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A few thoughts: The snowbound edition

January 13, 2011 9 comments

South+WinterWeather=BAD

I get it and I totally understand the fact that Southerners and those of us who transplanted here many moons ago do not do well in bad winter weather. In fact I sympathize with the South because we get trounced as unprepared and unsophisticated because we have a difficult time dealing with and cleaning up bad snow weather. Citizens and visitors alike have to understand that we are just not prepared to handle what is basically a once a decade thing. If we were, we would have a bunch of equipment that sits around and gets outdated before it gets hardly any use. I am probably in the minority but I feel the state and the counties did about a good a job as they could have considering the circumstances. DeKalb reportedly has less than ten salt and sand spreaders and only two snow removal devices. Other counties in the metro are in the same boat. This is one time where I am not going to rail so hard on the county or the state for not being prepared. After all, if the county purchased more snow equipment we all would be howling how much the county squanders our tax dollars. Though I was surprised that by Thursday, there was still ice on some parts of the freeways, I was not complaining like so many around me. I guess I have come to resign myself to the fact that when we have atrocious winter weather this is the response we can expect. And we are not out of the woods yet.

I Love MARTA, but…

Why oh why did MARTA have limited bus service on Wednesday and today. Most people found a way to make it to work. I think that shortened routs or redirected routes would be preferable to nothing at all. The decision makers at MARTA must realize that the bus is a vital link for many folks to get not only to jobs, but to medical appointments, grocery stores and just to be able to get around. Monday and Tuesdays decision to cut bus service was reasonable, but Wednesday Could have been limited to major thoroughfares and retail districts. Most major roads on Wednesday were completely passable by then. I really have to wonder how much of this was MARTA employees not coming in to work because the road were “too bad” and how much was a concern for safety. Of all the people driving on the roads I put more faith in the ability of bus drivers and truck drivers than I do ordinary citizens. I also want to take MARTA to task for its rail schedule. The service was erratic even on Wednesday when MARTA should have been able to get a full complement of train operators. 20-25 minute waits on a train, a transfer and then another 10- 15 minute wait is horrible. This has not been a shining moment for MARTA, and add to that the two murders and the cut in service last year, MARTA is eroding what little public support it has remaining among those of us who have been solid supporters of MARTA over the years.

C’mon DeKalb Schools, make a decision already

DeKalb is always the last system to announce it will be closed because of bad weather. What are they contemplating? Are you afraid to be the first to close? I remember years ago when the school system closed based on a forecast of possible light snow/rain. They were the only system in the metro to close, and people questioned why they pulled the trigger to close schools before the weather event happened. It did not snow, it was a light cold rain. Check the conditions and if they do not meet your criteria for safety close the schools. A bad decision is a bad decision, you made it, you move on. I would not be at all surprised if that bad decision is still in the back of some people heads. By the way, I drove past two schools on my way to work, and both had parking lots with nothing but ice and the roads leading to them were nothing but ice. That decision could have been made early this morning.

Finally…

I don’t know about you, but I actually enjoyed the couple of days off this week. My wife and I had to use every bit of imagination to keep our 3 year old entertained. In this fast paced world of career and social media and just an overall sense of being busy, it was a time for all three of us to enjoy some time together. Although I think we do a pretty good job otherwise, it was refreshing that we had two days with just us three. Games, sledding, playing in the snow, movies and video games and even some flash cards made the two days go by quite well, and at the end of each day our three year old was ready to go to bed. Daycare has never been successful at doing that.

A few thoughts if you please

October 19, 2010 2 comments
A few thoughts on politics, government and community 

The 2010 midterm elections are approaching fast, and the there are so many candidates and offices up for election that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  Endorsements are rolling in from groups and individuals whose motives are unknown at best. There are a lot of offices up for grabs for South DeKalb voters, so here is my rundown on some of them.

