Gateway Markers, The CVB, Volunteers and Tax Payers: What a Waste of Money

Everything that is wrong with Government can be seen in this Process

One has to look no further than the debate on Gateway Markers and the desire of some Council Members to give the “volunteers” what they want when it comes to spending taxpayer monies to understand what is wrong with government.

“They gave it great consideration and they came back with the same recommendation and added further data to it, so to me it’s supporting the people we ask to work on a volunteer basis for the city.” -Council Member Steve Broadbent

What about the actual taxpayers Council Member Broadbent? The ones that are forced to work for government? Have you considered what it takes to actually earn the monies you are suggesting being spent on “Gateway Markers”?

A total of $508,900 was collected in fiscal year 2018 by the Hotel/Motel tax. Council Members forget that this money had to be earned before it could be collected and then spent by volunteers on frivolous endeavors through the Convention Visitors Bureau(CVB).

IT IS NOT FREE MONEY

At 7% that represents revenues of 7.27 million dollars in hotel/motel sales to collect.

If you divide the $508,900 by an average hourly wage of $25 per hour, that equals 20,356 hours of labor. This is not volunteer labor, but effectively forced labor to support these endeavors such as painted pedestrian tunnels(A cultural attraction according to the CVB), gateway markers and kiosks in hotels that effectively do the same thing as Yelp and Google(only worse-you cannot carry it with you).

While the entire amount proposed to be spent on Gateway Markers is much less, the issue is the same.

Assume we spent $50,000 on Gateway Markers, that would represent 2,000 hours of labor at a minimum. Let’s weigh that against the time of “volunteers” in making these decisions.

Certainly the bar should be much higher on how this money should be spent other than “volunteers worked hard.” Certainly the money should be spent in a way that shows a real return on the investment by the taxpayers that paid it, even more so than the volunteers that offered to spend it?

If Council Member Broadbent and others feel that being a volunteer qualifies you to spend taxpayer money(and this is what we are talking about), then I would like to volunteer to decide how to spend some of the budget surpluses generated by this City each and every year.

And I would bring you a list of proposals AND return on investments that are specific and quantifiable, not pie in the sky “we should do it because some marketing people said so”.

What should concern you the tax payer is that if they are this frivolous with tax payer dollars on this issue what keeps them from being frivolous with spending on other issues?

The answer is they spend frivolously very often, rarely demanding a real return on investment for taxpayers(have you seen the lights along Kimball Bridge). Instead, it’s about optics. It’s about feeling good. It’s not about real returns.

Council Member Zaprowski wants to pursue the Gateway Markers now. He seeks it so much that he is willing to push aside a greenway along the river which would benefit all residents. Would residents benefit from Gateway Markers? Of course not. A greenway? Absolutely.

Just look at the activity in Roswell along the river or in Sandy Springs along the river. Is there any question that it attracts people and provides health benefits to boot? How can someone even question which would be best for Johns Creek in the long term?

The residents of Johns Creek have given this Council what it sought in past elections: A Parks Bond and a TSPLOST Tax. More and more money. Before you ever do this again, you need to ask yourself if you can trust them with millions if they are willing to waste thousands.

Residents have made it clear we want to get traffic moving. Yet we have spent more time on this issue and seen more passion from Broadbent and Zaprowski on Gateway Markers than we have seen on getting traffic moving. It took months and months to get the traffic signals back on the agenda. And somehow the CVB and Gateway Markers are so important, this Council seems to have to address the issues again and again until the CVB gets what they want. Is this Council here just to give the CVB what they want?

I challenge this Council to demand a real return on investment on these tax dollars. Do not simply go along to appease the CVB. If that was what was intended, then the CVB would NOT need Council approval to spend these funds.

I ask each of you the following questions:

  • How much do you expect business to be boosted by a Gateway Marker in Johns Creek?
  • How are you going to measure this return on investment?
  • Which of you has chosen to do business in a city because of a Gateway Marker?
  • Which of you does not know when you enter or leave the City of Johns Creek?

Isn’t it time we quit spending money just because we have it? And since we cannot really spend it on something worthwhile, we will just spend it just to spend it.

I’ll be blunt. The hotel motel tax should be eliminated. The CVB should be disbanded. This City Council needs to work on the REAL Issues.

We do not need outsiders to come in and define us. We do not need Gateway Markers to “reflect” who we are.

We know who we are. Unfortunately, this City Council seems hellbent on redefining who we are. Maybe it’s this City Council does not like who we are. Or maybe this Council does not know who we are. They certainly seem out of sync with the majority within Johns Creek.

More importantly, they seem unwilling to say NO to bad ideas.

If we are going to put up a Gateway Marker, I’d suggest Dollars flowing into a paper shredder and pennies coming out of the bottom.

