Free-For-All Friday 9/5/14

Feel free to use this post to make comments and ask questions about local topics not discussed here over the past week.

Comments close on Monday.

73 thoughts on “Free-For-All Friday 9/5/14”


  1. Went to Eddie’s last night and saw Grant Green, Jr. band. If they come around again anytime soon, highly recommend checking them out. Awesome show!

  2. Anyone know who’s behind the “animal crossing” signs going up around town? Yesterday I saw a crab crossing and a kiwi crossing. My kids saw a giraffe crossing. Just wondering what it was all about. It’s funny!

    1. I installed them in conjunction with the Downtown Development Authority and the Decatur Arts Alliance.It’s a temporary installation to make people smile.

  3. Does anybody know what the never-ending project across from the Presbyterian church at Church and Sycamore is all about? It’s been going on over a year.

  4. Need a small time tax accountant to answer questions, maybe help write an offer in compromise, and give itty bitty small business tax advice. Prefer not to deal with a big firm, money is definitely an issue. Btw, are accountants like lawyers/priests, any thing you say remains confidential? Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever had a successful offer in compromise? What is the process like?

    1. I don’t know about the confidentiality deal, but my dad has been down this road with the IRS. The best compromise he came to was an extended pay-off period. A period so long, he believes he will die before it’s paid off. And once he’s dead, so is the debt.
      Good luck/best wishes.

      1. Only if he has no assets at the time of his death. His estate will still be liable and IRS will place a lien on any assets.

        1. Yeah, my dad’s of the you-can’t-take-it-with-you ilk. His estate is likely to consist of a fishing boat and some underwear with holes in it. The IRS is welcome to both.

            1. I know this is complicated for many to grasp, but life is not black and white as we all wish it were. Severe illness, death of a spouse etc… can leave anyone unable to pay for anything at any time.

              I guess it easy to point at her dad or anyone who has ever fallen behind or gone into debt for any reason, but maybe you should try being a little less judgmental, before you know the whole story?

              Do you also have such scorn for people who die before they pay off their federal student loans (that’s on your dime as well)? What about for the billions in fraud by the military industrial complex or billions given in foreign aid whose leaders then pss it away or buy arms ultimately used against us? What about for corporations and wealthy individuals who move billions over seas to avoid paying taxes, with full IRS approval? I guess what I’m trying to say politely is that your scorn is rude and misguided.

    2. To answer your questions:

      1. Beware of ads from companies promising they can settle your IRS issues for “pennies on the dollar”–it’s a lie, because they charge you exorbitant fees to engage in negotiations with the IRS that honestly, you can do just as well yourself for no extra $$. Ignore the ads, & whatever you do, do NOT send them any inquiries–you’ll be hounded to infinity.

      2. The exception to the above would be a tax attorney who provides such services. Their fees vary, but aren’t likely to be cheap. As with any other type of attorney, your conversations would be protected by an attorney/client privilege, and would be confidential.

      3. A tax accountant could help you, but unlike an attorney, there is no accountant/client privilege in Georgia, so if the Offer In Compromise discussions go south, your conversations would NOT be protected should the IRS decide to subpoena him/her to find out what you shared with him/her. I’m not sure, though, that a tax accountant would be of more use in negotiations other than if a review of your records in fact showed that you didn’t owe what the IRS thinks you do–and unless you’re really good at auditing your financial records, a tax accountant may be useful.

      4. The IRS has people on staff who engage in OIC dicussions with taxpayers in arrears, and they’re actually pretty reasonable. Be prepared to have as much detail about your finances as possible–they’re not going to be inclined to give you much of a break if you don’t have clear evidence showing you’re in financial distress and/or that but for events out of your control, you wouldn’t be delinquent.

      5. No matter whom you engage to negotiate on your behalf, don’t expect to resolve your case for an amount that reflects a huge discount. The IRS isn’t like other creditors, who simply write off bad debt–they really don’t care how long it takes you to pay something off. The best you can hope for is a break on the penalty and interest amounts (which still helps).

      Hope this helps–good luck!

