Tuesday, November 1, 2011

City of Dunwoody Update by Councilman Robert Wittenstein

I talk a lot about creating "transparent government" and I want to share an important success with you. I have worked over the last year to get the city to put its checkbook register online.   As far as I know, we are the first city in Georgia to do this. While doing research on a different topic, I stumbled upon a city in Florida that posted its check register on its web site and I thought this was a great idea.

The check register has always been public information but historically it required an open records request to find out exactly what the city was buying, who it was buying from, and how much it was paying. Now Dunwoody residents can go online and see the details here: Explore Check Register.

This is dry reading and there is nothing earth shattering in the details but I think it is important to all of us to be able to see exactly how our tax dollars are being spent. I appreciate the other council members and the staff supporting me in this initiative. In the future, I hope we can enhance it so that it is searchable and sortable but this is a great start. This is what it means to create transparent government and I challenge other cities and DeKalb County to do the same.


In other news...we heard loud and clear that many Dunwoody residents were "for parks" but wanted to know exactly how funds would be spent before voting for the parks land acquisition referendum on November 8th.   To help voters understand the intended use of funds we have now signed a letter of intent with the owner of two old, run-down, apartment complexes next to the Water Works that front Peachtree-Industrial Boulevard. If the parks acquisition bond referendum passes, the city will purchase one apartment complex for a park and the current owner will demolish and redevelop the other apartment complex into owner-occupied housing.

Below is one possible layout for the facility (click to enlarge):
I have no idea whether Dunwoody voters will approve the parks land acquisition bond and I will not encourage you to vote either Yes or No on the issue. This is not up to the City Council-like you, I get one vote.   About 40 percent of the cost will be paid by the commercial property owners. The remainder would come from higher homeowner property taxes. The average Dunwoody household would see their property taxes go up by $108 per year if the parks land acquisition bond passes. It will be up to the voters to decide if this is a wise use of our money.

City elections are Tuesday, November 8th. Please take the time to vote. The mayor, three council positions, two park referendums, Sunday liquor sales,redevelopment powers and Education SPLOST sales tax are all on the ballot. It is hard to imagine a more important election.

Finally, would you like to "recycle" your pumpkin after Halloween? You can take it by Garden Isaiah at Temple Emanu-El at 1580 Spalding Drive, leave it outside the garden fence and it will be added to the compost there. All the food grown at this garden is donated to Community Action Center.

Regards,

Robert

53 comments:

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Well I'm glad someone took my pumpkin composting blog idea to heart! If folks are reading, I'll keep tossing them out there. :-)

In this case, Rob, it's not the transparency in the land acquisition that is an issue. It's what you're being transparent about that is disturbing. What is the line you will not cross? What private property is next on your acquisition list? How do I know that I won't end up on it? I'm not asking to be a wise guy, these are my very serious and sincere concerns.

DunwoodyPerson said...

Perhaps part of his comments were accidentally deleted in the posting. Robert's post should have read, "...two old, run-down, apartment complexes" THAT CURRENTLY HAVE 2,400 OF OUR CITY'S RESIDENTS LIVING IN THEM AND WILL BE TOLD TO MOVE AWAY. --- [that sentence would have been honest and transparent] No need for him to brag about transparency. I find his proud statements sickening. Vote NO on park bonds.

Elroy said...

We put our collective destiny in our own hands and became a city so we could do things like HAVE MORE PARKS instead of waiting for DeKalb to do it. We were being left behind as part of unincorporated DeKalb and now we have to make up for lost time and move forward. I love the people who talk about not approving the bond issue because we're in a recession. Yeah, we are: NOW. Over the life of the bond issue, 30 years unless we refinance or pay off early, we'll probably have one or two more. Short term thinking is not the solution to a recession or our city's many problems.

The thing I find truly sickening is when someone comments on a blog casting aspersions on one of the most honest, open elected officials I've ever seen. If you don't like John, don't read his blog and certainly don't come here and call him sickening. Wait, then again, John is open enough to post your comment because he places high value on discussions like this one. More than I do, though. Just go away "Dunwoody Person."

DunwoodyPerson said...

Um Elroy, please reread the post. It appears you got the names "John" and "Robert" confused in your haste. No need to apologize for your rudeness. Just promise us all you will do a better job reading before jumping on someone and wasting our time.

Rob said...

SDOC and DP, whoever they are, are clueless. They try the "parade of horrors" routine that never will happen. They don't have ideas, they just have nonsensical statements. Here's what someone who has some sense posted earlier:


"So let's see... 1. The City of Dunwoody is proposing a bond issue (a customary and legal method for municipalities to raise funds which the residents of Dunwoody must approve)... 2. ...to purchase property in a consentual transaction (as compared to an eminent domain process whereby the municipality exercises a right to force the sale of property)... 3. ...from two private corporations (who have every legal right to sell the properties at the time and price of their choosing)... 4. ...in a transaction that will honor all existing leases until their termination (as compared to exercising a probable clause in those leases that would allow for early termination of leases should the property be sold)... 5. ...to build a park and recreation center (that is consistent with a land use plan developed by and approved by the residents of Dunwoody). Where exactly is the issue?"

Just some sensible thoughts from someone else about this worthwhile effort by city council.
VOTE YES FOR THE PARKS BONDS!
Rob Augustine.

Joe Seconder said...

