Category Archives: Zane Edge

Letter To The Editor: Trusting the Messenger

The recent Johns Creek Herald article (10/25/17) about “trusting the messenger” is so full of malarkey I really don’t know where to begin. So let’s start at the top.

The first few paragraphs sound like Mr. Hurd just recently discovered the Internet and wants to warn folks that not everything on the net is true. And this warning seems particularly important since Mr. Hurd wants to conveniently confuse reader blog comments from other posted content. This, combined with his lecture on “sourcing” in the context of a comment blog makes you wonder if Mr. Hurd has ever visited modern online news sites like Yahoo or CBS News, among hundreds of others. If we could just go back to the days when print editors controlled reader feedback with very limited print space.

The second paragraph sounds like Mr. Hurd believes the Internet is the only place we have fake news. He says the “national media” is plagued by it on the Internet. Otherwise, Mr. Hurd apparently believes the “national media” (or is it “the system”) never contrives stories or references unnamed or anonymous sources and they always consider the motives of all anonymous sources. All of this is laughable so far!

Next, we move on to the Mayor defending the city’s openness. I’m not aware that anyone in JC is complaining about this. But there is a big difference between making city information available and keeping citizens informed. In the Mayor’s defense on this topic, a large part of Johns Creek residents don’t bother to be informed.

Next up are claims made by the Mayor against the JCP. As reported, these claims have very little detail. And, are we talking about reader blog comments? The same goes for the claims of Mr. Carrel with no reported investigation into his “friend” sources. And once again, is Mr. Carrel talking about reader blog comments? Is Mr. Carrel and his friends aware that comments don’t immediately appear on the JCP after they are submitted? I’ve seen many comments on the JCP that were entirely opposed to any apparent “narrative” and they were nearly ALWAYS posted by an anonymous source. What are these posters afraid of, busy city residents with families? Then the Mayor chimes in with how “he’s been told of several cases where comments were edited to change their meaning to further the Post’s narrative”. What about those sources, Mr. Hurd?

The Mayor doesn’t want to launch a (frivolous) lawsuit about this during his campaign but he is quite happy to discredit or smear some of his JCP detractors if he can. After all, they seem to be quickly growing in numbers and voting power, and this is very scary to the business, development, construction, consulting, and contracting community in JC. The first attempt at publicly discrediting the JCP backfired a few weeks ago with the involvement of an overzealous citizen who did more harm than good to the JCP smear effort. Mr. Hurd didn’t seem to want any part of this. What we have now is V2.0 of the smear effort and Mr. Hurd cooperated this time, less than two weeks prior to election day. But the big question is, can we trust the messenger?

By Zane Edge

Part 2: Comp Plan Progress?

Given recent events with the city looking at controversial road widening projects, the Comprehensive Plan update project has taken on renewed public attention. This attention is a good thing. The Comp Plan is a very critical document for the city’s future with zoning, transportation, and more. Let’s continue with our analysis of the progress. This is Part-2 of a 2-part series.

For those citizens who attended or watched the videos, many public meetings associated with the Comp Plan update project featured outside speakers and consultants that most certainly promoted high density. One guy from North Carolina spent over an hour presenting busy 3D graphs to convey that high density means higher city tax revenue. Why is the premier residential community in Georgia persistently being subjected to this type of consultant bias? The 3-day workshop presentation document2 mentions high density on page 37. Here is a quote from that document. “Additional traffic generated by increased density is not significant”. The meeting videos showed that some CAC members were definitely swayed by this type of general consultant advice, especially the Business Community members. I do appreciate the tough job the CAC members had to recognize and sort through all the bias they were being exposed to.

Next, exactly how did the dense development proposal for the AAC property come about from the Comp Plan work? A city leader is on record saying it resulted from the CAC meetings with public input3. Yet the development rendering was never created in any CAC meeting that was made available to the public. The completed drawing first appeared in the 3-day workshop presentation document2 that was given to the CAC. In that presentation, the speaking consultant said “the city does think this (the AAC property) should be developed as one cohesive master plan area”4. So someone from “the city” had definitely given direction to the consultants. But not the CAC, and not the public. So the consultants went off and unwittingly stepped on a historic Johns Creek zoning case landmine which then triggered a written rebuke from the current AAC management. Why was the Comp Plan project proposing dense developments on private property?

