Johns Creek City Council and Post 4

Friends,
Adam Thomas seems to find it necessary to suggest things about Chris Coughlin that simply do not hold up under scrutiny.  Even though the “tax promise” mentioned was made during a campaign that was NOT for the seat Chris currently holds, he still has not broken that tax promise.

The above states that Chris Coughlin pushed for a millage rate of 4.3. That was lower than the millage rate in the motion that was being debated. That would have been a tax cut.


How often does one see a incumbent chastised for offering an amendment to lower tax rates and then have that used against him?  This could be a first.  But it gets better.  


Chris never voted for a millage rate over 4 to be implemented in Johns Creek.  He did support an amendment to the motion to lower the rate from the roll back rate.  But if that passed, that did not mean that Chris would have then voted to set the millage rate at that level.  


His flyer is deceptive at the very least.  Council Members should offer amendments to motions to drive the conversation, even if ultimately they will not support it.  That is how you hear the debate on the principles and positions. 

 
It’s a shame he has to try and paint a picture that suggests something that is simply not true about Coughlin. 

 
So, are the statements made on Mr. Thomas’ flyer campaign flyer promises he will live up to?


Do you really think Thomas will have a budget where every expenditure will be justified?   Prior to implementation of this budget?  Has he actually watched the budget process?


Unless he redefines what audit means, the answer would be no.  

Let’s combine that with his argument that critical projects have been delayed and defunded.  We know that many of these projects have shown little to no value to Johns Creek. 

But they were “promised”  with TSPLOST.  Should not an elected official challenge wasteful spending on behalf of the residents?  Absolutely.


And to answer his question?


Yes Chris Coughlin represents me. And I will be voting for him because he has represented me, challenged bad ideas pushed by the majority, improved our traffic flow on 141, and worked on many other issues to improved our quality of life.

Freedom of Speech: It’s Not “Freedom From Speech You Dislike”

I keep asking myself why this topic keeps coming up.  Certainly it was not the “Anything But Coughlin” signs.  Coughlin is more than prepared to respond to such things.

Ask yourselves what is worse-anonymous speech or people in positions of authority who use these positions in an attempt to bully people into silence?  Here’s a hint-anonymous speech is protected in the State of Georgia(more below).

How many people have come to me and told me that the Mayor of our City has made one disparaging remark after another about me.  That’s his prerogative of course.  People who know me know better.  And when he tells people that know me these sorts of things, do you think those that know me and know my principles actually believe it? 

There is the time after the John Bradberry-Vicki Horton Runoff debate two years ago where the Mayor of our City sought me out in a crowded room to make the comment to me that follows:

“I look forward to making your life a living hell the next four years”. 

Free speech? Something else?

I’ll let you decide.  

Then candidate and now Council Member Bradberry knows not only what was said to me, but stated to me that the Mayor came to him after I left the building and asked  “Did your friend tell you what I said?”

Council Member Zaprowski, near the height of the “anonymous troll hunt”  was approached by me to talk to his friend and supporter Tom Warren about repeatedly accusing me of posting under fake Facebook names.  Did knowing a name make a difference?

He took a pass and told me to speak to him myself. 

The Johns Creek Post had a series of IP addresses with pseudonyms from some of the individuals screaming the loudest about anonymous comments.  

Here’s an idea:  Lay out an unemotional argument on the merits of what you have been challenged on and post where you choose and leave it at that.

Our residents are smart.  Very smart.  They will cut through the nonsense and the BS and they won’t need your help to figure it out.  

These are the very reasons some in our community choose to remain anonymous within our community while making comments.  Who wants to be bullied?  Who wants to be questioned about why they have a certain candidate’s sign in their yard?  Who wants to be pushed for an endorsement?

Just to make it clear, protected free speech does include the use of false identification to avoid social ostracism, to prevent discrimination and harassment and to protect privacy.

