will also be available in the school office.

Save the dates:

Ice Cream Social - Monday August 4, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM Come meet our new principal, Dr. Reid and our new Assistant Principal, Ms. Williams

Open House/Completion of Registration—August 6, 7:30 AM-3:30 PM

Historical look at the City of Dunwoody

Last night was a lot of fun, but becoming a city took a lot work to create and now even more work to put into operation. Al Tiede put together a video montage of historic Dunwoody photographs that was played at the city hood referendum celebration, honoring the pioneers of the area who made this little enclave special. I'm happy to share it with you.

Tuesday's Biggest Story - a happy ending.

Today the big story wasn’t an election or a cityhood referendum, it was the fact that an Atlanta police officer was shot in the chest and his life was saved by a proper operating bullet proof vest. He was very lucky.

Lucky I’m told that he wasn’t working for the DeKalb Police Department because supposedly there are over 100 officers on the force with expired safety vests. In fact I’m told that the 68th, 69th and 70th academy classes are still in expired vests with no immediate plans to correct this situation. If this rumor is true, the DeKalb County Commissioners need to take action immediately on this problem and allocate funds ASAP.

I work in law enforcement, I come from a police family, and I have many very good friends who work in local police jurisdictions in the Atlanta area; therefore this subject hits very close to home for me. I see no higher duty then for our elected officials to protect those who offer to protect us. There is no tougher job then what these men & women do for us every day and if you need a quick reminder just click here.

Below is a video where the City of Detroit had the same problem a couple of years ago, their department admitted the issue and then set out to correct the problem. Will DeKalb do the same? I know many officers and their families who would be mighty grateful if this was acted upon quickly.

Residents approve the City of Dunwoody

With 16 of the 19 precincts reporting, 81% of the Citizens of Dunwoody have decided overwhelmingly in favor of becoming an official city. My guess is that when the final pre-voting and absentee ballots are counted that the percentage in favor of the measure will jump even higher.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Call for Dunwoody Candidates - Meeting Saturday

The polls are now closed and I am out watching the returns with the other Dunwoody supporters, hopefully celebrating this momentous occasion.

Let me be the first to say
Congratulations to the new City of Dunwoody!

If today's referendum for the City of Dunwoody was successful; candidates will need to be groomed and educated prior to them filing the necessary paperwork. Below is the official notification of the call for the City of Dunwoody candidates and notice for the special election on September 16th.

There will be a forum held at the Dunwoody Library on Saturday July 19th (from 9AM to Noon) for anyone interested in learning more about being a candidate for elective office. At the forum, the information presented on the Dunwoody Candidate website will be reviewed and there will be a Q&A session with a panel of successful candidates from Sandy Springs, Milton, and Johns Creek.

Now the real work begins!




YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that on the 16th day of September, 2008, an election will be held for the purpose of creating the Dunwoody City Council, which will consist of six members plus the Mayor. There shall be three council districts, designated as Council Districts 1 through 3. One councilmember shall be elected from each of the three council districts and shall hold Council Posts 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Each candidate for election to the city council must reside in the district he or she seeks to represent. Three councilmembers shall be elected from the city at large and shall represent Council Posts 4, 5, and 6. Candidates for Council Post 4 shall reside in Council District 1; candidates for Council Post 5 shall reside in Council District 2; candidates for Council Post 6 shall reside in Council Post 3.

Mayor – Term will end 2011 upon administration of oath of office to successor
Councilmember, Post 1 – Term will end 2009 upon administration of oath of office to successor
Councilmember, Post 2 – Term will end 2009 upon administration of oath of office to successor
Councilmember, Post 3 – Term will end 2009 upon administration of oath of office to successor
Councilmember, Post 4 – Term will end 2011 upon administration of oath of office to successor
Councilmember, Post 5 – Term will end 2011 upon administration of oath of office to successor
Councilmember, Post 6 – Term will end 2011 upon administration of oath of office to successor

Each candidate will file notice of his or her candidacy and the appropriate affidavit in the office of DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections, 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300, Decatur, Georgia. The opening dates for qualifying will start Monday, August 4, 2008 beginning at 9:00 A. M., and continuing until Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 4:30 P.M. The qualifying fee for Mayor is $480.00 and $ 360.00 qualifying fee for City Council members.

The last day to register to be eligible to vote in this special election is August 18, 2008.

