Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Taste of Texas in Dunwoody

One of my holiday presents came a little late, but well worth the wait.  I found out Wednesday morning, while reading Access Atlanta, that the Austin-based chain Chuy's has opened a restaurant here in Dunwoody, at the location previously occupied by Fire of Brazil near Perimeter Mall.  If you're not familiar with Chuy's, it's a very casual, family-friendly atmosphere - perfect for a quick, inexpensive meal out (or to go).  Chuy's chips and salsa are fabulous, enchiladas mouth-watering and famous Rita's (margaritas) worth the price of admission (which is free).
Chuy's was always one of my favorite stops during my four-years at the University of Texas (okay, 4 1/2 years)! 
Below is the review from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

By Bob Townsend
For the AJC

Chuy’s has landed in Dunwoody. The Austin-based Tex-Mex concept — known for its wild-and-crazy decor, Elvis shrines, and “Big as Yo’ Face Burritos” — has been expanding to new cities in Texas and out-of-state, including Nashville. The Perimeter area is the first metro Atlanta outpost.

The look: Located in the former Fire of Brazil space on Perimeter Center West, the freestanding building is easy to spot, splashed with a riot of psychedelic colors. As a company motto puts it, “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s.” In Dunwoody, the eclectic design ranges through a series of dining rooms, a circular bar area and an outdoor patio, with metal palm trees, Mexican folk art and velvet Elvis paintings.

The scene: One recent afternoon, the parking lot was full, and '50s rock-and-roll was blaring from the outdoor speakers. Inside, most tables were packed with a mix of lunching office workers and families, including some screaming children, and the decibel level made shouting the only way to communicate.

The menu: Chuy’s covers all the Tex-Mex favorites, and boasts freshly made tortillas, sauces and guacamole. House specialties include the Chuychanga with roasted chicken, cheese and green chiles ($8.99) and Elvis green chile fried chicken, breaded with Lay’s potato chips and smothered in green chile sauce ($8.79). The Elvis Presley Memorial Combo pairs three different enchiladas, a crispy beef taco, and tostada chips with chile con queso ($10.29).

The drinks: Margaritas with fresh lime juice top the drinks list. Father Agave features Don Julio silver and Grand Marnier ($8.75). The house Texas martini comes in a shaker with a salt-rimmed martini glass and jalapeno-stuffed olives ($7.95).
The extras: Happy hour, weekdays 4-7 p.m., centers on a vintage “Nacho Car” with a trunk table of free chips, salsa, queso and other munchies, plus $4 house margaritas and $2.50 domestic beers from the bar.

Is Housing Rebound Just Around the Corner?

I found the article below while reading  While I do not have a crystal ball and can't predict the future, our Atlanta housing numbers are trending towards a rebound, from the bottom up.  It's a short article - definitely worth the read.

By Julie Crawshaw

Contrarians say that after five years of slumping real estate sales and prices, there are strong and diverse signs that the single-family housing market is poised for a rebound.

“It has become increasingly apparent to us that the pieces for a housing rebound next year are beginning to fall into place,” declared Barclays Capital analyst Stephen Kim in a recent note to investors, CNBC reports.
In some metropolitan areas both sales and prices are rising and foreclosures are declining, and prices overall are lower than they have been in years.
For example, in Tampa, Fla., South Bend, Ind., Grand Rapids, Mich., Raleigh, N.C., Wichita, Kan., and Green Bay, Wis., the median sales price of an existing single family home increased 1 percent to 2 percent in the third quarter, during which time the jobless rate and/or payrolls growth also improved dramatically.

The National Association of Home Builders is forecasting a 5.1-percent increase in new home sales and a 10-percent increase for new home starts in 2012.
Moreover, residential rents have risen to the point at which many renters can consider buying, especially given that both existing home inventory is at a five-year low and new home inventory is at a 40-year low.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo told the state association’s 2012 Real Estate and Economic Forecast Conference in Orlando that Florida is in a “mini-recovery,” the Destin Log reports.
“Sales are trending up, listing inventories are falling, the supply of lender-related properties has stabilized, and we are seeing multiple offers on homes in some local markets,” Tuccillo said.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Political Odds and Ends

It's two days before Christmas, thought I'd pass along a couple of interesting political items. 

