Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation recently reported, “Atlanta has the second-worst congestion in the nation, behind Los Angeles. Failing to keep up with the growth in traffic is one reason; another is a poorly functioning arterial road network, which causes overuse of freeways for local trips and does not allow for alternate routes around accidents and traffic jams. Atlanta's failure to plan for growth by designing and building an effective grid of arterial roads should be a lesson for areas around the state that are not fully developed.” An Atlanta Journal Constitution article titled “Make roads safe so that ‘routine’ deaths decline” referenced U.S. 78 as an example of an unsafe suburban thoroughfare in need of improvements benefiting local, regional, and pedestrian traffic. The Evermore CID is leading the effort to plan and construct significant improvements benefiting all that live, work, shop, or travel U.S. 78 in Gwinnett County.
Most know of the major investment underway along U.S. 78 to improve safety by installing a center median; however, Evermore is also benefitting from the planning and design of an effective parallel street system too. Potential projects linking the signalized intersection at Rockbridge Road with Davis Road and Hewatt Road, crossing Parkwood Road, continuing to Britt Road and eventually to the newly engineered intersection at Walton Court are positive for all. Completion of these projects, as well as the numerous others underway, will provide options for local travel, improve safety, guarantee access, and preserve property values for residential and business alike.
By providing a grid of parallel streets the entire 7-mile corridor, local traffic will have choices to access businesses, avoid congestion and/or accidents, and safely enter and exit the corridor. The proposed parallel streets include reduced design speeds, pedestrian access, and buffers. In addition to providing safe access and improving mobility, the parallel streets provide opportunities to preserve and revitalize the business corridor. A strong, vibrant business marketplace improves safety and strengthens residential property values.
From the CID’s founding in 2003, our organization has modeled our projects and programs in an attempt to avoid the life cycle experienced on the Memorial Drive corridor. Absent safe access provided by parallel streets, business failures, empty storefronts, and an increase in less than attractive properties is a much greater probability. The Evermore community must remain united in support of our work program that will encourage investment and revitalization.
Whether a homeowner, business owner, employee, or visitor, Evermore’s proposed parallel street projects are positive for all.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Amendment 2 authorizes local school boards to participate voluntarily in funding redevelopment and revitalization efforts that preserve local control and transparency. It also provides future funding increases in support of the school system. Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 will modify the state constitution to permit increases in school tax revenues, based on the increased value of a revitalization project, to go toward paying for that project. Over time, the resulting new development will generate greater revenues to the school system.
Wonderful, but what about needed school revenues today?
Our school system, just as most parts of our economy and community, is facing increased funding pressures today. The school funding crisis is never more evident than in areas in need of revitalization and redevelopment where stagnating and declining property values contribute only a fraction of the tax revenues previously received by the schools.
Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 allows local school boards to evaluate on a case-by-case basis participating in revitalization projects funded via TAD bonds. Flexibility contained within the TAD laws not only provides for future funding increases to the school system, but also allows local school boards to negotiate, as a condition for their participation in a TAD, for additional school improvements and/or up-front payments. Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 provides local school boards the ability to immediately secure additional and accelerated school funding.
How often have we heard our elected zoning officials say, "We cannot consider schools in the zoning decision?" How often have we heard our elected school board officials say, "We have no input into development issues impacting our schools?" Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 permits our local school board to voice its support or opposition to specific revitalization projects influencing our schools.
School costs will most certainly increase over the next 25 to 30 years; Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 provides our local school board a flexible tool to assist in generating immediate and future revenues necessary to meet those costs. It further assists in returning declining and stagnant areas to their full taxpaying value so as not to be a drain on other taxpayers.
Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 does not take money away from our schools or children, it does not increase taxes of any kind and it does not abate taxes for any taxpayer. Voting "yes" on Amendment 2 preserves local control, provides transparency and secures funding for the benefit of Gwinnett County schools and our children's future.
Editorial published in the Gwinnett Daily Post, Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
UPDATE: Yeah! Picked up 4 boxes of 10 at $25.10 via the auction.
JR Cigar Dutch Auction > DON DIEGO PRIVADA NO. 1
(Box of 10)
Dutch Auction Item #439
JR Price: $33.95
Starting Bid: $1.00
End Time: 09/02/2008 - 10:00 AM EST
Start Time: 08/29/2008 - 10:00 AM EST
No. of Bids: 165
Quantity Available: 100
A classic Dominican cigar with a silky-smooth, almond-colored Connecticut Shade wrapper. Beautifully handrolled, these cigars have a creamy flavor that never bites, and a subtle finish with no aftertaste. An excellent cigar for those who prefer a milder smoking experience.
