Monday, November 28, 2011

Update From Councilman Shortal

I received the following from Dunwoody Councilman Denis Shortal last night.
Good evening my fellow citizens .... the following are some update items of interest ...

1. Thanksgiving ... I trust each of you and your Families and friends had an outstanding Thanksgiving. Indeed all of us have a lot for which to be thankful.
2. Runoff Election ... The run-off election for Mayor and City Council District One, Post 4 will be held on 6 DEC 2011. Remember, this is a city wide election and every citizens in Dunwoody gets to vote for candidates for both offices.
Regular Voting ... will be at your normal city voting polling place from 7 AM to 7 PM on 6 DEC 2011.
Remember you must have a government issued photo ID when you vote in person.
Absentee Voting ... you can still vote absentee but you must move quickly. Go to the following website for an absentee ballot application ...
Print the application, fill it out and fax it to Voter Registration at 404-298-4038 ... you can fax it in today. If you don't have a computer or fax capability you can mail the completed application (you must hurry) to Voter Registration, 4380 Memorial Dr., Suite 300, Decatur, Ga 30032 or take your application directly to the address above and vote absentee directly in person or call (Ph # at bottom of this email) or email me and I will assist you to get a ballot application.
After submitting your ballot application you will receive a ballot from the DC Voters Registration Office ... Fill it in an immediately mail it to .... "Voter Registration, 4380 Memorial Dr., Suite 300, Decatur, Ga 30032." Your completed ballot must be received at the Voter Registration Office by the close of business on 6 DEC to be counted. FYI, the phone # at the Voter Registration office is 404-298-4020.
Personal Request ... This is run off election which historically has a low voter turnout. I ask each of you to make your vote counts and your voice is heard by making the extra effort to exercise your privilege to vote .... a lot of great Americans have given their lives defending your voting privilege including my college roommate, 1/LT Robert Klages, USMC, who was Killed in Action and awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat.
Sample Ballot ... below is an example of the sample ballot ...


DECEMBER 6, 2011

To vote, blacken the Oval ( ) next to the candidate of your choice. To vote for a person whose name is not on the ballot, manually WRITE his or her name in the write-in section and blacken the Oval ( ) next to the write-in section. If you desire to vote YES or NO for a PROPOSED QUESTION, blacken the corresponding Oval ( ). Use only blue or black pen or pencil.

Do not vote for more candidates than the number allowed for each specific office. Do not cross out or erase. If you erase or make other marks on the ballot or tear the ballot, your vote may not count.

If you change your mind or make a mistake, you may return the ballot by writing “Spoiled” across the face of the ballot and return envelope. You may then mail the spoiled ballot back to your county board of registrars, and you will be issued another official absentee ballot. Alternatively, you may surrender the ballot to the poll manager of an early voting site within your county or the precinct to which you are assigned. You will then be permitted to vote a regular ballot.

"I understand that the offer or acceptance of money or any other object of value to vote for any particular candidate, list of candidates, issue, or list of issues included in this election constitutes an act of voter fraud and is a felony under Georgia law." [OCGA 21-2-285(h) and 21-2-383(a)]

For Mayor

(Vote for One)

For City Council At Large Post 4

(Vote for One)

2. Election Prospective ....The Mayor's position and District One, Post-4 City Councilman's position are up for election. ALL Dunwoody citizens that are registered to vote get to vote for candidates for BOTH positions. In my opinion, we are at a pivotable point in the history of our City and the outcome of this election is critical to our future. Again, become informed about the candidates.... ask the hard questions and demand a straight answer ... don't except double talk. Judge the candidates not just by their answers but more importantly by their actions. Note how they have voted on local issues and who they have voted for in general elections. That will give you a good idea as to where they stand. Over 70% of you voted a conservative ballot in the last general election. There are candidates running that fit the conservative philosophy of the vast majority of you and there are candidates running that are on the opposite side of that philosophy. The current buzz words now used by the candidates is "I am fiscally conservative" ... but as in all situations, past and present actions are more important than these words. Another important issue to look at is ... what is the source of a candidate's campaign funding. I keep asking myself ... what is the motive for folks who live outside Dunwoody making large campaign contributions to certain candidates? You are a very astute citizenry and I know you can determine that motive.

