Monday, November 29, 2010

Election, Dunwoody Updates

A reminder that the runoffs from the November 2 election are tomorrow.  The race with the greatest impact locally is that for DeKalb County School Board, District 1.  Incumbent Jim Redovian is trying to fend off a strong challenge from Nancy Jester.  Passions run high in this race.  Many feel that Jim, a longtime Dunwoody resident, would continue to make sure our neighborhood schools are not overlooked by the board (I know my neighborhood is appreciative of his hard work over the last 4 years, as well as Jim stepping in to right a wrong), while other think Jester is the right person to hire a new superintendent and oversee his or her work. 
Be sure to make your voice heard by voting!

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
We continue to work through alternatives for providing 911 service. At the moment we are focused on two alternatives, staying with DeKalb County or moving over to ChatComm, the joint Sandy Springs/Johns Creek 911 center. It really comes down to how much to spend for what level of service.

A 911 center is really two different call centers in one building. On one side you have call takers. They spend their time talking over phone lines to folks who call 911. They figure out what kind of emergency it is, who is calling, and where the problem is. Then they enter all of this information into a computer system. On the other side you have dispatchers. Once a call taker transfers a call to the dispatcher, the dispatcher works with responders to coordinate emergency response. Both teams have to function well for a call to be handled quickly and efficiently.

Industry standard benchmarks require call takers to answer 90% of calls with no delay and to complete the information gathering process within 60 seconds on average. DeKalb County 911 habitually misses both of these benchmarks. ChatComm (after their initial 6 month startup) has a consistent track record of exceeding these benchmarks. Seems like a simple decision, right? Well, maybe or maybe not.

ChatComm will cost Dunwoody as much as $300,000 per year more. That is $300,000 we can’t spend on Roads, Parks and Police. While DeKalb hasn’t hit the 90% mark in years, they do manage to hit 88% with some regularity. They don’t average 60 seconds, instead they average 99 seconds. Is that good enough? How much is 30 seconds per call worth? Is it worth almost a thousand dollars a day?

There are other issues as well. One advantage of ChatComm is their ability to coordinate response between Sandy Springs police and ours. That could be an important service improvement for both cities. Another big advantage to ChatComm relates to cell phone towers. When someone calls 911 from a cell phone, they are transferred to the 911 center related to the tower their phone connects to. If you are calling anywhere along our borders, that tower may not be in Dunwoody. If you are transferred to the wrong center by the cell network, valuable time is lost when the call is re-routed to the correct 911 center. With ChatComm, because Sandy Springs wraps around us, our Dunwoody residents would be insulated from that problem along half our boarder. If we go with ChatComm, whether your phone connects to a tower in Dunwoody or Sandy Springs, you will still be connected to the correct 911 center.

Finally, DeKalb’s 911 center has been in disarray for many years. They are trying to bring in a new director and they are in the process of acquiring a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system but the department has been understaffed and poorly managed for years. I tried to find out how many callers were on hold for two minutes or longer and was told, “no one knows how to get that information.” That is a bit scary.

On the other side, there is a disadvantage to ChatComm: Fire and EMS service will continue to be provided by DeKalb. While Fire and EMS make up a small portion of the total call volume, calls for those services to the ChatComm 911 center will need to be transferred to DeKalb for dispatch. There is also a one-time equipment and setup cost of $500,000 to transfer to ChatComm.

I’m not sure which way the City Council will ultimately decide to go, or when the decision will be made, but it is clearly not an easy call.

In other Dunwoody news, we have just received a grant to study the feasibility of creating a Dunwoody Greenway along the Georgia Power high-tension power easement that runs through Dunwoody from Sandy Springs to Gwinnett. This is a very exciting potential opportunity to create a path for runners, walkers and bicyclists.

Have a wonderful holiday season!


Update from Councilman Shortal

My Fellow Citizens .... The following are a few update items of interest:

1. Thanksgiving .... My hope is that each of you and your Family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for as we are so blessed to live in this great Country. My thankfulness go out to all those Americans in foreign lands, away from their Families, who are facing off against the tyrants of the world. I am also thankful for the vast majority of my fellow citizens who demonstrate can-do positive spirit by putting the welfare of all our city's citizens ahead of the welfare of self.

2. 911 ... This topic has received a lot of publicity. The update is that no final decision has been make to date. Our choices are staying with DeKalb County (DC), going with Chat-Com (Sandy Springs & Johns Creek) or starting our own 911 service. About two weeks ago the discussions with DC intensified starting with a face to face meeting between our 911 committee (I am a member of that committee) and the DC 911 principals. We have received a proposal from DC and have sent them a counter proposal. If we can come to a mutual agreement with DC it would be the most economical route for us as the cost would be paid by the monthly $1.50 fee that each of us pay with our phone bill. Both Chat-Com and internal 911 service cost estimates are in the $300,00 range annually from our general funds plus an initial start up cost. I will keep you informed on this important issue.

3. Parks Survey ... As you know we have hired a firm to do a Master Park Plan (MPP) for our City. We are seeking input from each of you. I ask you to go to our city website and fill out the on line survey. The survey can be found our Parks and Recreation website at ... ... the survey will only take a few minutes of your time. Also, be alert for future town hall meetings concerning our MPP.

