Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dunwoody Election Season Starts, DeKalb Supt, Twitter, Dragoncon, GPC Town and Gown, and Economic Development

Six people registered for the November 8th elections with registration closing on Friday.

A divided DeKalb school board selects Atkinson A divided DeKalb County school board ended its two year hunt for a new school boss Monday and hired Cheryl L. H. Atkinson to become the next person to take over Georgia's third largest school district. Maureen DowneyMike Jacobs, DeKalb County School Watch Blog,

Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta: Dragon Con with Kids Sue Rodman explores Dragoncon for Kids in the link above and this parade is by far my boys favorite parade in Atlanta. Below is video I shot in 2009 and am guessing I will be back on a curb Saturday morning near Peachtree Center.

Mayor Wright has nominated me to serve on the Dunwoody "Town & Gown" Committee where the City works closely with Georgia Perimeter College to work out issues. I am looking forward to meeting the other new member who will be a high school student who is attending classes at GPC.  Does anyone know such a candidate?  Though I have yet to attend my first meeting, I am staying informed by reading the GPC Student Newspaper, The Collegian. I learned that GPC is in transition whereby they are morphing from a two year school to offering four-year baccalaureate programs. I learned that GPC President Dr. Anthony Tricoli has received a prestigious award by the the American Association of University Professors and that his wife, Robin was just named the President of Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tennessee.  I also see that the school Rugby team is playing a little ball at Brook Run and could use a few members to join in the fun.  At one point the Atlanta Renegades (several Dunwoody residents) were also looking to obtain regular use of Dunwoody park fields but had to go elsewhere because of the lack of availability.

Finally the City of Dunwoody invested in itself late last year by hiring Mr. Michael Starling as our Economic Development Director who has worked tirelessly in selling Dunwoody as the premier corporate office location in the Atlanta Metro Region to potential corporate clients looking for office space. Dividends are now paying off with more to come.  Keep up the good job Michael!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dunwoody Teacher, Ms. Jan Jordan's drive to help those affected by summer tornados.

Did you know that Chesnut Charter Elementary School has it's very own SuperStar?! That's right -- Ms. Jan Jordan, first grade teacher, is a true hero. Over the summer, Ms. Jordan made a one-woman trek to help families in Alabama recover from the tornadoes that destroyed their homes. Originally, Ms. Jordan was moved by the news reports of the tornados in Joplin, MO. She sprang into action, collecting water, diapers, clothing and other items from all over Dunwoody, Tucker, and Decatur. She organized this drive in just a few days' time... and filled an ENTIRE Penske truck. By the time she was ready to drive out to Missouri, Joplin was overwhelmed with donations and didn't have room to accept new ones -- but that didn't dissuade Ms. Jordan at all. She redirected her trip to Alabama, where she found many deserving families and organizations that were still taking donations after the tornadoes that blew through Birmingham.

It's a rare event when ONE person is so moved by a tragedy but then actually steps forward to make a difference by helping others.

When she got back, Ms. Jordan was full of thanks to all the people who helped make her journey possible – untold numbers of families who contributed items to donate to the families who’d lost their possessions, the Dunwoody Police Department, Georgia Perimeter College, and Dunwoody City Councilman John Heneghan, who all allowed people to drop items off at their locations (in Mr. Heneghan’s case – his driveway!), and to all who made phone calls to help spread the word about what Ms. Jordan was doing.

She had special words for everyone who might have an idea like this in the future: “Go for it! I never thought in the beginning that I would get as much help as I did, but each time I needed something, someone always stepped forward to help.” She continued, “There were times when I thought I would have to call the whole thing off, but I got support that I never looked for from places I never would have thought of… people really came together, and in the end, I really felt that it was a team effort much larger than myself.”

Ms. Jordan is a perfect example of the Chesnut spirit – she is generous, and she stuck to it until she got it done! We should all feel so lucky to have such a special person teaching our children in Dunwoody.   For those connected to Chesnut Elementary please give Ms. Jordan a warm smile and maybe a hug or two the next time you see her!