Please see ACLU VS. Miller:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union_v._Miller

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that eliminated rights to privacy when using the internet in the State of Georgia. Governor Zell Miller signed the legislation into law in April 1996. Several internet based groups that guaranteed privacy to their users sought to have the law overturned on constitutional grounds, and enlisted the support of civil liberties groups such as the ACLU.[1]

Decision

After the plaintiff could prove likelihood of success of merits, substantial threat of irreparable injury, balance of hardships, and the promotion of the public interest, the court awarded the plaintiff with a preliminary injunction. Thus the defendant was enjoined from enforcing the newly passed act and was forced to revoke it. This act was found to be unconstitutional and in violation of the Bill of Rights.[2]

Either get the Constitution changed or find another venue to address your issues over anonymous posters.  This issue has already been resolved in the State of Georgia. 

It is in the best interest of the Public overall, and your constituents, that they always have the freedom and the right to post anonymously.  

It’s time to lead by example rather than by intimidation.

There is no better place than to start with this Council today.

Why wait?

Ernest Moosa

Why Do You Hate The Electoral College? Because You Were Told a Lie

It’s the “United States of America”

Yes, you read that correctly. People read words and phrases and never think of the meanings of the words. Notice carefully my liberal friends. We were meant to be a loose collection of states.

Each state would set their parameters for functioning. And if you did not like it, you could move to a state you did like.

Simple, clear and concise.

It’s NOT the United Citizens of America

There are those among us that want the President of these United States to be elected by popular vote. But that is NOT the basis for which we formed this nation. A popularity test is no way to run a country. Why even bother with state borders if you like that concept?

The ONLY way to get the smaller of the 13 colonies to go along with forming “a more perfect Union”(notice it does not say perfect) was to insure it was NOT going to be majority rule.

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Thomas Jefferson

A Constitutional Republic

That is what we are and what we must strive to be. The smallest of minorities, the individual, MUST have there rights protected. And those rights are enumerated in the US Constitution

To allow the majority to strip away those rights would be a grave mistake. You would effectively be owned by the majority.

“Being on the side of the majority is often a sign that you are wrong, or the most unlikely to be right.” 

― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

You Were Lied To In School

How many times were you told that you lived in a democracy? You do not. You live in a Constitutional Republic.

When you live in a democracy without the protections of a Constitution you are owned by the majority. Whichever side makes the most persuasive arguments wins.

Think about that.

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

― George Carlin

The More People Vote The Better The Outcome

Nothing could be further from the truth. The more people that vote the more average the outcome will be. Guaranteed.

Imagine a society where everyone was required to vote. We are frequently told that “Every Vote Counts”. Yes it might be counted, but it will also lead to worse outcomes and not better.

Voters are not experts on every topic. It’s likely most people cast votes for individuals based on name recognition only . Is that what you want to decide issues that will affect your life, your income, your safety, and your freedom? Name recognition?

Please do not rely on campaign signs, mailers, or newspaper articles to pick your candidate. Go or watch just a few public debates or forums. See what they say, how they say it and if they know what they are talking about.

I voted for individuals currently on the Johns Creek City Council that I was and am still appalled at their arrogance, ignorance and general lack of respect for their constituents..

And I based my vote on their campaign mailers. I’ll never vote blindly for a candidate again.

I hope you do not, either.

Limits In The Pursuit of Safety

What Seems To Be The Issue?

At the most recent City Council Meeting, Mayor Bodker and a majority of the Council were ready to pursue reducing the lane widths on 141 as a the stated primary purpose of achieving a safer 141. The logic behind this move was clearly not thought out and was not in the best interest of the majority of residents.

Several Council Members professed a desire to lower the speed limit to 45 from 55 MPH. Why? Some residents have complained over the years of speeding along 141.

How Bad Is the Problem?

No one has defined the number of speeders or the speed at which is triggering the complaint. So Council Members seem to be deciding to take a course of action based on emotions (We gotta do something!) rather than factual data.

Should the Majority of Drivers Be Penalized for the Ultra-Minority?

That’s the question these Council Members need to ask. Assume for a minute that there are 500 drivers exceeding 65 MPH daily along 141 That sounds terrible doesn’t it?

Not really. That is approximately 1% of the average number of vehicles on 141.

