Monday, February 25, 2013

Governor Suspends DeKalb Board Members

By Greg Bluestein and Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday he will suspend six of the nine members of the DeKalb County school board, calling the district’s accreditation crisis a “matter of grave concern” that compelled him to intervene.
At a press conference flanked by members of DeKalb’s delegation, Deal said he would appoint a nominating committee to replace the suspended board members.
“I feel it’s my responsibility to act,” Deal said, adding: “Maybe there’s a better way but the reality is this is the only way open to us now.”
He said he wrestled with the decision to suspend duly elected officials, but ultimately decided he had little other choice.
“The urgency is this: We don’t need to have this cloud hanging over the students and their parents any longer,” he said. “We didn’t take it lightly.”
Several DeKalb lawmakers expressed their support of Deal’s decision, but others said it only plunges the state’s third-largest school district into more uncertainty.
“Now the question is: Who is running the DeKalb Board of Education and how long will it be before they can get a legal vote,” said state Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain. “This is a difficult road we are going down.”
Click Governor Deal to read full story.

Friday, February 22, 2013

State School Board Votes to Suspend 6 DeKalb Board Members

By Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After a grueling 14-hour hearing that lasted until 10 p.m. Thursday night, the Georgia Board of Education voted unanimously to recommend suspending six of the nine members of the DeKalb County school board.
“I just think the culture of poor governance that has been sustained over years has to be broken now,” said state board member Brian Burdette. “And I don’t think there’s any way to do it short of replacing some of these board members.”
Jennifer Hackemeyer, Department of Education general counsel, asked that the suspension not affect the three board members who took office this year.
The rambling hearing sounded at times like a legal proceeding, and at other moments like a confessional. It covered everything from financial mishaps to board member ethics.
At stake are the futures of 99,000 students in Georgia’s third-largest school district.
Click Georgia Board to read full story.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dekalb County School Board at it Again! Mayor's State of the City Speech

By Ty Tagami

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The DeKalb County school district filed a lawsuit Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to derail a process that could unseat all nine members of the school board.
The action, filed in Fulton County Superior Court by an attorney paid with taxpayer funds, elicited outrage from parents and other observers. The suit seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent a hearing by the Georgia Board of Education on Thursday.
The state board could recommend suspension of the DeKalb board, giving Gov. Nathan Deal authority to remove the DeKalb members under the provisions of a 2011 law.
Click Ty Tagami at AJC to read the full story.

Good question: To spare system and save money, why doesn’t the DeKalb board resign?

By Maureen Downey
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Today’s AJC story by Ty Tagami gives a great summation of the lawsuit filed yesterday by the DeKalb Board of Education to keep their elected positions by challenging the constitutionality of the law that permits the governor to oust them.

Taxpayers are underwriting this legal challenge, which is upsetting many DeKalb parents tired of crowded classes and dwindling resources.
As I wrote in a piece yesterday, there may well be good cause to question the state law. But should a costly legal challenge come from DeKalb, a system with a $16 million deficit and a parent community that seems delighted at the prospect of getting rid of its board?
Click Maureen Downey at AJC to read the full story.

Dunwoody Talk's Take

The blogsite Dunwoody Talk also has a take on the school board fiasco - click Dunwoody Talk to read it.   I respect Dunwoody Talk's author, Rick Callihan, who's a friend, but I disagree.  It's time for the entire DeKalb County School Board to go.  I agree, Nancy Jester and Pam Speaks appear to have done everything they possible can, but in order to remove the dead wood, the entire pile has to be burned.  And in the case of Nancy and Pam, they can be reappointed by the Governor.  It's simply time to remove the board, and hope that when elections are held again, the bad apples don't get re-elected.

Mayor's State of the City Speech

Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis delivered his State of the City speech last night at the Crown Ravinia.  John Heneghan has posted the video of the speech on his blogsite - all 65 minutes! 
The mayor did a nice job, but he's got to learn to be more concise.  His speech started a little after 7:40pm, and at 8:20 I said, "I gotta go!"  So I didn't get to hear the end. 
Remember mayor - always leave them wanting more.  No one knew that better than Abraham Lincoln.  Below is the entire text of one of the greatest speeches of all-time, the Gettsburg Address.  The speech lasted less than 10 minutes!

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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

State of the City

Mayor Mike Davis gives his "State of the City" address tonight at the Crowne Ravinia.  The public is invited.  The mayor will speak of his vision for Dunwoody.  I assume much of the mayor's speech will focus on businesses, and in particular, businesses in the PCID.   But I'm hoping some of the speech talks abut the residents of Dunwoody and the neighborhoods.  Below is the release from the city.

