Saturday, December 31, 2011


Finishing only those work tasks that are absolutely necessary before kicking back and ringing in 2012. I hope the new year is a wonderful one for all of you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From Good Day Atlanta on Fox 5: Business Moms Find Ways to Work from Home

Channel 5 had this segment on Good Day Atlanta this morning about full-time moms who find a way to make a living even as they manage their homes and raise their children full-time.  None of this is new, by any means but it's an important reminder that economies and personal circumstances are constantly changing and people have to find a way to make a living by thinking outside the box.

A few thoughts on the video segment:

1)  I hate the term "stay at home" mom (or dad).  "Stay at home" implies you're not working and nothing could be further from the truth.  I prefer "full time" mom/dad.

2)  While moms are still the ones that struggle the most with whether to work full-time inside or outside the home, a growing number of dads are facing the same decision.  According to the 2010 Census (whose statistics I'm crunching for a new page on the Chamber of Commerce site) about 6% of full-time parents in Dunwoody are dads!  That's up from zero not too long ago.

3)  The one drawback of the story above was over the issue of childcare for work-at-home parents.  The mom with her four daughters hanging on her while she's working is completely unrealistic.  As I said in a post about 1 1/2 years ago, working from home is not a substitute for child or family care.  Work-at-home parents have to ensure that their charges are provided for, either by dividing their time equally, or working during school/daycare time.  To its credit, the story did showcase how some moms were using local daycare for their children while they worked.

4)  Working from home, either by telecommuting or entrepreneurship, is not a fad, or a hobby, or an oddball  threat to our residential neighborhoods.  There are several hundred home-based operations in Dunwoody alone.  (Another statistic I'm working on for the Chamber.)  I propose that work-at-home families and home-based businesses can preserve the residential neighborhood by providing income to pay the mortgage when the economy fluxes.  If you think a home-based business ruins a neighborhood, what do you think a series of foreclosed homes will do to it?  Time to take this movement seriously when the Zoning rewrite takes off.

5)  Check out Bob L's post outlining possibilities for future growth in town - or the lack thereof.  A strong business community is not the enemy of comfortable residential neighborhoods.  On the contrary it is what keeps residential taxes reasonable.   Those of us paying taxes multiple times because we are employers and business owners as well as homeowners say "You're Welcome".  Further, there is no clear line between "us and them"; those angelic homeowners and demonic business owners. Many of your neighbors are both.

In June the Dunwoody Chamber is putting on a Business Expo in a joint effort with the Sandy Springs Chamber (one of my many web projects in coming weeks).  If you are able, go on down and meet some of the local businesses and I'll bet you will see and learn about a lot of people you already know as residents.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to all of my visitors!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

RIP to another Dunwoody business

From Dunwoody Patch:

Red Mango in the Dunwoody Hall Shopping center has closed its doors.
The store opened in September 2010, with a grand re-opening in April.
Sunday, the store was shut down, because sales were lagging.

Open Mike Tuesday:  the trend to "buy local" has reached fever pitch in the last couple of years.  From major national PR efforts like Small Business Saturday sponsored by American Express, to the Dunwoody Chamber who has been promoting Dunwoody's local business community since 2008, to the latest effort by the Patch in union with Artichoke Designs in the Williamsburg shopping center via the 3/50 Project.  Lots of stats about how much small local businesses support the economy, how the majority of taxes are paid by the business community and how Dunwoody homeowners will pay lower taxes if the business community is strong, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I'm all for it too because my own firm caters to these small businesses, creating websites that will enhance their visibility and sales on a budget they can afford.

I'd like to hear from you.  Comments are open, you can be anonymous if you want.  There are no right or wrong answers here.

Does being "local" really make a difference when you shop?  Do you see shopping at a locally-owned enterprise as an imperative to sustain our community?  Or does it come down to trust in the brand, regardless of whether it is "local" or not?  Do you even see the correlation between where and how you shop and the success of Dunwoody?   Why do enterprises, like Red Mango above, fail?  Why do other succeed?Are there reasons not to patronize the smaller businesses or localized shopping centers in Dunwoody?

Share your thoughts when you have a moment this week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Dunwoody Christmas Wish List

Fresh blood, fresh ideas are coming in January.  I don't believe for a minute that the "vacation" time during our holidays will be empty.  I can smell the brainstorming from my own office.

Here's my wish list for the consideration of the seven "Santa Claus"s that will take their seats in a couple of weeks.

1)  Create a law/ordinance/directive to clarify the distinctions between commissions officially organized by the government and local advocacy groups. If someone gets appointed to a commission, and they're already serving on the board of (for example) the DHA, the Chamber of Commerce, the Nature Center, PCID, any other civic association, they have to resign from that board before accepting the appointment.  Either be a government-level arbiter that is able to assemble and balance all of the needs of the different groups in the city, or be a private-sector advocate for one small segment of it.  Pick one.  When a person serves as both private and public officials at the same time, the potential for conflicts of interest abound, and could potentially involve legal action via the Department of Justice.  No one has time for that.  Just avoid the conflict up front.

2)  Put the everyday needs of the everyday Dunwoody citizen at the center of the zoning rewrite.  Too often the zoning codes that the commissions sat around masturbating to had more to do with  superficial appearances and less to do with how the residents themselves use the goods and services provided by Dunwoody's business community.  For example, whose idea was it to not have easy-to-read "OPEN" signs on storefronts in Dunwoody Village???  Or to have lighting that makes menu boards and drive-throughs difficult to read?  What dumb mistakes!  When I'm running around with kids and getting errands done before school pickup times, I have to look quickly to see if the store I want to use is open.  If I don't see a clear "OPEN" sign, or other easy-to-read signage from my car, I'm not stopping.  So, Almighty Commission Members, how exactly did your ordinance benefit me, the Dunwoody Homeowner, with this aspect of the ordinance?  You didn't.  You made it difficult for me to get the resources I need close to home.   And this is just one example.  You have a chance early on in the life of Dunwoody to create ordinances that make life easier for the citizens.  Don't repeat your past mistakes.  This is a living city, not a replica by Norman Rockwell where ceramic dolls sit where you place them and do nothing.  Create ordinances FOR the residents' practical needs, not separate from them.

3)  While on the subject of the Zoning rewrite, incorporate the fact that different segments of Dunwoody have entirely different characters.  Some are strictly single-family residential.  Others (like the PCID) are different.  All are going to require different standards of zoning to match their character.  Don't punish the non-single-family regions for their existence.  In fact, it's the PCID's commercial nature that makes Dunwoody feasible.   Remember how DeKalb County was happy to siphon our taxes and yet not provide the services we paid for?  The situation is similar.  If Dunwoody is happy with the money PCID generates, then makes it difficult for them to function with overly-restrictive ordinances, then the government has become a clone of Vermin (sic) Jones' administration.