Should 99% of the drivers lose the opportunity to travel safely on 141 at 55 MPH because of the 1% who do not?

Think about other aspects of you life where there are those that follow the law and those that do not. Is the 1% threshold the level at which you are willing to lose your rights to do something? Hopefully the answer is no.

What Can Be Done?

Police Chief Densmore stated that officers could not issue citations unless a vehicle was traveling faster than 65 MPH. Council Members nodded their heads as this confirmed to them this was way too fast for a highway traveling through a residential community.

While Johns Creek has always been a residential community and has always had this parameter on 141, I found that argument to be weak at best.

Today, Johns Creek has more than 80 police officers, up sharply from 5 years ago.

Yet five years ago, we would see police officers along the 141 corridor parked on the sides of the road. With more officers today, we see less police vehicles, which is likely at the root of this problem.

Police presence alters driver behavior We all know that. Drivers see a police vehicle and they instantly check their speed. It’s the nature of most drivers.

Officers do not have to be present all the time. Drivers remember where they have seen officers in the past. Who does not slow down on State Bridge Road where they have seen officers numerous times in the past?

Police presence works.

Fairer, Easier Solution

This is the fairest and easiest solution. Were the speed limits lowered to 45 mph, we’d still have to have officers out there present to enforce the speed limits. If we did not, they we’d have the same situation we have today.

The choice is clear. We can legislate and penalize the majority for the 1%, or we can encourage a greater presence of police vehicles, which will accomplish the desired affect of drivers driving more safely along 141.

Johns Creek City Council Approves CVB Request for Gateway Markers

Visitors to Johns Creek are apparently unable to recognize that this sign denotes where Johns Creek starts.

Apparently the majority on the City Council has forgotten that the Convention Visitor’s Bureau is NOT a charitable organization and their funds are dollars fleeced collected in taxes on individuals who generally have no say in the matter if they need a hotel room(none of us really have a say in the matter do we?)

City Council Treats CVB Dollars as Gift

Instead we see Council Members fawning over the “hard work” of the CVB to spend the tax dollars as if they have either earned the money themselves or that they have raised it in donations.

Adding insults to injuries were many comments made to justify shifting funds away from one project and to the Gateway Markers. Wasn’t Johns Creek supposed to “be the EXCEPTION? Instead we are working overtime to do what everyone else is doing. We are establishing and operating every aspect of government all the other cities around us have implemented. Rather than challenge ourselves and ask “Is this really necessary any longer” we continue to keep collecting the tax dollars and doling them out on projects and causes that any rational person would not claim is fundamentally boosting tourism.

Working overtime is not an understatement as this issue has been addressed for many valuable hours. Think about that. What might all the costs be so far between staff hours, emails, work session meetings, council meetings and behind the scene conversations? If time is money, we should consider how much time is allocated for these issues. Better yet we should eliminate this from being an issue in the first place. Eliminate the Hotel/Motel tax.

Johns Creek had revenues of 88.6 million dollars in 2018(source:CAFR Johns Creek).

The dollars the CVB has to spend is less than 1/3 of 1% of the annual revenues for Johns Creek and yet it has consumed so much time of the seven council members for the last 6 months.

What’s Wrong With Giving Tax Dollars to a Volunteer Group to Spend as they See Fit?

Everything of course. Taxes take money by force. As a taxpayer you have no choice. Want a hotel room in Johns Creek? You’ll pay the tax.

Ironically, we all know that tax dollars are wasted at the local, state and federal levels. Yet no one with the power to actually do something about that waste does so when they have the chance. We do now. Eliminate the Hotel/Motel tax.

I’ll be blunt. Having an “expert” decide what we are missing is Gateway Markers is a farce. It’s always puzzled me why in a City with the highly educated residents we have, we seek opinions and hire people outside of Johns Creek. Why not spend the money we collect locally and boost our own economy?

We have a manufactured “problem” that government must now fix. And rest assured, the consultant was going to find something. Somehow more than 80,000 of us live in Johns Creek and yet the issue is that some people do not know where the City Lines are located. And that is what ails us?