3. Special Called Meeting ... There will be a Special Called Meeting at City Hall on 5 DEC 2011 at 7 PM to discussed the purchase of the 5.15 acre plot west of Shallowford Rd at the Peachford RD intersection. At the time the "Letter of Intent" was signed the negotiated price was $1,436,000 ... FYI, I voted against this purchase. As you recall this was part of the "package deal" with the 19 acres at the old Shallowford Hospital site. The 19 acres was contingent on the Park Bond passage but the 5.15 acres was a straight purchase thus not contingent on the Park Bond passage. On this 5.15 acres, we are currently in a 45 day "free look period" with ends around 9 DEC. During this 45 day period we had two independent appraiser value the property ... one appraisal can in slightly above the negotiated price and the other appraisal came in at $1,300,000. On the DeKalb County Tax Record the property in appraised at $750,000. The purchase was deferred at our meeting on 14 NOV with the request that the City Manager meet with the property owners in an effort to negotiate a lower price.

4. Regular December Meeting ... There is only one regular City council meeting in December and that is on 12 DEC. On a personal note this will be the last council meeting for Mayor Ken Wright and Councilman Danny Ross. Both of these gentleman have worked endless quality hours and days to start up and continue to enhance our City and, to improve our quality of life in Dunwoody. Each of us owe these two "public servants" our gratitude for a job well done! Ken and Danny .... THANK YOU is not enough but please accept it as a small token for what you have done on behalf of every citizen of Dunwoody.

5. Convention and Visitors Bureau of Dunwoody (CVBD) .... The CVBD presented their 2012 budget and marketing plan at our 14 NOV council meeting. They presented a budget with a surplus as well as a very aggressive marketing plan to attract conventions, conferences, family reunions, etc. to our city's first class hotels, restaurants, and businesses. To date, the staff, business owners/managers and volunteer citizens that make up the CVBD leadership have done a superb job of fulfilling their mission.

6. Stage Door Players ... Dunwoody's own theatre group presents the Stage Door Players Christmas Show comedy open 2 DEC and runs thru 18 DEC. Shows are some Thursdays and all Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sunday afternoons a 2:30 PM. If you haven't been to one of the Stage Door Players productions you are in for a real treat by attending. For more information call 770-396-1726. See you at our theatre!

7. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Concert ... Again this year St. Luke's Presbyterian Church on 1978 Mt Vernon Rd will be hosting the Marine Corps Toys for Tots concert. This concert, which is not religion specific or a religious service, features all your favorite song and tunes of the Christmas and Holiday Season and is open to all the citizens of Dunwoody and surrounding communities. LtCol Mike Varicak, USMC, Inspector-Instructor, H&HS Bn, 4th MLG based in Marietta, GA and his wife Beki will be the Marine representatives at this concert. Admission is only one new unwrapped toy which the Marines will, on your behalf, use to bring a smile and joy to some child in the greater Atlanta area who might otherwise be facing a lonely Christmas. The date and time of the concert is 4 DEC 2011 at 5 PM. I hope to see you there.

9. That is about all for this evening. Please pass this on to your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone want to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make it happen. Thanks for your continued positive support of our CIty ... you are impressive and involved citizens for which I am thankful.
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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

With sunny skies all day and a high of 67 degrees, you can't blame the weather for not having a Happy Thanksgiving.  Plus the fact there is a super lineup of football - and what goes better than Thanksgiving and football!

And if that's not enough, there's a college football game this evening as well, 8pm, my Texas Longhorns facing arch-rival Texas A&M for the final time, as the hated Aggies are leaving the Big 12 conference for the SEC.  To all my Aggies friends (and sister), I say, "good luck with that!"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Light Up Dunwoody

Sunday is Light Up Dunwoody -
an annual community event to welcome the holiday season.
Christmas Village opens at 3:00 pm and concludes with the lighting of the
tree at 6:00 pm at the Farm House. Vendors will offer wonderful holiday treasures and refreshments!
At the Spruill Farm House, Santa will welcome children to sit on his lap,
and a Santa sleigh with reindeer will be available for more
photo opportunities. Bring your own camera!
Everyone is invited, and there is no cost to participate in this family friendly event.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Real Estate Friday