4)  Last one on zoning, I promise.  People are choosing to use their homes and property for a greater variety of activities.  Each activity may or may not be a threat to the "residential nature" that we purchased our homes for.  I don't believe that anyone in their heart of hearts gives a damn what others do on their property, so long as they don't have to deal with it.  That's not unreasonable.  There's potential for a lot of leeway.  Write your residential zoning codes with an eye toward flexibility within a defined limit, as I described a few months ago.  Make sure Code Enforcement is sufficient to handle the full daytime population when questions or problems arise.  You'll spend less time rehashing Every. Single. Thing.  a homeowner wants to do with their home and more time "fixing stuff".  ;-)

5)  Best thing I've read from a council member so far was in the Crier this week.  Excerpt below.  Full article is here:

In an interview later in the week with The Crier, Davis said the first thing he was going to do was obtain an office. Wright has not used one very much.
“I’m going to be in the office on a regular basis,” Davis said. ....
Davis said he intended to hold regular office days to which the public will be invited.

Outstanding idea, and one I hope is maintained throughout this administration.  In the future Dunwoody will probably have its own civic complex and our elected officials can probably count on office space there.  Until that day arrives, a local office space is a sound compromise.  I'll add a few points to it.

  • Create an office space for ALL SEVEN council members for this purpose.  Get everyone who is able, to hold regular office hours.  Divide the cost seven ways.  Not only will the citizenry benefit from knowing where and when to go to talk to a representative, "office hours" can help council members contain their city responsibilities and separate them from home/family/personal responsibilities.  
  • Invest in an office space away from Dunwoody Village or from the commercial area around City Hall.  Get closer to the average citizen, like the majority who didn't vote.  For some reason they feel that their opinion is not worth casting a vote.  Find out why.  Go outside your normal mindset and meet some Dunwoody citizens you wouldn't meet ordinarily.  You may find a new supporter or even a solution to a future problem that you wouldn't have if you hadn't stepped outside your comfort zone.  
  • Be careful out there.  No one should use an office space alone, no matter where it is.  Some scum have no problem knocking over banks near Dunwoody Village, don't make it easy for them to come for you.  
  • Even after Dunwoody builds its own civic complex, it's going to be necessary to go OUT TO people to meet them and hear what's happening on the street outside of election campaigns.  People let their guard down when on their home turf, even around the swimming pool of their local swim/tennis club or apartment complex.  It's amazing how open your constituents will be if you chat while they're wearing little more than their underwear.  You can also consider holding city council meetings in various places outside city hall, a suggestion I made some time ago on John's blog when he opened the question about how to develop Brook Run.  You've got school buildings, a theater (if it's ever renovated), churches, synagogues, the J, the library, and even picnic pavilions in parks.  You reached out to the public where they were during your campaigns and it worked - you're elected.  Keep up the tradition now that you're in office!
Just five items.  Not too much for Santa to ponder, right?  

Obligatory work comments:  "vacation" is a relative term.  My "vacation" will be made up of proposals to those companies that requested them, starting projects on new contracts, and lots (LOTS....) of system upgrades on my hosting server.  Lots o' new goodies for the good boys and girls to use on their web services for Christmas and Chanukkah!  If you'd like to chat about an idea for your website or other Internet outreach, you can contact me 24/7 at  I will always find time to pencil in one of my neighbors for their project.  

Here's another hint:  keep your eyes peeled for the Chamber's Business Expo to be unveiled in January.  Lots of local business by your neighbors making their living.  You'd be amazed at what big  things are happening right here in town.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy 2012 to everybody!  Unless I hear from some of you before then I'll see you next year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In time for Christmas - the latest email scams

Scammers don't take a break for Christmas and there's a new addition to this year's crowd.  Email scammers are taking advantage of business owners who are up to their necks in email and may be too harried to look closely at the emails they are replying to.

The latest scam is a fake Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint.  Here's a screenshot of one I got the other day:
No one wants a BBB complaint on their record, right??  You're dealing with so many customers at the busiest time of the year, plus getting your finances straight for tax season, plus duties at home.  It's easy to panic and just click on the link and see what's happening.  Don't click.  Resist the urge.

Like many spoof emails there will be attempts to fake the "" address and use formal business-speak. However the syntax and grammatical errors are typical of someone who uses English as a second language.  The clincher is the email link you are asked to click.  

When you hover your cursor over the link, the URL that appears has nothing to do with the BBB.  In fact if you do click on it, it will redirect you several times until you end up in a site hosted in India.  (Special trick you do through a firewall on full blast and several backup antivirus programs.  Don't try this at home, kids.)

A similar scam making the rounds is the "ACH payment rejected" scam email.  If you do a lot of online payments (say, for payroll, or for federal or state business-related taxes) this one may scare you too.  You are not going to be contacted via email with generic language if an electronic payment fails.  It's a scam.

No matter how crazy it gets, don't panic and click links on emails that threaten you with late payments or a bad business rep.  No reputable institution is going to ask for your personal identification like driver license numbers or social security numbers.  Nor will they ask for your bank passwords, account numbers, etc.

If you have any doubts about an email you receive, call your bank or the BBB directly and confirm the information.

Hang in there!  Only 12 more days til Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dunwoody Elections 2011 - Thank God It's Over

Finally, it's out of the way.  Finally, it will be quiet for a while and we can all calm down and get back to normal.

Back in August when qualifying open for candidates, I posted the following:  (emphases added)

Stay classy.  No matter who wins and who loses, we still have to live together.  Things to avoid include
  • Cheap shots at your opponents that don't have anything to do with managing the city
  • Creating personal controversies.  Remember how the Pankey campaign in 2008 allegedly tried to create dirt on Adrian Bonser?  Like that.  Don't do it.
  • Gratuitous negative campaigning.  I don't care what the marketing statistics say, negativity will bounce back on you.
  • Putting flyers on cars parked at a church/synagogue during worship.  Enough said.
  • Bragging about your campaign's strengths if you win.  The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.

Congratulations, Mike and Terry! Enjoy your Christmas and New Year's because the work really gets going in January.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dunwoody Election Runoff 2011 - Returns Live From Patch


VOTE TODAY - Dunwoody Election Runoffs 2011

The Electoral College does not rule in Dunwoody elections.  EVERY vote is going to count and these runoffs may come down to a handfull of votes making the difference in who sits on council next year.  Don't rely on what you think your neighbors are going to vote for - go out and cast your own vote.  You've got 5 1/2 hours left as of this writing.