If you are truly interested in understanding the differences between the candidates, please watch the video from last week's Sustainability Forum. You'll find stark contrasts:
http://dunwoodynorth.blogspot.com/2011/10/dunwoody-candidate-sustainability-forum.html

And my criteria on who I'm voting for is here:

http://www.bicyclingjoe.com/2011/10/who-will-you-vote-for-in-dunwoody-on.html

Chip said...

The adjective "clueless" really only applies to you, Rob.

If the City can engage in negotiations to purchase private property for public use completely under the radar, disregarding any potential impact to residents whether permanent or transient, you do not have "open government" you have benevolent dictatorship.

The citizens of Dunwoody have the opportunity to say "NO" to this abrogation of authority and power, or "Yes-go ahead and do anything you want with us and our money, we don't care."

Now, Rob, go get a clue!

Rob said...

They don't call you Mr. Potato Head for nothin' Chip.

Joe Seconder said...

Here's my last response to this before I go back to work and generate some more "stimulus" for the local economy:

1. Would you cut the guy some slack won't you, as he COMMUNICATES with the public. Give me a break, please. Real estate negotiations are kept in executive session.

2. Anybody been married? You'll know it's about compromise. We're not living in a fantasy world. It's called reality and lots of grey areas, imperfections and YES, elected officials and even city staff are HUMAN. We all make mistakes. Can you FORGIVE, see beyond and look at the good of the WHOLE? There's things I've disagreed with from our current mayor & council. But I agree with much, much more than I disagree, and they all have performed very well for us. They have been accessible from day one and seek input and suggestions. What activities are you publicly collaborating on with our elected officials and staff to make this town a better place? Are you putting your laundry out for everyone else to see? Instead of complaining, step up and work together and keep in positive. There's enough negativity coming from Washington.

3. Any responses without a first & last name which identify themselves to the public, including being known as a city resident is discredited. It could be a robo /computer-generated response written by a hacker from Russia, India or who knows where. What are you hiding from? Stand up to be recognized and accounted, just as our elected officials voluntarily have chosen to do in holding public office.

4. All of these comments just as easily be told to the Mayor and all of the other council members that voted for it. Who's going to start the recall for all of the others? Going to start a write-in for King John?

5. Our millage rate is 2.71. Sandy Spring's is 4.1 (less appx. 15% for fire). We have twice the per-capita income of the rest of Georgia. I live in a beautiful, well-maintained HOA community that "self-taxes" for landscaping (ALL yards), pool and common area. Our 25 & 30 year old homes look brand-new and our property values have remained intact. Having beautiful, well-maintained active and passive public parks with amenities for the 8 year olds as well as 80 year olds will only serve to increase our property values and quality of our lives. Dunwoody was so poorly under-served when we were solely under the reins of DeKalb. Look at what Gwinnett county did: 20 years ago they had about 1,000 acres of park land. Now they have 8,000! Ever been to Suwanee? It's on the top lists of best cities to live. What do they have? Great parks, greenways, public spaces, town center, etc. Do you just want Dunwoody to be a bedroom community and have to "drive in your car" outside the city for your activities?

The Dunwoody citizens have spoken throughout the master planning processes with Land use, Dunwoody Village, Georgetown, Parks and Transportation. Read those plans and you'll learn. Walking. Biking. Open Green spaces. Parks. These are what the citizens have said. Current candidates that disregard these voices do not share our values.

Chip said...

Oh, Rob. I'm blushing!

Should we both resort to name calling, now? I have some doozies for you I've been saving up!!

Chip

Chip said...

Joe:

There is a qualitative difference between putting an option on vacant, available land and negotiating for an occupied property that has serious potential impacts for the Dunwoody community.

The City (Mayor, City Manager, and City Council) took it upon themselves to create a public-relations nightmare by their "secret, closed" negotiations. This goes beyond the normal requirements of secrecy regarding real estate sales. No one objected to this with the PVC farm and the Shallowford hospital land, as it was vacant.

Why was it necessary to disclose this "letter of intent" two weeks before the bond referendum? Are those properties so "hot" that if we don't act now, some other buyer will swoop in and beat us to the punch?

Doubtful, as at $450,000 per acre, we're offering an appreciation of 190% over their purchase price, and at least 150% over their sunk costs.

This whole discussion could have proceeded calmly and cleanly AFTER Nov 8, letter of intent notwithstanding.

And, as to your comment about identities, you can write me at chipbagman@gmail.com We have a long history of noms de plume and noms de guerre in American politics, as a long-time military man should be aware.

Again, the issue is not about whether Dunwoody should have more parks, or not. Of course we should.
But, if the council had decided to purchase Sherwood Estates (the subdivision between GPC and Brook Run)and offered $450K per acre, would you have been so willing to sing "kumbaya" then?

Rob said...

The fact of the matter Chip is that the City Council didn't propose to buy Sherwood Estates. That's what you anon guys love to do, throw out nonsense that isn't even part of the issue, and make it sound like, "Oh, this is going to happen" or "Wow, this might happen too." It's all just ridiculous. Non-sequitiurs and improbable events that mean nothing to the reality of what's going on.

SDOC (anon) did it saying he could be "in the crosshairs" which is a ridiculous statement given that it's our own local city council who you can go talk with about whatever you want that he's referring to. And if you still are worried, we have a complete system of laws that protect everyone from constitutional due process to administrative procedures acts. You anonymous posters act like you live in a different country than the USA. Maybe the blogosphere has affected your sensibilities.

