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 www.dallasfordunwoodymayor.org.  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.