Video Cameras are always welcome at Public Meetings with Government Officials

I have been recording public meetings with public officials for as long as I can remember and with the internet those videos can go straight to the web documenting exactly what happened and what was said.  I have had minor push back from time to time, Vernon Jones & the DeKalb School System meetings are the two that immediately come to mind, but push come to shove everyone knew that I was well versed in the law and that they had to allow me to tape what ever I wanted in the public session.

This Ohio congressman and the policeman that followed his orders are complete fools, whereby if this is not a lawsuit waiting to happen, at the very least it is a public relations nightmare.  The video shows the officer confiscating cameras from members of the audience who are not "Press" and the citizens fighting back with reasonable arguments of transparency.  Very embarrassing.

Speaking of public meetings, the next meeting of the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council will be taking place on Wednesday, September 7th, 9:15 am at the new Dunwoody High School Auditorium with Ms. Ramona Tyson giving an "Update on DeKalb County School System".  Anyone have a video camera?

Dunwoody Football Pancake Breakfast - Sat Sept 24th

Dunwoody Police Explorers Car Show - Sat, Sept 24

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Solicitation in Dunwoody - changes need to be made.

Within the last month I have read to many horror stories of door to door solicitors who come at odd hours, are pushy, belligerent and just plain won't take no for an answer.  Today was the breaking point for me after reading yet another neighbors plea for help; I am looking to make the city ordinances tougher as I believe there are a few holes I want plugged.

Please note that the City of Dunwoody already has a relatively tough solicitation ordinance on the books where some of our neighbors do not even regulate the practice.  I do not believe we can outlaw door to door soliciting but we can regulate it within our boundaries by requiring a permit and enforcing the rules of operation.  Dunwoody currently issues a permit which is only good for six months, there is a detailed application process requiring full fingerprinting and law enforcement background check and once approved the solicitor must wear the permit (which includes their photo) and only operate between the hours of 10 am to 7 pm, Monday thru Saturday.

I believe we need to improve the enforcement of the current ordinances and need the revocation procedures to be broadened.  For example in today's example the resident had a "No Solicitation" sign taped above the door bell and yet this solicitor banged on the door like he was trying to break it down, clearly in violation of  Dunwoody code 10-93 (b) which does not permit a solicitor to disturb the resident when such a sign is posted.

I wish the City could revoke this permit for operating outside the hours allowed as well as contacting a resident with a "No Soliciting" sign but the police were not involved in this case, nor was the person cited, therefore there will not be a "conviction" which is needed for revocation and penalty.  I believe we need a process to push the photos of these door to door solicitors (along with some application information) to the web so that residents can easily identify the pushy, belligerent door to door salesman in order to file a complaint which might then initiate a city permit review and revocation process.  We need a system in place to protect our residents from being harassed by door to door security system salesman who purposely make residents feel ill at ease with their hard sell approach and I am just not sure if a regulatory change is needed or just more enforcement of what is on the books?  In reviewing a number of other city ordinances on the subject, I believe both are needed therefore I will be requesting a regulatory review of the ordinance as well as talking to the City Manager and Police Chief about the application and enforcement of what is already on the books.  I do not want to live in a nanny state but based on the complaints I am receiving, something more needs to be done.  If you ever feel uncomfortable because of the actions of anyone who approaches your door, please do not hesitate to call 911.

I would like the following reasons included for revocation.
Conducting solicitation activities in such a manner as to create a public nuisance or constitute a danger to the public health, safety or welfare.

Conducting solicitation activities contrary to the conditions of this ordinance or the permit
I would also like the following Exemptions included.
The following solicitors are exempt from the provisions of this article pertaining to obtaining a license, paying a fee, obtaining an identification badge, and posting a bond:

(1)    Minors under the age of eighteen (18) engaged in the solicitation of donations or the sale of any type of property for the purpose of financing extracurricular social, athletic, artistic, scientific or cultural programs, provided that such solicitation activities shall have been approved by the principal of the school sponsoring such social, athletic, artistic, scientific or cultural programs.

(2)    Political candidates engaged in the solicitation of campaign contributions provided that at the time of such solicitation, each such candidate has formally qualified and is seeking election to a local, state or national elective office.

(3)    Non-profit, tax exempt, charitable organizations and churches.
What other suggestions do you have regarding the matter?