Then you hide behind your anonymity so we don't have any point of reference as to who we're talking with. Even your gmail keeps you one of the zombie anons. We've got zombie anon blog sites too, with folks who apparently aren't able to communicate directly as anyone. They continue with zombie comments in their own zombie sphere, but who really listens to them anyway.

The only thing I question is why I even bother to respond to your prattle. You (anon) picked your moniker and your picture (is that a Lay's or a Pringle potato, Chip) and these symbols seem all the more appropriate the more you post.

Rob Augustine

Chip said...

Rob:

I don't know why you don't know who SDOC is, I do. Her picture (yes, Rob, she's a she not a he) is part of her webpage. If I want to call her or write her, directly, I can do so.

Ooops! I forgot, Rob, you're not in the cabal, are you?

You may recall Rob about 20 years ago, some big developer came in and bought an entire neighborhood down around Clairmont and I-85, the current home of Century Center. This is not "fantasy" but precedent.

The hypothetical question (Note: the word "if" is your clue here that it's a hypothetical question" about Sherwood Estates was just that. Asking the question, IF (Note: again a hypothetical) the city went after private, single-hom residential property in this manner, would your response be any different?

There was no "this is going to happen" (Note: the present, active form of the verb "to be" in this case "is" implies a current, definite action) So, once again, you simply cannot or will not read the common language of the community.

This makes me wonder, Rob. You're not one of those immigrant types who refuse to speak English properly, are you?

And if you want to resort to name calling, let me ask what's your opinion on persons who go around impersonating officers? Apropos of nothing, you understand?

Chip

Elroy said...

Really? Now immigrants are being brought into this? Language?

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Thanks for clarifying for me, Chip. The only thing I would add is that this current city government has already made a bid for single-family property under the now-defunct greenway plan. Some residents would have lost only a few feet of their lot, while others would have lost half, if not more, of their property.

It's not a non-sequitur or mere speculation. The attempts have already been made.

Chip said...

Elroy:

Just thought an attorney should be able to discern a hypothetical.

Since I know this is discussed thoroughly in law school, just wondered if Rob had trouble with the American English language.

As the grandson of immigrants who spoke limited English, I know first hand that acquiring adequate language skills for 1st generation immigrants can be daunting.

I was just trying to give Rob the benefit of the doubt.

No disparagement of immigrants intended. Just a factual assessment.

Joe Seconder said...

Dear SDOC,

First off, would you consider posting your name? And let's not go for fear, rather how about facts? You jumped right into Eminent Domain? Huh?? How did the trails along the power lines get into the approved DeKalb 2000 Greenways Plan without Eminent Domain? Maybe it's because there's voluntary methods like asking each property owner about either selling or allowing an easement. We're talking about across about 200 feet in-between a "no man's land" of double high-power lines, needing about 20 feet. 10 feet for the trail and 5 feet on either side for drainage, privacy fences, landscape cover, or whatever. Or maybe it's because they saw the value and opportunity of what the Greenway could do for our community?

This spring, the city was in the middle of having a conversation with it's citizens during the Transportation and other Character Area plans when mayhem took place in the span of ONE SINGLE PUBLIC MEETING. One meeting that completely shut down the conversation. And we expect to see peace in the Middle East sometime during our lifetime? Or less traffic congestion in Metro Atlanta when planning across county borders?

Did you know that DeKalb's Greenways plan as approved in 2000 specified many of the same Greenways? What's wrong with having a rational conversation at the neighborhood level? What's wrong with the Alpharetta Greenway, Suwanee Greenway, etc.? What's wrong with children being able to safely walk or ride their bike to school, giving a option. What's wrong with having a conversation about opening up dead-end cul-de-sac neighborhoods for bicycle and pedestrian access? What's wrong with talking with our neighbors in a calm fashion about the possibility? What's wrong with thinking outside of the box and coming up with creative solutions to offering transportation or recreation options? Have you been down to Austin Elementary and seen their trail across the power easement connecting neighborhoods to the school? I know of many home owners along various segments of the power lines that would welcome and appreciate a greenway there.

Georgia Power has an easement to use the land. MAYBE, just maybe over the 5 miles or so along that power easement, there might have been a few property owners that found value in the Greenway and would have voluntarily agreed to it being installed along their segment. Not losing their land, but rather allowing for the trail easement where it made sense for neighborhood connectivity.

Check out my detailed postings with references from earlier this year:
http://dunwoodynorth.blogspot.com/2011/02/dunwoody-greenway-meeting-tonight-730.html

I invite anyone to engage with me in a moderated debate in a public forum who would care to have a conversation about Greenways. I'm not talking about Eminent Domain. Just Greenways in an urban & suburban setting. Simply name the place & time. We'll video tape it and let the rest of Dunwoody watch and decide.

Yes, I see this election as a mandate: Ignore the city's Land, Transportation and Character Area Plans. Stick with the car-centric isolated past living in the 80's, or build together for the future. Stay the same? Let's see how many more new families will move in or college grads sticking around here then.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I have been reading the blogs/comments on this issue and up this point have deliberately stayed out of the conversation (if you can call it that; it’s getting to be rather childish). However, I want to ask a question, it’s an honest question and I have no hidden agenda with this question.

For all of you who are so concerned about the “apartment people” – where have you been for the last decade?

As a parent of children who attended Chesnut Charter ES, PCMS and now Dunwoody HS, my children have attended school with “apartment people” since their Pre-K days at Chesnut. Chesnut at one time had a predominantly Hispanic apartment complex in its district. I know that Chesnut teachers, Chesnut PTA and Chesnut parents visited these families often to offer homework assistance for the children, interpretation services for the parents among other things. Where were you?