Wasting taxpayer money is no way to run a City. And rewarding “volunteers” for bad decisions should never happen.

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.

 

 

 

While Driving in Johns Creek, Do You Stop More Than You Go?

 

Watch The Video Above.  Here’s my data so far.  I will continue to track it.  Based on the numbers as of 10/19/2017, I am due for at least 80 green lights in a row soon.  I am certainly looking forward to that.

Overall 50.00% 50.00%
Green Red
5 8 38.46%
6 4 60.00%
2 3 40.00%
2 3 40.00%
5 6 45.45%
0 1 0.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
3 2 60.00%
2 3 40.00%
Total 40 40
Udell suggests it Should Be: 62 18

(Redlights should make up only 22% of my Johns Creek Driving experience)

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

State Bridge-Pleasant Hill:What’s The Right Solution?

We are surrounded by roads.And we know that some roads function better than others.  Residents of Johns Creek have been suffering for as long as I can recall with roads with intersections that function poorly at best.  State Bridge Road in Johns Creek is scheduled to be widened using your tax dollars to add an additional lane in each direction.  (Note that it does not say just widen to three lanes)

“State Bridge Road Widening from Medlock Bridge to Chattahoochee River”

As I look at State Bridge Road I see what I will call main intersections and I see side access points.  Main intersections are 141 and State Bridge, for instance.  Access points intersections of a lesser intensity, many times providing entrance and exit to private properties such as shopping centers and neighborhoods.

For this analysis I am going to discuss the section of State Bridge Road between 141 and the Chattachoochee and continuing as Pleasant Hill Road to Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Continue reading

Proof of Concept: Three Lanes Through

Definition – What does Proof of Concept (POC) mean?

A proof of concept (POC) is a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential for real-world application. POC is therefore a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but does not represent deliverables.

Proof of concept is also known as proof of principle.

https://www.techopedia.com/definition/4066/proof-of-concept-poc

Residents of Johns Creek have been told that to cure their traffic ailments, that they must widen State Route 141 to three lanes in each direction.

Others, such as my neighbors and myself, have challenged that this is the only cure for the traffic we have.

We are more than frustrated with our traffic.  We have been for years and years. We are told that we want to simply do nothing.  That is another myth by City Officials.  We want to do something.  We want the right solution, and not just any solution.

Putting the mettle to the test, we have asked to slow down the laying of asphalt and let us see what we can do to improve the bottlenecks we have in Johns Creek.  If traffic can get through the bottleneck, we feel there is adequate asphalt to handle the volume of vehicles until that traffic reaches the next bottleneck(which we can also address).

We are led to believe that just improving the intersections cannot address our issues.   If what we have proposed for the intersections does not work, then neither will their solution of paving three lanes in each direction.  The crucial component is that we get the intersections to function more efficiently.  The roadway between the intersections  when an intersection does not function properly is just space to queue vehicles.

And then we will be right back where we started, with six lanes instead of four.

I encourage our residents, therefore to ask the City Council to show us the Proof of Concept.  Give us the three lanes southbound at 141 and State Bridge Road through the intersection only.  Also, at the same time give us the three lanes westbound on State Bridge Road and have it terminate at the main entrance to Johns Creek High School.

My belief is that will show that three lanes through at the intersections will give us a major improvement in traffic movement, and at the same time demonstrate that we do not need to pave the entire corridor in both directions with three lanes. Our backups will be much shorter in both distance and duration.

And we haven’t even gotten started on the actual functions of the traffic lights themselves.

Imagine that.

I can.

 

Continue reading

A GDOT Traffic Tutorial

You’ve heard lots of information on traffic in Johns Creek.  Many of the conclusions I feel are based on erroneous assumptions and intuitions. The GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) surveys data at locations throughout our state and you have access to that data for yourself to confirm or deny your very own assumptions about the traffic you personally experience. Continue reading

Traffic Choking Points

One of the biggest issues we face is how to get more vehicles through an intersection at a minimal cost.

One thing we can do at many of our intersections is to eliminate Traffic Choking Points and utilize the right turn lanes as both a right turn and through lane, increasing the through volume of traffic 40%-50% immediately.

This one improvement could eliminate much of the delay on many of our busiest roads without the need to widen the corridor. Continue reading

Minor Improvements Can Yield Major Benefits

A truck with a high load underestimated the height of his load by 2 inches and found himself wedged into the entrance of a tunnel.  Unable to back out, experts were called to come and see what could be done to get the truck removed.

All of the engineers crowded around scratching their heads and making drastic suggestions.

Finally a little boy walked up, looked at the engineers and suggested “Why don’t you just let the air out of the tires. Continue reading