While we still have not seen an upturn in the price of housing in the greater Atlanta area, we are seeing signs that the market has stabilized, and perhaps even bottomed out (we won't know the latter until after the fact).  
There are currently 114 active single-family listings in Dunwoody (zip codes 3038, 30360, 30350), with 32 homes under contract.  That ratio of less than 4-to-1 is the best we've seen in sometime (more than three years).
Since the start of October, 22 homes have sold - again a very good number compared to active listings.  The median average sales price is $325,000, with the highest price $758,000 and the lowest $139,900.
To view any active listing (including photos), click on the Buyer's Report link below.  To view a list of all the active listings, click on the CMA Line Report.  To view the sales price of the 22 homes that have sold since the start of October, click the Sold Homes link. 

Buyer's Report
CMA Line Report
Sold Homes

If you have interest in any of the homes currently listed for sale, please give me a call at 404-644-5220 or email me at  I'll be happy to set up a viewing.

Latest Mortgage News

The average rate for a conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) reached a record low, according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey. For the first time in history, the 30-year FRM dropped below four percent, averaging 3.94 percent for the week ending October 6, 2011. That's a 0.33 percent difference from last year's average of 4.27 for the same week in October. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage—one of the most popular options for refinancing—fell to 3.26 percent, the lowest level on record.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Runoff Voting Made Easy

Last Tuesday's election draw almost 10,000 Dunwoody voters to the polls.  That's the good news.  The not-so-good news is that number represents less than 37 percent of the registered voters in the city.
On December 6, Dunwoody will hold a runoff election for mayor as well as city council, at large district 1.  If the runoff draws approximately the same numbers as the runoff three years ago, less than 2,000 voters will decide those key positions. 
With that, DeKalb County Board of Elections has made it easy to vote in the runoff.  By clicking on the photo below, you can download the form to request an absentee ballot.

Former Candidate for Mayor Makes Endorsements

I received the following email from former mayoral candidate Gordon Jackson.  I thought Gordon would have made an exceptional mayor - a man of high character who sticks by his principles.

Thanks to those of you who voted for me. I am most appreciative of and humbled by your support. Although I fell a little short in the race, this was an amazing process and I urge your continued participation in the City of Dunwoody affairs. Dunwoody is a great place to live but I can tell you from my discussions with hundreds of citizens, there is no shortage of opinions on what needs to be done or what direction the city should pursue. Your voice needs to be heard in the process. Not only at the polls but also at the City Council meetings and the city boards, the planning commission, etc. Stay involved.
There are two runoff races remaining and the vote for those races will be December 6th. Depending on the results of the runoff races, the council could have a very different philosophical base. I remain very concerned about the power of the big building, high density development agencies in the Perimeter area and their ability to directly affect the direction of Dunwoody growth and completely change the character of the city. Therefore, I am endorsing Mike Davis for mayor since I believe him to be the only candidate now in the race who will fight for a traditional Dunwoody. The attachment contains an advertisement which is running in today's Crier. I urge your support and vote for Mike in the election on December 6th.
In concert with my concern for the direction of the city in the future, I am also endorsing Terry Nall in the runoff council race. I have known Terry for some time and believe him to also stand for traditional Dunwoody values. I also urge your support and vote for Terry on December 6th.
Thanks to you all again. Your support meant more than you will ever know.

Gordon Jackson

Friday, November 11, 2011

Saluting America's Veterans

Today is Veteran's Day.  The City of Dunwoody will honor our veterans with a ceremony at Brook Run at 2pm.  Nationally, the annual ceremony is this morning at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations and remarks from dignitaries.  Expect Fox News, CNN and MSNBC to air the ceremony live - always a touching moment. 

To my Dad, I say happy Veteran's Day.  George Fiscella, now 85-years old, is a veteran of World War II, having served aboard the aircraft carrier the USS Randolph in the south Pacific. 