PS: do you need any magazines?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DeKalb Fire Stair Run up the Dunwoody Manhattan - Sep 10th

Click Here for Details.

The Dunwoody Bakery is opening soon on Mt. Vernon at Jett Ferry

I ran into Jill the Owner of the Dunwoody Bakery who showed me around her new store location next to CVS near Dunwoody Club and she told me of her plans for a bakery / coffee shop at that location opening in maybe late September? She also informed me that the UPS Store (currently housed in the old Blockbuster building) would eventually be moving in next door and that her lease prohibited her from selling all chicken products including chicken soup.

Hummm, I wonder if there are plans in the works for the blockbuster site? I know no details, just sharing what I have been told.  That being said, I am really looking forward to seeing thriving businesses that the community is willing to support at that shopping center.

Video of the Aug 22nd Dunwoody City Council Meeting

The Dunwoody City Council passed all items on the agenda as presented, including the purchase of the Pipe Farm and the option on the hospital property depending on the outcome of the bond referendum in November.

Public comment this evening started with Mr. Andre Moses White who wanted to file a public compliant against the Dunwoody Police Department for what he believed was unfair and unprofessional actions taken in a citation he was given when he departed Sunday services at First Baptist Church of Atlanta, by passing several ramp closed signs, to enter the highway that was under construction. It looks as if our off duty officers were hired by the construction company to protect the dangerous construction zone on the highway itself but in doing so were forced to enforce the ramp signage too. Chief Grogan is still investigating the circumstances.

CBS Atlanta News "Tough Questions"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Agenda for August 22nd Dunwoody City Council Meeting

Monday, August 22nd
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
6:00 p.m. Work Session - No Video
7:00 p.m.Watch Live

Agenda & full city packet

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paving on Tilly Mill Road through Doraville and DeKalb is scheduled for tomorrow & Friday.

I am very proud to announce that the repaving project for Tilly Mill Road has been extended south of the Dunwoody city line through sections of Doraville and unincorporated DeKalb County.  Grinding should start tomorrow and paving should be finished in that section by Friday.

A special thanks goes out to DeKalb Commissioner Elaine Boyer, her Chief of Staff Bob Lundsten and Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman for making this project possible with County funds.

DeKalb Parents Respond To Cheryl Atkinson as Superintendent Choice

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

City of Dunwoody Moves to Acquire 24 Additional Acres in Georgetown Area

Dunwoody Moves to Acquire 24 Acres in Georgetown Area

City Continues Implementation of Master Plans


Dunwoody, Georgia – August 15, 2011 – The City of Dunwoody has concluded negotiations with American Medicorp and plans to acquire several key parcels, totaling 24 acres, in the Georgetown / North Shallowford area of Dunwoody. These purchases will move forward the implementation of the Parks, Transportation, and Georgetown Master Plans, which were all adopted earlier this year. 
The City plans to conduct a public hearing as part of its regularly scheduled Council Meeting on Monday, August 22nd and will consider a Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a sales contract for the purchases.

Peachford Road Extension

  • Location: 4471 North Shallowford Road
  • Price: $1,436,000 ($278K per acre)
  • 5.173 acre parcel contains 12,067 sq. foot office building
  • Purchase is the first acquisition of several that are necessary to extend Peachford Road to a new terminus point at Dunwoody Park Drive
  • Part of Transportation and Georgetown Master Plans

Park Land Acquisition

  • Location: 4553/4555/4575 North Shallowford Road (anchored by the former Emory Hospital site)
  • Price: $5,532,000 ($289K per acre)
  • Parcels total to 19.084 acres
  • Purchase adds needed park land acreage
  • Part of Parks and Georgetown Master Plans
  • Purchase contingent on Parks Acquisition Bond Referendum
Funding for the Peachford Road Extension purchase will be funded from existing cash reserves and the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2011. The purchase of the park land is contingent on the passage of the bond referendum on the November 2011 ballot. Should the bond fail to pass the City can withdraw from the contract without penalty.

At closing, the City has agreed to reimburse the seller $600,000 for demolition costs at the former Emory Hospital site.

