Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Conflict and chaos in DeKalb County Schools - Probation, possible Board recall by Gov. Deal and Nancy Jester telling it like it is.

"There is significant and irrefutable evidence that the DeKalb School District is in a state of conflict and chaos,” he said. “There’s been a decline in student performance, and there’s been a depletion of the financial resources of this system to a position today that is very dangerous.

AJC - DeKalb school board: Save the governor the trouble and step down if you are part of the problem

DeKalb board member says audit shows 'troubled' district
A DeKalb County school board member says the final results of an audit he requested prove mismanagement and lack of oversight in an already troubled district. Womack says in his 16 years on the school board, he's never been as fed up as he is now.

State summons DeKalb School Board to Jan 17th suspension hearing 

The State Board of Education summoned the board members to a Jan. 17 hearing at 1 p.m. “regarding whether the state board should recommend to the governor that he suspend the members of the DeKalb County BOE.”  At the Jan. 17 hearing, DeKalb will get a chance to present its side of the story, including a list of witnesses who will speak on its behalf. Critics of the board will get the same opportunity.

As in a trial, the two sides will have to describe their witnesses’ anticipated testimony and reveal their facts and evidence to each other before the hearing. Both are entitled to a “pre-hearing” by phone if they request it by Jan. 4. Under the new state law, the state board can make an immediate recommendation to the governor for possible action or give the DeKalb board time to make improvements.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

#26acts Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for every one of those killed in Newtown.

Over the weekend NBC correspondent Ann Curry posted on Facebook: "Imagine if we all committed 20 acts of kindness to honor the lost children of Newtown..(or 26 acts, including the heroic teachers.) I'm in."

Connecticut native and Dunwoody resident offering to help Dunwoody help Sandy Hook School

Looking for a way to help?

Dunwoody resident McDaniel Leask,  approached The Aha Connection to help her spread the word about ways to help the victims’ families of Friday’s shooting and I have taken the liberty to "Copy & Paste" in case your looking for an outlet to lend support.   McDaniel is from a town in Connecticut near Newtown and describes the area as being much like our community in Dunwoody.   Her sister still lives there and is heading an effort to collect stuffed animals for the children of the school.

They should be new and not used of course. I would also encourage folks in Dunwoody and surrounding communities to donate to any of the established funds.  McDaniel will send any donations to the bank listed below as a collective effort from the “Dunwoody friends of Sandy Hook”.

 Click here for an article in the Wall Street Journal that is a beautiful testimony showing portraits and profiles of the victims.

Local Collections efforts organized by CT Native, McDaniel Leask:

McDaniel’s Address is:

McDaniel Leask
5199 Stratham Drive

Dunwoody, GA 30338

Stuffed Animals: There are two bins on her front porch.  McDaniel will be collecting until 5 PM Wednesday.  Then they will be delivered to the Newtown United Methodist Church, which is one of the sites for grief counseling.

Financial Donations:
  • McDaniel will accept checks made payable to:
Sandy Hook Support Fund
C/O Newtown Savings Bank

Donations will be specifically earmarked for funeral expenses and counseling for families and first responders.

Peace Service at Jones Bridge Park for Sandy Hook Elementary Community

The Peachtree Corners community will host a non-denominational CHILDREN'S PEACE SERVICE on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 at 5PM at Jones Bridge Park.
Please wear white and bring candles for adults, bubbles for children. We will pray, sing, and read letters to our friends in Connecticut. We will send the video of our service to the Sandy Hook Elementary community. This is a chance to grieve together as a family and community in a way that's safe for children.

When choosing whether or not to attend with your children, please know we will mention “the tragedy,” “the disaster,” “the sad events, etc.” We will not say “gun” or “shooting” or other graphic terms. We will pray for “people we lost,” but we will not say “dead.” The tone of the service will be poignant, hopeful, comforting, and peaceful. Weare not anti-anything. The service will not have soundbites, agendas, platforms, orspin. We will feature innocent children loving other innocent children.

We hope to navigate a thin line between honoring those who perished and protecting our own children from unnecessary violence.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dunwoody Community Chanukah Celebration at MJCCA, December 10-12

Our friends at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta are hosting
this free community event next week – all are invited!
Celebrate Chanukah at the MJCCA with a community Menorah Lighting
and special performances.
Free hot chocolate and jelly doughnuts!
December 10
Hosted by the MJCCA Gymnastics Program featuring a performance by
the Little Sparks
December 11
Hosted by Company J at the MJCCA featuring a selection of songs from
their upcoming performance of Fiddler on the Roof
December 12
Hosted by the MJCCA Dance Program featuring a performance by
the J Dance Company
Rain or shine.

Question: What can and cannot be disclosed by the City to Dunwoody citizens? Georgia Open Records Law

Blog Comment Question by Ken Thompson:  Is there a document or training materials available that cover what can and cannot be disclosed by the City to citizens and under what conditions previously withheld information could be made available?

Yes Ken, the City of Dunwoody recently hosted Senior Assistant Attorney General, Stefan Ritter who gave a training session on the new Open Meetings and Open Records law to a large room of elected officials and City Clerk's.   Below is the full presentation.

Though I have written on this subject quite a bit and have previously filed many open records requests, I consider the Georgia First Amendment Foundation the go to authority on the subject other than the State Attorney General's Staff.

