Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wednesday news round-up

A number of stories of interest here:
  • In response to proposals that Philadelphia institute a big car-race on its city streets (similar to the Indy 500 and sponsored by Paul Newman), critics worry about the associated changes that would be required to some of Philly's characteristic boulevards, most notably the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
    "We truly believe that the idea of widening roadways and reducing public space is completely contrary to the vision we all hold for the Parkway," states a letter the Parkway Council Foundation sent recently to several city officials and the Fairmount Park Commission's chairman.
    The city has been trying to increase the pedestrian-friendliness of the area, and it sounds like the race modifications would undermine those efforts.

  • John Street's recent hand-waving about the proposed city smoking ban (see previous story here) hasn't gone unnoticed by the ban's other big proponent, City Councilman Michael Nutter -- it looks like their brief detante is coming to an end.
    Based on Street's actions, Nutter said Street appears to be "on the verge of selling out the interests of health advocates for the interests of the tobacco industry."
    He dismissed (with data) Street's recent claims about the adequacy of ventilation and other compromise measures.

  • A favorite program of mine, PhillyCarShare, gets some coverage as drivers battered by recent gas prices turn to their short-term hybrid rentals for relief. They may find that being able to grab a car for groceries makes them able to leave their need for a private car behind...

  • Meanwhile, Pennsylvania feeds the paranoia files by refusing to release data on its red-light cameras such as how many tickets were given out in the program's first two months. Good for the privacy rights of offenders, but bad for the public's ability to determine whether these systems are actually worth their cost by reducing accidents as claimed.

  • Finally, in the Failing to Get a Clue department, a Philadelphia City Council staffer (and Republican ward leader), apparently immune to several years of nonstop ethics and payola scandals, suggests that new hearing officer positions to oversee liquor licensing be filled by patronage -- throwing a little legal work to past supporters. A ruckus ensues. Eesh.


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