      1. I have never gotten to the point of an OIC. However, to support #4 above, I have been the subject of multiple letters and subsequent phone converstions that I would describe as “audits by mail.” (we have a question about X, Y, and Z on your return).

        I have found the IRS professional and reasonable to deal with in every situation. In fact, surprisingly direct and easy to deal with (vs, say, calling AT&T or Comcast!) I never hired a lawyer. It doesn’t mean you should not. However, I don’t think it would hurt to call them on your own first — just don’t commit to anything. Once/if you get to negotiating, lawyers may know what you can likely push for given past experience.

    3. Call Brent Herrin. He’s an excellent tax lawyer at a mid size firm, and he can tell you if what you want done can be done cheaply but effectively by him or someone he knows. Tell him Rebecca sent you. 770-858-1288

    1. +1

      The Atlanta Intl School has one every December, but I think Decatur has more resources and can do better.

    2. There’s a fair amount of holiday activities already between Terrific Thursdays or whatever those are, the Clairemont Holiday Market and Café, LSOS Tree Lighting, Bonfire, DBA Santa, school, church, work holiday programs, etc. I get pretty maxed out on celebrations during the Halloween-New Year’s holiday season. But, if folks are psyched and organizers step up to the plate, go for it!

    3. This is an EXCELLENT idea. I suspect there would be some eyebrow-raising over the ol’ Weihnacht vs “Holiday” debate, but there’s no good reason one couldn’t make it multi-/no-faith inclusive.

      Mulled wine and gingerbread? It sounds fantastic.

    4. I agree – we need more outlets to find Gluhwein!

      We have a great staging area on the Marta plaza.
      Maybe some oompah bands in the bandshell??

    5. I grew up with them and said the same thing a few years back. I talked with some businesses (mostly restaurants, breweries, some small retail) in late 2012 to assess interest and once again late 2013. Both times, I encountered “No idea what this is, so meh,” and dropped it..

      Should you organize, you need: food, drink, merchandise, and maybe entertainment. For food, typical German items are pommes frites (w/ sauces), pretzels, sauteed mushrooms, sausages, crepes (w/ Nutella, jam, ham & cheese, etc.), roasted chestnuts and almonds, sweets (candied apples, apple fritters [Krebbel], gingerbread, chocolate-covered bananas, Gummi candy stands weighed by the pound), etc. For a Danish twist, add Aebleskiver.

      Alcoholic drinks incl. Glühwein (both white and red, sometimes fruit wines) and seasonal Christmas beer. Better markets have Feuerzangenbowle (mulled wine & rum), mead, and regional options, like hot cider (Apfelwein). For non-alcoholic, Kinderpunsch, etc.

      Use an RFP from local artists for merchandise and maybe have a carousel for entertainment.

      For inspiration, Frankfurt, Dresden, Munich, Innsbruck, and Copenhagen are great. Some N. American cities started them a couple years back, incl. Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, Chicago’s is the closest I’ve found to authentic. The Swedish Christmas Market here is ok…

      Sample business partners: Pine St Market / Patak / Frankfurt Döner & Meats, Der Biergarten, Cafe Alsace, Leon’s, Greene’s, etc. Drink: Twain’s, 3 Taverns, BSP & others on the square. Also, the German, Danish, & Swedish Chambers of Commerce, Goethe Center, Porsche, Trader Joe’s, World Market, etc. Initially, open it during the tree lighting ceremony and run it for 10 days straight in the evenings so people catch on. Grow to the traditional month time-frame from there. Don’t corral people drinking into a fenced area like Chicago. Good luck.

    6. Best idea I’ve seen in a long time on this post. I grew up in Germany and miss this type of market sooooooooo much. If this goes any further, let me know how I can help.

  5. Has the city canceled the September concerts on the square? I do not see any information anywhere. Help!

    1. It’s in the Decatur Focus that just arrived in the mail, and band details can be found at the Decatur Business Association website: decaturdba dot com.

  6. With the heated discussions that have peppered this site over the past few months I see a great deal of frustration focused on the City and the elected Commission. I too feel much of the frustration about our current governmental state but do not want to pick sides for this post. I do however want to understand why we do not have term limits for our elected officials. (or do we and am I missing something??)