A full press release is forthcoming; for additional information regarding either of these acquisitions please contact City Manager Warren Hutmacher, at 678-382-6700.


Educational and Inspirational Videos - TED and Khan Academy

Serving on the Dunwoody City Council and reaching out on this little blog has given me such joy. Every day I have the opportunity to help people, to touch them in ways that I couldn't even imagine. Below is the first paragraph of an email from a resident whom I deeply respect & admire, and is truly inspirational in her own right, therefore I thought I would share. If you haven't checked out the TED site, it is well worth your time.
Hi John, Just thought I’d share something that happened today as a result of your blog post. I had never heard of TED.com so I followed the link. I chose the “inspirational” category and randomly chose one to look at, a volunteer firefighter named Mark Bezos, I think. His message hit home to me and I copied the link to his talk to a friend of mine and thanked her for effecting my life in a positive way. After seeing the clip, she wrote back a lovely email telling me how I inspired her, something I didn’t realize. It was a great way to start the day. So thank you for posting that link!
Here is another video tidbit; every parent reaches a stage where their children's homework is harder than a parent can handle.  For that task, I recommend the Khan Academy which is a collection of educational videos on numerous subjects, free on the internet in one easy to find location. For example in the math section, they have videos ranging from first grade addition to complex differential equations. Check it out, as I believe you may find it useful and you may even learn a thing or two.  Below is a presentation at a TED conference explaining the Khan videos.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Open Records / Public Meetings, Council Decorum, Growlers, Redistricting, DeKalb Supt, Hot Playgrounds and Plane Crash Thoughts.

Things that keep me up at night...

I read on Peach Pundit that the City of Atlanta was accused by the Atlanta Progressive News of violating open records & open meetings and that the case may be headed to the Georgia Supreme Court.  I have pushed from day one to assure that the City of Dunwoody works within the letter of the law, therefore I found the four memos written by the Atlanta Law Department enlightening, especially the items on Committees, therefore I will need to raise the issue with Dunwoody legal staff to double check that we are in good shape.
Memo 1, Memo 2, Memo 3, Memo 4

I read an interesting editorial in the Saturday AJC on the dealings of the Peachtree City Council and I see it as a good reminder for myself and the six other individuals serving on the Dunwoody Council that we are charged with finding common ground (4 votes or better) and once an item is decided those with opposing minority views should not see it as a challenge to push harder until the civil debate becomes a debacle.

I read on Decatur Metro that Growlers - tap beer to go was becoming a big item in that part of the County.  Wonder if Taco Mac, Mellow Mushroom, Dunwoody Tavern or the Total Wine would be willing to expand into this market?  I'll help cut the ribbon.

I read a bunch of articles on redistricting but from what I can tell the rules (quite a few) were followed, what was proposed will probably be approved in the Special Session and then lawsuits may be attempted.  Based on the changes it looks like Tom Taylor and Fran Millar will now be representing every square inch of Dunwoody and then some.

I read that DeKalb has put forward Dr. Cheryl Atkinson as the prospective school superintendent for DeKalb County and that several members (Jester & McChesney) are not happy with the choice.  I wonder what the residents of Lorain Ohio are thinking?  Read here, and here and the comment on here to find out?  What are your thoughts?  I was hoping for more, someone to clean house at the top in order to propel long term change to the educational system.  Countywide DeKalb group let by a Dunwoody father is forming to push for systematic change, please complete the short poll with your email address to learn more.  Our Kids and our Tax Dollars, deserve better than this.

I read something that I already knew, hot play grounds are not fun play grounds therefore I am looking forward to shade being installed in Brook Run soon.

Besides reading, I like to expand my horizons in other ways.  In my spare time, I enjoy watching informational, intellectual and inspirational videos on TED and I just submitted an application to attend the TedxPeachtree conference in person on November 4th.  If you don't know about TED, please check it out as I highly recommend it.  Here is one of my favorite videos, 3 things I learned while my plane crashed.

Good Night.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dunwoody High School Students are petitioning Alumni Ryan Seacrest via Twitter to speak at the 2012 Graduation Ceremony. Could it Happen?