Who knows where Brookhaven ends and Buckhead starts at every entrance? Vinings and Smyrna? Suwanee and Duluth? Does that really drive your dining decisions? Your business decisions? Your choice of doctor?

These are “political” boundaries. They are not OUR boundaries. You cannot force people to self-identify because of your arbitrary legal boundaries.

Have you considered that during the Comprehensive Land Use Plan process, we constantly heard about the different Character Areas. Residents do not know where one ends and one begins. Yet somehow we know who we are.

Or do we? Are we mere sheep waiting for the City Government to tell us who we are and what we represent? Are you? Not me.

I’m reminded of all the drug commercials on TV. I did not even know I had a problem until I saw the commercial. Now I need to call the doctor to find out how to resolve my newfound issue. Yet before that commercial, I was perfectly content.

That’s how it works when you give “experts” lots of money to come in and tell you what you are missing. If you don’t already know, then you must not be missing it.

While the CVB has been asleep at the cash box, businesses in South Forsyth are calling themselves Johns Creek. There’s even a body shop three miles into Forsyth County calling itself a Johns Creek business(perhaps a Gateway Marker there is a good idea?)

“It’s a compliment”, Council Member Bradberry said when asked about it. And he is right.

Bradberry asked about return on investment for the three items that “CVB” wants to spend money(our tax dollars) on. They were:

  • The Wall That Heals
  • The River Corridor Greenway
  • Gateway Markers

While Bradberry did not get any answer that one could use, other Council Members saw the benefit. There was no return on investment cited other than it was something we were missing and needed.

Bradberry said “It would be great if people knew they were in Johns Creek because the streets were cleaner, the medians were beautiful and the traffic lights and intersections were such that traffic was better, and that is how you knew you were in Johns Creek- that we did it better than our neighboring cities”.

Bradberry is correct. That is leadership by example. Not leadership by Gateway Markers.

Bradberry’s desires are basic government functions. Nothing is stopping this Council from doing this today. Not money. Not time. Even Mayor Bodker seemed to acknowledge we were not doing as good as we once did.

Council Member Zaprowski believes it would be nice to have a Gateway Marker to help people find his business when giving directions. Seriously? Your patients do not use Waze for navigation? Google Maps? After all, Johns Creek is a Partner City. And we do have signs announcing Johns Creek is a partner with Waze at all of our entrances.

Zaprowski gets the award for the strangest logic of the evening. He was against Gateway Markers but voting for it and for the Greenway but was voting against it.

This City Council really needs to grow up. Wasting hours and hours on this is beyond ridiculous. For example, after six months of fiscal year 2019 we have $1,000,000 more in revenues and $1,000,000 less in expenses. That’s $2,000,000 that only one Council Member asked about. Council Member Endres asked several questions while the City Manager gave brief and less than helpful generic responses. This is the same Council that could not see fit to cut property taxes despite the overwhelming evidence presented by Council Member Endres that we were actually increasing taxes.

The same City Council that will spend dozens of hours debating BS “feel-good gotta do something” projects seem to be blind to the multi-million dollar issues.

It needs to quit treating tax dollars as charitable contributions and the CVB as a benefactor. It needs to address the real issues.

Of course that is really hard work. And it is certainly more mundane. The truth is that they will spend less time debating the millage rate this summer than they have spent on Gateway Markers.

This Council would rather dream and fantasize on pie in the sky concepts rather than follow through with the major issues that are most important to the majority of residents within Johns Creek. At the last meeting they bumped the Police Chief and Public Safety for Gateway Markers. Think about that!

“Be the Exception”-how long before we get rid of that slogan and adopt a new one:

Same as Everyone Else

A government cannot define us. An artist will not define us. Gateway Markers will not define us. We do not need outsiders to come in and tell us who we are.

Government can identify us but it will never define us. The moment we let government define us is the moment we have lost who we are. We should be defining government instead.

The sooner the majority on this Council gets that concept, the better off we will all be.

And if you are waiting for the proposal from the CVB so that you can see what we are, then you are part of the problem.