4. Recycling .... There is an old saying that there is nothing worst than a reformed smoker. I guess I can now call myself a reformed non-recycler ... yes, after listening to my conscience and being encouraged by the work of our Sustainability Committee Meredy and I have joined in and become "recyclers." Actually I am very happy that we started recycling. As a rough measurement, I have noted almost one-half of our total trash output has proven to be recyclable items. This means that the Shortal's trash contribution to the sanitary landfill has been reduced by 50%. Also this means 50% of our trash is being recycled into usable items. Recycling is easy and cheap to get started .... simply go to this DC website .... and about half way down the page you will see this paragraphs:

"How to Participate ... Call the Sanitation Customer Service (404) 294-2900 or email and subscribe to the residential recycling program. Initial subscription cost is $30.00 which includes the bin and bags as described above. To subscribe to our recycling program, please fill out the application form below and send it along with your check or money order of $30.00. to our Sanitation Division at 3463 Camp Circle, Building B Decatur, GA 30032. Make checks payable to DeKalb County.

Residential Subscription Curbside Application ."

You will note there is an initial subscription cost of $30 .... $15 for the "Blue Recycle Box" and $15 for 200 blue bags (that is a two year supply). I highly encourage each of you the join the "Blue Box/Bag Recycle Brigade," .... like us, I think you will be glad that you join!

5. Voting ... The Runoff Election voting is this Tuesday, November, 30th. Voting will be at your normal polling place from 7 AM until 7 PM. Because of the historical low voter turnout in runoff elections your vote is extremely important. There are four Nonpartisan Election Runoffs on our ballot. To see a runoff ballot go to DeKalb Election .... and under Current Election Information the 4th item in "Sample Ballot-Voter Specific" ... click on this, fill in your info and hit submit .... when the next page comes up about half way down the page in blue is "Sample Ballot." In these four elections ... please take it for what it is worth ... the following are the candidates I will be supporting and that I believe are worthy of your considerations:

Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia .... David Nahmias .... A Dunwoody resident with high moral values.
Judge, Court of Appeals of Georgia.... Chris McFadden .... The most qualified IMO.
Judge, Superior Court of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit ... Michael Rothenberg ..... IMO, definitely the best of the two choices.
DeKalb County Board of Education District One .... Jim Redovian .... A Dunwoody resident who has had several children go through the local public schools. During his tenure we have several million dollar worth of new and renovation construction on our public schools in Dunwoody..... including construction of Dunwoody Elementary School and the ongoing major addition/improvement to Dunwoody High School. A strong proponent of charter schools and keeping taxes low.

Of course, whomever you vote for is solely your choice but what ever you do ... PLEASE VOTE THIS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH!!!

6. Thanks ... My special thanks to the over 700 volunteers who took park in the "Clean, Fix and Shine-Up Dunwoody Day." This effort was spearheaded by North Atlanta Church of Christ, Dunwoody Baptist Church, Life Center Church and All Saints Catholic Church. The head of the Dunwoody Volunteer Coordination Committee ... Mr. Bill Tobin .... coordinated the effort that included trash pick up, major park improvements and painting fire hydrants with shiny yellow paint donated by Sherwin Williams.

7. Thanks # 2 ..... If you have driven by the Donaldson Chestnut Farm lately you have the notice the beautifully decorated mailbox compliments of one of our citizens .... Linda Shulin. Thanks Linda for your community spirit!

8. Litter Ordinance .... We recently passed a new City Litter Ordinance. We hope this will discourage folks from throwing litter around our City. Part of this ordinance prohibits blowing / throwing leaves, grass clipping and other yard waste into the street. The main purpose behind this effort is to keep these items out of our storm sewer and thus reducing costly future repairs.

9. I best close as I have to get up in the morning and get is a "workout" in an effort to work off the effects of the superb Thanksgiving food. Please forward this to any of your friends and neighbors that maybe interested. Anyone who wants to be added to my email list just let me know and I will make that happen. Again, thanks for you support!

Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together

Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1
Mayor Pro Tem
Ph (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006


Anonymous said...

This whole discussion about 911 services is nothing more than an attempt by the City Manager to consolidate his public safety "empire." Because Dunwoody staffers can't seem to work with DeKalb County staffers, they'd rather work with Sandy Springs.

In the same way, Dunwoody refuses to work with Doraville to share the jail, because they wouldn't have "control" of the management of that facility. Look to see "jail services" as the next city crisis to rear its head.

Councilman Wittenstein is correct to point out that a Dunwoody 911 center would cost us $300,000 at a minimum. And, this $300,000 would be unavailable for roads, parks, etc. What he fails to mention is that it is $300,000 PER YEAR or $1.5MM during the 1st 5 years.

That's a lot of road improvements that would have an IMMEDIATE and SIGNIFICANT impact on the quality of life in Dunwoody, compared to the minimal impact of a shared 911 system.

Oh, and by the way, Sandy Springs only "wraps us on the north side." What about Gwinnett on the east and Chamblee/Doraville on the South....or don't they matter?

Let's tell the City Manager that he's built enough administrative castles, that the citizens of Dunwoody want improvements on infrastructure, not personal advantages, and remind the Council what they were sent to do.

Flashburger said...

To those neighbors voting at St. Luke's -- please know that 300 guests will be attending an event at the church from 9 until 4 on election day. Please don't let the cars deter you! Parking spots will be designated for voters only and the lines will be short inside.