Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Road To Recovery, Update on Housing Market

We - Americans as a whole - may not feel like we're on the road to financial recovery, but just consider where we were exactly one year ago today: September 29, 2008. On that September day, the Dow Jones Industrial dropped 777 points, the largest one-day drop in the history of the New York Stock Exchange (even larger than Sept. 11, 2001). The main reason for the drop was Congress rejecting then-president Bush's $700 million bank bailout. While the Dow continued to fall into the early months of 2009, it has made a major recovery and the economic outlook is much brighter. After reaching a low of 6,420 in March the Dow has climbed to 9,742.

While the stock markets all show signs of recovery, so too does the housing market. While prices have not yet started to climb, all the signs are there. And interest rates remain at all time lows (4.75% on a 30-year fixed rate).
Currently there are 175 active listings in Dunwoody in zip code 30338. (Click on the Buyer Brief Page to view all listings). I have a fabulous new listings in Kingsley - a 5-bedroom, 4.5 bath for $575,000 (pictured, click on the Buyer Brief Page link for more details). If you know of a buyer, or someone needing to sell their home, please send them my way!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Register For DeKalb's Emergency Notification

Do you ever wonder how you would find out pertinent details if there were truly an emergency situation in our area? One that could affect us?
DeKalb County now has a local emergency response team in the event of emergencies or critical community alerts. Examples include: evacuation notices, bio-terrorism alerts, boil water notices, and missing child reports.
To register click here on the Code Red link or on the photo top left. It will only take a few seconds!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dunwoody High Homecoming Parade

Hundreds of folks lined Vermack Rd. on Thursday afternoon for the Dunwoody High School Homecoming Parade. The hilite was watching the kids scramble as the students threw thousands of pieces of candy. The Homecoming football game is Friday night at North DeKalb Stadium, with the 1-2 Wildcats playing host to Cedar Grove.

The following is a letter from Dunwoody Councilman Denis Shortal.

Fellow Citizens of Dunwoody ... A quick update reminder on three issues. A more complete update will follow in the next couple of days:

1. Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) Meeting. The last general CLUP meeting will take place tonight (24 SEP) night at the Dunwoody United Methodist Church (DUMC) @ 7 PM. Everyone is invited and strongly encouraged to attend to have your input heard on what you want our City to look like through 2030. This is the best example of democracy in action so please attend and have your voice heard. Very honestly, at the previous four meetings the attendance has been well below expectation. This is the number one reason why we became a city so lets fill DUMC tomorrow night.

2. Sanitation Meeting. The third and final Public Hearing on sanitation will be next Tuesday (29 SEP) at 7 PM at your City Hall. This is a very hot topic but less than 20 citizens attended the first meeting. Please make plans to attend.

3. City Council Meeting. The next City Council Meeting will be next Monday (28 SEP) at your City Hall @ 7PM.Thanks for you continued support and involvement in our City. Please forward this info to your friends and neighbors .....

Denny Shortal, City Councilman District One - Post 1, Mayor Pro Tem

Monday, September 21, 2009

Car Stolen in Springfield

We'd all like to think we can safely park our car in the driveway overnight. Sadly, that is not the case. A Springfield resident reported their car stolen between the hours of 5pm and 8am Sunday night/Monday morning. It is a 1999 green Toyota Rav4 (similar to the one pictured) with GA. tag-WL5671. While the new Dunwoody Police Department seems to be ever present at times, unfortunately they can only do so much.
Here's hoping the rain ends sometime soon (unfortunately, not soon enough for my water-soaked basement. Lesson learned - always keep those downspouts clean)!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sticking with DeKalb Sanitation?

