Thursday, February 27, 2014

Video of Dunwoody Town Hall Meeting of Feb 20, 2014

On February 20, 2014 the City of Dunwoody hosted a Town Hall meeting with residents and community members to further the conversation about city governance, spending, projects and initiatives. Town Hall attendees had the opportunity to vote on and prioritize the topics for discussion, ask questions in an open meeting format and participate in a transparent and informative dialogue.

My favorite question of the night comes from an 8th grade young lady at the 1 hour 15 min mark asking about what we are going to be doing about providing park space for more active recreation.

The issue of what to do with the back 30 acres of Brook Run Park can be debated and voted upon now but the reality is that DeKalb County owes us 7 million dollars that can only be spent in Brook Run.  No large scale recreational development will happen until that money is obtained and it will be the sitting City Council at the time who will ultimately be making the decision.


Chip said...

With regards to Chattcomm, Warren made an interesting observation when he said, "This is the first system in Georgia to ever implement CAD-CAD transfer." or something to that effect. I wonder why he didn't mention that as a consideration back in 2011 when he strongly suggested that this was going to be an easy transfer.

I have to take Danny Ross' side on this, that Warren's disclaimer to the contrary, Warren has not been as forthcoming and as transparent as he could have been in the run-up and throughout this whole process.

Oh, and another thought strikes me, in that Warren couldn't remember the amount of money allocated for the Vermack-Womack traffic was $129,000.

A better question would have been to ask Warren, "How much money did we spend on 911 expert consultants before deciding to go with Chattcomm?" That answer, I believe, would have been "$0.00" as Warren and staff felt they had enough expertise to make that recommendation on their own.

It's Friday, Feb. 28th, the day that Chattcomm/DeKalb CAD goes "live" for final testing...we'll see what happens.

Max said...

I may have met you at the Town hall, we discussed the City's Govt101 program?

Here's my view on your comments:

1.0 You have an issue with the City Manager,
2.0 You have an issue with the Chattcomm decision.

My question to you, in a neighborly sort of way, is what is your 'end-game' in all of this? I mean, are you suggesting that the City Manager be replaced?

Are you suggesting that Chattcomm is sent packing "Return to Sender" and we go back to DeKalb 911?

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" - Voltaire

Max said...

Blogs account for a meager 3% of peoples 'Favorite way of getting information' according to a study published in the Feb. 26 edition of The Crier. I imagine Mr. Dick Williams, Publisher, is deservedly delighted to further report that the 2013 Community Survey shows 69% of those polled favored The Crier for information.

All of which leads me to ask, why does everyone seem to ask, "Did you read thus and such on so-and-so's blog?"

John Heneghan said...

The Dunwoody Crier owns every driveway in Dunwoody, it is delivered 52 weeks a year with broad coverage and it is the information staple of those who have lived here an extended amount of time. Of all those who were surveyed, print media and the Crier in particular were the most widely read, therefore the City will now be complimenting our electronic information exchanges for additional print coverage.

Social media has its place and the Dunwoody community seems tied in more than most with numerous options but that being said I hope that the neighborhood weekly lives forever.

Chip said...


You and I have met, before, but I don't remember having a discussion about Govt 101 with anyone at the Town Hall meeting. It may have occurred, but I just don't recall.

Let me try to respond to your observations and questions, which I take in a "neighborly" sort of way that you intend:

1.0 I don't have an issue with the City Manager, personally. He's a likeable sort and extremely gifted. He's done a lot of good things in the five years he's been at the helm.

My issue with the City Manager focuses on whether Warren has ever been publicly accessible or held publicly accountable for some of the major decisions that have been the source of division in Dunwoody. I cannot remember a single, focused interview that he's ever given other than the occasional "sound bite" on Channel 2. He came to the DHA a couple of times to discuss issues, but generally avoided the tough questions and spoke "spin". The Council doesn't challenge him in public, and much of what goes on between them is in "executive session" and not open to the public.

Part 1 of 3(?)

Chip said...