About 7 or so years ago, this apartment complex was converted to condominiums and these families removed from their homes. Where was your outrage over this?

How many of you have volunteered to tutor or mentor children at Hightower? You can contact the Hightower Principal directly. He would love to hear from you.

How many of you have donated toys and are part of the Dunwoody Police “Christmas for Kids” project that benefits the children in these apartments?

It is no secret that many of the Hightower students struggle when they reach PCMS. How many of you have volunteered to help tutor these children after or before school at PCMS?

Since PCMS is not a Title 1 school, there are no “extra” funds to assist these children in their academic struggles. The PCMS PTSO has donated materials and funds over the years to the school to help these children. Have you donated to the PCMS Foundation to help with this endeavour?

How many of you have reached out as a mentor to these children to keep them in school and out of gangs?

I hope upon hope that this sudden concern for the “apartment people” comes from a good place in your heart and not due to your issues with the City of Dunwoody. I cannot think of anything more disrespectful to these people than to be used as pawns in a political argument.

Paula Caldarella
Aka, “Dunwoody Mom”

JerryGarcia said...

To Joe S.,
How would you react if your HOA Executives met and announced they want your beautiful neighborhood to install an additional pool, by kicking you out of your house and demolishing it? Would you still speak fondly of your HOA? It may increase the value of some neighbors’ homes is an economic factor they too might purport, but it’s not a moral one. The HOA should also represent you. The Dunwoody leaders are proposing for us to toss 5% of our neighbors to the curb. Your asking us to decrease our negativity when speaking up for those who don’t have much of a voice is a sad proposition you have requested. While you say the residents of Dunwoody have already spoken in favor of ideas such as this during the Master Plans process, ask yourself how many residents from those apartment complexes do you think actually spoke at or attended those meetings, or even knew about them. [Of course some chose not attend.] And anonymous postings of course deserve just as much credence as your postings since there could be reasons a person keeps their name private: it could be the mayor who secretly thinks this is an atrocious idea and feels guilty for his sins

Chip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip said...

Jerry Garcia:

I would refer both Rob Augustine and Joe Seconder to go back in their history books and explain why Alexander Hamilton used the pseudonym "Publius" in 50 of the 85 monographs in the "Federalist Papers" or why Hamilton and Madison used the pseudonyms "Pacificus" and "Helvidius", respectively, in their exchange on the Neutrality Proclamation of 1794. In the head-long rush to obfuscate and dissemble from dealing with the real issues, people who should know better don't seem to know much about the history of nascent government. This is a "side issue" that shouldn't detract from the main.

Chip said...

Dunwoody Mom:

Let me apologize for the tone of some of my responses; it comes from battling long and hard with opponents that refuse to enter a discussion except for trying to outshout the opposition.

I am unconnected with schools in Dunwoody, long being past the age where personal involvement was opportune and/or necessary. I have, on the other hand, established three pick-up sites for Dunwoody for Kids, and joined with others on several projects over the years to benefit the more needy citizens in our community. I do not work with elementary school kids, but I do work with adults from time to time.

I would have to admit, my concern comes from a little of both: a concern for the most unrepresented portion of our community, and a concern that our City government is being run as a benevolent dictatorship for the purposes of cleaning house.

In the main, I have stayed clear of discussing the plight of the residents, other than to insist that it is not right for the City to enter into an agreement to dislocate persons even before an open discussion could be held. I have done this, not out of lack of concern, but in the hopes of raising sensibilities to the actions of the City in violation of the "best interests" of ALL its citizens.

The opposition refuses to acknowledge this precept, or to discuss it.

Unlike the situation seven years, ago, we now have an allegedly "local government" that is supposed to be more responsive and open to the needs of its citizens. It has not portrayed this quality in this recent matter.

November 1, 2011 5:14 PM

Rob said...

The Founding Fathers faced arrest and more for their political positions. That's one reason for using fictitious names. Clearly the mechanism was widely utilized. Perhaps these type concerns were not so great in 1794, but even so, people actually figured out or knew who the authors were. In any event, zombie blogging hardly rises to the level of these debates among our esteemed ancestors "who a path for freedom beat..."

Now you enjoy that freedom and certainly can blog under any pseudonym you wish. If you feel you can't say what you want, or have some other worries, and must appear behind a facade, just continue as you have. Your right to do so is sacrosanct and protected by our legal system, at least up to a fairly high limit. In the last analysis, however, what you say is affected by your unwillingness to be yourself.

Now to the real subject at hand. I plan to avoid any future digressions. I fully disagree with your statement that the city is unfairly dislocating anyone or that our city government is a dictatorship in any form. For all the reasons I've stated in this and many other posts, you are wrong.

Rob Augustine

Chip said...

You are unbelievable. On the one hand, you acknowledge a right of anonymity "up to a fairly high limit." You even use words like "sacrosanct." Unfortunately, you then say, in essence, if you avail yourself of these rights, you are suspect. Great counselor! Sorta like, you're innocent until proven guilty, but the fact that you were arrested is, in itself, indicative of your probable guilt.

Thank goodness you are not ever going to be my attorney. You have only the most meager understanding of due process and the guarantees of the Constitution, if you make these kinds of statements.

Rob said...

I've tried to give you good advice, but I believe you're on a different wavelength. Although by your own claim you anonymously speak "the common language of the community." I disagree, of course, with your views.