The Special Election will be held in the City of Dunwoody at the following precincts: Austin, Chestnut Elementary, Dunwoody, Dunwoody High, Dunwoody Library, Georgetown Square, Kingsley Elementary, Mount Vernon East, Mount Vernon West, North Peachtree, Peachtree Middle, Tilly Mill Road, and Winters Chapel. Voters who typically vote at the listed precincts, but reside at the following addresses which are not within the city limits are ineligible to vote: 2373 – 2552 Ridgeway Drive; 4256, 4323, 4327, & 4329 Tilly Mill Road; 2482 – 2564 Van Fleet Circle; 2632 – 2674 Woodwin Road, 4445 – 4482 Aspen Woods Court; 2874 – 2974 Aspen Woods Entry; 101 – 1600 Winters Creek Drive; 102 – 2100 Winters Park Drive). The polls will open at 7:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM.

Those residents qualified to vote at said election shall be determined in all respects in accordance with the election laws of the State of Georgia.

Advance Voting is September 8-12, 2008, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM at the DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections office, 4380 Memorial Drive, where the Absentee Poll will also be located and open August 18, 2008, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

This notice is given pursuant to the July 15, 2008 approval of Senate Bill 82.

Dunwoody starts voting & news video from Dunwoody Yes rally.

The polls were buzzing with excitement in Dunwoody this morning and a heavy turnout is expected. Below are a few news clips documenting today's big vote.

Dunwoody election day - Go Vote.

Dunwoody Yes Rally on July 14th

Elections are about choices, and today you get an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime choice: That the future of Dunwoody be controlled by our friends and neighbors here in Dunwoody?

Local Decisions Close To Home .. You Decide!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

My favorite "City of Dunwoody" news clip - the 4th of July Parade, with Dunwoody Yes.

With 30,000 spectators lining the roads of Dunwoody for the 4th of July parade, my family & I actively participated by passing out Dunwoody Yes stickers.

What a ball we had! My son Riley was on a scooter for the entire 2 mile route high fiveing his friends and other kids as he rode by, my 6 year old Gavin pulled into the parade at the halfway mark in a childrens' electric Ford Mustang convertible and rode my 2 year old. My wife joined in at the same time as the younger boys and had the task of throwing candy to the crowds and ensuring my 6 year old kept the vehicle on the road.

I was in charge of passing out stickers, which was a lot fun but also a lot of work. I would run up to a little boy or girl on the sidelines and then offer them a sticker and then 15 brothers & sisters would jump out from behind a bush and I would then sticker each and every one of them. Once that stickering task was completed I would run to catch up to the Dunwoody Yes group and do it all over again. I can't tell you how many times I was almost run over by Stan Watson's Hummer since the candidate for CEO immediately followed Dunwoody Yes.

If you look close at the video you can see me smiling behind the Dunwoody Yes banner and my son Riley also rolls by on the scooter as we were marching. With everything that has happened in the last few years regarding the City of Dunwoody, this video is by far my favorite.

Tomorrow is election day, please vote.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Senator Dan Weber & Community Leaders outline key factors concerning the City of Dunwoody

Senator Dan Weber

You currently pay 43 mils in county and school property taxes. DeKalb uses 2.0 mils (5%) to provide “city” services, i.e., zoning, roads, police, parks, and code enforcement.

The new city will take over these services. You will then pay the 2.0 mils to the city instead of the county. The city will also take over other revenues such as business licenses, hotel tax, and alcohol tax. Sales tax from the mall will still go to the county.

The city will have the same healthy blend of commercial and residential property as the county as a whole.

Carl Vinson Institute

The most knowledgeable and objective group in Georgia concerning new cities is the Carl Vinson Institute at UGA (“CVI”). They did the studies for Sandy Springs, Milton, and Johns Creek at a cost of over $150,000. Building off this knowledge base, CVI did a 132 page study for Dunwoody in 2006. It showed that Dunwoody would have enough revenue to provide services similar to other cities its size without a tax increase. In 2007, CVI studied whether Dunwoody would be feasible if it hired a private contractor to provide most city services, similar to what Sandy Springs, Milton, and John Creek are doing. The study showed that the city is feasible with about a $700,000 surplus.

Government Closer to the People is Better

Each county commissioner represents over 150,000 people. No county commissioner lives within even 10 miles of any part of Dunwoody. With 6 city council members and a mayor, all from Dunwoody, our ability to access and influence our government will be greatly enhanced. They will be more responsive because they will live in Dunwoody, care about Dunwoody, and better understand the needs of the community. You will likely see council members at your pool, school, or place of worship. When was the last time you saw a county commissioner at any of these places?