I apologize I was unable to attend the city of Dunwoody public forum at city hall last night concerning the future of our sanitation services. I wimped out! Between the weather, the Georgia Tech game on TV (what an embarrassing evening for the Jackets), and helping my wife (how can I say no), I never made it. Fortunately, fellow blogger Rick Callihan was there and has a great recap on his site Dunwoody Talk.
According to Rick, it appears highly doubtful that we will be leaving DeKalb services anytime soon. Two representatives from the county were there and basically said that if Dunwoody wants to stay with DeKalb it can! And, at the same rate the rest of the county's incorporated areas are being charged. Again, Rick has a much more thorough account of what transpired, right down to the fact that council members were relegated to the cheap seats (the same seats that the rest of us sit on at city council meetings), albeit with custom cushions for their bottoms (Rick, is this really true?)!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lost Dog; Potty Run

One of our Springfield neighbors has found a dog.  Please read below - if you know the owners contact me at 404-644.5220, and I'll pass it along.
Hello neighbors:
I hoping that someone can help me! We found a female brown/white Husky running loose in traffic around Womack Road. We brought her home, and we are trying to find her owners. She is not micro-chipped. She seems to be well-taken care of, and I’m sure that someone will be distraught when they discover that she is missing. I’ve called 5 neighborhood vets and Animal Control and the Humane Societies to leave her description and my contact info if someone calls them to try to locate her.
I’m hoping that her owner will receive this email – or someone will recognize her description as a dog belonging to a neighbor. I do not recall ever having seen her in our neighborhood.
Just let me know if you can help –
Ever go to a movie and have to take a potty run, but instead hold it in because you don't want to miss anything?  Well, thanks to the website Runpee.com, that's now a thing of the past.  Runpee.com not only lets you know the best time to take a restroom run during the film, but tells you how much time you have to get back to your seat and what you missed!  It gives you the dialogue - word for word.  No more crossing your legs in agony!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Trash Service, Dunwoody Elementary Update

If you want to keep DeKalb County as our sanitation service provider, now is the time to speak up.  The city of Dunwoody is holding a series of three public forums to discuss trash pick up, the first meeting is tomorrow night at city hall.  I plan on attending, but probably can't stay for the entire meeting as the Georgia Tech-Miami game is on TV and could be a classic!  For more information click here for the Sanitation Services web page or contact Jeff Timler at jeff.timler@dunwoodyga.gov or 678.382.6809 or Kimberly Greer at kimberly.greer@dunwoodyga.gov or 678.382.6805.
I attended the coffee with Dunwoody Elementary principal Johnathan Clark last night at the school.  It was an informal gathering in which Mr. Clark gave an undate on the first month.  Among the topics Mr. Clark discussed, the ELT (extended learning time) program, the lack of a scheduled recess and traffic.  He said if you drop off your child in the morning and are tired of the traffic in the parking lot, come a few minutes early.  He said if you arrive by 7:15, there is hardly a car to be found.  He also reminded parents to sign-up for the school's email calendar.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

For me, it's hard to believe that it's been eight years since the horrifying tragedies of September 11, 2001 (click on the photo above for a video tribute). While I did not lose a loved one on that fateful September morning, the events of that day changed my life forever. I was working for CNN at the time an a sports anchor. Within 24 hours of 9/11, CNN determined that the story needed 24-hour coverage, seven days-a-week. Thus, the powers-that-be pulled the plug on all sports coverage on the news channel, and shutdown its fledgling sports network, CNNSI. While CNN did offer me a position to remain with the company, my heart was not into the new assignment as a reporter. I left CNN after 16 amazing years, taking an anchor position with Fox Sports Net (now Fox Sports South and SportSouth). But not only did 9/11 cause me to change jobs, but change my perspective on life and my family's safety and well-being. It heightened my awareness to my surroundings, as well as to the reality that we can never be safe: not within the confines of our American borders, in Dunwoody or even our own homes.
When I think of 9/11, almost immediate the Alan Jackson song Where Where You (when the world stopped turning) springs to the forefront. Jackson wrote the song about a month after 9/11 (in one day), and the words still resonate. Click on the photo to watch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Joe Friday Schools the President and Johnny Carson

My intent is not to make this blogsite political (unless, of course I decide to run for a public office again, and then all bets are off), at least not when it comes to national politics. However, when I find a video clip that is interesting, I feel compelled to pass it along. I don't believe this video (click on the picture above) is political in nature, but simply entertaining (and despite the headline on youtube, it has nothing to do with national heathcare).
Now if you liked Joe Friday in that clip, you will love him in this one (below) with Johnny Carson. An oldie but a goodie!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