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper Color: Light Brown (N)
Wrapper Type: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Republic
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Today, after agreeing to adopt an increased millage rate and on the eve of the City's adoption of a new budget and stormwater utility fee, I reflect again on the tremendous improvements over the past decade as well as the negative trend over the past year. The numbers below are real, they are the actual taxes and fees I personally pay to live in the City of Snellville.
A decade of accomplishment
Beginning with 1998, as my baseline, and comparing those costs and values to 2008, my home in Snellville has increased in appraised value by 48% while my property taxes paid to the City, including the 1/2 mil increase proposed for 2008, have decreased by 5%. The tax millage rate over that time is down by 31%, again, including the proposed increase in 2008.
In 1998, I paid an additional $148 fee for trash collection - that fee was eliminated fully in 2001. The new stormwater utility fee, as proposed, will add $94.50 per year to my cost of living in Snellville. So, over the decade, fees have been reduced from $148 to $94.50 - a 36% reduction.
Including the 2008 millage rate increase and new stormwater fees, my after tax cost of living in Snellville remains 13% less than in 1998 while my home is valued at 48% more. Great job Mayor, Council, and City of Snellville!
A disturbing trend more recently
Let's hope the cliche "all good things must come to an end" isn't true for Snellville, however, recent decisions have me increasingly concerned.
Beginning in 2005, the Council returned to the age old practice of fixing the millage rate and holding it constant, year after year, without regard for actual need for adjustment - up or down. While politically expedient, it isn't the best way to govern a City. [By adjusting the millage rate annually, in support of an adopted City plan, large swings may be minimized.]
With the proposed 1/2 mil tax increase in 2008, the millage rate is increasing 14% in a single year while my home's reappraisal is up only 13%. Taxes rising faster than values is never a good sign most especially in the current economic environment.
Add to the rising tax rate, the imposition of a new stormwater utility fee and my cost of living in Snellville will increase by 50% in 2008 versus 2007. By addressing stormwater via a fee system rather than including the cost in the property tax digest, my after tax cost of living in Snellville is increasing even more - up 58%. On an after tax basis, I paid $332.81 to live in Snellville in 2007, I'll pay $525.84 for the same pleasure in 2008. [By including the stormwater fee in the tax digest and increasing the millage rate further, most would actually pay less on an after tax basis.]
Before you recall the tremendous improvements in Snellville - new City Hall, Senior Center, Recycling Center, additional Police Officers, pay increases, etc. - and suggest the reason for tax increases, know that the proposed budget has no new hires, below inflation employee raises, and benefits tremendously from SPLOST capital investments not available at the beginning of the decade.
Any way you cut it, it's been a great decade, but it appears the party's over - unless . . . our new City Manager, Dr. Treadway, gets the party started again!
Monday, April 28, 2008
A few photos from New York:
were everywhere in New York and D.C.
represented in the bleachers to keep us rowdies in line.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
After cannolli at Ferrara's Italian bakery on Grant Street in Little Italy, Mike and I are now headed to the Shubert Theatre for Spamalot.
This evening we'll take the train to Rockaway Island and participate in an Orthodox Jewish Passover Seder supper.
Mike was quoted in an AJC article on the papal visit on Thursday, April 18th titled "Major-league Mass" by Bob Dart.
Pope Benedict left Washington from Andrews AFB about 8:30 a.m. Friday morning and arrived at RFK in New York just after 10:00 a.m. The pope addressed the United Nations General Assembly at about 11:00 a.m.
Mike and I departed D.C. about 12:30 p.m. and were met in New York at LaGuardia by Mike's father Tom. After a short visit at his home in Queens, we attended a family gathering in Suffolk County on Long Island. Tom then treated us to a fantastic Italian meal at Pasquele's on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
Saturday morning, the Holy Father will travel down 5th Avenue in the popemobile very near our hotel in route to St. Patrick's Cathedral where he will celebrate mass with clergy from around the country.
A few pics from CUA and the National Shrine:
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Deacon Mike Byrne, St. John Neumann, is in route back to Chinatown from the papal mass at Washington Nationals stadium where he was honored to participate in the mass by distributing Holy Communion. Mike was interviewed by Cox News after the mass and his comments should air on TV 2 in Atlanta this evening.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, landed at Andrews AFB at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon and was greeted by the President and First Lady. The event marks the first time a U.S. President has left the White House to meet a visiting head of state upon arrival. The Vatican is the smallest nation-state and the Pope's visit is an "official" state visit.