Rob said...

BTW - be sure to watch the Dunwoody Blue video just below on this blog. It's really great.

Bob Fiscella said...

While Rob and Chip go back-and-forth (Chip you're ahead on this judge's scorecard), great comment Dunwoody Mom.
Thx

Chip said...

Not a different wavelength, a different sensibility and moral awareness.

I have a conscience. Something you seem to lack, and something you clearly do not expect the City of Dunwoody to have in the collective sense.

For all your bluster and bluff and attempted rationale, your true demeanor and intentions show through.

VOTE NO! on the PARKS BONDS. Not only has it become a financial choice, but a moral choice, as well.

Chip

Rob said...

Oh right Chip as you continue to hide behind your anonymity. You're a paragon of hypocritical virtue. And Bob Fiscella is an unbiased scorekeeper. Lots of laughs.

Neither one of you is persuasive with your gotcha commentary. I don't think the majority of citizens accept your attacks on our local government officials or your fractured logic about our city's plans for parks and green space. But hey reactionaries like you have always been around. But fortunately they don't prevail.

I see more and more support as I pass out signs and talk to people about the parks bonds. They are voting yes on November 8th as smart citizens who want to better their community.

So VOTE YES ON PARKS!

Chip said...

Again with the name calling! Zombies, reactionaries, cowards,paragon of hypocritical virtue.

Read "Talk Back to the Crier" and note that many of the correspondents (most are more literate and persuasive than I)oppose the parks bonds for the reasons I've articulated.

I also note that you "cut n' pasted" one of your earlier blogs---you don't have any more original commentary, do you?

Gotcha commentary? That's a laugh. Rob, picking on you should probably be declared a sin, it's too darn easy. You wander all over the place, only have one note you keep singing, and haven't come up with a single, relevant argument for the parks except "trust our leaders! they're our friends and neighbors! they know best."

Between the PVC Park and the Shallowford property, we have ample room for ball fields and rec areas in the CENTER of Dunwoody, not on the fringes. (See, Denny Shortal's commentary in The Crier this week.)

The proof is in the pudding, Rob. Hopefully on Tuesday night next, you'll be wearing it.

Good Day, Sir.

Rob said...

Chip, for you to say I don't have a conscience, well that's unconscionable.

Sometimes I think you protest too much. If you read the Crier you'll find many folks who have well written articles in support of the Parks Bonds. Strongly in support I would add. From Mayor Wright, Councilman Ross, Dan Weber, and several others.

Why, even you Chip, opined in your own blogging that you were in favor of the Parks Bond for acquistion. Do you want me to post that up here again? You can change your mind, but don't cast moral criticism on me or our community, hiding faceless behind your facade.

To sum it up, it's clear to me, reading all the articles in the Crier, that those in favor of both Parks Bonds make the most sense.

In the long run, passing the Parks Bonds will be the best thing for the City of Dunwoody.

The point of all this posting being that neither you, nor the other opponents have really stated any persuasive reason for not being in favor of improving our Parks and bettering our city. Most of the oppostion comes from either a misunderstanding of bond financing for projects such as this, or a completely reactionary, ultra conservative viewpoint which attacks city officials no matter what they do. I'd put you in both categories.

Well, Chip, I'm not buying it. I'm not drinking your kool aid or whatever you want to call your banter. I think the English might say your posts are balderdash and poppycock. But then you seem to be the master wordsmith (at least by your own posts criticizing others' writings), so I'll leave the right appellation for you to ascertain. In Georgia red clay territory though, I think the folks call it "hogwash."

Good day, Sir.

Rob said...

Hey Bob Fiscella, since you are keeping score, I thought I'd let you know my tally.

I think Joe Seconder's three posts on this blog are more cogent and persuasive then all of yours and Chip's combined.

And, by the way, why is it my posts are always word wrapped by yours and Chip Bagman's. Oddly coincidental, don't you think?

Are you Chip Bagman, Bob Fiscella?

Just curious, Rob Augutine

Chip said...

Rob:

So your reference points for strong supporters are "Ken Wright, Danny Ross, Dan Weber, and unnamed "several others?" Interesting choices, because these very same people are the ones who PROPOSED the parks bonds. It would be a surprise, indeed, if they weren't proponents. (Merely reinforcing my earlier point about your mantra "Trust them! Trust them!")

If I misunderstood bond financing, one of the writers to The Crier clarified the point a great deal more than you have. Funny, you don't have anything to say about that.
The bonds are not what they seem.....even our City Finance Director seems a bit confused on this topic.

Also, people who protest about the City taking on a debt-to-income ratio of anywhere from 3X to 5X (depending upon whether you account for interest payments (which most proponents ignore)) for parks when basic infrastructure needs still go unmet are hardly "reactionary" or "ultra-conservative" they're just making what Georgia-clay folks would call, "good sense." And, I have yet to see anyone attack the City Council or the Mayor, other than to remind them of their pledge to fiscal responsibility. A bit of hyperbole on your part, Rob.

We oppose the process used to present and manipulate the bond referendum, not the future acquisition and completion of parks for Dunwoody. It's time for a "do over", to get it done the right way. That's what the "opposition" is saying.

So, Rob, again with the name calling, no substantive rebuttal, more bluff and bluster. The Rob Augustine-approved Parks Plan stands on its own wobbly legs, and it's teetering every day.

Chip said...

Although it's tempting to mess with you, Rob, I can't let Bob Fiscella suffer for your poor judgment and bad guessing.