This problem is NOT going away, unfortunately. Next year will have even more dollars to allocate. And as long as they get tax dollars, we will face this issue.

End the Hotel/Motel tax. It’s a minute amount of our budget. And it’s a waste of time and resources to continue to debate these issues.

If they are worth doing, then do them out of the General Budget, and be accountable.

Do that and we can be exceptional.

The very last thing we should want to see in the fall are Gateway Markers this City Council is compelled to approve because they are now to far down the road to say no.

You should have said no in the first place.

Johns Creek Property Taxes: Fifteen Minutes With Council Member Stephanie Endres

Council Member Endres discusses the ins and outs of property taxes and how they impact the residents of Johns Creek.

Property taxes are a fact of life.  But how they really work remains shrouded behind a wall of mystery.  How did they conclude your home rose in value by 27% without someone buying it?  Why are commercial properties not rising in value.  Why are commercial lots valued far below the actual market value?  What is a rollback rate?  Why am I paying so much more for City Services than my neighbor is?

These are just some of the questions many of us have and today Council Member Stephanie Endres will discuss a few of these issues.

 

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ejmoosa/2018/07/28/property-taxes-in-johns-creek-15-minutes-with-council-member-endres

A New Year-A New Look To The City Council

Johns Creek has a new look to the City Council for 2018, and I consider that a very good thing.

Residents returned Stephanie Endres to the City Council for 4 more years.  Endres has been asking the right questions since well before she was elected the first time, during her numerous Public Comments made challenging what the Council was doing.  We are very fortunate to have her back and continuing to do what she does best.

Lenny Zaprowski who also was re-elected, is now the Mayor Pro Tem.  This is a welcome change.  It is critical for the residents that this position is not just someone that represents the same positions as what the Mayor represents.

I expect Zaprowski to challenge on necessary and important issues.  There are questions that must be asked of the City Staff, and sometimes the answers will not be what people want to hear, but they must be heard.  Zaprowski took a step in this direction at Monday’s Work Session when he asked how much were we going to spend and how much time was going to be saved by drivers when we widen Kimball Bridge Road.  If Zaprowski can comfortably recognize that we must challenge what the Staff says because the Staff does not know every answer(they are human), then the residents can get better solutions for our problems.

If Zaprowski realizes that he can still be nice and ask the hard questions at the same time, the results will be beneficial for residents of Johns Creek.

John Bradberry rounds out the changes to the City Council for 2018.  Bradberry worked diligently to win this seat, and now the hard work really begins.  Bradberry has been an advocate for the residents from the time he was a member of the JCCA to the formation of Preserve Johns Creek.  Bradberry attempted to bring more attention to the Billboard issues, which are still a bane on the face of Johns Creek, as well as highlight that we have a Historical African-American Cemetery that was sitting neglected.  Hopefully we can get the proper signage and care in place for that location for future generations.

There are many changes set to be pushed upon the residents of Johns Creek.  Our eyes are wide open.  The biggest tax push this year will be another 1/2 cent sales tax for MARTA/Mass Transit.

The questions need to start with ” Are buses along 141 and State Bridge Road worth $10 million a year to the residents of Johns Creek? Are residents willing to pay $10 million for something that is unproven as an congestion relief tool?”

We’ve had buses running for more than a decade supplied by GRTA.  They are empty.

Where’s the return on that investment?  If they are so underutilized, why haven’t they moved to smaller buses for this “experiment” which would be cheaper to operate?

Let’s hope that this New-Look Council can start asking these and other questions BEFORE we are forced to make a decision with the legislative gun to our heads once again.