Let’s talk board of education first. EduKALB has endorsed its slate of candidates for the board of education. As we all know, the board has been the subject of some bad press lately, and the thought of having the accreditation of the county schools revoked has put the spotlight on the board members themselves. EduKALB, a reform-minded group , I think,  has endorsed Dr. Kirk Nooks in the 5th and Corey Wilson in the 3rd district. They also gave the nod to Donna Edler in the 7th district. These seem like reasonable endorsements to me. Having talked to two of the three, I came away with a good feel for both Wilson and Nooks. I have heard Ms. Edler on several occasions, and I think she will be an upgrade in the 7th. What surprised me about EduKALB was the lack of endorsement for Nancy Jester in the 1st district. She seems to be a well grounded individual that has a good command of what is going on in the system and wants to see a change in the way business is done. Maybe Jim Redovian is not like the other incumbents in that he has no dirt that is sticking to him like several of the other candidates. In any case, Voting for Jester would not hurt the 1st district in my humble opinion.
The election for the 4th district congressional seat is probably safe for Hank J., but I wonder how much of a dent Liz Carter will make. She has been at Hank from day one. Even during the primary, Hank was her primary target. She and her supporters make no bones about their lack of confidence in the present representation, but lets be real here, this is a pro Democrat district, and unless there has been some radical change in the last few minutes, it will remain just that. No Republican has gotten more than a third of the vote in this district since it was redrawn back in the mid-nineties, but Carter has been very vocal and has a solid group of hard core supporters that will probably go to the polls. Hank on the other hand has played it quiet, not engaging in debates, and basically ignoring Carter’s call for at least one debate. I do have to wonder why Hank won’t debate Carter; is it fear of a misstep that could be fatal? I doubt that even a few mistakes by Johnson would hurt him in the 4th. What I want to see is if Carter can get between 40-45 percent of the vote. If she does that would be news all its own and could signal a changing of the guard in DeKalb. 

I haven’t spent much time on the 13th district race, but I have to say this; I hope David Scott loses. Why, you ask? Well to start he doesn’t even live in the district. He would rather fight community gardens in Inman Park than live and play around the people he is supposed to represent. If you need more reasons, just Google him and then tell me you still support the guy.

The folks over at Crossroads News have been on point as of late. A series of articles taking the county to task about it’s roadside maintenance has reaped some benefits. In the past few weeks, I have seen not only county workers, but volunteers and community service folks cleaning up major thoroughfares in South DeKalb. One weekend I saw so many orange bags waiting to be picked up I had to wonder where all the trash came from. Now it is up to citizens to do their part. Trash strewn streets and waist high grass is an eyesore and shows a lack of pride in ones own backyard.

Thanks go to a DeKalb police officer who responded to my neighbors alarm. I came home one day and my neighbors alarm was going off I knew she was out of the country and had a home sitter while she was gone. I walked around the house and saw nothing out of place. I called her alarm company since I did not have the house sitters info, and advised them. They told me they saw the alarm, but it was a motion and not a window or door but would call police anyway. When the police arrived about 15 minutes later, the officer checked things out and alerted the alarm company who killed the alarm. The officer was polite and actually thanked me for alerting the alarm company. I wish I had gotten his name because all the crap that he police put up with, he took the time to be polite and friendly.

Lats but not least. The county needs to work on it’s documents depot. That is where average folk like you and me can go to see many of the documents that help us keep track of our elected officials. My beef with the DocDepot is that minutes from BOC meetings are never up to date. In fact if you go there right now, you will not see any minutes from BOC meetings since early July. I know that the minutes have to be approved by the CEO and there are some other additional hoops before they can be published, but there has to be a faster way. You will find agendas and summaries but no minutes. The minutes offer details that summaries and agendas do not. You would think that meeting minutes from August would be posted by now. In this day and age, information moves at the speed of light, but in government, it still moves at a snails pace.

Competent service from Commissioner Johnson’s office

August 18, 2010 Comments off

I was busy searching for some information on a rezoning request that came before the commission recently when I noticed that several documents related to public meetings were missing from the county’s website. Well, being the pessimist that I am, I immediately thought our local government was trying to hide something. Well I was wrong. Turns out, the BOC and ZBOA minutes have to be approved before they can be made public. the missing documents had not been approved by the CEO or the board and until they are they are not released to the public. How did I find this out? It was a lady who worked in Commissioner Johnson’s office by the name of Ingrid Butler. I called Mr. Johnson’s office because the issue that I was interested in fell in his district, and he voted against the rezone so this was a natural place to start. Ms. Butler was a breath of fresh air. She was polite, knowledgeable and showed a genuine concern for issue. In fact she called me back twice. Once to tell me how to navigate the documents repository that holds the documents for the public to see, which I already knew, and the second call was to explain to me why the documents were not in the repository. I was thoroughly impressed, but was not surprised as she works in Commissioner Johnson’s office and he is one commissioner that actually votes for what is best for his constituents. It seems most of the time when you deal with government employees, local or otherwise, you walk away with a bad taste in your mouth. It is nice to deal with people who are competent, and are not just working a job to draw a paycheck. We need more of these types of people in DeKalb government.