Bob Fiscella is NOT Chip Bagman.

I am Chip Bagman.

Chip

Rob said...

You make my point exactly Chip.

You say city council manipulated things. So you're opposed to whatever they do. You just call it manipulation no matter what they do. You cannot be satisfied no matter what they do. That's reactionary - you don't want to move forward with something beneficial to our City.

And, you don't understand the financial aspects at all. Bond financing for any municipal project is not based on the general operating budget. It is based upon the value of property in the jurisdiction. You and Councilman Shortal make exactly the same mistake. His analysis is completely flawed by failing to understand this basic concept. So if you refer to his article in support you're both wrong.

And, I don't need to list everyone else in the Crier who favors the Parks Bonds. There are many others and folks can read the paper for themselves.

I notice you didn't bother to get anything in there. Afraid of a wider readership? Oh, I forgot, you're not using a real name and can't appear in public.

Rob Augustine

Bob Fiscella said...

Rob - at times I wish I was Chip Bagman, as he makes a lot of good points. However, I am not.

But I do wish I was a Kool Aid salesman, as you would be my biggest client. It appears everything city council does, you drink up without question. Can you tell me a time you didn't agree with council? Love to hear it.

Personally, I agree with 90 percent of what council does - this is an honest, hard working group of wonderful citizens.
However, when council makes an egregious mistake, I'm not going to drink the Kool Aid.

Are you telling me, when council proposes, what could be, the biggest purchase in Dunwoody in our lifetime, the taxpaying citizens should not have input? Should not be able to vet it? What if the homeowners weren't able to vet council's idea of a greenway through their backyard?

Are you telling me, the families that are being displaced shouldn't at least have their say? I'd love to hear your specific answer to this (I notice you don't like to answer questions). Because if the answer is no, then why have public meetings at all. Let's just have the council meet behind close doors and do what they want to do.
Rob - that's exactly the way Vernon Jones ran his government. Whether or not you want parks is not the point. The point is - are you satisfied with this type of transparency? And don't bring up executive session - this has nothing to do with that (theree is a time and place for executive session).

I'm not satisfied with how this was handled. And I'm going to voice my opinion.

Now go take another sip of Kool Aid!

Sincerely,
Bob Fiscella (this is my real identity, you can reach me at 404-644-5220).

Chip said...

Rob, Rob, Rob.....

When will you learn to read (not how to read, but to read)?

If you look at the lead story, I did get a post in as the 2nd comment following someone named "Max". (BTW, I know who Max is, even though he doesn't know me, Rob, because I'm not nearly as "clueless" about these things as you.)

I was referring, of course, to a letter written by Dyar Burttram about bond financing. Unfortunately, his letter appeared under the comments for SPLOST when it really was about Parks. This undoubtedly confused you.

I'm going to paste the letter to the editor, below, and another letter to the editor by Heywood Wescott. (I provide this service since you apparently have trouble negotiating the intricate interface with the world-wide-web, or don't read the hard-copy delivered to your doorstep. (Assuming you live in Dunwoody, of course!)

(PLEASE NOTE: THE SIZE OF THESE LETTERS EXCEED THE BLOG LIMIT FOR A SINGLE POST, SO I'M GOING TO PASTE THEM AS A SEPARATE ENTITY. TRY TO STAY WITH ME ON THIS, ROB. THE LETTERS WILL APPEAR RIGHT AFTER I FINISH THIS POST)

Now, call these guys some new names if you want. But, here are two voices (and neither of them are me) that do offer objections, rationale arguments against, etc. etc. in support of many things you've heard in this "prattle" of mine.

Chip

Chip said...

Here are the two letters, reproduced WITHOUT PERMISSION from the electronic version of "TALK BACK TO THE CRIER" in THE CRIER, dated November 1, 2011"
***************************
To The Editor:
There appears to be many misconceptions about how Bond issues work. The following is submitted so that residents of Dunwoody can make an informed decision regarding the upcoming vote on the proposed Park Bond issues.
I have heard City officials and candidates say things like we might only take down the 5 year bonds to save interest costs, or we’ll just take down the amount we will need to save interest. This is not how Bonds work, this isn’t a line of credit. On the issuance date the Bonds are sold and the proceeds, less issuance costs, are deposited with the Trustee Bank and invested in short term Treasury obligations until used. The City is then obligated to begin making Principal and Interest payments on the entire amount of the Bonds ($33 or $66 Million) from day 1. They earn maybe 1/2 percent on unused funds, but are paying out 5 percent on the entire amount of the Bonds.
This is not unlike your home mortgage. However, presumably you have the current cash flow to cover this. In the City’s case it won’t receive tax revenues to cover these payments for up to a year, depending when the Bonds are issued, thus creating a shortfall. This shortfall is typically handled in one of two ways. A tax anticipation loan or notes are issued and paid off when the tax revenues are received. However, when the taxes are used to pay off the loans/notes there are no funds to cover the next years principal and interest, so another loan to cover this is taken out and this process continues each year for 30 years. And, of course, interest is paid on each loan/note taken out. The other way is to fund the first years principal and interest in the bond issue. The City receives less proceeds for acquisition/improvements and pays interest on this funded interest for the next 30 years. In either instance, the net effect is over funding the amount needed. In the alternative, the City could wait a year to issue the Bonds until Tax revenues are received thus avoiding this shortfall but would have no funds for acquisition/improvement until then and would be subject to changes in the interest rate environment.
There are significant issuance costs involved in Bond transactions, the end result of which is that the City will not receive the total proceeds of the Bond issue(s). These include, but are not limited to, financial advisor fees, legal fees to 2-3 law firms, official statement and bond printing, Trustee fees, rating agency fees and related expenses, funded interest, reserve funds and underwriting discounts.
These will be General Obligation Bonds, which by definition means that they are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the City of Dunwoody. Should the Bonds be approved by the voters, your taxes can be increased at any time, without your vote, to cover debt service should there be a shortfall in revenues of the City, or if tax revenues do not meet the projections.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to Bonds that appear on the surface. If you just want parks and don’t care what it costs the City or taxpayers vote YES for both bond issues. If you want parks and take a more conservative approach and feel the City should think outside the box and explore alternate sources of funding such as owner financing, lease purchase agreements, Corporate donations/partnerships/naming rights, Government grants, Foundation grants, pay per use, Hotel/Motel taxes, Public/Private partnerships, Non Profit funding, among others, vote NO to the Bond Issues. Either way get out and vote on November 8, your vote is important.
Dyar Burttram