This morning the Pope will celebrate his 81st birthday with a visit to the White House and a meeting with President Bush and others. This evening, the President is hosting a formal White House dinner in honor of the Pope's visit, however, the Holy Father will not be in attendance as he will be meeting with U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
This afternoon, Mike Byrne and I depart about 1 p.m. for D.C.. Thursday morning, Mike, a Catholic Deacon, will participate in the mass officiated by Pope Benedict at Washington Nationals Stadium. Thursday afternoon, the Holy Father meets with educators and students at The Catholic University of America and then inter-religious leaders at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
Friday, after a quick tour of the U.S. Capitol, we depart for New York. Friday morning the pope speaks at the United Nations and in the afternoon meets with ecumenical Christian leaders. Friday evening, Mike's father Tom, a New Yorker, is treating us to his favorite Italian restaurant.
Saturday morning, Pope Benedict celebrates mass for Catholic religious at St. Patrick's Cathedral then travels via popemobile across the city. We'll take in a Broadway matinee Saturday afternoon -- hey, we're in New York -- it's the law.
Sunday morning, the Holy Father visits Ground Zero and offers prayers for those lost. In the afternoon, Mike and I attend mass at Yankee Stadium where the pope will celebrate the 200th anniversary of several U.S. diocese including Baltimore, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Louisville.
Tidbit: I always thought the introduction for the Stones was impressive, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the World's Greatest Rock-n-Roll Band, the Rolling Stones!" That intro pales to the official title of the pope. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor to the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the City of the Vatican, Servant of the Servants of God, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. As the photo caption above says, "rock on, papist dudes!"
Monday, April 7, 2008
I'll soon embark on a once in a lifetime trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City to attend mass and events officiated by Pope Benedict XVI. My dear friend, former City Attorney and now Deacon Michael Byrne is traveling with me and he will participate in the papal mass at Washington Nationals Stadium.
I expect the King of All Media will be dethroned during the papal visit as all lenses and microphones will be focused on Pope Benedict. This is Pope Benedict's first visit to the United States and an opportunity to build hope and faith in the American church. He'll celebrate his 81st birthday while at the White House. He is the 265th successor of St. Peter, installed by Christ to shepherd His church on earth.
Pope Benedict's tentative shedule is:
Tuesday, April 15
Arrive in Washington, DC via Shepherd One
greeted by President Bush at Andrew's AFB
Wednesday, April 16 Pope Benedict XVI's 81st Birthday
10:30 a.m. Meet with the President at The White House
Only the second time in history the pope has visited the White House
Noon Popemobile route
Pope Benedict will travel via Popemobile on at least
two trips while in D.C.
Popemobile traveling down I-95 toward D.C. on April 2nd.
5:30 p.m. Meet with the bishops of the United States, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Thursday, April 17
10:00 a.m. Mass hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington, Washington Nationals baseball stadium
5:00 p.m. Address Catholic educators: presidents of 200 Catholic colleges and universities and education leaders from 195 dioceses, The Catholic University of America
Of the 250+ Catholic schools and universities in the United States, CUA is the only college operated by bishops.
6:30 p.m. Meet with interfaith leaders, Pope John Paul II Cultural Center including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews
Friday, April 18
Depart for New York
10:45 a.m. Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations
6:00 p.m. Meet with ecumenical leaders of other Christian denominations at St. Joseph Church in Manhattan
Saturday, April 19
3rd anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI to the papacy
9:15 a.m. Mass for Priests, Deacons and Religious, St. Patrick's Cathedral
4:30 p.m. Meet with Children with Disabilities, St. Joseph's Seminary Chapel Youth and Seminarian Rally, Grounds of St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers
Sunday, April 20
9:30 a.m. Visit to Ground Zero, World Trade Center Site
2:30 p.m. Mass hosted by the Archdiocese of New York at Yankee Stadium
Recognizing the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Baltimore Archdiocese
8:00 p.m. Depart for Vatican City onboard Shepherd One
Pope Benedict XVI has a pilot's license and flys the Vatican helicopter, but he does not have a driver's license and never learned to drive a car.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I do, however, admire and aspire to several traits from the blog label favored by Mr. Buckley. An avocation toward shaping public policy - generally conservative, but with a twist from time to time. A lifelong Catholic and a nascent apologist. Active in politics (Republican); most often from the sidelines; though he did unsuccessfully seek the New York mayoralty once. An aficionado of fine spirits (theological and otherwise) and cigars. Though after the passing of his wife from emphysema after years of cigarette smoking, Buckley confessed that given the power, he'd outlaw smoking.