Click on the photo to watch Toby Keith's American Soldier

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dunwoody Rejects Parks Bonds, Two Runoffs

Election Results (unofficial)

Mayor - Bob Dallas - 3787 (43%), Mike Davis - 3389 (39%), Gordon Jackson - 1540 (17%)
District 1 - Terry Nall - 3824 (44%), Robert Wittenstein - 3564 (42%) , Rick Callihan - 1133 (13%)
District 2 - Lynn Deutsch - 4593 (55%), Kerry de Vallette - 3694 (44%)
District 3 - John Heneghan - 7087 (98.9%)
Parks Acquisition Bond - No - 6163 (67%), Yes - 3080 (33%)
Parks Improvement Bond - No - 5531 (60%), Yes - 3715 (40%)
Redevelopment Powers (TAD) - Yes - 4759  (54%), No - 4013 (46%)
Sunday Alcohol Sales - Yes - 7395 (80%), No - 1906 (20%)
SPLOST - Yes - 33114 (62%), No - 20141 (38%) 

The results of Tuesday's election are official with both parks bonds being soundly defeated.  I give a lot of credit to the citizens of Dunwoody.  While most all of us would like to see new and improved parks, these bonds were poorly written and showed a lack of transparency (plus right now, not too many folks can stomach another tax increase).  The new city council will get its chance to deal with parks in a more responsible manner. 

Speaking of the new city council, it will have at least two new members and maybe even three.  The mayor's race is going to a runoff between Bob Dallas and Mike Davis.  Considering all the money Dallas spent, according to The Crier, I'm surprised the vote was that close.  But Dallas does have a war chest to draw from for the runoff, which is December 6.  It will be interesting which way Gordon throws his support (for what it is worth).

In District 1, incumbent Robert Wittenstein was forced into a runoff by Terry Nall, who actually got a greater percentage of the vote.  While Robert apparently has a large war chest for the runoff, history is not on an incumbent's side.  Plus, Rick is likely to throw his support to Terry.

In District 2, Lynn Deutsch beat Kerry de Vallette to win the seat being vacated by Danny Ross.  Congratulations to Lynn.  And in District 3, John Heneghan ran unopposed, picking up over 7,000 votes, which is the most ever by a candidate in Dunwoody.  Congrats John!

The citizens of Dunwoody sent DeKalb County Schools as message, voting against the SPLOT penny sales tax by a margin of almost 2-to-1, however, it passed in the countywide vote by almost a 2-to-1 margin. 

Finally, in the most lopsided race on Tuesday, the citizens of Dunwoody overwhelmingly approved the sale of Sunday alcohol by a margin of 4-to-1!   I, for one, will raise a glass to that!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Election Day

Election Day is finally upon us - hopefully you will take the time to vote.  Below is a sample ballot.  Click on the ballot to enlarge and see both pages.

If you're not sure where to vote, click on the photo below.

Now the hard part - who and what to vote for.  I believe both the Mayor's race and the race for City Council, At Large, Post 4, are headed to runoffs.  Both have been competitive, three-man races.  For City Council, At Large, Post 5, I am voting for Kerry de Vallette.  I have no issues with Lynn Deutsch, but Kerry followed through on reaching out to me, and I share his vision for Dunwoody.  For City Council, At Large, Post 6, I am voting for John Heneghan (he is running unopposed).  I don't always agree with John, but I respect the job he's done.  And when I do disagree with him, he never takes it personally (it's not).

If you've read my blog in the past, you know I am voting NO on the parks' bonds.  It's simply the right thing to do.  They will cost the city too much money, have little in the way of specifics and planning, and have lacked transparency from the start.  I've said my peace on the bonds, for a great synopsis, click Dunwoody Farmer Bob.  Hopefully council will present a responsible parks' plan in 2012. 

I'm not sure how I will vote on the Redevelopment Referendum.  On the surface it seems to be a good idea, but I have some questions that remain unanswered. I've got a little more homework to do.  I will vote YES on Sunday Alcohol Sales.  I may never buy beer on Sunday (not likely), but that needs to be my choice. 

Finally, I will vote NO on DeKalb County School SPLOST.  The county still needs to prove it will spend our taxes dollars wisely.  Hopefully the changes to the superintendent and school board move DCSS in that direction.

Hope to see you at the polls!

