Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one they were gone
Back at base bugs in the software
Flash the message "something's out there!"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by
Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life ....
Read more: Nena - 99 Red Balloons Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Almost 5 years ago, I opined on this blog that there should be a clear separation between voting board members of any civic group and an official government board.My Dunwoody Christmas Wish List
When I brought it up in a meeting, I was almost booed right out of the room. But I stand by these statements today. I accepted the Exec nomination knowing full well I would turn down any request to serve on a city board that receives requests from the public and makes recommendation to city council.
Not everyone loves the DHA. I sure didn't when I moved to Dunwoody in 2004. It was an argument about DHA's positions about business that got me invited to join the board. (Yes, really. Remind me to tell you that story sometime.)
But for a moment, let's take a look at this process and its implications.
1) It's not just voting board members or executive members that are affected here. ALL DUES-PAYING members are banned from serving in this capacity, whether you have a voting role or not. So even if you don't have a conflict of interest, the fact that you are a MEMBER makes you ineligible to participate in government.
Councilmembers John Heneghan and Jim Riticher and Terry Nall are DHA members, by the way.
2) Only the DHA is targeted. Even though every homeowners association in Dunwoody has an interest in the real estate development and evolution of the city, only DHA members are banned. So if you're in one of the following associations, you're good to go.
Ashford Chase Homeowners Association
Ashworth Homeowners Association
Devinger Homeowners Association
Dunwoody Club Forest Neighbors
Dunwoody Club Forest West
Dunwoody North Civic Association
Fairfield Homeowners Association
Lockridge Forest Civic Association (part in Dunwoody; part in Peachtree Corners)
Madison Community Homeowners Association
Madison Square at Dunwoody
Mayfair Park Homeowners Association
Meadowlake at Dunwoody
North Springs Homeowners Association
Oxford Chase Homeowners Association
St. Andrews Circle
Wellesley Place Homeowners Association
Wellington Place Condos
Winter Rose Homeowners Association
Wintercrest Homeowners Association
Or are you? Maybe the DHA member banning is only the first strike and other homeowner associations will be added. If one HOA can be systematically banned from government participation, then no one is safe.
3) What about other civic groups? The Chamber of Commerce has a vested interest in business and real estate development. Are their members banned? Especially since the current chair was Mike Davis' campaign manager. No love lost there. How about the Nature Center? Or the Dunwoody Womens' Club? Are they banned too?
How about the Dunwoody Preservation Trust or the Brook Run Conservancy? Are their members banned? Or did they earn themselves some protection since they supported Denny's campaign for mayor?**
4) Does this extend to spouses? For example, I serve on the DHA exec board. Would Pat Sr be eligible for appointment to a city board or commission? How about adult children of DHA board members? Siblings? In Laws? How far does this go?
5) Don't miss the part where any and all officials are banned from visiting DHA meetings. Even if they sit and keep their mouths shut. They can't even *hear* what people say in a presentation that is the only place in Dunwoody where any citizen can show up and meet the developers and other parties in person. Remember the Dunwoody Village townhomes? The DHA played an integral part in negotiating standards of features for seniors and layout of that to-be-built development that were acceptable to the Vernon North neighborhood right behind it. City Council just blew hot air after the hard work had been done and had nothing to add but ridiculous demands for the type of models to be presented and other minutiae that are beyond a government's scope.
For all of the talk of "transparency" and "involvement", city council is now diminishing the one venue where citizens can meet the major players and develop an informed opinion about development plans before they go to city government for official review. That's not building a community. That's not building trust. That's not promoting citizen involvement. That's cutting off communication at the knees.
6) Speaking of cutting off communication, how about that gag order, threatening legal and ethics violations against those who talked to others about this process? So city council can illegally change city policy in executive session, but those impacted are threatened? This has to be a script for a bad sitcom.
7) If DHA membership was so unethical for board or commission members, why did it take this long to discover it?
Finally, this is a city policy. City policies, by law, must be voted on in public. Denny Shortal insisted that this vote be taken in executive session. That's called abuse of privilege, kiddos, and it's a violation of state law.
Not bad enough news for you?
The majority of city council went along with him. Including some who are exuberant about how "ethical" and "transparent" they are. (Do I really need to name the names here?) Denny has now blown up each and every campaign promise he made in his little video-recorded house visits where he promised more transparency and integrity. To add irony to insult, this move is the pinnacle or arrogance - an insult leveled at Mike during the election season.
I regret to say this is only the beginning. Dick's article above indicates that he's lawyered up and the open records requests will be flying hot and heavy. There should be more revelations made - assuming someone isn't going to try to weasel out of responding.
This situation is NOT what we signed on for when Dunwoody voted for incorporation.
**Reports came across my desk that some citizens were alarmed at the amount of campaigning DPT board members engaged in for Denny Shortal. So much so that complaints were filed with the IRS over their tax-exempt status.
The opinion expressed in this and every post on this blog is my own and does not necessarily reflect that of any other organization with which I am affiliated, or its members.