Chip said...

Here are the two letters, reproduced WITHOUT PERMISSION from the electronic version of "TALK BACK TO THE CRIER" in THE CRIER, dated November 1, 2011"

***************************
To the Editor:
It is interesting to observe that the properties promoted for the Parks Bond do not meet the recommendations of the recently completed Dunwoody Parks and Open Space Master Plan. Primary park acquisition recommendations included establishing small neighborhood parks though the City of 2 to 10 acres each. Brook Run is already considered a Large Urban Park (102 acres), and its service area covers most of the City.
The option to purchase the 42 acres on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard would be a classified as a Community Park. Its location on the far eastern edge of the City will better serve and reach our neighboring jurisdictions (Doraville, Peachtree Corners, and Norcross) than Dunwoody. In addition, the site of this proposed park is not easily accessible via walking or biking from any Dunwoody neighborhood.
My observation that the Parks Bond has in fact been a special interest Bond. Options for land are being acquired, not because the location, topography, or utility of the sites are optimal to the citizens of Dunwoody for parkland and to fulfill the Parks Master Plan. Rather, the City has identified areas to prevent a land use (multifamily housing) or population group (apartment dwellers). It is 2011, and we need to return to a planning-based Parks program that will be accountable to all Dunwoody citizens.
Heyward Wescott

Rob said...

Bob, I again quote the ANSWER to your questions. The problem with you and the guy you are not, Chip, is that you never seem to get beyond statements such as I don't like the way it was handled. Well, that's ridiculous. Just like bringing in Vernon,which is such a big stretch that the camparison completely fails. Our City government is not anywhere near what Vernon did, or what DeKalb County does.

Here's the quote which addresses in full your questions. I wish I had written it, but it says everything and provides answers you and your counterpart seem to be unable to understand:

"So let's see...

1. The City of Dunwoody is proposing a bond issue (a customary and legal method for municipalities to raise funds which the residents of Dunwoody must approve)...

2. ...to purchase property in a consentual transaction (as compared to an eminent domain process whereby the municipality exercises a right to force the sale of property)...

3. ...from two private corporations (who have every legal right to sell the properties at the time and price of their choosing)...

4. ...in a transaction that will honor all existing leases until their termination (as compared to exercising a probable clause in those leases that would allow for early termination of leases should the property be sold)...

5. ...to build a park and recreation center (that is consistent with a land use plan developed by and approved by the residents of Dunwoody). Where exactly is the issue?"

Now, for you to say I'm not providing answers is incorrect. There are answers to every question you ask. But, as I said, you "don't like" what City Council approved, so you keep saying they did something wrong. And you are wrong to continue repeating the same thing over and over while acting like no one is answering your questions.

That's why it's kind of stupid for me to keep responding to you and your counterpart Chip, when you never acknowledge the facts. But I continue to try so we perhaps move this discussion along to the next level.

Our own local City government is transparent. They are accountable to us. They have provided complete details which you asked for on the Bonds. Despite all this, you continue to bring up your same old statements which I guess you are locked into because you "don't like the process" that was put into affect by our own City Council. I really can't believe you continue to hang your hat on this aspect of the City Council's actions. And you say things like "don't bring up executive session." Well, that is a perfectly acceptable and legal way for governments to handle real estate matters. But, oh no, don't bring that up - it's an answer to my question that I ask, but you're not allowed to provide an answer. You just don't make any sense on this, Bob.

So, I just have to disagree with your comments and your incorrect assessment of the entire situtaion.

Passing the Parks Bonds will be a very good thing for the City of Dunwoody. I'm all for both bonds and I hope that anyone who happens to read this will vote Yes on November 8th.

Rob Augustine

Rob said...

Hey call Dick Williams and get him to just put the Crier over here on Heneghan's blog!

Or better yet, anyone who wants can go to: www.thecrier.net.

Happy reading! At least you won't find Chip over there.

Chip said...

Odd.....

Rob said I didn't understand bond financing, so I posted a letter concerning bond financing that clarified some points....but Rob doesn't have a comment.

Odder, still....

I posted a letter from someone completely different about some other issues in the purported alignment between the purchase of the apartment complex and the Parks and Open Space Master Plan, and Rob didn't bother to say anything.

But, most oddly.....

Rob cut's n'paste someone else's thoughts (doesn't mention whose, btw.) for the 2nd time on this blog and duplicating his Letter to the Crier and thinks that by saying the same thing over and over, it will eventually become persuasive.