The City of Dunwoody, the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, and Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce proudly present the fourth annual State of the City Address on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia on Ashford Dunwoody Road.

Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis will deliver this year’s City address focusing on new goals and opportunities for 2013, growth, economic development and the implementation of key projects in the coming year.

“In 2012 the City of Dunwoody was actively engaged in the enhancement of our community’s basic needs for public safety and transportation accessibility,” said Mayor Mike Davis. “Our successes over the past year include improvements to our roads and traffic, upgrades of our park amenities, growth of new and existing commercial business and the financial health of our city’s resources. Our vision for the future is to implement the plans and ideas of our community and help Dunwoody become an even better place to live, work and play.”

This year’s festivities kick off with a public reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by the State of the City Address scheduled for 7:00 p.m. In addition to Mayor Davis, the Rotary Club, the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and the City are honored to have Bryan Tate, CEO and founder of Digitel as the honored guest speaker. Entry to the State of the City event is free and open to the public. Early arrival is encouraged, as seating and parking will be limited.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Post from Rep. Tom Taylor

Our state representative Tom Taylor asked if I would post the message below.  As you may know, Tom is working on a bill that could give cities like Dunwoody the ability to have their own school system, although he warns don't expect that to happen in the near future. 

Fellow Citizens,

Many of you, especially those with children in DeKalb public schools have contacted me asking how you can participate in what is currently happening with our school system. The fact that SACS has placed the entire DeKalb School system on academic probation, which is only one step from loss of accreditation, is very serious. For more on this, please read my op-ed in the Dunwoody Crier here:

I recommend that if you feel so inclined, please write a personal letter to Governor Deal and/or the Georgia State Board of Education. Emails are fine, but a personal letter, hand delivered by my office to the Governor or the State BOE guarantees that your thoughts and opinions land where they need to go.

My Chief of Staff Page Olson will be collecting letters at her home now through next Tuesday, February 19th. She lives at 1148 Redfield Ridge in Dunwoody. She'll have a box at the top of her driveway for your to deposit you letter. Make sure that it is marked to go to either Governor Deal, the State BOE or both. I'll hand deliver to both offices on Wednesday morning the 20th.

You are all encouraged to come down to the Sloppy Floyd building, 20th floor (across from the Capitol) next Thursday, February 21st at 8am to witness the hearing between our DeKalb BOE and the State Board. You will need a photo ID to get in. If you can't be there in person, watch it streamed live on the Department of Education website:

Contact my office at any time should you have questions.


Tom Taylor
State Representative, District 79
Office 404.656.0152

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Great Community Dinner

Need a dinner option for this evening?  Give All Saints Church World Famous Knights of Columbus Fish Fry a try - I promise it is one of the best values in Dunwoody!  The Fish Fry is now averaging over 1,100 meals every Friday night (5p-8p) during the Lenten season.  Catholics and non-Catholics are invited.

The Fish Fry, now in it's 17th year (my math could be off), has a fabulous menu that includes either crispy fried cod (similar to Long John Silver's, but better), broiled talapia or salmon seasoned to perfection, or crispy fried shrimp - all for $8 (salmon is $9).  The price includes two sides, and in the case of the fried meals - hush puppies as well! 
And if you're a clam chowder connoisseur, you've got to try the Knight's secret recipe.  It was handed down from a popular restaurant in New England - and is to die for!  Water and tea is included with the meal, soft drinks, beer and wine are available by donation.  All proceeds go to Knights' charities (Special Olympics, the Elaine Clark Center, etc).

Click on the photo below to watch a Channel 11 story on the Fish Fry.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day; Update from Councilman Nall

The following update from sent from Councilman Terry Nall (if you are a reader of John Heneghan's blog, you know I'm a day (or two) late on this!  
I know a lot of folks are upset with council these days (and I still believe those folks are in the vocal minority), but we are better off since becoming a city.  If we remained in unincorporated DeKalb County, our taxes would be higher, we'd have less police protection and a lot fewer streets would be paved!  Do I agree with everything council does?  No, but these three points cannot be argued.