Why is our federal government in financial straits?  Our elected officials just don't get it.  However, a simple two-minute lesson from CNBC's financial expert Rick Santelli is all they need.  Watch the short video below.  It's a straight-forward explanation of why our national debt will not be shrinking anytime soon. 

Can't decide which presidential candidate to vote for in 2012?  USA Today has helped simplify the process  - or at least made it more entertaining - with a "candidate match game."  Click on the graph below, then click on "Begin the Quiz" and answer then 10 questions to help determine which candidate's views align with your own.  Wouldn't this have been great to have for Dunwoody's last election.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Real Estate Update

My newest listing in Dunwoody North.  This is a wonderful opportunity for a first-time homebuyer or seniors seeking stepless living.  For complete details, click on the photo above.
As we approach Christmas Day, all signs point towards a real estate market that has either hit the bottom or is very close.  For homes priced at $100,000 or less in the metro Atlanta area, the market has already shifted from a buyers' market to a sellers' market.  There are less than 6 months supply of homes in this category (which means that if not a single new listing came on the market, it would take 6 months to sell all the existing inventory).  Another great sign is that jobless claims are at their lowest level since the spring of 2009.  Naturally, the real estate market goes hand-in-hand with the jobs market. There are currently 105 active listings in Dunwoody in the 30338, 30360 and 30350 zip codes with another 30 homes under contract.  In the past 30 days, 20 homes have sold.  The median average listing price is $335,000.  The median sales price is $294,500. 
To view any active listing with photos, click on the first link below.  To view all active listings in a line item report, click the second link.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Need a Role Model?

Need a role model for your children?  Forget about our politicians and public leaders.  Eventually most of them will let us down.  Instead,  point your children in the direction of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.  The kid is a winner.  Plain and Simple.  And he does it with class.   Never a negative word about anyone.
Seemingly every NFL pundit wants Tebow to fail.  They'll tell you what he can't do, and why he can't do it.  They'll tell you how he doesn't have an NFL-caliber arm.  How his footwork is poor.  How he can't read defenses. 
And despite all his flaws, he just keeps winning.  Tebow won two National Championships at the University of Florida, and since he took over as the Broncos starting quarterback this year, the team has won seven of eight games, three of those in overtime.  The Broncos are now in first place, battling for their first playoff berth since 2005.  
Even if you're not a football fan, Sunday afternoon's game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is must-see TV.
I'll be rooting for Tebow.

Click on the photo to watch a story that helps define who Tim Tebow is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Update From Councilman Shortal

The following update was sent out Sunday evening by Councilman Denis Shortal. 

My fellow citizens .... the following are some update items of interest ....

1. Last Council Meeting of the Year...... The last City Council meeting of 2011 will be Monday, 12 DEC 2011. There, as always, are some agenda items of interest but most important is that this will be the last Council meeting for Mayor Ken Wright, Councilman Danny Ross and Councilman Robert Wittenstein. All three of these gentleman have been heavily involved in the formation of and, the first three years of our City. I ask each of you to make a special effort to attend this meeting to show your appreciation to Ken, Danny and Robert for the massive effort they have put forth on behalf of all of us citizens of Dunwoody. The meeting will start promptly at 7:00 PM this Monday, 12 December at our City Hall. Please try to be there by 7:00PM.

2. Dunwoody Police Christmas For Kids ...… This 3rd annual event is spearheaded by our own "Dunwoody's Finest" ... our Police men and women with support from our city staff, businesses and citizens. We are still in need of some toys for children up to ages 15. If you can find it in your spirit of giving and budget please bring unwrapped toys to the police reception area in our city hall by 15 DEC. It will be greatly appreciated and you will be bringing the joy of Christmas to some young children. Click on the following website for a very well done "You Tube" presentation on our Christmas for Kids program ...

3. Fire Hydrants ... In the last two "Clean, Fix and Shine-Up Dunwoody Days" we have made a max effort to paint all the fire hydrants in Dunwoody. We are aware that there are still a few hydrants that need painting. If you see one of these please note its location and send me an email including the location so that we can put it on our "to do" list.