Control of Taxes

It will be better for the city council to control taxes for city services. First, the city charter freezes the assessed value of your home (no back door tax increases). Second, the charter prevents the city council from raising the millage rate for property taxes by more than 1 mil. A 1 mil increase is less than $14 per month on a $400,000 home. If the city needs more revenue from property taxes, you will have to first give your approval in a referendum. All existing
exemptions are included in the charter. Third, if you were to vote to increase taxes in the future to fund higher service levels, you would do so knowing that 100% of the revenues would stay in
Dunwoody. This is a huge benefit.


The County encourages development to increase tax revenues. Developers want to maximize density in order to maximize profits. That is why there has been an explosion of apartments with the number now approaching 9,000. Almost 40% of the residents of Dunwoody now live in rental units. Residents are left to deal with the congestion on the roads and the overcrowding of the schools. A city council, which will be made up of your neighbors, will naturally give much greater weight to your concerns in making zoning decisions.


The roads across DeKalb (including Dunwoody) are in poor shape. Dunwoody pays $3.5 million per year for roads, but it is apparent from the lack of road work in Dunwoody that the money is not returned. The suggested budget dedicates $3.5 million to road maintenance and improvements. If you ever vote to pay more taxes for roads, you will know that all the money will stay in Dunwoody.


Dunwoody pays DeKalb about $13 million a year for police services. It receives only 0 to 3 patrols at any given time. The suggested budget dedicates $2.8 million to police, which is enough for 4 patrols 24/7 - dedicated only to Dunwoody. Response times in Dunwoody are often more than 30 minutes. With 4 patrols in Dunwoody response times will be dramatically improved.
Experts say that DeKalb’s policing level is woefully inadequate. They will also tell you that 4 patrols for the new city will be inadequate, but the key point is that it will be substantially more than what the county currently provides. And, if you ever want to vote to pay for more police, you will know that 100% of your taxes will stay in Dunwoody. The suggested budget includes 4 patrols (28 officers) because, after many hours of debate, the citizen volunteers compromised, believing that a substantial increase over current levels would be a good place to start. Ultimately, the city council may choose to provide more.


Dunwoody pays DeKalb $2.4 million for parks operations. The only parks program operated by the County in Dunwoody is the skate park, which is suffering losses. The suggested budget dedicates $400,000 to parks operations. Like Sandy Springs did with Fulton, Dunwoody will have to negotiate the transfer of the parks to city control. Sandy Springs ended up paying $100 per acre.


Today, the county bureaucracy controls your tax levels. They control how much of that money is spent in Dunwoody. They decide how many police we need, how much should be spent on road repairs and how much should be spent on parks. We are such a small part of the county that our voices are rarely heard. With a City of Dunwoody you and your neighbors will decide on the right level of taxes and the level of services you want. A City of Dunwoody allows us to take control of our future.

AJC - Dunwoody is abuzz about vote to form city

ERNIE SUGGS for the AJC,07/13/08

In a smoke-filled backroom at the Cigar Merchant, a Dunwoody shop that specializes in all things stogie, Eddie Fields holds court.

On Tuesday, he and his neighbors will vote on whether his unincorporated community should become a city, but Fields already has predicted the outcome.

"It is going to happen,'' said Fields, owner of the shop and a 15-year resident of Dunwoody. "I always wanted a chance to vote on it. And now that we have a chance, I don't see any reason not to vote for it. This is something I have wanted to do for years."

So have many others in the affluent north DeKalb community.

While there's been no official polling on Dunwoody's incorporation, a walk through town reveals vocal and visible support for cityhood, with "Dunwoody Yes" signs plastering many windows and yards.

Organizers like Dunwoody Yes, a political action group that has raised funds to campaign for cityhood, say they are tired of seeing their tax dollars spent on the south end of the county while their roads need repair.

"We want to secure local decisions close to home so we can stop the bad zoning that overcrowds schools, and improve police protection and the infrastructure by getting control of our tax dollars," said Bev Wingate, co-chair of Dunwoody Yes.

But opponents of cityhood are fearful their taxes will skyrocket and services will actually suffer.