Part 2 of 3 (?-maybe 4)

Here are a sampling of "issues" that the City Manager is directly and personally involved in that he has not had to account for:

1) Referendum 3 on the General Election ballot. At the time, Bob Lundsten and others thought this was about Tax Allocation Districts, which it wasn't. Instead, it was about getting Urban ReDevelopment Authority for Dunwoody. The only reason for needing this, was the intended financing and promotion of Project Renaissance. But, as you recall, the "public stance" at that time was that if the Parks Bond failed, Dunwoody would not pursue those 33 acres. Was this an example of "forward thinking" on the part of Warren, or part of a plan to get into the land development business. You decide which you'd like to believe.

At the same time, the City had made a "back-door" agreement (in principle if not in writing) with the owners of the apartments along P'tree Industrial to purchase those properties ostensibly for an athletic complex. As a matter of public record, the City (presumably the City Manager) was willing to authorize paying those same owners approximately 35% more than they had invested in the subject properties only 18 months before in a "down" real estate market. The actual terms and agreements are locked in "executive session" so can't really be known by John Q. Public, but you can follow what must have happened by how the deal was presented. This deal, too, involved selling back some of the properties as development lots. Very few understand the City Manager's role in this.

Other suspect actions of the City Manager would include the violation of the City's RFP process during the renewal of city services contract. Dismissing what was clearly an attempt to sway the decision in favor of a preferred candidate, Warren said it was a "technical aberration of little import" and no one on Council challenged him. I'm proud to say the DHA (among others) elevated this issue, and Warren had to accept the bid from the companies that would have won the bids without this "technical aberration."

The City Manager's office decided to change from the 8' asphalt trail to the 12' concrete trail in Brook Run because (again paraphrasing Warren's words, "This was a decision regarding technical execution of a project and didn't require any other agency or citizen input." We know the distress this caused among certain elements in our community. But, the Council and the Mayor took the heat, not the City Manager.

Chip said...

Part 3 of now 4.
As to Chattcomm, Warren and Chief Grogan wanted Chattcomm in order not to have to rely on DeKalb County. It's interesting how much attention Dunwoody gives to cities in the Fulton County sphere of influence to the detriment of our DeKalb County neighbors like Doraville and Chamblee (and now Brookhaven). The most recent suggestion that Dunwoody buy into Chattcomm is just another stepping stone to forming a Dunwoody Fire Department (probably in conjunction with Sandy Springs). Our City Manager would then have another direct report, the Fire Chief and his/her personnel. This looks good on a City Manager's resume when you go looking for the next, larger position.

The "end game" is to get the City Manager out of the shadows and into the light of public scrutiny. 2 1/2 years into the Chattcomm process is not the time you say, "Oh, by the way, this is the first time this has ever been done!" You say that at the beginning, and when a Councilor (Ross) says, "Are you sure this will work by Oct 3, the answer should be 'probably not" and we should agree to wait until it is ready to switch over, not say, "It'll be ready!" then, "Give us another three months" and then 2 1/2 years later you say, Boy, I think we finally got this nailed down now!"

You observed that at the Town Hall, our Mayor monopolized the event, and Warren said about as much as Clint Eastwood when he hosted the Oscars!

If Warren wants to make these decisions, he should be willing to step up and face the questions that go along with them. Warren was being, in my opinion, disingenuous when he said he only spoke "based on the best information available at the time." The "best information available" was coming thru his assistant who has absolutely no experience in complicated software development. Warren has consistently refused to accept recommendations that a 911 consultant be hired, or at best, an experienced software executive be employed to facilitate the technical aspects of this program. And, no one on the Council seems to have the requisite skill sets to challenge him on this, so he skates-by, again.

The public's access during Public Comment and the 10-minute window for pro/con during Public Hearings are hardly sufficient venues for digging into the meat and the nuts-and-bolts of these decisions.

Chip said...

Part 4 of 4 (finally!!)

Two more examples of Warren being disingenuous come to mind. I believe it was Councilor Bonser who asked (at one of her last meetings on the Council) about how many bidders actually bid on Project Renaissance. Warren said, "I don't remember; I'll have to check." Warren knew damn well (not a curse, just emphatic language) that there were only three bidders, one who dropped out completely, one who only gave a partial response, and John Wieland was the sole bidder who completed the process. Warren then conveniently "couldn't remember" whether John Wieland had been involved in drafting and developing the RFP for Project Renaissance. Curious, that John Wieland documents appeared in that RFP, but the City Manager couldn't remember whether they had been involved.

