Saturday, August 30, 2008

No Endorsement

On Monday, August 25, the Atlanta Board of Realtors invited every candidate running for a Dunwoody City Council position to interview. The board was deciding which candidates to endorse. In District 2, the board chose to endorse one of my opponents.
Even though I am a realtor, I am not surprised by the decision. As a matter of fact, I expected it. Among the questions the board asked was, "are you in favor of impact fees?" If all I was concerned about is getting the endorsement of the ABR, I would have replied, "Absolutely not!" However, that was not my reply. Instead, I said if what developers did caused the taxpayer to have to shell out money from his own pocket, I didn't think that was right. I thought the developer should have to pay for the "impact."
What follows is the email I sent to the ABR, after it informed me of its decision:

Naturally I'm disappointed with your decision. As a realtor, I am well aware of what is best for our industry. But unfortunately, what is best for the real estate industry and what I feel is best for the city of Dunwoody, in certain circumstances, will be in direct contrast. And in such cases, the city and the citizens I represent must come first.
I will continue my support for the board and all the fine work it does.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Following Up

I have a few thoughts in following up on Tuesday night's candidates' forum at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.

As I stated at the forum, the city of Dunwoody will be financially challenged from the start. Many residents don't understand how this is possible, after all, Dunwoody is among greater metropolitan Atlanta's most affluent areas. Here's why. Our millage rate is less than half that of Sandy Springs and some of the surrounding cities! What that means is, Dunwoody's revenue from taxes is limited. Even with the creation of the city of Dunwoody, the majority of our property taxes still will go to DeKalb County (predominantly, in the form of school taxes).

Bottom line, will we be better off as a city? No doubt. Just the control of our zoning alone will make us better off, especially as we look to the future. But be aware that there will be growing pains for the city in its infancy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Candidates' Forum/Debate

If you did not attend Tuesday night's candidate's forum at Dunwoody United Methodist Church, you really missed a great opportunity to learn about the candidates and their positions. Personally, I'd like to thank the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the Dunwoody Crier for sponsoring the forum.

I'd like to further expand on some of my responses to the questions. First off, I mentioned that DeKalb County did a great job with code enforcement and that we should stay with the county for this service. I meant to say "inspection" and not "code". DeKalb County does a tremendous job with getting inspections performed in a timely fashion, and therefore there is no need to turn this service over to a private vendor. At least not in the near future. As for code - we can and will do better!

I spoke of green space at the forum. In particular, the lack thereof in Dunwoody. We need to work diligently with developers on expanding green space within their projects. We certainly can give them incentives to include green space that they otherwise might not have included.

I did not get a chance to talk about the deplorable condition of the ball fields at Dunwoody Park. And while I cannot make it my top priority, I will work hard to find additional funding for the fields. Sports can be such a huge outlet for our children. Improving those fields would go a long way. A big thanks to folks like John Crawford who have volunteered their time to make the best of a bad situation.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Presidential Candidate Speaks in Dunwoody

Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr says the United States' two-party political system has not been good for Americans.
Speaking at a party fundraiser in Dunwoody at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia on Saturday night, the former Republican congressman said the two-party system has left Americans "wandering in a constitutional wilderness," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.
Barr buttressed his point by decrying the mounting U.S. budget deficit and the allowed wiretapping of U.S. citizens.
"The government now wants to subject us to full-body X-rays just to board a plane," Barr said. "The only way you have to prevent that is by voting for the Libertarian Party."
Campaign finance reports show Barr had raised just $33,056 as of July 30, in Georgia.
By comparison, Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, raised $2.3 million to through July 30 in Georgia, and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois raised $4.17 million to-date.
Saturday's event was to also raise money for U.S. Senate candidate Alan Buckley, R-Ga., and Georgia Public Service Commission candidates Brandon Givens and John Monds.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sample Ballot

Are you curious to see how the ballot will look for the Sept. 16th election for city of Dunwoody officials? Click the link below to view a sample ballot (courtesy of fellow candidate John Heneghan)