Ryan Seacrest has called Dunwoody, GA home for many years and I'm sure he still feels fondly of his time as the Voice of Dunwoody High School where he honed his skills before moving on to the radio.  Ryan is now an international, multimedia, mega star while earning the title as the Hardest Working Man in Hollywood but that being said, I am told that he is as grounded and down to earth as they come.  Ryan has used his fame and fortune to enhance the quality of life for seriously ill and injured children through the Ryan Seacrest Foundation where he installs broadcast media centers, named THE VOICE℠ , within pediatric hospitals for patients to explore the creative realms of radio, television and new media.

Last year a few Dunwoody High School students (pictured above) had the trip of a lifetime when they were flown out to Hollywood all expenses paid by Seacrest to attend a taping of American Idol.  This year the students at Dunwoody High would like to repay the honor and they have started a Twitter campaign to bring @RyanSeacrest back to Dunwoody to speak at the graduation ceremony in 2012.  Tweet after retweet the students campaign is gaining momentum with most using the hashtag #dunwoodyneedsryanseacrest

As an all around model of a down to earth, local boy who has done well for both himself and his surrounding community, I was honored to join in the students campaign and informed Ryan that a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is nothing as compared to having your entire hometown community of family and friends honoring him where he was raised and allowed to polish his craft before becoming a star.

Take a look at the videos below and I believe you may agree with me that someday Mr. Seacrest will be presented with the "Key to the City of Dunwoody" or maybe the true kudos go to his parents Connie and Gary for keeping him so grounded?  Either way, the City of Dunwoody Georgia is proud to be associated with the Seacrest family and all they do.

Tax Bills scheduled to be in the mail next week and Generic 2011 Dunwoody Tax Bill example

Please note that the 2.74 millage rate for the City of Dunwoody has not moved since the day the city was started and in this example the household amount paid for City Services at that tax rate is $216.20 plus the streetlight and stormwater fees.

*****Notice to DeKalb County Property Owners Regarding 2011 Property Tax Statements*****

Please be aware that the 2011 Property Tax Statements are scheduled to be mailed the week of August 15 th. This is due to a change in legislation regarding the Property Assessment Notices and the deadline for appeals. When the information is available, it will be posted on this website. Payments will be accepted as soon as the bills are mailed. For 2011, the first installment due date is September 30th, 2011, and the second installment due date will remain November 15th, 2011.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The DeKalb County School System has been without a permanent Superintendent for 532 days

532 days

On Maureen Downey's Get Schooled Blog, Shayna Steinfeld, a bankruptcy attorney and past president of the Atlanta Bar who ran for the District 4 school board seat in 2008, replied to Lynn Deutsch's commentary on DCSS and just added fuel to the fire as to the changes needed at the top of the school system.

While APS is on road to recovery, DeKalb is stalled in the slow lane
Lynn Deutsch painted DCSS’s bleak academic picture and its complete failure to hire a new Superintendent. Many articles have appeared in the AJC, as well as in national media, discussing the current situation in APS. I’m jealous, APS is well on its way to a correction. DCSS, which is twice as large and impacts nearly 100,000 children, flounders and sinks to the bottom of the state. Meanwhile, no one seems to care.

I naively ran for the DCSS School Board in 2008, thinking that I, just one bankruptcy lawyer and a past-president of the Atlanta Bar, could make a difference for these 100,000 children. During this time, I attended a board training class for school board members. At this session, it became clear to me that, besides my firm conviction that school board members are fiduciaries for all the children and the taxpayers, the primary duty and function of the Board of Education is to hire and supervise the superintendent, who is to place learning first and foremost.

Next in importance is implementing and supervising the budget, which is to be adopted with this educational priority in mind. The superintendent is supposed to be the CEO, who operates the school system. DCSS Board of Education members are notorious for being “hands on” with daily operations. Many of them also have family members employed by the system, even as other more experienced staff was laid off due to budget cuts. The “friends and family” of present and past BOE members seem to have priority in maintaining their jobs and in promotions, even at the expense of teachers, as furlough days have been approved, salaries were frozen and as students have been packed into classrooms with class sizes increased in some cases to 35 per classroom.