4. Elections ... My congratulations to our newly elected mayor and council members ... Mayor elect Mike Davis, Council Members elect Lynn Deutsch and Terry Nall. They will officially take office after they are sworn in ... this is tentatively schedule to take place at a special called meeting on 3 JAN 2012. Please check the city website ... ...for final details and for other important city information. Also, my sincere congratulations to all of you that got out and voted. Although I personally would like to see 100% voter turn out, the percentage of citizens that voted far exceeded expectations. To me that demonstrates that you are heavily involved in the future of our city and for that I say ... thank you!

5. Recycling .... In previous "updates" I have told you that it is my perception that the number of Dunwoody households that are recycling has greatly increased ... now I have proof. The following numbers were provided by Ted Rhinehart, Deputy COO/Infrastructure of DeKalb County ... thanks Ted. From the end of 2008 thru the end on 2010 (the latest full year numbers available) the number of Dunwoody family households that are recycling has increased from 3,778 to 4,819. Percentage wise the increase was from 31% to 40%. I think when the final 2011 results are in these numbers will be even higher. For the YTD 2011 Dunwoody residents have recycled 1,513,120 pounds of recyclable materials ...that is impressive. Our thanks to all of you who have joined the "blue box recycling brigade." For those of you interested in joining the recycling effort ... below is all the information you will need:

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 blue box and 200 blue bags). You can also subscribe to the recycling program, by going to the following website ... Residential Curbside Recycling ... click on "Residential Subscription Curbside Recycling Application," fill out the application and send it along with your check or money order of $30.00 to the Sanitation Division, 3720 Leroy Scott Drive, Decatur, GA 30032. Make checks payable to DeKalb County. A "blue box" and 200 blue bags (a four year supply) will be dropped off at your address once your request is processed.

6. Security .... Tis' the season that we all need to increase our security awareness. Keep your house doors locked at all times, keep some lights, TV etc. on when you are away, keep a sharp eye on your neighbor's homes around you and don't open you door to strangers until you have verified their identity. If what you are seeing doesn't pass your "smell test" call 911 ASAP. When out and about be vigilant of your surroundings, provide extra security of your wallet and purse, when shopping park in a well lit area and don't park next to a van type vehicle, if you feel uncomfortable get someone to walk to your car with you, as you approach your car look under and into your car prior to opening a door, once in your car lock your doors immediately and please don't leave anything of value in your car where it can be easily seen. You will be glad you took these precautions and our police will have more time to tend to other issues.

7. Paving .... By the end of this week all the streets on the 2011 paving list should be paved. There is still some stripping to be done on streets that have already been paved and that will be started as soon as these last residential streets are paved. We have now paved more streets in the last two years than in the previous 20 years that I have lived here. My thanks to all our city staff in the Public Works Department for a job well done. As you know, we had all the streets in the city evaluated in 2009 using a laser truck to keep the "politics" out of the decision of the priority of paving the streets. I am well aware that just about anyone, who's street has not already been paved, can justify that their street needs paving. It boils down to the fact that many years of neglect cannot be rectified over night. We should all take confidence in the fact that we are making great progress and your taxes are more than 19% less than what they would have been had we not become a city.

8. Request .... I have one request ... when you get a chance please email me with what you feel are the two or three top priorities for our City for 2012.

9. That is about all for this evening. Please pass this on to all your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone would like to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make that happen. Thanks for making it a great year for our city ... all of you make all of this worth doing. In closing, Meredy and I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate this special season of the year. May each of us find the PEACE we all desire!

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lessons Learned from the Elections

Future Dunwoody politicians learned some valuable lessons from Tuesday's runoff.