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Crime Report

Below is the police crime report for the North Precint of DeKalb County (the new city of Dunwoody) from August 1 to August 16:

  • Theft By Shoplifting: 25
  • Theft By Taking: 18
  • Entering An Auto: 15
  • Auto Theft: 6
  • Robbery (Business): 1
  • Burglary (Residential): 4
  • Burglary (Business): 2
Breaking down some of the numbers: One of the auto thefts took place in a residential neighborhood in Dunwoody. The 4 residential burglaries were all in multi-family housing. Most all of the shoplifting took place in the Perimeter Mall area.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vote For Danny Ross

While I am running for the District 2 Local position for Dunwoody City Council, Danny Ross is running for the At Large position from District 2. Danny is as qualified as any candidate running for any of the council positions. To read more about him and his vision for the city, click on the link:

What District Are You In?

Are you still not certain what district you are in for the Sept. 16th election for Dunwoody Mayor and City Council? Simply click the link below to find out!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Clarification to Previous Post on Zoning

I wanted to add Bob Lundsten's comments on the heels of the previous post. Bob is a past president of the Dunwoody Home Owners Association who was charged with presenting the Zoning and Land Use Task force report to all the candidates for Dunwoody city council at this past Saturday information session.

"I am not very good at this blogging stuff and apparently was not very good at presenting the Zoning and Land Use report yesterday (Saturday). The point that I was trying to make was that the new Mayor and City Council are going to have to BALANCE the wants of the community, the rights of property owners and the future success of the city when it comes to setting new policy (for) Zoning and Land Use. New zoning codes cannot be absolute restrictions nor can the be arbitrary and unreasonable. You can not just say no more apartments because you do not want any more apartments, nor can you restrict a land owner from building a high rise office building when he is in the middle of a high rise office district. It is not as easy as it appears. I just did not want any of the candidates to go into office thinking that they could stop development simply by passing a new code. EVERY code that you adopt will be scrutinized by the best land use lawyers in the state. WE can and will do better than DeKalb, not doubt about that, but we are going to need smart growth in our commercial sectors to insure the continued success of our city."
- Bob Lundsten

I appreciate Bob's comments, and if I gave the impression that the new city council would not be effective in this regard I apologize. If I didn't think I (we) could be effective, I would not be running for office. The citizens of Dunwoody cannot thank Bob enough for his efforts in making Dunwoody a great place to live.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Candidates' Information Forum

Talk about having your head spin! I, along with all of the candidates for council positions for the new City of Dunwoody, spent more than eight hours on Saturday listening to the reports of the different task forces for our new city. Without getting into all of the minutia of the meeting, the most interesting reports were filed by Bob Lundsten (Zoning and Land Use) and by Larry Echikson (Police).

Bob's report was a real eye opener. While most all of the residents of single family detached homes in Dunwoody want to end all construction of apartment complexes (in many cases immediately), Bob says that cannot happen. We simply cannot get the necessary zoning changes. The courts will not allow it. Why? Because developers who already own said properties will sue the new city claiming their rights as landowners were violated. The developers will argue that they purchased the property knowing that the zoning allowed for multi-family apartments. And that by changing the zoning, they will lose, potentially, millions of dollars. Bob says the courts have and will rule in favor of the developers every time. He says the new city, much like the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, must try to work with the developers to come up with the best solutions for ALL parties involved. Stay tuned.

The police report presented by Larry and his committee recommended that the police department number 44 sworn officers - up from 28 recommended by the Carl Vinson Institute study. That's the good news. Of course the downside - the increase in officers will swell the projected police budget from 2.7 million to 4.4 million. However, the task force says that the police department easily will generate more than twice the revenue suggested by the Carl Vinson Institute (the CVI study projected police revenue at just under $1,000,000). If the new city council follows the recommendations of the task force our neighborhoods undoubtedly would become much safer.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Not All Glamour

As I wrote yesterday, I drove to the State Ethics Commission (a municipal building in the shadows of the state Capitol) for a three-hour seminar on the "dos" and "don'ts" of running a political campaign. I learned enough to almost, almost think about not running. I learned that making a mistake in reporting campaign contributions could be costly - as in a fine of $1,000 to $10,000! So you can bet that I will be doubly sure to dot all of my Is and cross all of my Ts. But it was a great experience. It gave me a little more respect for the men and women who do choose to run for political office. Whereas some candidates in the city of Dunwoody races have hired political consultants and campaign managers and committees, I am virtually a one man band. I will be responsible for all of my campaign finance reporting. With that said, contributions are welcome and I won't complain about the extra work!