Ooops! I must have that last part wrong. Wasn't that what Rob was accusing Bob Fiscella and me of? Surely, it can be so.

Chip said...

Rob:

Excuse me for being negligent, here. You do recognize that the letter from Heyward Wescott adequately disputes and refutes your oft-quoted point #5. in your anonymously quoted supporter reference.

That is, by far, the most compelling point in the bunch, and it's been thoroughly undercut.

The rest is just palaver about the right to buy/sell property, which no one disputes.

Go figure....

Sight Edman said...

I hate to interrupt this witty repartee and illuminating commentary, but can anyone cite, and by that I mean with real references, preferably a URL to some legitimate news outlet like the AJC, something illegal that Vernon Jones actually did whilst discharging his duty?

Anonymously yours,

Thaddeus

P.S.: back to the program in progress...

Chip said...

TOD:

This is not in my line of argument, but in an effort to be helpful.....

As CEO, Vernon Jones was cited for discrimination in a case highlighted in the AJC through the following link: http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb-discrimination-suit-jones-426095.html

There was another, personal suit brought against Jones by an individual alleging sexual misconduct, but that didn't have anything to do with his office (other than the celebrity attending it.)

Elaine Boyer and Vernon had several confrontational tete a'tete during the years, but I don't remember any rising to charges of illegality, other than the alleged shoving incident.

Chip said...

Also, for a Vernon Jones primer, try Scott Henry's "Tyrannosaurus Jones" from Creative Loafing.

http://clatl.com/gyrobase/tyrannosaurus-jones/Content?oid=1254943&storyPage=2

Rob said...

Vernon Jones was a poor analogy made by Bob Fiscella. He tried to compare our city council to the despicable actions of Jones when he was CEO of DeKalb County.

Chip said...

Gosh, Rob. You just can't stop, can you?

Fiscella asked if doing things their own way, as Vernon Jones did, was a preferable way of the Council doing business? He never equated the Council with Vernon Jones except in that one dimension.

I can't speak for Thaddeus (or may I?)in that his question was more rhetorical than interrogative.

Vernon Jones may have had bad behavior, but rarely crossed the line into outright illegal activities. He did run afoul of two reverse discrimination suits.

It's another myth perpetrated by Citizen's for Dunwoody and Dunwoody Yes! that Vernon was so out of control, and so antagonistic toward Dunwoody that we almost had to form a city as a matter of survival.

A dispassionate read of the historical record might indicate that Elaine Boyer was as much a "heavy" in this as was Vernon, although Vernon's comportment made him more unlikeable and his actions seem more despicable.

And that's before we even throw the Editor of the Crier and his agenda into the mix!

Rob said...

Unfortunately, I am at work on other projects at this time.

Please direct all inquiries to my previous postings for a complete and thorough analysis of why it makes no sense to respond to Chip.

If you require more information, please review the Crier newspaper which has a detailed analysis of this topic and various commentary, but not from Chip.

For these articles go to the Crier online site, or wait for your convenient home delivery. On line is thecrier.net which you probably already know.

If you wish to see the many reasons to support the Parks Bonds, please refer to Dan Weber's guest columns which appear in the last four issues of the Crier which you can view on that website. And his column this week that explains how the bond financing works and why it is advantageous to proceed with approval of the Parks Bonds.

If you wish to see how the commercial businesses in the Perimeter area, who will pay a great portion of the bonds to acquire and improve our parks, approve of and support the City of Dunwoody's Parks Bonds, please see Yvonne Williams of the PCID's comments in the Crier last week. This is a significant item because commercial property owners will pay a significant portion for our Parks Bonds and the acquisitions and improvements that will result.

There's also an excellent article by our Mayor Wright and Councilman Ross in the Crier this week. This article fully sets out why we should proceed now to approve the Parks Bonds.

You will learn a whole lot more if you stop wasting your time reading this blog!

These other folks have been completely involved in and fully understand what we are doing with the Parks Bonds. Please read this week’s Crier and you'll have great information from those who are our elected representatives.

I know Halloween is over, but I think the blog zombies got me.

Rob Augustine

Rob said...

What Bob wrote in his post, Chip:

"When council makes an egregious mistake ....

"Let's just have the council meet behind closed doors and do what they want to do.
.... - that's exactly the way Vernon Jones ran his government."

I said Bob was making a very poor analogy between our city council and Vernon Jones. I believe the quoted statement is quite directly comparing our folks to the despicable Jones as Bob's saying they made an "egregious" mistake and did things behind closed doors. That means he's saying they made a shockingly bad, flagrant error. I certainly don't agree with that at all.

Now, you say Chip, that he's only using a comparison of "one dimension."

I don't know what dimension you operate in, but clearly its beyond the fourth. I don't think the words could be any clearer, nor his analogy any worse.

Actually, what is egregious here is for Bob to compare our city council to Jones and for you to try to defend it.

I'm back to work. I'll let you have your rein of the blogs until I just can't let you get away with any more of your nonsensical blatherskite and claptrap.

Rob Augustine

Chip said...

Rob:

I'm glad you wrote your last post from work; at least you had access to a thesaurus!

Chip

Ps. Did you mean zombies as the animated dead; or Zombies as in the drink?

Lindsay said...

"What's your name? Who's your daddy?"

Those are the Zombies I like.

Rob said...

But it's too late to say you're sorry

How would I know why should I care