If you received this inadvertently, please click on the "SafeUnsubscribe" link at the bottom or just "reply" and let me know to remove you. If you find this email to be of interest, please forward it to your friends and neighbors. If you received a forwarded copy and wish to subscribe, please email me at

Dunwoody Village Parkway

Despite my efforts to pass an alternative plan, the majority of Council (vote 5-2) concluded the existing parkway plan approved by the 2011 Council is best for Dunwoody's future. This was after careful research and deliberation by my fellow Council Members. The deliberation phase of this project is now over and it is time for implementation. Because of grant funds will subsidize the city's cost, many administrative details are now underway. Construction is tentatively expected for this August, which will avoid the Dunwoody's Independence Day parade.

Brook Run Multi-Purpose Trail

The Dekalb Superior Court injunction that halted this trail construction was lifted by the presiding judge on February 4. The homeowners' lawsuit may continue, but the burden of demonstrating irreparable damages by the trail was not met by the plaintiffs, as determined by the judge. Construction will resume as soon as the contractor re-mobilizes the crew, which is expected mid-February.
I attended each day of the court hearings in order to hear the evidence and arguments of the plaintiffs, as well as hear greater detail from the city's engineers and trail consultants. Every design feature of the trail has a specific rationale behind it. This includes having the trail compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to make the trail available to those with disabilities, limited mobility, or other hindrances not faced by able-bodied persons. The final design also allows access by emergency vehicles when needed.
In contrast, the alternative trail design preferred by those who signed a noted petition for presentation to City Council erroneously does not result in ADA compliance and thus, excludes park amenity access by disabled and limited mobility citizens. Some signers noted that they preferred a mulch trail to any paved surface. This would also preclude families with strollers or families with bicycles from enjoying this park amenity.
I do not support citizen exclusivity. Dunwoody is better than that. Our park amenities should be available to all citizens, not just the able-bodied. The petitioners' approach also prevents access by emergency vehicles. All it takes is one medical emergency where the window of survivability is critical and the current trail design will prove invaluable. As with the Dunwoody Village Parkway, the deliberation phase of this project is over and now is time for implementation.

This past week, the city released an update on the trail that contains the latest information and rationale. I encourage you to read it, as it contains excellent up-to-date information. The release is at this web link: Updated Info About Brook Run Multi-Purpose Trail

False Alarm Ordinance

Council approved the city's first False Alarm Ordinance that affects businesses and residents with alarm company monitored alarm systems. For the last four years, Dunwoody paid the price for having no policy about false alarms. Each year, our police respond to over 4,000 false alarms, which is an average of over 80 per week. This is excessive. We have a modest-sized police force and false alarms tie up officers who would otherwise by available for 911 calls. False alarms are avoidable with intentional system maintenance and attentiveness by alarm owners. Implementation details for the new ordinance will be forthcoming when implementation begins in a few months.

Intersection Improvements

This is a key priority for me. We must ease our intersection congestion as the city population continues to grow and more vehicles are added to our streets. Each intersection project takes an estimated 18-24 months for the entire timeline of preliminary design, final design, bids, easements and right of way acquisition, and finally construction.
The intersection improvement for Tilly Mill, N. Peachtree, and Peeler is now underway with easements and right of way work. Construction is expected to begin either late 2013 or early 2014.
The Vermack/Womack intersection remains in the design phase to incorporate the issues raised during public and neighborhood meetings, as well as other public input received. These two intersections are our first to be considered as we seek to improve 1-2 intersections each year under our "pay-as-you-go" policy.

With the arrival of 2013, two new intersection improvements to start the conceptual design process include Mt. Vernon at Vermack and Chamblee-Dunwoody at Spalding.

2013 Street Paving
Bids have not been received, but the preliminary list of summer road paving and related improvements from our prioritized paving list include the below listed streets. Once bids are received and reviewed, Council will then decide if the below list should be adjusted under our "pay-as-you-go" policy:

Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd (from Cambridge to Valley View; awarded grant funds)
Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd (from Womack to Roberts)
Mt. Vernon Rd (from Nandina to Vernon Oaks)
Perimeter Center Pl (from Perimeter Center W to Meadow Lane)
Crowne Pointe Pkwy (from Meadow Ln to Perimeter Center W)
Meadow Ln (from Ashford-Dunwoody to Crown Pointe Pkwy
Peachford Rd (from Dunbar to N. Peachtree)
Spalding Dr (from Chamblee-Dunwoody to Weldston)
Redfield Ln (from Redfield Dr to end)
Redfield Dr (from Redfield Rd to Redfield Ln)
Redfield Cir (from Redfield Ln to end)
Mill Gate Ct (from Bend Creek to end)
Mill Race Ct (from Mill Trace to end)
Mill Shire Ln (from Dunwoody Club to Mill Glen)
Mill Trace Dr (from Dunwoody Club to Bend Creek)
Trowbridge Dr (from East End to Ball Mill)
Trowbridge Cv (from Trowbridge Dr to end)
Tamworth Ct (from Trowbridge to end)
Ashmont Ct (from Mt. Vernon to end)

If you have input or suggestions on these or other city topics, please contact me. Also, I am available to present to organizations, church groups, neighborhood associations, etc.