    Clearly each position is elected and if one runs un apposed then shame on us but why do we not have some basic limits. I do support several of our elected officials and feel that all have acted with honesty and integrity. Look we DO NOT have the corruption that many other cities or counties have experienced, each of these individuals have done the right thing by their positions.

    That said The face of Decatur has changed and with that so should the ruling body. I believe that several of the members have been in office for more than 16 years. That is more than 4 terms based on the information I found on the City of Decatur Web site

    “Five City Commissioners are elected in nonpartisan elections for overlapping four-year terms – two from District 1, two from District 2, and one At-Large. Each January, Commissioners elect two of their fellow members to serve as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem.”

    I just think that is just too long. With the changing structure of the community so should we look to new faces for leadership. I do not want this to turn into a Commissioner bashing thread but would like to see your thoughts on this.

    1. “With the changing structure of the community so should we look to new faces for leadership.”
      As you point out, it’s largely a matter of people wanting to run for office. There have been a few contested races recently, but for the most part, no one stepped up to oppose a sitting Commissioner. You could run yourself or get someone else to.
      My other pet peeve is the low turnout for municipal elections in general – normally 20% or so. In the grand scheme of things, who makes the biggest difference in your day-to-day life: POTUS or your local Commissioner? At least Decatur does better than Ferguson, MO, where I read the turnout was 12% and, among African-Americans, 6%.

      1. I am sorry to say that pubic office would not sit well with me. I am not sure if I could split my personal opinion from what might be best to the greater good. I also think that a pro-development / conservative Republican would not do well trying to get elected in this town. May be I am wrong. I think that the Blue Liberal feelings that Decatur was so known for are shifting a good bit but again you never know.

        I feel that public office in general has suffered greatly over the past decade. With lower and lower interest to serve. I cannot blame the masses though. I would not want to put myself out there for that level of public debate.

        I may not agree with what our commission has done as of late but they did have the guts to take the position and stand up so they deserve credit there.

        1. Who has the time to serve in public office? Even at the City Commission level? The time commitment alone rules out a large fraction of the populace. We want to see our kids at night. Or take care of mom. Nevermind representing the city at that ribbon cutting at 10am on a weekday.

          And for those who are left, those with occupations with both flexible time and income models are disproportionately represented (small business owners, lawyers, doctors or nurses who work per diem, etc). The same is true with the state legislature — who has a job they can take off for a few months each year?

          And if one does have the time to serve, do they suffer a loss in compensation by serving? Or perversely, do they user their office to make up for it (see Elaine Boyer, for starters)?

          There’s a part of my brain that has thought about such things (I have served a large international professional society for years in an elected volunteer capacity) but the issues above make it a non-starter. At least for the professional society work, it is justified as part of my job.

          1. They do qualify for a state pension for their service. Or at least my mother, who served one term as a county commissioner, did. She chuckled when she received this stipend, along the lines of $ 3.00 per month, as I recall.

      2. We have municipal elections? Have you ever seen them publicized? In the 30 years I have lived here I have only heard about them 2 or 3 times. Apparently we don’t vote for mayor.

        1. They are in November on off (non federal/state) years. Don’t see how you could miss campaign signs, etc. And no, we don’t vote directly for mayor. He/she is selected each January from among the 5 commissioners.

    2. I think you may have hit on the answer, at least as I see it, in your comments. Each of the individuals on the commission has had to “reapply” for their seat every four years. In some cases, they have run unopposed; in others, they have defeated an opponent. Either way, both of these scenarios offer either explicit or tacit approval — by we the people — of their continued performance. They’ve been held up to our scrutiny and been found to pass muster.

      On a related note, I’ve worked with all kinds of communities around the country and have seen a lot of different political scenarios. As a rule, I’ve found that, in places (especially smaller places) with ongoing turnover of elected officials, nothing ever gets done. Especially the kind of things that play some small role in much larger strategic objectives. If you’re a community with a sense of where it wants to go and how it wants to face larger realities, there can be great value in continuity. It’s not necessarily a liability.