Check out the informative documents below for the general open records rules as well as those that govern law enforcement and public schools.
  1. Red Book: open records and meetings
  2. Blue Book: open records and law enforcement
  3. Green Book: open records and public schools
  4. Sample Open Records Request
  5. Georgia Open Records Act
  6. Georgia Open Meetings Act
Regarding your question as to under what conditions previously withheld information could be made available?  Ken, I guess the answer depends on the subject be it real estate, executive session or a legal item.  For example you asked me in a blog comment if I could provide a link to the "Hirsch v Dunwoody" settlement agreement?  I guess officially that could be considered an open records request though it should have gone to our City Clerk, Ms. Sharon Lowery but I replied that under the advise of council it could not yet be released.  The reason may be that it is not yet settled and/or is a topic of a future executive session or some other reason of which our legal staff did not inform me.

I am guessing that once that exclusion is no longer valid the information would have to be released (if officially requested) therefore if you are interested, please contact Ms. Lowery.  If you were to ask Ms. Lowery for the document and it was still unavailable, she would tell you the exact exclusion the city is using to hold it back and an anticipated date that it may be available.  In this case, though it is an agenda item that I would normally publish, I am only following advice of council and can't officially quote the reason but guessing that it has to do with the still open lawsuit.  All that being said, my legal council can't force me to vote on something that I don't believe had a proper public airing.

I hope this information helps.

Dunwoody residents can check the police calls and accidents near their home.

I had a number of conversations this weekend regarding neighborhood crime and one of the tools I used to explain what was happening in a specific subdivision was the Police to Citizen Portal, event search shown above and available at the link below.

I just put in the address and the search range and he was able to see everything that happened near his home and he then clicked individual items of interest to read the complete police report.

Since many accidents showed up in those results, I thought I would check to see the accidents near Dunwoody High School and the results for the last year are shown above.  The full accident reports are not available on line but they are available from the police department.

The other tool on the Portal that I (and know many others) review on a regular basis is the Daily Bulletin which lists not only the Dunwoody Police events of the specific day but also the names of those cited.

These items are not new as I have mentioned them previously, but a neighbor who was unaware of the tools was really impressed and thankful they were available.  You may want to check it out?

Here are a few previous pieces I provided on the tool.

Real Time Dunwoody Crime Stats Hit The Web

Want to know where crime is happening in Dunwoody, there’s an app for that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas for Kids Wrap-Up Event, Saturday 2 p.m.

This Saturday, December 8th from 2:00 p.m. until approximately 4:00 p.m. is the annual Dunwoody Police Christmas for Kids Gift Wrapping Party event! Please join us at First Baptist Church Atlanta (4400 North Peachtree Road, 30338) in the Children’s Theater (East Entrance) for Holiday treats and lots of fun wrapping presents for needy Dunwoody children. 

If you would like to bring an unwrapped toy for a child, please do so along with a roll of tape; and let’s start wrapping! 

Please see the link below for program details and additional information. We look forward to seeing you this Saturday!    Deb Parsons 770-234-8347 

Dunwoody proposes 2013 paving plan

Full Document

Dunwoody Senior Baseball Diablos baseball club help Toys for Tots

The Dunwoody Senior Baseball Diablos baseball club hosted a Toys for Tots drive at the home of Michelle Kovitch.  The idea was that so many of these boys have the great privilege to play in a terrific program through Dunwoody Senior Baseball at Dunwoody Park.  They and their families wanted to find a way to give back at this important time of year.  The 1st annual drive was a strong success with over 100 unwrapped toys donated. 

The Diablos program consists of five travel teams made up of 13U, 14U and 15U players from the area including Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Brookhaven and whose coaching staff includes former Dunwoody H.S. coach Tom Bass. 

The event included Sgt. Calvin Johnson representing the United States Marine Corps.  He shared words of encouragement with the boys including the importance of education, following their dreams and giving back to their communities.

Agenda for December 10th Dunwoody City Council Meeting

Monday, December 10th
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
5:00 p.m. - Exec Session
6:00 p.m. - Work Session
Agenda (my comments in RED)
Recognition of Government 101 Graduating Class.
Proclamation Recognizing Dunwoody High School Cross Country Team and State Champ Ms. Alex Cameron.
Update on the CAD-to-CAD Interface Project. (Getting very close.)
Approval of 2013 Planning and Zoning Meeting Schedule.
Approval of Position Allocation and Compensation Chart. (Staffing levels & Salary)
Resolution Appointing Board of Ethics Members. (Janet Webb & Wade Wright)
Resolution Appointing Community Council Members. (Steve Barton & Susan Harper)
Resolution Appointing Development Authority Members. (Augustine, Gaddis, Miller)
Resolution Appointing Planning Commission Members. (Anders, Converse, Dwyer)
Resolution Appointing Board of Zoning Appeals Members. (McCahan, Mitchell, Penn)
Resolution Adopting 2013 Legislative Priorities.
Approval of Settlement Agreement re: Litigation. (Joseph Hirsch v. City of Dunwoody - will be removed from consent)
Resolution Authorizing and Approving an Intergovernmental Agreement With DeKalb Countyfor Water and Sewer Pavement Repairs.
False Alarm Research Report.(follow Sandy Springs model?)
Resolution In Support of DNR Recreation Trails Grant Application.
Approval of 2012 Capital Paving Contract Amendment.
Approval of Five Year Paving Plan.
Approval of 2013 Paving Plan.
Approval of Contract for Road and Stormwater Maintenance.
Resolution to Approve an Intergovernmental Agreement with DeKalb County for theEstablishment of an Excise Tax on Energy used in Manufacturing.
Acceptance of Georgia Emergency Management Agency Grant. (Missing from Agenda packet?)
Approval of Amendment to Jacbos Engineering, Inc. Contract. (additional civic engagement)
FIRST READ: Ordinance to Authorize the Lease of a Fire Station to DeKalb County.
FIRST READ: Ordinance to Authorize the Lease of the Dunwoody Library to DeKalb County.
FIRST READ: Ordinance to Authorize Transfer Water Tower Property to DeKalb County.