After a lot of mental gymnastics and a few brain cramps, here are my personal endorsements:

District 1 at large - Terry Nall
The District 1 campaign was as neat, clean, and gentlemanly as an election could be.  There are going to be negative issues to talk about, but no one swung below the belt.  Terry stands out because of his ability to listen to all sides of an issue and work toward internal consistency in government.  That's an issue he dealt with directly when confronting the ZBA for violating their own procedures on an issue with the Goddard School.  Terry is not conspicuously associated with any individual special interests, so I believe he will approach any question with an open mind.  I have all the respect in the world for Rob as a human being who stepped up to serve the first City Council.  However the issues he has brought for through Council have been increasingly divisive.  In one of his letters to his constituents, he discusses the idea of rolling back taxes due to city hall operating on a surplus, yet then urges us to vote for a huge parks bonds issue that became more and more troublesome as the details emerged.  For the citizens of Dunwoody (both homeowners and home renters) to trust their government, it has to be consistent and fair to all sides.  I think Terry is the right man for the job this time around.

Mayor - Bob Dallas (by a nose)
This is the difficult one.  Mike and Bob are in a virtual dead heat in many ways.  I have met both, as well as their reps, listened to the forums/debates and listened "offline" when there were no microphones around.  I understand their philosophies and views on life and I find a lot in common with both.  However neither of these boys have clean hands in the campaign tactics department.  The current chatter on the Internet is about Bob's latest flyer crticizing Mike on filings, fees, etc.  But who remembers that Mike fired the first shot by questioning Bob's commitment to Dunwoody based on the source of his campaign contributions?  Or trying to paint a negative picture via the "career politician" label?  That's negative campaigning too, and it's just as bad.   Worse, in fact, when claiming to take the "high road" later in the game.   Both are also associated with their share of "Johnny One-Notes"  whose vision of Dunwoody is more like a static, ceramic Christmas village than a thriving, diverse, living, growing, evolving city.

The reason Bob has the edge in my mind is because of the very experience and political connections he has been criticized for.    Dunwoody is in a position now where, after three years, we can assess what we have in terms of infrastructure, citizens and lifestyles, other resources, and determine what we can build in the future and how.  There is also the very unique situation of having our residential population outnumbered by almost 3 - 1 by "daytimers" during the week.  Bob's experience working for Sonny Perdue forced him to deal with a broad spectrum of competing interests that had to be addressed, like them or not.  That's where Dunwoody is at now:  after three years we learned that the lives and lifestyles of our citizenry are far more diverse and sometimes conflicting than we knew at incorporation.  It all has to be addressed and integrated  as fairly as possible, because no one is going anywhere.  I think Bob is better equipped for that circumstance.  

With that said, no matter who wins, I ask our new council members this:  keep the Johnny One-Notes on a leash.  It isn't fair to the city now or in the future to allow one special interest to take precedence over other equally valid and valuable concerns.  The major zoning rewrite is coming up and there are a lot of "master plans" being bandied about - make sure all of the populations that call Dunwoody home benefit from these plans and no one gets shut out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Johnny One-Note

So much for keeping it classy.

I knew that eventually the civilized discussions around local elections would get heated and out of hand.   People are human, there are times when they don't live up to the standards they would like.  A few of you have been so extreme that you are not going to enter my house until I'm convinced that you're housebroken again.  You know who you are.

Time for some Tough Love.

What concerns me the most about the current rhetoric are the people who are so wrapped up in their one little ideology that they are incapable of acknowledging any other POV.  I call them "Johnny One-Notes."

You all have met these people around town and online.  They're like evangelists who have had some kind of life-changing experience, and now they're going to save the world starting with Dunwoody based on the nugget of philosophy they've absorbed.  Hallelujah!  Can I get a ay-men!  All non-believers are going to hell and damnation!

Anyone is prone to falling into this trap.  The key is when you stop acknowledging the people around you with other priorities and reasons for their thinking.

Here are a couple examples, in no specific order:

The one who can't give their name or an opinion without emphasizing how many years they've lived in Dunwoody.  Best description is TheOtherDunwoody's "More Dunwoody Than You".  I watched this first-hand at Light Up Dunwoody.  "I'm Ishkebibble and iiIIIIiii've lived in Dunwoody for 30 YEARS!"  The implication being that they are more important, or their opinion is more worthy of attention because of their longevity.  If you catch yourself announcing how many years you've lived in town at the opening of conversations, stop it.  No really, knock it off, you sound like a tool and it's embarrassing.

The born-again preacher.  Doesn't matter what they're "born again" about, their sole goal is to get everyone else in town to follow the new life philosophy they have found.  They sidle up to the right councilman or city hall employee, whisper in the right ear, and are given something to do simply because of their enthusiasm.  In a way I don't blame city hall for just handing them a role - anything to keep them from being a pain in your ass, right?  But what happens when they encounter a different opinion?  That's when the show starts!  Crying, pouting, foot-stomping, and self-pity, followed by condemnation of the offender.  "How DARE he not drop everything and support me!  Woe is me, I'm so unloved, how can people be so mean by not agreeing with everything I say?"   Once more, with feeling - put a sock in it.

Here's why it's important to recognize Johnny One-Note:  our city government structure is about consensus. In theory, our government recognizes that there are a slew of various interests and priorities.  If left to their own devices they could compete and destroy each other.  On the other hand if they all get heard fairly and all considered, they can all be acommodated.  Johnny One-Note is incapable of that mutual listening.  Johnny One-Note can only see their own personal vision, and no one else's.  Johnny One-Note will manipulate the system to legislate their lifestyle and standards, and other Johnny One-Notes are deeply threatened by that.

In recent days, the Johnny One-Notes have been all over the internet, advocating for their candidate.  It's ugly.  It's moronic.  Worst of all, it reflects badly on the candidate they say is right for the job.  Is it truly that the candidate is right?  Or are they going to cater to their Johnny One-Note to the detriment of all others?  I can't tell.  Neither can many others because posts have appeared from people that claim to make their ballot decision based on the Johnny One-Note behaviour.

So if you've been letting your passions get the better of you this week, you may be causing your candidate more trouble than you're worth.  Candidates, it's a little late to get a leash on these kids.  I don't know how much you can control them but did you at least try to pull someone aside and ask them to tone it down for the sake of your campaign?

In both of the runoff elections there is only one candidate that is not conspicuously associated with a Johnny One-Note.  That is Terry Nall.  Terry has had to discuss some unpleasant issues, and he has only compared himself with Rob to contrast their priorities and track records.  But you don't hear his supporters taking snide potshots on Facebook or Patch.

To all my Johnny One-Notes:  Vote on December 6.  Do what you have to do to get the angst out of your system.  Then be man or woman enough to compose an eloquent apology for making an ass of yourself.  You have to look the people you behaved badly for in the eye, no matter who is in office, no matter what their agenda becomes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Party at Tiffany's - Pink Pastry Recap

I just got to watch the first two episodes of "Party at Tiffany's" on OWN via DVR after my husband got his annual dose of "It's a Wonderful Life."

Pink Pastry Parlor isn't "exactly" in Atlanta.  It's in that odd northside area where Roswell meets Alpharetta and John's Creek.  I pass it every day taking my kids to school.