I Am Not a Candidate; Latest on the Mayor's Fight with Neighbor

Friday was the final day to file the necessary paperwork for candidates wishing to run for Dunwoody City Council (three posts are up for election in November). I was a candidate last year - it was a tremendous experience - but have decided not to run this time around. For those of you that were willing to lend your support, I am humbled. I still firmly believe in the same causes that compelled me to run last year, but feel I can accomplish just as much, and have my voice hear just as loud, as an engaged, active citizen (plus, there are a lot less meetings and time commitment)!
In my humble opinion, the city council has done a fabulous job in year one. The council has worked tirelessly to get the city up-and-running with very few major glitches. And it has managed to do this while staying within, if not under, a tight budget. Yes, I would have done a few things differently (voted against hiring a lobbyist, fought for a smaller police department and hired a company with a proven track record to collect business license taxes), but by and large, I am satisfied with the work of the council. I trust the council will make the right decision concerning our sanitation services (let's keep DeKalb County, if at all possible), and manage to secure our parks (without paying the county more than a token sum).
And hey, if I decide I would be more effective as a member of the council, there's always the 2011 election!
If you read my last post, you know all about the mayor and his issues with his neighbor. Want to know how the residents of Dunwoody feel, and more specifically, the mayor's wife Terri? Go to Councilman John Heneghan's blogsite, and click on the "comments" at the bottom of Wednesday's post.
By the way, if you were unable to attend Dr. Crawford Lewis' "State of the System" update at Dunwoody High School this past Wednesday, I recorded the meeting (thanks to Councilman Heneghan's audio equipment). John told me he would try to post it on his blogsite on Friday.
Hope you have a fabulous Labor Day Weekend. If you are going to the Dunwoody High football game tonight stop and say 'hey!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fox 5 Gets its Facts Wrong in Dispute Involving Mayor; Crawford Lewis Speaks

WAGA-TV (Fox 5) aired a report Tuesday night (click on the photo to watch) in which it said Dunwoody Mayor Ken Wright was playing politics in trying to get a variance request by his neighbor denied by the city's Zoning Board of Appeals. The report by Dale Russell said the seven-member board should have recused itself in this case because it was appointed by the mayor. However, truth be told, while the mayor technically appointed all seven members of the board, he only handpicked one member. The city council picked the rest (the mayor allowed each council person to nominate his or her own board member). So at best, perhaps the one board member picked by the mayor should have recused themselves. Bottom line, the mayor is a man of honor - and I don't believe politics had a place in this story. Shame on Dale Russell for not doing a little more digging!
I attended DeKalb County School System Superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis's "State of the System" update on Wednesday at Dunwoody High School, sponsored by the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council (wonderful job by the president of the council Susan Wittenstein). I expected a few fireworks, but instead it was a civil, informative session. I wouldn't want Dr. Lewis' job for all the money in the world. He's in a can't win situation running a 100,000-student school system on an exceedingly tight budget. Dr. Lewis did not discuss any possible redrawing of elementary school lines in Dunwoody (I did submit a written question to him, and when I get an answer I will share it), but did say the school system will undergo closures, consolidation and redistricting after the current school year (none of the closing will involve any schools in the Dunwoody cluster). Does this mean we could see redrawing of school lines in 2010? Anything is possible. Dr. Lewis spent much of his time talking about the budget (the 3 percent state cut cost DCSS $17 million) and the measures the school system has taken to tighten its belt. He spoke of the possibility of online textbooks in the future and the rise in the overall AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) scores. The county is now at 93 percent, and for the first-time since the implementation of No Child Left Behind, McNair Middle School got a passing grade. I like Dr. Lewis - here's hoping that if there are any redrawn lines in Dunwoody, they are fair and equitable (I know, life isn't fair)! By the way, I commend Dunwoody High School principal Kevin Harris on his flashy bow tie, I believe Dick Williams is going to have to step-up his game to keep pace!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dr. Lewis meets with Dunwoody; Catching up with Ray Goff; Update from Councilman Shortal

A reminder DeKalb County School System superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis will give his "State of the System" update at Dunwoody High School at 9:15 Wednesday. The update is sponsored by the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council. Have a question for Dr. Lewis? This is your chance to get it answered.
I had a chance to catch up with former University of Georgia football coach Ray Goff on Monday. While many Bulldog fans cringe when they hear the name (and certainly his 46-34-1 record at Georgia was a disappointment to him as well), Goff is still one of the classiest guys around. He spends much of his time these days in the restaurant business - he owns a string of 11 Zaxby's restaurants - and flying (he's a licensed pilot). I asked the coach if he had any thoughts of opening a Zaxby's in Dunwoody, but he said the numbers just didn't work.
The following thoughts are those of Dunwoody City Councilman Denis Shortal. The next city council meeting is September 14.