Friday, November 4, 2011

College Football at is Best, Dunwoody Clean Up

I know the election is just 3 days away, but it's hard for me to look past Saturday night's latest college football game of the century. 
The top-ranked Tigers of LSU travel to Tuscaloosa to take on second-ranked Alabama.  Both teams are unbeaten.  Both teams riding their hard-hitting defense.  Without offending my Tide friends, I like the Bengal Tigers in this game.  I like LSU's experience at quarterback.  Hopefully the game is worth all the hype. 

Clean, Shine & Fix Up

Saturday is the second annual Clean, Shine & Fix Up Dunwoody Day.  Over 800 volunteers are expected to take part doing various tasks.  My Knights of Columbus coucil will be cleaning up the intersection of I-285 and North Peachtree Rd.  Last year we looked inmates out for the day!
For more, read Dunwoody Patch

I have added a domain name to this blogspot.  You can now get to it by going to either:, and now  And a reminder, if you ever want to find out about a Dunwoody property for sale, there is a permanent link at the top right of the website - simple click the photo at the top left under Dunwoody Homes for Sale.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Animal House and the Dunwoody City Council

Wondering what the movie clip above (click on the photo to watch) has to do with the Dunwoody City Council?  Keep reading.
Monday night I received a city of Dunwoody update from Councilman Robert Wittenstein (below) - he and Councilman Denis Shortal email updates on a regular basis. 
Normally I try to get the updates turned around and posted ASAP.   However, this time I had to think twice before posting Wittenstein's update.  The reason being - and as you will read - Robert talks about creating "transparent government."  He talks about becoming, possibly, the first city in Georgia to put its checkbook register online. 

While I think that's great, the lack of transparency the city council showed in the proposed $19 million, 42-acre purchase off Peachtree Industrial is a slap in the face of every resident of Dunwoody.  City council should be ashamed (Councilman Shortal was the only one who voted against the purchase). 
In what appears to be an obvious effort to sway next Tuesday's vote on the parks' bonds, and perhaps to ensure there was no public dissent (especially from the families whose lives this decision effects), council waited until the final minute to put the purchase on last Monday night's council meeting agenda (why the rush)?  You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to come to that conclusion. 
This very well could be the largest purchase by the city in our lifetime, yet council takes a vote on it before letting the taxpaying citizens of Dunwoody have their say.  Are you kidding me? 
Whether you are for or against the parks' bonds, this was flat out wrong.  That's the kind of transparency we got from Vernon Jones.  The citizens of Dunwoody deserve better from a council that had, previously, earned very high marks for transparency.
Wondering about the photo above?  Council's last minute, dark-of-the-night October Surprise in putting this item on the agenda, reminded me of the scene in Animal House when Dean Wormer put the Delta House on double-secret probation.  Except the Dean's move had some merit. 
By the way, below is Councilman Wittenstein's update on transparency.

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

I talk a lot about creating "transparent government" and I want to share an important success with you. I have worked over the last year to get the city to put its checkbook register online. As far as I know, we are the first city in Georgia to do this. While doing research on a different topic, I stumbled upon a city in Florida that posted its check register on its web site and I thought this was a great idea.

The check register has always been public information but historically it required an open records request to find out exactly what the city was buying, who it was buying from, and how much it was paying. Now Dunwoody residents can go online and see the details here: Explore Check Register.
This is dry reading and there is nothing earth shattering in the details but I think it is important to all of us to be able to see exactly how our tax dollars are being spent. I appreciate the other council members and the staff supporting me in this initiative. In the future, I hope we can enhance it so that it is searchable and sortable but this is a great start. This is what it means to create transparent government and I challenge other cities and DeKalb County to do the same.
In other news...we heard loud and clear that many Dunwoody residents were "for parks" but wanted to know exactly how funds would be spent before voting for the parks land acquisition referendum on November 8th. To help voters understand the intended use of funds we have now signed a letter of intent with the owner of two old, run-down, apartment complexes next to the Water Works that front Peachtree-Industrial Boulevard. If the parks acquisition bond referendum passes, the city will purchase one apartment complex for a park and the current owner will demolish and redevelop the other apartment complex into owner-occupied housing.