Yes, this is a REALITY show.  The program showed Pink Pastry Parlor as it really is.  Tiffany is that bubbly and outgoing All.  The.  Time.  Yes, the bounce-on-the-bed rooms are always decorated that way, they really are that huge, and it is that much fun to have a pillow fight in it.  There really are huge dance parties in the fashion runway room.  Best part of all is they have parties like this for grownups too!  (Guess what's on the next agenda at my Phi Mu alumnae club meeting?)  I was amazed at how many staff were at each party.  ("Parlettes".  HA!!!!!  )  The cupcake tower in the tea party room is the best.  Little girls need a few moments to get used to that, as opposed to the traditional birthday cake.  Once their little eyes see all the dangling crystals they don't see anything else.

My daughter's party wasn't as demanding or insane as the parties they showed.  Thank God.  We just had to scale up for the number of girls at the party.  (My little girl and 15 friends.  And people wonder why I don't have kids' parties at home....)  Cristiana was the one who helped me pick out goody bag loot, cupcake types, sandwiches, and other details.  I had already had a long day, a migraine was setting in, and this had to be done.  Cristiana made it easy and Tiffany made it a blast.  I have video that I will never live down if it gets out.

I can see why Tiffany has a show:  her personality is built for TV.  It's no act for the cameras, it's all natural.  Girl, write a thank-you note to the HR director of the company who laid you off.  Include a DVD of the show.

Let this show be a lesson - if you have a good attitude, a serious work ethic, and you love what you do and shout it to the world, you too can be a success.

Now, to get an indoor play place in Dunwoody....

Party at Tiffany's Debuts Tonight on OWN - Local Business Highlighted

Back in August I posted that a locally-owned party outfit, Pink Pastry Parlor, was shooting stock footage for a new reality show.  I just got a press release yesterday from owner Tiffany Young that shooting has wrapped and six episodes of "Party at Tiffany's" are scheduled to air on Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network.  First episode will be shown tonight at 10 PM.  If you're on Uverse it's channel 178 or 1178.  Check your listings for Comcast, DirecTV, etc.

Dunwoody does not have an indoor play establishment.  A few years back there was Zamba Fun Land in Georgetown Shopping Center.  However, according to an acquaintance that worked there, the management wasn't on top of their game and the place closed, selling off all of the giant inflatables, arcade games, and mini golf equipment.  When it's too hot/rainy/icy to play outside in a park or at a swim/tennis club, parents have to head out to Monkey Joe's (Roswell) or Jeronimo (Norcross) to let their kids blow off some steam.  The closest thing this city has to an indoor/outdoor play area is the MJCCA.  Sounds like an opportunity knocking:  an indoor play area in a local Dunwoody storefront.  Add an area for kid-only haircuts and styling in addition to the usual snacks, pizza and WiFi and someone could make a fortune.

Full details are in the email/press release below.  Maybe one of my readers may get some inspiration of their own.  For the record, my daughter had her six-year-old birthday party here a few weeks back.  She and her friends are still talking about it.  Keep it in mind for a great party place.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.


's long-awaited reality television show called "PARTY AT TIFFANY'S" will air THIS Saturday at 10:00PM eastern/standard time on Oprah Winfrey's OWN!

We are incredibly excited about this and, as our loyal customers, we know you are too! Show your love and support for
PINK PASTRY by tuning in for our reality television debut!

Tiffany Young, CEO
Pink Pastry Parlor
8465 Holcomb Bridge Rd Ste 1000
Alpharetta,GA 30022
770-650-PINK (7465)
770-650-7468 Fax

December 1, 2011


Los Angeles, CA – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today the addition of the new six episode series “Party at Tiffany’s,” about girls’ party planner extraordinaire Tiffany Young. The half-hour series premieres with two episodes back-to-back Saturday, Dec. 3 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET/PT) following the mid-season finale of “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (9:00 - 10:00 p.m. ET/PT). “Party at Tiffany’s” will air in its regular time period with two episodes back-to-back Saturday, Dec. 10 (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT), and culminate Saturday, Dec. 17 (9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET/PT).

Since its premiere, the docu-series “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” featuring the loud, loving Montgomery family as they run their soul food restaurant in St. Louis, has delivered double digit growth across all key demos versus year ago Discovery Health numbers, and is reaching and growing the African American women audience regularly ranking as the #2 cable network in the timeslot with AAW 25-54. “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” will return in March with all-new episodes.

After being laid off from a corporate job five years ago, Tiffany Young decided to follow her pink passion and open Pink Pastry Parlor in Atlanta, Georgia. Now Tiffany makes other girls’ dreams come true with specialty parties for all ages. Whatever you can imagine, Tiffany will make it happen.

In the premiere episode of “Party at Tiffany’s,” Tiffany is throwing a Latin dance party for Yuliana's 7th Birthday. When Yuliana's mother, Lorena, asks Tiffany to include an underwater element to help make Yuliana's party extra special, she must find a way to bring water into the Pink Pastry Parlor.

About: Party at Tiffany’s
Party planner extraordinaire and owner of Pink Pastry Parlor in Atlanta, Georgia, Tiffany Young, is not your typical party planner. Her goal is to celebrate pink power and female empowerment through dessert, entertainment and socialite-ing. Throughout the season viewers will see Tiffany work to make each party unique under challenging circumstances, whether a Poodles In Paris birthday party, a slumber party, or a party for a 12-year-old recording artist, Tiffany and her team of Parlettes make sure each little girl’s dream comes true. Whatever you can imagine, Tiffany will make it happen. Pink Pastry Parlor is the ultimate experience for memorable events that last a lifetime. The series is produced by Entertainment One. Executive producers are John Morayniss, Michael Kot and Tara Long.

A joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications, OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK is a multi-platform media company designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN debuted on January 1, 2011, in approximately 77 million homes on what was the Discovery Health Channel. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform, For more information, please visit and

Thursday, December 1, 2011

INTRODUCING... Cap Global Language Services, LLC

SDOC's latest customer website has launched.  Tomorrow I review maintenance and final touches with my client and turn over the keys.

Cap Global Language Services, LLC is a translation and interpretation firm based in Marietta.  It is owned by Ms. Lucia Dogbeh, a lovely lady originally from Benin.  She is a native French speaker, and has a PhD in German language studies.  She is also adept at English and Spanish.  Ms. Dogbeh has provided language assistance to firms all over Western Europe and Africa and is now expanding her work in North America.

Cap Global's original website was never completed and was designed with older coding techniques that are very difficult for a website layman to update.  We decided to just start over from scratch.

First is the text content.  For a language translation site, it all had to be multilingual.  Initial setup involved programming where translations and basic language content could be installed.  This version starts with French, German, and Spanish, with English as the default.  As her team of translators and their language repertoire grows, more language capability can be added as needed.  While there's an incredible amount of detail that is addressed in multilingual mirror pages, it's a whole lot easier than it used to be when I had to consider multiple audiences in past projects.