Fellow Citizens of Dunwoody - The following are a few update items of
1. Website - If you haven't seen our City's website lately I recommend you visit our website @ dunwoodyga.gov. I think our staff has done an excellent job of improving the content and ease of use. Let me know your comments.
2. Home Invasions - As you know we have recently had some home invasions in our city. A little over a week ago our police, in conjunction with another local law enforcement agency, arrested two individuals who had items taken from a Dunwoody home in their possession. Although they have not yet been linked to other home invasions it should be noted that since their arrest home invasions have virtually ceased. The point I want to emphasize is that the arrest was made possible by one of our citizens seeing a vehicle with suspicious individuals in the neighborhood, immediately calling 911 and being able to give a partial but accurate description of the vehicle. As I stated in my last update, to prevent crime in our city each one of us must be alert for suspicious vehicles and/or individuals around our neighborhoods, streets and our neighbor's homes. If you see something suspicious make a note of the description and, if possible, take a picture from a safe location ... then CALL
911 ASAP!!
3. Audit Firm - Our City Charter requires an annual audit of the financial records of the city by an outside independent firm. In addition to the requirement by the City's Charter I believe it is sound fiscal policy to have such an audit. A RFP (request for
proposal) was issued for this service and several firms responded.
After an evaluation of the firms responding, our city staff recommended the firm of Maldin & Jenkins CPA, LLP and at our August 24th meeting the City Council approved that recommendation.
4. City Court - Our original plan of having one court session / week proved to be inadequate. This was resulting in unmanageable volume at each court session and an unacceptable time delay to have cases adjudicated. Last month your City Council approved an additional court session / week. I attended the court session last Wednesday evening and can report that the extra court session has enabled us to lower the volume of cases / session thus enhancing the court operation, made the court more organized and reduced the time to have cases adjudicated by over a month. The end result is a city court that meets the quality standards of what we all should expect from the city of Dunwoody. It is expected that this will also be a financial enhancement to the city.
5. Park Negotiations - We are continuing our negotiation efforts with the County to obtain ownership and control of all our parks. These negotiations continue to move forward at a snails pace. As I have told many of you, the unresolved parks issue has been my biggest disappointment since becoming a city. Rest assured we will continue to pursue a fair and equitable conclusion to securing all of our parks. I will keep you update on this issue that affects every citizen in Dunwoody.
6. Convention Visitors Bureau of Dunwoody (CVBD) - This month we have established the CVBD. The purpose of the CVBD is to promote the city of Dunwoody by attracting folks to our hotels, restaurants, retailers and other businesses. The CVBD has nine members who serve without compensation and represent a cross section of our citizens and businesses. The CVBD is an independent entity but operates under the general oversight and guidelines of the City Council. The CVBD members will hire an executive director and possibly an administrative person to handle the day to day operations of the CVBD. It is important to understand how the CVBD is funded. The city receives a 5% tax from the hotels ... 60% of that 5% goes to the city's general fund and by state law the remaining 40% must be spent to promote/attract tourism to our city and it is these funds that will be used to operate the CVBD.
7. I best stop before I have to get a copy right. Please forward this update to all your friends and neighbors. If anyone wants to be added to my email list .. just let me know. My sincere thanks to all of you for your continued support and involvement as we "Build Our City Together." I look forward to seeing all of you at my Campaign Kick Off at Mudcatz (located in Dunwoody Village) this Tuesday, September 1st from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM ... everyone is invited.

Denny Shortal, Dunwoody City Councilman
District One - Post 1/ Mayor Pro Tem