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Running for Office - It's Not All Glamour

So you thought running for political office was akin to being a rock star? Well maybe for Barack Obama, but not for Bob Fiscella. This morning I am headed to a government office in close proximity to the state capitol. I will be attending a three-hour seminar on ethics. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Abe Had It Right

I chose the quote, "Government of the People, by the people, for the people" as the working title for my website because I feel strongly that Abraham Lincoln got it right at Gettysburg 145 years ago. Government should serve the will of the people, and not the people serving government. And those words still ring true today.

In a sense, Dunwoody has gained its freedom from DeKalb County and our soon-to-be elected officials must prove that we are worthy guardians of the new city. Our decisions must not be made in haste or in short-sightedness. They must be evenhanded. And we must serve the majority and not just the special interest groups.

There are lawyers, doctors and ex-military officers running for office in the new city. And all offer our citizens unique talents. While my job as a real estate consultant makes me acutely aware of what drives property values in our city, and gives me great insight on how to keep our area one of the most desirable in the metro area, I believe my biggest asset as a councilman will be a keen sense of fairness. Doing the right thing. It's something my parents instilled upon me as a child and is reinforced weekly, if not daily, as a proud member of the Knights of Christopher Columbus. I believe it is a quality that made Abraham Lincoln our greatest president.

What follows is the greatest speech that the greatest president ever made. It took place on November 19, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Open Letter To Citizens of Dunwoody

Friends, Neighbors and Fellow Citizens of Dunwoody,

I am announcing my candidacy for the District 2 (Local) council position for the new city of Dunwoody.

Dunwoody – the Springfield subdivision to be specific - has been my home for the last 15 years. My wife Rita and I have raised our two children, Jack, 9, and Danielle, 6, here, and hope to raise our grandchildren here as well. This is a community that I am very proud to call home. Now it is my turn to serve the community that has served me so well.

My vision for Dunwoody is one of a small government enhancing the quality of life rather than intruding on it. My vision is of a city with low taxes - not only residential property taxes but the taxation on thriving local businesses. Single family homes will continue to dominating the landscape. Our police force will become a pillar of our community. And while we will not have direct control over our schools, we will work hand-in-hand with DeKalb County to do what is best for ALL of our children.

I’ve tried to shine a bright light on Dunwoody during my 20 years as a sportscaster for CNN and Fox Sports Net, as a local real estate consultant with Keller Williams and as an active member of All Saints Church. I hope to do the same as your councilman.



Why I Am Running For City Council

After much debate, not to mention constant urging from friends and neighbors, I have officially thrown my hat into the ring as a candidate for the District 2 (local) Council position for the new city of Dunwoody. This afternoon (August 6, 2008) I drove down to the DeKalb municipal building on Memorial Dr. and paid my $360 (which is almost equal to the cost of gas to drive there).

The question now becomes, do I know what I've gotten into? The answer is, probably not! But then again, I'm not really sure I knew what I was getting into when I had my first child (Jack was born nine years ago, followed by a second child, Danielle who was born 6 years ago). The point being, once that first child was born - I was committed. And I will be committed to the city of Dunwoody. For better or worse. The same way I've been committed to Dunwoody since moving here almost 15 years ago. Right now, I don't have all the answers. But I will be in constant search of finding the answers. And hopefully, like a child, we can raise this city to become a source of pride and joy.

I ask for your help. I ask for your prayers. And last but not least, I ask for your vote.