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Impractical Proposals Santa Monica
PedalPower: Tricycles for Parking Meter Readers
Imagine the benefits that would eventualize, to use a City Hall kind of word, if parking meter readers used tricycles to get around town, instead of their current pollution-generating CNG-, electric-, propane- or whatever-driven microvans. The city would set an example to its citizens, most of whom now routinely jump in the car to make short trips to the bank, to get a loaf of bread or to take a shirt to the cleaners; demonstrate a support for human-powered transportation that has been heretofore honored mostly by its absence; and reap health benefits in the form of cleaner air from zero-emissions and lowered health care claims from fitter employees.
On the City's website, aptly titled "Factoids," is the following:
"ELECTRICAL VEHICLES EMIT NO TOXIC EMISSIONS. Have you ever noticed that electric vehicles have no exhaust pipe? Think about it. No exhaust, no need for an exhaust pipe! And keep in mind that electricity is relatively inexpensive in comparison to Unleaded or Diesel fuel. We are evaluating the electric vehicles in different capacities -- you can see some of them at work at the beach and at the promenade. We have received funding for our leased electric vehicle program and are working on getting more."
While it is true, discounting for the moment the damming of free flowing rivers by hydroelectric plants and the slaughtering eagles by windmills, that it's nice that there are no emissions actually emanating from electric motors themselves, still, given the fouling of the air by burning fossil fuels and vegetable waste in the generation of electric power, it's hard to argue that electricity is emissions-free. Still, you have to admire the canniness of transferring the pollution to some other political bailiwick and managing to lay claim to all that "funding" in the process.
Of the 10 most congested traffic interchanges in the country, four are in Los Angeles County: 1. U.S. 101 at the I-405 Interchange (Los Angeles) 2. I-610 at I-10 Interchange (Houston) 3. I-90/94 at I-290 Interchange (Chicago) 4. I-10 at SR 51/SR 202 Interchange (Phoenix) 5. I-405 at I-19 Interchange (Los Angeles) 6. I-85 south of I-85 Interchange (Atlanta) 7. I-496 at I-270 Interchange (DC-Maryland-Virginia) 8. I-10 at I-5 Interchange (Los Angeles) 9. I-405 at I-605 Interchange (Los Angeles) 10.I-285 at I-85 Interchange (Atlanta) "An Initial Assessment of Freight Bottlenecks on Highways," Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Flags Over California is a history and illustrated guide from the California National Guard to the flags that have flown over the Golden State, such as the flag of the Spanish Empire, the Russian-American Company pennant, the standard of the Mexican Republic, the Fremont flag, and various versions of the bear spangled banner. The site also provides the text of laws related to the look and correct procedures for displaying the California state flag. <http://www.calguard.ca.gov/>
Infrastructure: California Bay-Delta Authority Levee System Integrity
The California Bay-Delta Authority's backgrounder on the "1,600 miles of aging levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and its watershed," providing drinking water for much of the state, irrigation for Central Valley agriculture, and a habitat for many plant and animal species, discusses the state of the levees, currently so fragile that an earthquake or a heavy rain could breech them, with Katrina-like economic consequences, and describes the state government's plans to fund repair of eroding structures. <http://calwater.ca.gov/> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <<< See You Later, Alligator: Johnny Grande, piano player on Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," dead at 76. >>>
Editorial: Wi-Fi and the Cities (New York Times 06-06-06)
No fewer than 300 cities and towns around the nation have taken wireless Internet access, or Wi-Fi, to the people. San Francisco's aim is to make the entire city a hot spot, Chicago plans to blanket the city with access, and large parts of Philadelphia are to go wireless soon. But New York, which should be leading the way, is dragging. A plan to offer free Wi-Fi access in city parks has been moving slowly, and a larger vision has yet to take shape.
Wide dissemination of Wi-Fi is not the future. It is now, needed by businesses, educators and especially the underserved populations on the wrong side of the digital divide. Rural communities have known for a while that going wireless is cheaper, more reliable and allows even the most remote areas to log in. It spares the expense of laying down extensive networks of cables, not to mention the work and time involved.
Local governments are filling a leadership void at the federal and state levels, and they are going directly to providers to negotiate Wi-Fi deals. San Francisco's mayor has turned to Earthlink and Google. Earthlink, based in Atlanta, is also helping Philadelphia. In some of these deals, lower-speed connections are free, with higher speeds available at a price. The providers also hope to make money off advertising.
Surfing the net in the parks is a modest goal for New York, where some smaller parks have already been hooked up by agreement between independent groups managing those parks and NYC Wireless, a nonprofit organization. The city needs to get moving to get the larger parks online, but it also has to get serious about wider access. The minimal goal — pressed with energy in the City Council by Gale Brewer of Manhattan — should be free or low-cost access in its densely populated, poor neighborhoods in all the boroughs. That is where cable and phone line options are out of financial reach, and where education especially suffers as a result.