The graphic design is a custom-built CMS theme that started with the existing company logo.  The goal is bright, engaging, and welcoming.  Again, the appearance has to appeal to multiple cultures based on their language.  You'll notice some subtle variations in text formatting, size, and color between the language mirrors.  My client requested those variations in order to appeal to certain Western European sensibilities.

Choosing and prioritizing content for a website has grown more complex in recent years.  Although the Internet was invented in the USA, its global reach has brought out the stark differences in how people of other nations and cultures are persuaded by a website's appearance.  Different elements, structures, and colors have different impacts on people of different cultures.  For a more dramatic example, check out Izumi Family Chiropractic, whose Atlanta office resides in the Dunwoody Point shopping center on Winter's Chapel.  I didn't write this site but I ran across it the other day.  Notice how different the Japanese-language version appears from the English-language site.  Someone paid a lot of attention to the cultural variation in their customer base.

The demand for other-than-English content has skyrocketed as well.  According to this report, the majority of users of YouTube are using languages other than English.  Any time you create a website or any online media these days, you have to consider the languages used by your potential audience.  Maybe your audience is only English-speaking.  Maybe there others to consider.  The point is, the question of language has to be asked and answered at the start of your project.

Finally, never, EVER rely on online automated translators to develop multilingual content.  Babelfish from AltaVista (now Yahoo!) was the first online translator.  Google Translate has come to prominence recently and translation algorithms with language detection are included in Google's Chrome browser.  These services are good for website visitors who need a quick-and-dirty view of "other language" content.  But there's always something wrong with the grammar or the misinterpretation of colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions.  Language is how people communicate, so when you're serious about a sales pitch or educational message, or other persuasion, make sure a person is doing the translating.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dunwoody Election Runoff 2011 - Bob Dallas

Bob Dallas is in the runoff for Mayor.  Don't forget to vote on December 6.  His campaign website is at  Bob also says:  "And my cell phone number is 770-331-4040 should anyone wish to speak with me. "  

Thank you, Bob, for your opinions below.

1) What one qualification do you have for elected office that exceeds those of your opponents?

I have over 23 years of experience in the private sector as a business executive with BellSouth, as a professional owning my own Dunwoody business law firm, and as a professional in a regional business law firm.  I have almost 8 years of experience as Governor Perdue’s Director of Highway Safety for the State of Georgia where I managed public budgets larger than the City of Dunwoody and gained firsthand experience implementing successful public safety and transportation solutions.  But most importantly, I have a wonderful wife and five boys, four of whom are on track in Dunwoody’s elementary schools, all who call Dunwoody home and believe its best days lie ahead.

I also have had the privilege of over 20 years of Dunwoody public service in matters directly related to the duties of mayor.  These include the following:

City of Dunwoody Planning Commissioner, Chairman
Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, Executive Board Member
Atlanta Regional Commission Class of 2008 Regional Leadership Institute Graduate
International Association of Chiefs of Police Associate Member
DeKalb County District One Planning Commissioner, Vice-Chairman (former)
State of Georgia Public Service Commission Hearing Officer (former)
Safe Kids of Georgia, Founder, Director and President (former)
DeKalb County Children's Initiative and Collaborative Board
Co-Chair of Board and Executive Committee (former)
Dunwoody Home Owners Association, Board Member (former)
Dunwoody YES! Board Member (former)
Dunwoody Rotary Club, Board of Directors Member (former)
Spruill Center for the Arts, Board Member and President (former)
Vermack Tennis & Swim Club - President (former)
DeKalb County Blue Ribbon Sales Tax Study Committee Member (former)
Chairman of the Citizens For Property Tax Relief in DeKalb County (former)

2) The City’s Economic Development Department’s stated purpose is “The City of Dunwoody Economic Development Director is responsible for leading efforts to retain, expand and attract businesses that support a broad array of employment opportunities; strategically grow its knowledge-based economy; and expand the City’s tax base.” What should be this department’s next priority task to accomplish this purpose?

As a member of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, I believe we have to focus on each of our distinct business character areas and home business operations with this in mind:  develop solutions which build on their strengths.  Moreover, our regulations cannot be overly burdensome while at the same time must protect Dunwoody’s character.  As we consider the Perimeter market, we have to partner with our neighboring jurisdictions to both retain and expand existing businesses here, and develop a coordinated effort to attract new national and international businesses.  This is to say the models used by Gwinnett, Cobb and North Fulton county chambers of commerce and economic development should serve as Dunwoody’s model.

3) What was the City’s best business decision to date? (Any level or department, since operations started.)

Creation of the 501(c)(6) Dunwoody Conventions and Visitors Bureau.  Shortly after the City’s creation, I saw it was headed for the authority model; in other words a City department.  Under State law, only the authority or (c)(6) models are allowed.  The former is run by the government; the latter is run by the hoteliers—a private sector solution.  From my experience throughout the State of Georgia the government authority model generally resulted in wasted money, typically in buildings that were never self supporting and which became a taxpayer drain, not to mention failing to achieve the purpose of putting “more heads in beds” as was intended.  The private sector models generally did a better job for less money.  With that, I joined Joe DeVita and Lindsay Ballow in making the case to the City Council to allow the hoteliers to run the CVB.  I called on my friendship with the Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Mike Beatty for technical help.   After about six months of many meetings and hard work, I was thankful the City Council went with the private sector model.  And as a new CVB, the Dunwoody CVB has done an outstanding job.

4) What was one business decision made by the City (at any level, since operations started) that should not have been made? If you were given the chance, what would you have recommended be done differently?

The City needs to reconsider adding a DDACTS (Data Driven Approaches To Crime And Traffic Safety) units to the police department.  While the studies throughout the United States prove these units reduce serious crime and make our streets safer, in Dunwoody they are needed for another reason: economic development.  This is because according to the Dunwoody CVB and Economic Development Director, one of the growth areas for Dunwoody business is “Girls Weekend Out.”  As shocking as it is for me, my wife Liz occasionally wants to get away from me and the five boys—go figure—and have fun with her girlfriends shopping, dining and enjoying each other’s company over the weekend.  Apparently this is a common sentiment.  Dunwoody, because of its perceived safety, high end amenities, and convenient location, is the perfect place.  However, too many of what others call “petty” crimes are occurring.   To the victims, these crimes are anything but “petty” and to me can easily escalate into a major crime.  In either case, the victims naturally tell their friends, who tell their friends, and so forth.  (I invite those who think otherwise to review the extensive literature on the “Broken Window Theory Of Law Enforcement” to better understand this issue.)  That means we are not getting the greatest amount of desirable economic development as we could.  With the DDACTS unit in place, we would reduce these crimes and have the ability to further the marketing of safety to further economic development.

5) As a member of City Council, you will be able to appoint or recommend members of various commissions. Besides an interest in the subject, and a desire to serve, what qualifications do you want to see in a potential commission member?