"If we become a city, we will have to pay more taxes, which I don't want to do," said Binh Nguyen, who has owned the Dunwoody Cobbler for eight years.

If the referendum is approved, the city of Dunwoody would open for business on Dec. 1, stretching to Fulton County on the north, Sandy Springs on the west, Gwinnett County on the east and I-285 on the south. A mayor and city council would be elected on Sept. 16, 2008.

Right now, "When we look around town, there is no fixing of potholes and repairing of streets,'' said Wingate, adding she is not interested in running for office at this time. "Crime has increased. There are trailers everywhere in the schools. There are some things that the county does well. There are some things that a city can do better."

Tax question big issue

Proponents argue there will be no significant increase in taxes should the measure pass.

"I am sure they are going to try to keep the taxes under control," said Sandra Long, a floral consultant in Dunwoody.

Nguyen, a shoe repairman, said the change would have an immediate impact on his business if he has to pay taxes to both the city and the county. He lives in Norcross now and pays those city taxes as well as Gwinnett taxes.

Plus, he has no complaints about the services Dunwoody gets from the county.

"I don't understand," he said. "I think DeKalb County takes care of us very well."

If the vote passes, DeKalb stands to lose about $15 million in tax revenue.

The new city would absorb Perimeter Mall, the Dunwoody Nature Center and the north campus of Georgia Perimeter College.

Last Monday, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce announced it would oppose the Dunwoody referendum because it "would have a profoundly negative impact on the business community."

In its statement, the chamber expressed fear of higher taxes and fees on businesses.

Independence movement

Dunwoody is the latest in a long list of communities seeking independence as cities.

Fulton County was recently sliced up, with the creation of Sandy Springs, Johns Creek and Milton.

But there have been bumps in the road.

Milton officials recently complained about having trouble paying for basic services. For example, Milton has 175 miles of city-owned roads but only enough money to maintain five miles of road a year. In addition to those costs, repairs to one of the bridges in the city is going to cost up to $300,000 out of an annual budget of about $17.7 million.

Wingate said she has heard the concerns, particularly from critics who doubt that the city of Dunwoody would be able to fund projects that the county previously took care of.

"We will have the privilege of making a master plan for all of these things. At the present time, there is no master plan for the city of Dunwoody," Wingate said. "Everything will not happen overnight. But we can prioritize what we want done and how we want it done. We will be in control."

Fields, for one, doesn't anticipate the same problems as those in Milton. "Dunwoody is more established than Milton," Fields said. "And we have businesses. We have a base. We are already a stand-alone city."

Ernie Smith, owner of the Village Barber Shop, agrees. It is hard to peek inside the shop. Most of the window is plastered with a large "Dunwoody Yes" sign.

"It sounds like, so far, this is going to be a slam-dunk," said Smith, the owner. "People would rather see their tax dollars stay local."

Barbershop debate

As usual, the Village Barber Shop is humming. Two televisions are running, all the chairs are full, and a steady buzz of chatter — about everything from Jeff Francoeur to the weather — provides the soundtrack.

A man walks in, takes out a small hand accordion and gives an impromptu concert.

When the talk turns to politics, it's clear Smith is no fan of DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Jones' term as the county's CEO has at least been whispered as one of the reasons why many people in Dunwoody want to leave. Some observers suggest race is a factor, since Dunwoody is largely white and Jones is African-American, as is much of the south part of the county. But many Dunwoody residents disagree.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with race," Smith, who is white, said of his feelings about Jones, a black man. "But he is the only CEO who is running around with five bodyguards. Those are our tax dollars being wasted."

"They ought to close shop on the CEO job all together," someone interjects.

"We have been unfairly taxed for the representation we get," Smith said. "I am sure my taxes will go up and I am willing to withstand a little increase."

Several people in the barbershop said their tax dollars would be put to better use with their own government and leadership.

They complain, for example, about how long it takes for 911 calls to be answered.

"We feel like we have been neglected," said Jim Peacock, who has lived in Dunwoody for a year. "There is no police protection. No road service. It seems like we are just up here by ourselves."

The Citizens of Dunwoody, a nonprofit group that led the effort to get the referendum through the Legislature, is proposing a police force of 28 full-time officers to secure a city of more than 30,000 people. By comparison, Decatur has 36 officers for 19,000 people.

But proponents of cityhood say it's one step at a time.

"How many times in your lifetime do you have a chance to make a difference for future generations?" asked Wingate. "We can leave a legacy."