The functional BOE adopts, develops and follows an ethics policy. Many on the DCSS BOE consistently resist such ethics policies; a whistleblower hotline was not installed when promised and the BOE resists the idea of posting all checks and pcard transactions on line for the taxpayers to see how their federal, state and property taxes are being spent.

At this training, we were advised that we should learn to “disagree agreeably.” DCSS has really failed on this one: the minority, which was not in favor of the vote for Dr. Cox went to the media to actively leak the specifics of the negotiations with her. This was a tremendous breach of confidentiality, which the Chairman of the BOE did not see fit to investigate. Further, the media did not see fit to investigate the underbelly of the story, which was “why” was the minority actively sabotaging the negotiations. The second hiring round, as the Board “tried again” was no more successful: it also had leaks, leaving the taxpayers wondering if they were “Alice in Wonderland” looking for the adults who would make decisions actually prioritizing the education of the children and wondering why it is, exactly, that DCSS pays SACS $75,000 a year as a fee and then SACS seems to turn a blind-eye as the BOE remains dysfunctional, with almost a billion dollar annual budget, and no one scrutinizes why it is that DCSS appears to have completely failed the children with its core mission: the actual act of educating the children, as the system has plunged to the bottom of the state and the long-term implications this has for the future.

It seems to those of us who are actually paying attention, that the fox is guarding the hen house and the hens, who may have futures ahead of them when they first enter school, have had their futures actively robbed from them when they leave school without the ability to read, to write and to do basic math. When they drop out of school -– as the Georgia high school dropout rate starts to hover at 50 percent, and they are not employable — it is very likely that these children will then become menaces to society. Studies are now showing that America has a higher percentage of inmates in jail than other industrialized nations. These inmates cost around $40,000 per year. Their educations cost around $10,000 per year per child.

Shouldn’t we start to pay more attention to how this $10,000 per pupil is being spent so that these children ultimately become productive members of society? The first step is a new highly qualified superintendent in DCSS who will actively place the education of these children as a top priority. The next step will be a BOE which understands its true role and which will support that superintendent with that effort. A public and a media watching each move would be very beneficial.

If the Board does not take action soon, what will it take to right the ship?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dunwoody presents Mars needs Moms at Brook Run on Fri Aug 19th at 7 pm

Dunwoody Mars needs Moms by Heneghan

Dunwoody Mars needs Moms, a photo by Heneghan on Flickr.
On Friday, August 19 Comcast, the ReelzChannel, and City of Dunwoody Parks and Recreation welcomes families and kids of all ages to “Movies Under the Stars.” Dunwoody and area residents are invited to enjoy this free, outdoor event featuring the PG Disney release “Mars Needs Moms.” Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets and join us for a great evening of free family entertainment. Come out early for fun pre-movie activities. The movie will begin at dark and concessions will be available.

Compost Happens class at the Dunwoody Nature Center on Sat Aug 27th

The problem with the soil in Dunwoody, ( not everything is perfect in Dunwoody ) is that we live either on a mound of Georgia red clay or on pieces of Stone Mountain. Clay and granite do not make for very fertile gardens, vegetable or ornamental.

The best way to enrich your gardens and yards is by adding organic materials to the soil. The best way to accomplish that is by adding compost. Go by Home Depot and price a bag of compost. Why spend that money if you can make it yourself by using the yard waste that you currently are putting in brown paper bags and leaving at the curb.

Head over to the Dunwoody Nature Center and learn all about this black gold, August 25th from 10:30 -11:30. Go to www.dunwoodynature.org to register

Sunday, August 7, 2011

DeKalb School's start on Monday - Be Safe

The following post was written by my friend Cerebration at the DeKalb County School Watch Blog and since it was perfectly written, I am sharing it here to remind everyone that school starts Monday and we all need to be extra careful.  Thanks.

I saw the buses out practicing their routes the other day and I thought, "Oh, Lord, it's still too hot!" And it is too hot. We have had bad news lately about student athletes falling victim to heat exhaustion, even dying. Please be careful in this heat. Pay close attention to your own body's signals and pay attention to the condition of your teammates. Don't push yourselves (no matter what anyone says.)