      That doesn’t mean that fresh blood and fresh ideas aren’t also critical ingredients in municipal success and that’s at least somewhat represented in Scott Drake. As with all things, balance beats the extremes at either side of the spectrum.

      1. well said,

        I agree that you need to maintain a core or old guard but even with 3 terms that would be 12 years, that is quite a long time. As noted it is a tough debate and I think that it is one worth understanding

    3. I’m going out on a limb to predict the topic you have broached, which I agree is complex and well worth scrutinizing, will elicit substantially less engaged conversation than the thread about how many more festivals can be crammed into the calendar.

      1. The Great Decatur Term Limits Festival! We could hold it every two years on one of the three weekends that isn’t already fully festivaled. There would be craft beer and locally sourced corndogs and it would culminate in a Hunger Games style lottery to choose 5 tribute commissioners to serve until the next Term Limits Festival. Who’s with me on this?

    4. I spent some time in California, and as far as I could tell, term limits benefited lobbyists, unions, corporations and real-estate developers. Good people who were interested in serving their communities got forced out before any long-range planning could be accomplished. The lobbyists and government employees ended up being the only ones around with any institutional memory at all.

  7. Does anyone have a stucco repair company/person recommendation? We had a leak in a window and some new renovations that created a need for stucco repair on our gables. We have the traditional hard coat stucco and need someone to repair the rotted wood behind and reapply stucco the old way. I am having trouble getting anyone to do it. Any leads would be appreciated.

  8. Does anyone know whether there are laws preventing keeping a cute little camper in one’s backyard?

    I’ve heard that a shed needs a permit or whatever (because of the floor area rule?) but things on wheels are OK. I don’t know if that’s true here or not.

    Thanks.

  9. Hi all!

    September Break camp, partial or full week

    I’m Kris Webb, former Renfroe Science Teacher. In 2013 I left the classroom and started a STEM Education company, the Science of Fun STEM camps. We will have camps in downtown Decatur during every school break and teacher workday.

    Break camp registration is open now and the September Break is filling up remarkably fast. We are located at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah on Clairemont, the same building as Smarties daycare. We know how to make learning fun with engaging hands-on experiments and activities, plus time outside to play and be active!

    Partial week registrations are fine. Ages 5-10, older campers can join us this summer.

    Parents of former students who are now at DHS- let me know if your teen wants to volunteer. Campers love teen counselors in training and making slime is the most fun way to earn hours (plus I miss my former students!)

    Thanks all!
    Kris Webb

    http://www.scienceoffun.com
    404-969-2161

    1. Any luck? If not, you might give Dave’s Produce and Country Store a call. It’s on Lavista Rd. about a mile this side of Northlake Mall. Don’t think they’re open on Sundays though. (Sorry, I didn’t think of this place till today).

  10. This Tuesday, come hear DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon discuss her Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb:

    Our DeKalb County reached a ‘tipping point’ in 2013: nearly everyone now agrees that fundamental reforms are due. Beyond that general agreement, reaching consensus proves difficult. Even listing a Top Ten of the issues, crises and challenges that brought us to this tipping point invariably raises disagreement on one point or another from one quarter or another. We all seem to be going our separate ways.

    To move forward we should consider, “what does reform look like?” Continue reading the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb @ http://www.kathiegannon.com/tl_files/documents/Blueprint%20to%20Redefine%20DeKalb.pdf

    Invite your neighbors, friends, neighborhood association and homeowner’s group to join you at this important and informative session!

    Tuesday, September 9 @ 7:00 p.m.
    North Decatur Presbyterian Church
    611 Medlock Road, Decatur 30033
    Sponsored by Good Growth DeKalb

  11. Pro tip:

    Avoid Clairmont Rd./Clairemont Ave. at all costs this weekend. Scraping, repaving, temporary lanes and generally bonehead reactions thereto.

  12. Dear Parents Sitting Outside Tonight at Avellino’s…It was NOT cute when you let your child walk on the table. Unbelievable that you can think for one moment that it is somehow acceptable.

      1. How about of I told you they thought their munchkin was just so adorable that they rewarded and encouraged the behavior by taking pictures.

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