One of our nations most outstanding educational institutions, Hillsdale College, has created a website with the complete writings of William F. Buckley, Jr. and The Hoover Institution has archived the Firing Line television show collection. WFB will be missed, but his intelligence, facetiousness, and catechizing remains.
Réquiem ætérnam dona ei Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I have many issues with these so-called stormwater fees and I've voiced my concerns to elected, staff, and consultants. Rather than rant on my philosophical objections to such a revenue scheme, I'll address a few issues specific to Snellville's proposal. My comments are in response to details contained in three documents available at the City of Snellville website titled Stormwater part 1, Stormwater part 2, and Stormwater part 3. They're quite similar to a horror movie with increasingly frightening sequels.
In Stormwater part 1, the monster first appears in the grotesque form of stormwater runoff. Our hero, the City responds, however, not by attacking runoff, rather by taxing [darn it, sorry again, levying a fee on] impervious surface (that's the roof above your head). What is really scary is that the fee is determined by adding up staff time (the City Manager will spend three times as much time on stormwater issues than the Public Works Director if you believe the research - I don't), administration and regulatory costs, operations and maintenance, and capital investment (that doesn't increase a cent from existing investment according to the initial proposal). Stormwater part 1 concludes with a most frightening scene claiming 55% of fees go to capital investment, operations and maintenance. The remaining 45% of fees going to overhead, regulatory compliance, and bureaucracy that sustains the creature to terrorize again.
And terrorize he does. In Stormwater part 2, we are frantically attempting to escape failing pipes, damaged catch basin lids, sinkholes, and illegal dumping. This monster we've created requires an estimated $1.9 million in immediate repair or replacement. See, isn't it getting scarier?
As our terrorizing trilogy ends, Stormwater part 3, scares the beejeebees out of me and I haven't gotten beyond the title yet, "Future SWMP Funding Strategy". This monster is planning future expenditures that will mandate future fee increases [I did not say tax increases - I'm catching on to the lingo now]. Most horrific is that the scheme raises only $271,000 more than current revenues to address the immediate needs as it dangerously replaces existing general fund investment in public works with the new stormwater utility fund thereby increasing the monster's appetite by over $400,000 for new general fund spending on as yet unaware victims.
One thing is for sure, this Stormwater Utility Ordinance is scary stuff and not for the "little ones."
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The opposition is "researching" whether the Mayor may hold two positions; serve in two capacities, and on, and on. So, is he or isn't he? Jerry, I mean . . .
Is he or isn't he holding two offices? He is not. He is holding the office of Mayor and no other.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Sometime after 7 p.m. and before 5 a.m. on Sunday evening, February 17, 2008, C.W. Matthews Contractors will begin re-striping the travel lanes on U.S. 78 so that beginning Thursday morning, Valentine's Day, Section 1 will have three permanent lanes inbound to Atlanta and two permanent lanes outbound to Snellville. The striping will also include a center turn lane the length of Section 1. Once the paint drys, the overhead lights will be no more.
The majority of construction activities will take place after 7 p.m. and before 5 a.m. Work will begin on the south side of U.S. 78 in Section 1, then transition to the north side of U.S. 78, and finally conclude with construction of the median.
Construction information is available via the Georgia DOT #511 phone system or http://www.511ga.org/ website. You may also find frequently updated details at http://www.evermorecid.org/ and subscribe to receive construction updates via email.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Because a free-market, entrepreneurial based economy is the strongest defense against government intervention and any form of government other than democracy (or democratic republics). Give small business the opportunity to do business and they will greatly dictate the form of government citizens will tolerate.
Even the much smaller Hong Kong (by geography and population) has dominated the impact on China since England transitioned governmental control back to the mainland.
So, how may the world's free economies positively spread democracy? How may we positively impact Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Africa, and many others?
Presidential candidate Mayor Rudy Giuliani has the answer when he posed and answered the question, "What do Americans want to do? We want to sell something."
Giuliani correctly suggests that by establishing free-trade policies with the people of Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and others they, the citizens of those nations, will demand a more democratic and open government. The business community will demand a nation of greater peace, of stronger laws - to preserve their own prosperity.
Rudy's right. It's time to find creative ways to do business in all nations. Establish strong trading partners and we will benefit not only the American business community, but the safety and prosperity of people across the entire globe.