Also, below is a safety message from Dunwoody Police Chief Grogan - it's important and appropriate for everyone to read:

The start of the new school year presents many challenges; for students; teachers; parents; and for the police department. Our primary concern as the new year begins, of course, is the safety of our students. The first few weeks will be hectic. I expect traffic to be extremely congested around all of the schools with parents taking students to school, school buses in action and the general motoring public trying to get where they are going. Of course, the sidewalks will be filled with walkers as well. In some instances, this can be a recipe for disaster.

To that end, the Dunwoody Police Department will be stepping up our traffic enforcement efforts around all of our schools. We are bringing in additional officers to help with this effort. Our #1 priority is the safety of our children. We will not tolerate careless and reckless driving on the part of anyone. This includes teachers, students, bus drivers, parents and anyone else. If you commit a violation, expect to receive a citation.

Of course we hope everyone will obey the law and there will be no need to issue any tickets. For that to happen, we need your help and cooperation. Here are a few key ways each of you can help.

  • Leave earlier for work, school or wherever you are going. Motorists tend to speed more when they are running late.
  • Be courteous. You can’t control the actions of others but you can control your actions.
  • Stop at the stop signs. You will not gain any time at all by rolling through them.
  • Give pedestrians the right of way, especially in a cross walk.
  • Expect delays, especially during the first few weeks, and plan accordingly.
  • Pay attention. Accidents happen in many cases due to driver inattention. Don’t talk on your phone, text, eat, fix your hair or do anything else except drive. 
  • Drive like your life and the life of others depends on your driving because they do.
  • I think if I asked, everyone would agree that the safety of our children as they travel to, attend and travel home from school is extremely important. Please show you agree by driving safely as the new school year begins. 
 Be safe.

My uncle was a state highway patrolman. Every time he had to investigate an accident it took a little piece of his heart. Our police officers care deeply about our safety. Please don't give them a reason to have to fill out any accident reports. Slow down. Put away your phones. Be kind to others on the road.

Kids: remember - be yourself, do your best and work hard to make the best of the gifts God gave you! Like the side of the barn at the Spruill Gallery says, "Everything will be OK."

Here's to a great year!

Can someone shake DeKalb school board out of its fog so it can see mounting problems in schools?