The appointees must have experience in the issues which are addressed by the boards under which they serve.  I look at experience broadly and believe it must be demonstrated over a period of time prior to the appointment.  Fortunately, in Dunwoody we have many citizen led organizations which allow great opportunity for folks to participate in our City’s future.  And we have an active citizenry from which to consider.  Anyone seeking an appointment, or public office, should have a demonstrated track record of public service.

6) Which City department or commission (besides the Police) is the most critically important in developing the future of Dunwoody?

The city manager.  Dunwoody’s charter provides for a strong city manager.  However, I believe it is mission critical for the City Council and Mayor to set the policy and city manager to carry out that policy.  From my perspective, there have been too many instances where that line has been blurred.  As mayor, I will not allow the city manager to set city policy; conversely, I will insist all of the City Council members and I as mayor take responsibility for setting policy.  I will accomplish this by establishing an effective standing committee structure so as to ensure a predictable process, accountability, and effectiveness of policy setting and execution.

7) Which City department or commission do you feel is underserved and needs more attention in terms of funding and other resources (including personnel)?

At this juncture the departments are balanced to meet the budget.  With my public service experience, I am critically mindful of increasing personnel and the impact that may have on budgets years out, or during economic downturns.  That is why I am adamant about using the private non-profit sector volunteers, i.e. Dunwoody Chamber, Dunwoody CVB, Rotary, Kiwanis, Spruill Center For The Arts, Dunwoody Nature Center, etc., to provide better and more economical solutions.  They also build community from which all in Dunwoody benefit.  I know this first hand having served on many of their boards and in leadership roles.

8) In what ways should the City and Chamber of Commerce (or any other private entity) collaborate and in what ways should they be working separately to grow the City’s economic base?

The City economic development department and the Dunwoody chamber should work hand-in-hand.  As noted above, the successful models take advantage of the strengths of each so as to attract and retain business.  An example is the chamber may be able to invest its private funds to attract business in ways the City cannot nor should not.   Thus, as an executive board member I am glad the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Dunwoody Music Festival, and in contrast would not want the City to commit its taxpayer funds.

9) Elected officials are constantly contacted with requests to have specific issues addressed by local citizens. If elected, how will you prioritize what issues get on the Council agenda, what will get further private discussion, and what will be tabled?

By engaging an effective committee structure, issues important to the citizens of Dunwoody can be heard and vetted.  Moreover, I plan to hold Saturday monthly meetings at the Williams Room of the Dunwoody Library to allow the citizens to share their ideas, concerns and suggestions.  This will allow for the official meetings to move forward expeditiously and allow citizen input at all levels.

10) Open Mike Question: Make any statement you like on what issue or action will be most important to you as an elected official. 

I believe our next mayor should have experience to carry out Dunwoody citizen’s vision for the future.  Too often people run for office as if they were seeking a prize and have no track record demonstrating any experience or working with the public.  I am seeking to continue my decades of service for the community I and my family call home.  With that in mind, I have from the beginning of this campaign for mayor demonstrated I have experience in the areas which I have heard Dunwoody citizens say are important to our future:  public safety, transportation, economic development, neighborhood zonings, and parks—all within our budget and no millage increases.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stay Safe Online This Shopping Season

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  I've got to run out to the store later to see what's left for the crowd at my house tomorrow, so this will be my last post for a while.  Between turkey and football and the 'rents and the kids and some scheduled maintenance for some customers, this little corner will be quiet.

Until next time, here's some sage advice for those of you who will be shopping online for Christmas and Chanukkah this year.  The hackers and the phishers are out in full force this time of year so beware!

1)  If you shop online, make sure your payment info is only entered into a secured website.
If this sounds obvious, it's not.  It's easy to forget to check the menu bar of your browser for that little padlock and an address beginning with "https".  No matter how much you trust the company unless your payment data is secured, don't use the site.

2)  Think twice before clicking links in emails from banks or online stores.
It is the easiest thing in the world to create a fake version of PayPal, Amazon, or even Chase or Wells Fargo.  Phishers all over the world do it every day.  Then they send out "blast" emails with generic-sounding text about an account being frozen or suspicious activity with a link, presumably to your account.  The link will lead you to a fake website where any information you enter will be stolen and passed around like a bottle of wine.  If you have any doubts at all as to the validity of an email from your bank or online shopping outlet, call their customer service directly via phone to confirm.

3)  Upgrade your passwords to your online banking or shopping sites.
Daily Finance from AOL posted an article last week listing the Top 25 Worst passwords.  This is how hackers get into your account:  they just guess that you're using a simple easy-to-guess password and they are often right.  Take the time to create a complex password for your accounts that only you know.  My hosting provider just recently required all email passwords to have at least one capital letter, one punctuation character, one number, and one lower-case letter, and a minimum of 8 characters total.  It's good advice all around.  If you think you don't have time to create a secure password, then you really don't have time to reclaim your identity and your life once it's been stolen online.

4)  Shop Small This Saturday!
This Saturday is Small Business Saturday where shoppers are encouraged to shop at a locally-owned business for their holiday needs.  I'm not against larger corporations and their benefits, but small businesses put more money back into the local economy.  In Dunwoody, the majority of our business community are locally-owned enterprises so when you shop Dunwoody first, you are directly supporting your neighbors and your city. That includes any eateries for when you stop and take a break, plus other household services that you normally use all year.  Give them a try and you may find a treasure chest of products and services that you won't find anywhere else.

Feel free to use the comments below to post suggestions for local businesses to check out this weekend.

If you're a small business looking to think big online, drop SDOC Publishing a line at our website and let's talk about what the Internet can do for you.  We're lining up new projects for our customers and now is a great time to get on the schedule and your web-based enterprise off the ground!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Light up Dunwoody

Great night tonight at the Farmhouse. Pam, tip a big wet one, you deserve a break now that it's over.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Local Dunwoody Lawn Care

Like everyone else our house is scrambling for Thanksgiving and a parade of other activities this week.  Every leaf in North Georgia landed in our yard, a bunch of stuff had to be trimmed and I had NO idea how I was going to get it done.  

Keith Hutchinson of Dunwoody Total Lawn Care has been doing the maintenance on my lawn for several years.  Keith is a Dunwoody homeowner and runs his business from home (yes, legally).  You can't see it in the picture from this angle but there is a PCMS magnet on the back of the truck.  He does basic lawn mowing, cleaning, fertilizing and maintenance and pruning.  His rates are the best I've ever seen.  Best of all, he does not hire any day labor; he does all of his work himself, personally.

Keith handled my little leaves-everywhere problem this past Sunday.  We came home from church to find that problem resolved and the yard and front porch spotless.  

If you are in the market for basic lawn care services, please give Keith a call at the number in the picture.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Keep Your Data Safe When You Recycle Your Electronics

I look forward to the electronics recycling events.  Like everyone else I don't like the idea of just throwing away old cell phones, chargers, cruise card transponders, etc.  So they pile up in my office until a recycling drive comes along and I can drop them off.