 

 

 

Johns Creek Residents Should NOT Vote This Fall…

Residents of Johns Creek should not vote in this upcoming election if they are not familiar with the candidates, the major issues in Johns Creek and are basing their decisions on such variables as :

  1. You are not familiar with the issues we are facing such as potential widening of our roads to overcome the ineffective traffic light system we have today
  2. You are unfamiliar with the negative impact higher density housing has on our roads, schools, and property values
  3. You are basing your decision on the endorsement of an elected official, who just wants to avoid having someone challenge them on issues before the City Council
  4. You saw more signs for the candidate that you are going to vote for so you believe that is a sign of more support for that candidate(Signs for candidates are placed on the roads by the candidates and their crews-Signs in neighborhoods actually show you who your neighbors support but you still need to educate yourself!!!)
  5. You read their mailers to your home and they seem like a nice person

Residents of Johns Creek should vote IF:

  1. They have done their own research into the candidates
  2. They have watched the debates, forums, City Council Meetings and Work Sessions and see how these candidates actually think and function
  3. They understand that Johns Creek is at a crossroads.  Do we become Buckhead or stay Johns Creek.

Continue reading

This Is Why We Have Trust Issues With Government

Do you happen to remember the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009?

A large portion of the funds allocated for this act were to go to infrastructure needs such as highways.  States were not supposed to cut their own budgets and use these funds in their place.

Yet somehow, we never saw those massive investments pay off in Georgia did we?  The St Louis Fed has now given us the reason why.

Why the 2009 Recovery Act Didn’t Improve the Nation’s Highways

Click on the link above to read the short but informative analysis on what happened.

Here is a summary in my own terms:

What happened was that Federal Funds replaced(or crowded out) state funds for the transportation projects.  A major condition of receiving these funds was that states, such as Georgia, would continue to spend what they were planning to spend on highway construction and the new Federal Funds would boost that spending. Continue reading

John Bradberry for Johns Creek City Council Post 3

John Bradberry at the Meet and Greet in Medlock Bridge

In the fall election for Johns Creek City Council Post 3, I am endorsing John Bradberry.

I have gotten to know John over the last 3 years working with John as a director for the Johns Creek Community Association, assisting John with Preserve Johns Creek, as well as personally.

From the first time we had a chance to work together, John and I have discussed issues within Johns Creek relentlessly.  Beginning with traffic issues, we have discussed nearly every issues that Johns Creek is facing and the opportunities that they present.

When there was an issue at Niblick Road@ Barnwell Road, for instance, and the conversations about installing a traffic circle or a traffic light, John and I drove out to the intersection to look for ourselves and see exactly what the issues were, and if there were any other solutions.

Indeed, we saw the problem immediately.  We were actually surprised that City Staff had not gone to the location and saw the same addressable issues we saw:

  • Line of site blocked by encroaching growth along the right of way from the curve southbound on Barnwell Road to Niblick
  • Shrubbery planted at the entrance to the neighborhood blocking the line of site from Niblick northbound on Barnwell Road

And, as we now all know the City finally sent crews out there and addressed these issues, and instead of spending millions for a solution, the City did what it was responsible for in the first place, and safer conditions resulted.

Macedonia Cemetery/ Fairway Package Billboard

John and I went to the location before the billboard was approved by the City.  Dismayed that the cemetery was the responsibility of the City and in such poor shape, with two homeless encampments in the woods, John raised awareness, searched for more information on the cemetery, and pushed preservation via Preserve Johns Creek.

John Bradberry, Chris Coughlin, EJ Moosa

Today, Johns Creek is maintaining the cemetery, although there is much to do to provide the sort of historical preservation this location deserves.  As a Council Member, I know Bradberry will work to preserve this and other historical locations within Johns Creek.

Finally, John and I have discussed issues with traffic at more intersections than I can recall.  John wants to get our traffic congestion under control.  He understands the negative impact of traffic lights, and that they more we install, the more issues we will have.  We have stood at intersections and watched the light sequences and seen the needless delays drivers face each and every day.  One of the worst: State Bridge Road between the High School and the Elementary School.

Bradberry looking at Lake Medlock, which has been a big issue for Medlock Bridge residents due to silt runoff

This is the type of forward thinking and efforts we need on the Johns Creek City Council.  If John Bradberry was doing all of this before he decided to run for City Council, you can certainly expect him to do it after we elect him.

John Bradberry will ask the right questions, challenge the City Staff for better solutions and will be listening and looking out for you.

That’s why I am more than happy to support Johns Bradberry for Johns Creek City Council Post 3.

EJ Moosa