Maureen Downey of the AJC - Aug 5th
Here is a strong piece by DeKalb parent Lynn Deutsch, who has served on numerous committees at the local and state level including the Citizens Planning Task Force and the Master Teacher and Academic Coach Implementation Committee. She  has sifted through a lot of disheartening data about DeKalb, and wonders why the board of education isn’t more concerned:
Monday marks the first day of the school year for more than 95,000 students in DeKalb County. For the second school year in a row the year begins without a permanent superintendent. Criminal trials are pending for the system’s previous superintendent and chief operating officer on racketeering and corruption charges.
Although interim superintendent Ramona Tyson has made some much-needed structural changes, without a strong permanent leader in place, students return to the classroom without the stability and instructional vision they deserve.
The academic performance of students in the DeKalb is dismal. Only one-third of all DeKalb schools made adequate yearly progress. Thirteen of the 19 traditional high schools have been assigned “Needs Improvement Status” because they have not qualified for AYP for too many years. Worse, the actual test scores for students paint an even grimmer picture.
In nearly every subject and each grade level on the CRCT, DeKalb students scored the lowest or near the lowest of all students in the Metro Atlanta system. Tellingly, in 2002, African-Americans students in the DeKalb System scored 17 points higher on the verbal/math sections of the SAT than the national average for African-Americans.
However, by 2010, African-American students in the DeKalb System were scoring 25 points lower than the national average.
Over the past 15 years, I have been actively involved as a parent of students in the DeKalb system as well as an observer of the politics and policies involved with educating our students. Tyson is the first DeKalb superintendent to admit publicly that these scores are unacceptable. Very few school board members have shown the same courage.
Donald McAdams, president of the Center for Reform of School Systems, has written “When a school district fails to improve, it is not the district’s workforce that fails; it is the board that fails.”
Current and past DeKalb school boards have failed the students that they are charged with educating. The board oversees an annual operations budget of over $800 million, nearly 100,000 students and over 13,000 employees.
Yet, academic achievement goals are almost never discussed at DeKalb school board meetings. At any given point, most board members could not answer the question “How are students doing in DeKalb?”
Given the bleak academic picture and the multiple crises the system has faced, it is hard to understand how the DeKalb school board has so badly mismanaged the search for a new superintendent.
Nearly 18 months have passed since Tyson was appointed interim superintendent. There has been ample time and opportunity to bring in a nationally respected turn-around expert to begin the process of fixing this broken system. The obvious efforts, by at least some of the board members, to sabotage the selection process make it clear that some do not want to move forward.
Indeed, the monthly mantra of most of them is look elsewhere; nothing is really broken in DeKalb.
With far less drama, expense and time, Fulton and Cobb schools managed to hire new superintendents, and the Atlanta school system hired a strong interim. Although they have had this task on its agenda longer than those other systems, the DeKalb board has failed to hire a new superintendent.
The adults in DeKalb County have also failed the students. From the majority of the members of the DeKalb House Legislative delegation, who refused to pass legislation to reform the DeKalb school board, to the county commissioners and CEO who ignore the connection between poor schools and rapidly declining property values, there are virtually no civic leaders demanding change.
In fact, due to the intertwining of the power bases of DeKalb, most remain silent because the status quo works to their benefit. Most parents in DeKalb remain oblivious, often because they believe it is the other schools that are bad or simply because they aren’t aware of the magnitude of what is really happening.
And voters in DeKalb, like voters everywhere, pay little attention to school board races and the consequences of those elections.
There is virtually no pressure being placed on the school board members even as our system is failing thousands of students and jeopardizing their futures. The powers that be remain deafeningly silent.
Things are clearly broken in DeKalb. The school board must hire either a permanent superintendent with a proven track record of improving student achievement or a corrective superintendent with a proven capacity to restructure an organization, recruiting top-tier people to reverse the achievement slide.
Only by hiring such a person and changing their behavior to allow that person to lead, can board members begin the long process of reversing the academic declines to restore confidence in the school system.
From AYP status to SAT and CRCT scores, DeKalb’s data shows the depth of the problems in the system. Leadership, both civic and corporate, has to admit there is a problem and call on the board to take the necessary steps to improve the system.
Finally, parents and voters must become and remain vigilant during this critical time and hold board members accountable. DeKalb’s children deserve better.

Agenda for Tonight's Dunwoody Homeowners Association Meeting

Tonight - Sunday, August 7 @ 7:30 P.M.

Announcements and introduction of new board members and distinguished visitors

Approval of Minutes – for July 2011 Board meeting
  • Starbucks on Ashford-Dunwoody @ Ravinia
  • Chick-fil-A on Hammond near Macy’s
Survey of membership on COD Parks Bonds
Discussion of Candidate forum for October
Light Up Dunwoody event preparations update
Board only session - votes as needed on any motions

Next board meeting: Sunday, September 11, 2011

Board Meetings for the Dunwoody Homeowners Association are held at 7:30 p.m. on the first (or second) Sunday of each month (with some exceptions) in the DeKalb Cultural Arts Center (Room 4). The DeKalb Cultural Arts Center is located at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338.

Benefit Monday night for DeKalb County 9/11 Memorial

Commissioner Boyer would like to invite you to the DeKalb Fire Rescue & Police fundraiser at the Blue Ribbon Grill this Monday, 8/8/11 from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM.  15% of the proceeds from all meals served will be donated to a memorial for the front of the Public Safety Headquarters.  The memorial will house a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

The memorial will be unveiled as a part of the 10th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony being held:
  • Date: Sunday, September 11, 2011
  • Time: 8AM
  • Location: DeKalb County Public Safety Complex
    West Exchange Place, Tucker, GA
If you are unable to attend but would like to donate to the fund, please visit: www.dekalb911memorial.wordpress.com.

Please circulate to any neighborhood email lists that you may have. Additional information on both events is available on Farmer Bob's Blog. Thank you so much for your support of DeKalb’s Fire & Police Departments.

Courtney Townsend
Commissioner Elaine Boyer, District One
Senior Policy Advisor/Constituent Services
DeKalb County Board of Commissioners