There are several things that I hesitate to drop however:  computer hard drives.  The "delete" key is not all-powerful.  With the right software data can be retrieved.  Anything personal on your drive could potentially be reconstructed.

That's not just external hard drives.  Scanners, fax machines, copy machines (like at FedEx Kinkos) home office all-in-ones all have hard drives in them and they all save all of their images of documents copied.  Like your tax returns, drivers' license, etc.

When you recycle anything with a hard drive, make sure you destroy it.  Computer hardware specialists should know how to remove the hard drives from your peripherals.  Plait Solutions, LLC who I believe are based around Alpharetta held a recycling drive in October.  The owner boasted of bringing a power drill and sledge hammer to ensure that all hard drives were inoperable.  An industrial electric magnet will do the job too.

Finally, cross-check the recycler's certification.  Make sure they actually recycle the heavy metals and other non-dump-worthy content as they say they do.  A few years ago 60 Minutes did a report on an electronics recycler who lied through their teeth, claiming to safely recycle electronics in the USA but were actually dumping them into an environmental nightmare in China.  I hope this was just an exception but I can't get this episode out of my head.  Best to make sure that you and the recycler are on the same page with how to dispose of e-waste before you start.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Alcohol Sales on Sunday - the Catch-22

Sporadic start dates muddle transition |

The article above quotes Bob Leavey, owner of d'Vine Wine Bar in the Shops of Dunwoody (my favorite watering hole) regarding the Sunday alcohol sales referendum.

The question passed by about 80% in Dunwoody on election day. Dunwoody alcohol sales begin on December 4.

I looked over the ballot closely when I voted and also reviewed some of the sample ballot questions posted online. Not once did I see anything about an additional $1,100 fee for the privilege. Were it not for the memorandum from Chris Pike on John's blog, I would have thought the AJC got it wrong. The item is up for discussion at Monday's council meeting.

The last page is fascinating. In addition to a $4,000 license for a full-service bar, plus additional "nickel and dime" fees for employees that pour and wine tastings and whatnot, there's an additional $1,100 just for Sunday! Where did this number come from? Outer space?

So for these small outfits to meet the obvious demand for sales on Sunday and remain competitive with larger stores (like Total Wine) and restaurants and supermarkets, they have to pay an extra fee and stay open. But if they pay the extra fee they stand to lose a chunk of profit so the competitiveness doesn't pay off. Classic Catch-22.

Most bars and liquor stores are stereotypical "mom and pop" outfits. Bob aludes to that himself in the AJC article. Like most small businesses they don't have extra cash just lying around; everything is invested in making the business function. A couple of years ago, when the discussion of Sunday alcohol sales was first raised, I had a fascinating conversation with one of the owners of the Rhapsody Bottle Shop in Orchard Park. They were against selling on Sundays. Not because of any religious concerns (they sell alcohol for a living - duh) but because they were just a family outfit and Sunday was the only day they could take off and rest. Supermarkets are always going to sell and additional fees or hours won't even make a dent in their bottom line.

So the only people this fee will harm are the small, local family-owned outfits. 

So whadaya think of the additional fees to buy liquor on Sundays? There's a poll on the bottom of the page. But if you really want to make a point, call Chris Pike and tell him yourself at 678-382-6700 or email him at Don't forget to comment on the Council Agenda post on John's blog. Make sure the rest of City Council knows what you think too starting with the Mayor (there are links to the other city council members' pages from here). Don't forget our not-yet-inaugurated new city council member Lynn Deutsch and the gentlemen continuing their campaigns in a runoff. If you have the time tomorrow night, show up at City Hall and look them in the eye when you tell them what a rotten idea this is because it shafts our small business owners.

All that legal paperwork for one simple convenience and it may or may not be as simple as we thought because of an additional fee. Unbelievable.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering Veterans Day

While remembering Veterans Day, if you're at the Orchard Park Kroger, support the local VFW and wear a poppy today.

The Soldier

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

By Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

For my father, US Navy, 1950s
For my father-in-law 101st Airborne, WW2

For my great great great great grandfather, Thaddeus Skelton
Union Army Infantry, 84th Brooklyn Volunteers, 1861
Served with distinction at the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas

For my great great great great great great great great great grandfather Captain Daniel Lyon, Continental Army of New York, 1776

For my great great great great great great great great great grandfather, Lt Nathaniel Tibbetts Jr, Continental Army of Massachussetts, 1776

For my great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather, Thomas Prence, Governor of Plymouth Colony during King Philips' War.

To everyone serving overseas, my prayers you get your jobs done and get home safely.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Opportunity Pounding: THIS is a property Dunwoody should buy

The infamously empty residential lot at the corner of Tilly Mill and North Peachtree is up for sale.  This sign had to be recent - maybe even today.  I happened to snag the photo while returning home.  I've heard all kinds of stories about this lot from "a house is going to be built there" to "someone cut down and stole the trees for firewood."

Here's why this would be a good purchase for Dunwoody:

  • Given the size of the lot, it's probably not going to break the regular budget.  No bond referendums, etc.  Given its long time vacant status I predict there will be no bidding war.
  • It is unoccupied.  No one is going to be displaced by the sale.  It shouldn't be hard to steer clear of the neighboring residential properties if you put your mind to it.
  • The lot can be used to improve traffic in an intersection that carries more cars daily than it was designed for. Improving traffic flow in this growing area is a documented NEED, not a recreational WANT.
  • The positive impact the realignment of the intersection provides will benefit anyone who drives on the road.  That's a cross-section of the entire "Dunwoody" community, including homeowners, renters, students, employees and commuters.
  • Depending on the type of street alignment built, you can make it a secondary gateway, inside the city limits. Think of the foyer to a house and additional hallways are built off of it.  Great place to start the recently-discussed "wayfinding" system.  (Also useful, although I'd like to see some efforts to reach out to the "daytimer" community to find out what those needs really are before building anything.)

Talk about incredible timing!  Right after the majority of voters turned down the parks bonds, a piece of land crops up suddenly that fills a clear NEED to improve our basic infrastructure.  How lucky can you get??

2011 Dunwoody Elections - The Morning After

Turns out the early returns were accurate.  This is the official tally distributed by the City:

2011 Election Results

The following results are the unofficial results from DeKalb County.

     Bob Dallas - 3787   43.21%
     Mike Davis - 3389  38.67%
     Gordon Jackson - 1540  17.57%
     Write-in - 48  0.55%

Council Post 4
     Terry Nall -3824  44.73%
     Robert Wittenstein -3564  41.68%
     Rick Callihan -1133  13.25%
     Write-in - 29  0.34%

Council Post 5
     Kerry de Vallette -3694  44.48%
     Lynn Deutsch -4593 55.30%
     Write-in 18 0.22%

Council Post 6
     John Heneghan -7087  98.90%
     Write-in 79 1.10%

Parks Acquisition Bond
     yes - 3080  33.32%
     no -  6163  66.68%

Parks Improvement Bond
     yes - 3715  40.18%
     no -  5531  59.82%

Redevelopment Powers Act
     yes - 4759 54.25%
     no - 4013  45.75%

Sunday Alcohol Sales
     yes -  7395  79.51%
     no -  1906  20.49%

Education SPLOST
     yes - 33114  62.18%
     no - 20141  37.82%

The Education SPLOST succeeded across all of DeKalb but Dunwoody locally voted it down.