Terry Nall
Dunwoody City Council (At Large)

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Long Time Coming

Wow - it's been almost two months since my last blog post, which is the longest period between posts since I started blogging in 2008.  A few things have surfaced since my last post.

Dunwoody Village Parkway

The Dunwoody Village Parkway Project has hit a crescendo - Save Dunwoody signs are everywhere and "redshirts" on a mission flock to city council. 

I don't get it.  I don't get the backlash.  The city is going to spend approximately $2.4 million, which it has in the budget and NO taxes have to be increased, and, of which $1.1 million of that total comes from a federal grant.  The idea of the project is to jump-start the village - make it a vibrant city center that has a park, sidewalks and yes even bike paths (I don't ride a bike very often, but in the bigger, long-term picture, I get it).

I keep hearing the argument that the project will increase traffic flow, as four lanes are narrowed down to two.  You know what - it will increase traffic flow - but on a street that DOESN'T get much traffic!  Hey, if decreasing traffic flow is our number one goal, let's turn Mt. Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody into four-lane roads.  I don't hear much support for that.  And rightfully so.

I also hear the argument that we're cutting down trees.  Oh my gosh, wouldn't that be tragic.  Com'on - if trees weren't cut down, my house wouldn't be standing, and a strong possibility yours wouldn't, either.  Besides, Dunwoody has a No Net Loss of Trees policy.  Every tree that is cut down will be replaced.  And don't look now, but most of those trees on the parkway are short lifespan fruit trees that will grow back very quickly.

Look, I have no idea if this project will spur redevelopment of Dunwoody Village.  But I do know the chances of redevelopment are much greater if the project takes place.  I'd love to see a park in the Village one day.  But maybe that's just me.

Womack/Vermack Intersection

I have a little different view on the roundabout at Womack/Vermack.  Long-term, a roundabout may very well be the best solution.  But short term, I believe the best, most cost-effective solution (one suggested by some of the neighbors) is hire a part-time, safety-trained citizen or official to act as a traffic officer at the intersection.  One of the neighbors told me finding retired or off-duty personnel to handle the job would not be a problem (I have no idea).  He said the going rate is $35 per hour.  At a maximum of three hours per day (1.5 hours in the morning, 1.5 in the evening), the cost would be less than $20,000 a year.  It's a no brainer!  By the way, I can't help but laugh everytime I see those "Save Womack Vermack Intersection" signs.  Are you kidding me?  Save babies, save whales, save our second amendment rights.  But save an intersection?  Really.

DHA vs City of Dunwoody

Finally, recently I read a letter to the editor in The Crier by a gentleman who wrote, in part, "It is important to realize that today there is a very close and cozy relationship between the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the Dunwoody City Council ... Many DHA Board members actively and publically promoted the $60 million bond issues advocated by the Dunwoody City Council that were defeated 2 to 1 in the city election ... Every member of the Dunwoody City Council is also an ex-officio member of the Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association board of directors and at least four of seven members of the Design Review Advisory Committee of the city of Dunwoody are also on the DHA board of directors. These are interlocking directorates that would probably be illegal under the Clayton Act if in private industry. These interlocking directorates clearly establish the very close and cozy relationship between the Dunwoody Homeowners’ Association and the Dunwoody City Council."

As a member of the DHA board and a past vice president, I can tell you the gentleman is correct, there is a very friendly relationship between the DHA and the city.  And every member of city council is an ex-officio member of the DHA.  However, no member of the city council is a voting member of the DHA.  They are not part of board-only discussions.  And while Terry Nall, John Heneghan and Doug Thompson are regular members at the DHA's monthly meetings, Denis Shortal, Lynn Deutsch and mayor Mike Davis are only there on occasion, and I don't recall ever seeing Adrian Bonser at one of our meetings.
I will also tell you that the DHA was very mixed on the park's bonds.  Personally,  I was vehemently against it and made no secret of my feelings (read any of my posts leading up to the vote and you will clearly see that).
By the way, why shouldn't the DHA and city have a great relationship.  After all, and despite what some might think, the two entities, for the part, have the same objective - the betterment of Dunwoody!