Finally, at the Town Hall Meeting, Warren didn't want to admit that the City (at his direction) had committed to $129,000 for a study of the Vermack/Womack intersection in which the engineering firm involved in doing the study admitted that pedestrian safety and operation during school hours were NOT specifically required by the RFP and were not specifically included in the study. This must have been another "technical aberration" but it was a huge embarrassment to the City and the Staff that quite understandably Warren would like to "sweep under the rug."

You asked a question about bloggers and The Crier in your following post. I know that Dick is giddy with the results of that survey, but does any disinterested observer really believe that The Crier has done anything close to investigative reporting on these City Issues? At least we vaguely connected, widely opinionated bloggers occasionally come up with some insightful questions that get beyond the "spin" of the City government.

If there is any animus in all this, it's that Warren has consistently received generous increases in compensation, totally almost 30% additional compensation in a period where corporate pay raises have averaged 1-2%/year. Dunwoody hasn't expanded it's borders or it's population, the demands of the City haven't grown substantially in those 5 years, yet we continue to give high-performing merit increases in spite of the shortfalls outlined, above.

If I weren't paying for this service indirectly, I probably would give Warren a pat on the back for doing so well. But, I'm a taxpayer, so that always colors my opinion of across-the-board steep compensation increases.

(My apologies, but along with Voltaire I also read Erasmus!)

Max said...


You have taken a lot of time to compose your basic premise "...[your] issue with the City Manager focuses on whether Warren has ever been publicly accessible or held publicly accountable for some of the major decisions that have been the source of division in Dunwoody."

According to your logic the entire City Council should be held accountable since the City Manager serves at their pleasure.

This implies that you, and others, are essentially stumping to replace City Council since they alone can sort out these 'issues.' I use quotations since City Council has not vetted these issues.

"All politics are local." - Tip O'Neil

According to Wiki: "Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church and its clerics' abuses from within."

Your opinions show a deep mistrust of Dunwoody governance, in my opinion. It is not hard to find others who mistrust government.

In essence you are saying that you do not trust City Council since the City Manager serves at their pleasure.

I hardly think that there is any coincidence that there is a movement afoot to replace City Council with new members, either.

To me, this City is doing a pretty good job in balancing a future vision within the realities of budget, needs, and wants - Or as Mayor Davis says: "Don't raise taxes, don't build apartments"

While objective and cogent citizen involvement is necessary to keep people true to their purpose, 'Gotcha politics' exert a downward pressure on the happiness of any community.

It is unsettling to me that you know who I am, and I don't have any idea who you are -- And you speak of transparency.

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

Max: (Sorry! I had to take the original down to repair an omission of my email address)

You have made two critical interpretations, which are both (in my opinion) in error.

1) As with many in Dunwoody, you mistake the fact that the City Manager is appointed and approved by the City Council with the notion that the City Manager "reports" to the Council, in a subordinate hierarchical role. Your remarks may be interpreted (in the extreme) that the City Manager is a "puppet" only doing the Council's wishes. Kerry DeVallette also misunderstands this relationship, in a similar way.

In point of deed, if not in fact, the City Manager has significant autonomous power to run the city within the broad guidelines set by the Council. The only "restraint" on this is an agreement between the City Manager and the Council that limits his signatory power to $50,000 per item.

Much of what comes before the Council is prepared for it by the City Manager, and it reflects his particular vision of the necessity and the suitability of the requirements and the appropriate response. My point, rather than to "throw everyone out and start over" (which is seemingly the inference you've drawn) is to have the City Manager take a more public and responsible position vis-a-vis the citizens of Dunwoody. That's it, in a nutshell.

2)I do not "mistrust" Dunwoody politics or politicians, in the main. I also don't believe all the "spin" I hear from them, either. I regret that you see my objections as "gotcha politics". I've commented on items that I really see as violations of the process of government, independent of their merit.

I'm for more transparency in government actions, and all I'm calling for is a revision in behavior that makes the City Manager more interactive with and responsible to the citizenry.

And, before you take me to task about "transparency" and my choice to remain semi-anonymous, I'm not an elected or appointed City official...I have no obligation to identify myself. I do have the obligation to comport myself in a civil manner, which I hope I have done. I continue to assert that I only post as "Chip Bagman" never as "Anonymous" or any other nom de web. If you want to write me, directly, please do so at .