It's not over yet - we've got two runoffs in the coming month.

Keep keeping it classy.  If your candidate or issue won the day, you don't have to gloat.  Don't do that to your neighbors.  If your candidate or issue lost, try to work with it/them anyway.  You may be pleasantly surprised that it works out.  If not, you can vote again in the next election.

I am glad that we have local accountability for our votes.  We have to look each other in the eye in the coming weeks.  We still have to deal with each other.  That's better than a government half a county away that couldn't care less about our community except for what they can take from our wallets.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011 Dunwoody Election Returns

...are in progress and will get posted whenever I hear them. In the mean time, here's the live blog from Dunwoody Patch. Posts courtesy of Peter Cox.

UPDATE. look for a runoff for mayor Davis/Dallas and dist 1 Nall/Wittenstein. Park bonds and eSPLOST are tanking. Too close to call on TADs


Update 3. Deutsch wins.

Dunwoody Election Day 2011

I've been mentally composing this post for a couple of weeks and when I was finally ready and able to put it down, I got a cold splash of perspective.  Found out (on Facebook, of all places) that a Phi Mu sister who I communicated with on our sorority listserv and on LinkedIn was killed in a car crash last night leaving behind her husband and children.

So everything below this line suddenly seems verrrrrrry small.  People and lives are more important than political arguments, neighborhood squables, or business negotiations.  I live my life this way but every so often you get jerked up short and reminded when you least expect it.

These are random thoughts, sometimes contradictory, that follow me to the polls this evening.  Some are about one candidate or issue, some about several, some are a "big picture" perspective.

No one running in this election is Evil Incarnate.  We're not talking Damien and The Omen here.  When choosing among friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and that guy I see while driving to school every morning, you're choosing among fellow humans.  Like every election there is rarely a candidate that every voter agrees with 100% of the time on every issue.  Best you can do is vote for the one who is not only closest to your ideals, but also the one who can be reasoned with to find middle ground when the inevitable disagreements arise.

Long-term politicians have a bad rep.  Some deserve it, some don't.  Building a career in politics does not necessarily mean that a candidate does not have local issues and people at heart.  For Dunwoody to become a city, legislative bills were introduced and passed and the state Constitution was changed so we were even permitted to vote.  That process was handled by (wait for it....) career politicians.  Dunwoody owes its existence in part to these people so they can't be all bad.

The PCID is the reason we're able to stay afloat financially.  It was a huge political football during the incorporation fight and probably the key reason there was so much opposition from the County, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and other citizens.  (Anyone else remember the "Why you take my CID?" chants from the grassroots opposition?)  PCID is a part of Dunwoody, but a very different one with different needs than the stereotypical bedroom communities.  It would be unwise to hamstring it with ordinance and zoning restriction more suitable to a suburb full of center-hall colonials.  The new Zoning code, when it's written should take that into account and find a way to let this very unique district develop in its own way.

Leadership is leadership:  the ability to coalesce a group of people and move them to a common goal.  It is actually more difficult to do this with volunteers than with paid employees.  Paid employees are persuaded with a paycheck.  Volunteers need emotional motivation which is infinitely harder.  Don't count out the person whose experience is in working with volunteers - they've done the hardest job.

During the Chamber of Commerce forum someone (Terry Nall?) mentioned that out of the 2500 (approx) registered businesses in Dunwoody, that 500 of them are home-based.  I'd like to dig around and find out if that number is anywhere near correct.  That would mean that a full 20% of business establishments in this city are run from someone's home!  That's not just a scattered handful of residents quietly indulging a quirky hobby, unwittingly dragged in front of City Council and used as poster children for someone's utopian re-visioning of Dunwoody.  That's a significant percentage of residents who choose (or need) to conduct business in this way to make a living!  Home based work is going to have to be taken much more seriously as a significant part of this city's economic viability.

The daytime population of Dunwoody is over 100K.  The citizen count in the census is 46K.  Homeowners are 50% of that population, which is about 23K.  That means that generally, resident citizens are outnumbered 2 - 1 by students, employees, customers, and commuters.  Homeowners are outnumbered 5 - 1.  A city government will ignore the needs of that extended population at their peril.  Being involved in the DHA leadership is not "nothing" experience, but is a DHA board/exec board member going to be able to take into account the needs of non-homeowners when making city decisions?  Whether you're part of the DHA or other HOA in town, it's easy to find consensus among your membership when your needs are under attack and you're all taking cover in the same foxhole.  What happens when you become the status quo and all those annoying little differences that were previously overlooked come to the forefront?  Who is going to ensure that other populations continue to come to Dunwoody - and more, ensure that they leave some money behind?

The Parks "Plan" and the apartments.  Either someone is flying under my radar and really does have evil intentions toward apartment residents along PIB, or someone did some galaxy-class piss-poor communicating.  The planning process has been full of holes from jump.  From the questions asked on the initial survey, to the statistical analysis and interpretation.  (I mentioned the flaws in the latter at a DHA meeting and my point soared over everyone's head - that there was no way to tell whether people were telling the truth on the parks surveys, or if they were giving what they thought were The Correct Answers, based on what was expected.)  Then there's questions of who is influencing what on behalf of what group.  Then the amount of debt.  Then breaking down the debt to "what does each person pay".  That breakdown tactic is the same one car dealerships use to persuade a sale - get the customer to focus on the per month payment, not the total cost.  I don't go for that line of thinking when buying a car, I don't go for it for any other large financial decision either.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse another piece of the puzzle becomes the anticipated October Surprise and if pursued will result in the displacement of several hundred (thousand?) Dunwoody residents.  Whoever gets elected, make note:  I will not vote in favor of any plan for any reason that involves the confiscation of private residential property.  Unless the home is structurally unsound or the property a public health hazard,  you're not going to build your support base by removing people.  I don't buy the "reduce crime" argument either.  First, because there is more crime in the PCID than along PIB and no one is proposing turning that into a park.  Second because crime is reduced by law enforcement at all levels.  If you're not going to treat your residents as people, then why are you working in the public sector and who exactly are you working for?  If this plan does not imply removing people, then you best clarify your plans a lot better before signing off on a press release.  Make it really clear you're treating people with the same dignity you want for yourself, you'll have a much easier time selling your ideas.

Finally, I hope that after today, Chip and Rob get a room and resolve that tension in private.  I'll even donate the wine, rose petals, and leather accessories, just take it behind closed doors for a while, ok fellas?