Bottom line, we should all be quite concerned about the Comp Plan update. Skewed CAC representation, misdirected questions to the public, misleading public surveys, consultants advocating high density, chaotic CAC meetings expressing widespread opinions all over the place – that’s the progress we saw in the meetings. And at one point we learned there were “private draft” CAC surveys that were not intended for the public. According to the Director of Community Development, one of 12 CAC members apparently leaked some information about the McGinnis Ferry road widening from a “private draft” survey, and this type of public disclosure is not allowed5.

So with this backdrop, we all await the new draft Comprehensive Plan which is due to be released real soon. All we can do at this point is hope the outcome of this convoluted and chaotic project preserves and protects the exceptional residential community that is Johns Creek for the next 10-years.     

Sources:

(1) Resident Zones & CAC Member Residential Locations (city document showing demographic data and actual CAC membership)

(2) Connect Johns Creek, shape an exceptional future, Three Day Workshop

(3) City Manager at approximately 01:21:10 in the video from the Town Hall, Feb 22: johnscreekga_a664dcf1-48af-4571-8cab-19738f47768a.mp4

(4) Consultant at 43:22 into 3-day workshop presentation video: johnscreekga_89be1d3f-27a1-458d-82db-a528f03fe528.mp4

(5) Johns Creek Herald, March 8th “False alarm emails upset McGinnis residents”

Part 1: Comp Plan Progress?

Given that the Johns Creek City Council fairly recently punted the decision of widening Medlock Bridge to the city’s Comprehensive Plan update work, and we know the Comp Plan team has already explored controversial aspects of the McGinnis widening, the Comp Plan update project has taken on renewed public attention. This attention is a good thing. The Comp Plan is a very critical document for the city’s 10-year future with zoning, transportation, and more. But let’s examine the overall Comp Plan update progress so far. This is Part-1 of a 2-part series.

Early on, a Citizen Action Committee (CAC) was formed. The demographic information1 that helped to seat the CAC membership shows Johns Creek to have approx 28,000 residential addresses and approx 1,600 commercial addresses. That’s less than 6% commercial addresses. But the subsequent actual makeup of the CAC showed the Business Community represented at least 26% of the committee, assuming that the 25% representing education, arts, and religious institutions were not also predisposed to support business interests. So, right from the onset, we do not have representation on this team that reflects the makeup of the Johns Creek community.

Next, the work included public workshops directed by consultants where things like consolidating Character Areas were being considered. In one particular workshop, half of my breakout team didn’t even know what a Character Area was. Furthermore, they had absolutely no knowledge of the current Comp Plan. Many citizen participants didn’t know what they were being asked. This problem was not limited to my breakout team.     

Next, we had an online city Comp Plan survey that was misleading at best. Some would say it was downright deceptive. For example, one question asked about expanding “workforce housing”, defined in the survey as “giving people who work essential services within the city (police officers, firemen, teachers, medical personnel, etc) the ability to live closer to where they work”. This question was calculated deception at its finest. There is no consistent or accepted meaning for “workforce housing”. The responses to this question could be interpreted to apply to housing for anyone of any profession. In fact, “essential services” could be anything the city or the business community says it is. Because of these problems, the survey was revised at least once since it went live to the public. The extremely low turnout of public respondents has been attributed to citizens that were discouraged by the leading questions and deceptive options, so they never completed it.

Can you hear me? Nope, Not at City Hall!

With regard to the audio problems in the Open House meeting on 3/8, I have a few audio/video suggestions for future Johns Creek Town Hall and Open House meetings, both in the existing and future City Hall Council Chambers room:

1. Check that microphones are working and the signals are properly routed and mixed to the audio/video recording device before the meeting starts. If not, fix obvious problems before the meeting starts.


2. For the purposes of recording, distribute a few mics around the audience area with a low gate threshold (preferably in ceiling). This will result in some ambient noise, but at least the audience members speaking will be recorded. This is much better than gated silence.


3. Mix the audience mics differently for recording versus PA. A low audience mic PA gain will minimize feedback and encourage audience members to speak up (for the recording).


4. A mixing console device with multiple bus outs or multiple send outs will help tremendously. Most modern units have these features.


5. The new Council Chambers should be outfitted for superior PA and audio/video recording. Anything less is unacceptable to the city that is “the exception to the everyday”. I know our city leaders want transparency in these meetings, especially when Tom Black speaks.