The first lesson learned is negative campaigning DOES NOT WORK in this city. PERIOD!  Over the past few years, I've had the opportunity to get to know Bob Dallas.  He's a good man.  I can't think of a time when he said anything bad about anyone. However, Bob made the mistake of hiring a high-powered, high-priced political consultanting firm with a history of "going negative."  In the past few weeks, Dallas' campaign sent out mailers - and supposedly robo calls, although I did not receive one - that made mountains-out-of-mole-hills about insignficant flaws on Mike Davis' record. There may even have been inaccuracies in the materials.  The backlash was brutal.  Clearly, the negative nonsense hurt Dallas more than it helped.  It's the second time a candidate has tried negative tactics in Dunwoody. Those candidates are now 0-for-2.

What also hurt Bob was the fact that he did not take a strong stance against the parks' bonds, which failed by a 2-to-1 margin on the November ballot.  
While the bonds hurt Dallas, they crushed incumbent councilman Robert Wittenstein in his race against Terry Nall.  The bonds were like an albatross around Robert's neck, as his lost by, ironically, almost the same percentage as the bonds.  Although I didn't see eye-to-eye with Robert on many issues, he did earn my respect for the time and energy he put into the job, which is technically a part-time gig. At times, Robert appeared to be omnipresent - seemingly at every community meeting and event.  He says he will remain active in the community.  Hopefully that is the case.

Finally, what we learned is that the mayor and council cannot have their own agenda, regardless of how noble their intentions.  The agenda must match the will of the people, or our elected officials will pay dearly at the ballot box.  

Davis, Nall Sweep to Victory

2011 Runoff Election Results 

Mike Davis, 3432, 60 percent
Dallas - 2267, 40 percent

Council Post 4
Terry Nall - 3699, 65 percent
Robert Wittenstein - 1980, 35 percent

Mike Davis

I'll have to admit, I expected the runoff for Mayor and City Council District 1 to be decided by a razor-thin margin.  It was anything but.
Mike Davis and Terry Nall swept to easy victories Tuesday night.  Despite being outspent 3-to-1, Davis easily defeated Bob Dallas to become mayor-elect.  He will replace the outgoing Ken Wright.  Meantime, Nall's margin of victory over incumbent Robert Wittenstein was even more impressive, as he collected 65 percent of the vote.

Terry Nall
It's not hard to figure out why Davis and Nall won handily, as both were against the ill-advised parks' bonds that were soundly defeated last month, and Davis appears to have benefited from all the negative literature distributed by the Dallas' campaign in the last couple of weeks.  Kudos to Davis' volunteer campaign advisors Heyward Wescott and Brent Morris, who out-smarted Dallas' highly-paid consultants.  Let this be a lesson for future candidates in Dunwoody - this city's voters will not tolerate negative campaigns. 
How will the election of Davis and Nall change city hall?  Expect core projects like roads and infrastructure to take a greater priority.  In the words of Terry, "we need to separate the needs from the wants."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vote on Tuesday

A reminder that there are two important runoff elections for Dunwoody City Council on Tuesday.  Turnout is expected to be very low, so don't forger to vote because your vote will count. 
I've had quite a few folks ask me who to vote for.  My simple advice is to vote for the candidate whose values most align with your own. 
In the race for City Council, District 1, I will tell you that I am voting for Terry Nall.  While I appreciate everything Robert Wittenstein has done in helping start the city, over his three-year term he has lost touch with his constituents.  How else to explain his firm backing of a parks plan that would have raised our out-of-pocket taxes almost 100 percent, which was rejected by two-thirds of the population.  I agree with Terry Nall's measured plans for improving our parks.  I also feel Terry's idea of transparency in government aligns with mine.  Dunwoody Farmer Bob wrote a nice blog piece on why Terry is his choice.  I urge you to read it.

To me, the mayor's race is a much more difficult decision.  Again, like the council race, I personally like both candidates.  I feel Bob Dallas has the decided edge in government experience, however, I am utterly disappointed in how negative he has allowed his campaign to turn.  Unfortunately, he has unwittingly followed the advice of his political consultants (do those running for office in Dunwoody really need paid political consultants)?  I have real problems with this.  It shows a complete lack of judgement and leadership.  Despite Bob's depth of experience, I question whether he is more prepared to lead the city that Mike Davis.  I can find a half-dozen reasons to vote for each candidate.  I am voting for Davis. 

Take my thoughts for what they are, but bottom line, regardless of candidate, please vote on Tuesday!