|Progressive Calendar 02.28.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Sun, 28 Feb 2010 13:32:04 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.28.10 1. Public spaces 2.28 3:30pm 2. Pol repression 2.28 7pm 3. Save GAMC 3.01 12:30pm 4. Janitors strike 3.01 4pm 5. Peace walk 3.01 6pm RiverFalls WI 6. Keep Chief Dolan? 3.01 6:30pm 7. Uhcan-mn 3.01 7pm 8. Dave Bicking - Events on Chief Dolan and police accountability 9. Scott Thill - Cities shorten yellow traffic lights for deadly profit --------1 of 9------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Public spaces 2.28 3:30pm The Book House, 429 SE 14th Avenue, a Dinkytown landmark for over 30 years, will hold its second in a series of public conversations "Public Spaces - Disappearing or Transforming?" on Sunday, February 28th, 3:30-5:30pm. This forum will explore how changing economic circumstances and technological innovation have redefined both the need for, and availability of, public space. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, are we less likely to see engagement and interaction in physical spaces? And how will spaces that have traditionally provided this service - like museums, cafes, libraries, theaters and bookstores - function in this shifting landscape? Featured speakers David Unowsky, founder of the legendary Hungry Mind bookstore, and Jay Wallsjasper, editor of the "Utne Reader" and author of "The Great Neighborhood Book," will join others in discussing how we use public space to shape a personal sense of belonging and community. Monte Bute, Associate Professor of Sociology at Metropolitan State University, will moderate the discussion. For more details check www.bookhouseindinkytown.com or call 612-331-1430. --------2 of 9-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Political repression 2.28 7pm A Talk by Dhoruba Bin-Wahad: "Political Repression and State Violence from Minneapolis to Palestine Sunday, February 28, 7:00 p.m. (Community Dinner, Donations Accepted) Walker Church, 3100 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Monday, March 1, 7:00 p.m. (Lecture) University of Minnesota, Blegen Hall, Room 5, 269 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Tuesday, March 2, 11:15 a.m. (Lecture) Hamline University, Sundin Music Hall, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul. Tuesday, March 2, 7:00 p.m. (Lecture) Historic Pilgrim Baptist Church, 732 Central Avenue, St. Paul. In November 2009 Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, a former U.S. political prisoner, leader of the Black Panther Party, and member of the Black Liberation Army, was detained and deported from the West Bank of occupied Palestine by Israeli authorities. He had been invited to attend a conference on political detention by the Palestinian Authority. Dhouba spent 19 years of a life sentence in jail for a crime he did not commit. He was a target of the FBI's COINTELPRO, was arrested in 1971 and had his conviction overturned in 1990. He will discuss historic and current struggles against social injustice and state violence in the U.S. and in Palestine, with specific focus on political prisoners and institutions that repress social movement mobilization within communities fighting oppression. Join a wide array of Twin Cities organizations to hear this powerful speaker, who challenges conventional wisdom and inspires people to embrace social change. Sponsored by: American Studies Department, (U of M), Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Department of African American and African Studies (U of M), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, RNC 8 Defense Committee, Scholars for Academic Justice, Scott and Carrie Support Committee, Women's Student Activist Collective, and the WAMM Middle East Committee and others. --------3 of 9-------- From: Welfare Rights Committee <welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Save GAMC 3.01 12:30pm Below is a message we like to pass onto others that are being effective and/or know someone that will be effected by this GAMC cut. Join folks at the State Capitol for an interfaith vigil on Monday, March 1st, prior to the House vote. Gather at 12:30pm outside the House Chamber. Located at the State Capitol - 2nd floor, 75 Rev Martin Luter King Blvd. STP Read the information and Call your State Represenative. Welfare Rights Committee PO Box 7266, Mpls MN 55407 pho: 612-822-8020 main email: welfarerightsmn [at] yahoo.com alt email: welfarerights [at] qwest.net -- From: "info [at] jrlc.org" <info [at] jrlc.org> Hello Welfare Rights Committee, We need you to act NOW to SAVE GAMC. We expect the House to attempt a veto override this Monday, March 1st. First Action: Call or email Your Minnesota State Representative through this weekend. To find your state representative call (800) 657-3550. Thank state representatives for their vote to save GAMC (if your member was one of the nine "no" votes*, you can tell them of your disappointment). Ask your Representative to vote yes again. Let them know that this issue should not be partisan and that their previous vote on the merits of the bill should stand. We need problem-solving, not partisanship. Second Action: Sign on to the Interfaith Statement to Save GAMC. Third Action: Join us at the State Capitol for an interfaith vigil on Monday, March 1st, prior to the House vote. Gather at 12:30pm outside the House Chamber. Read about our Feb 18th vigil to get a feel for what we intend to do. We will be respectful, solemn, hopeful. Your actions will help establish a principle this legislative session that we will not allow people to die because of the state's budget woes. Background: On Thursday, February 18th, the Minnesota House overwhelmingly approved (125-9) an extension of the GAMC program for the next 16 months. The Senate quickly concurred, and this bill, with very strong bi-partisan support, went to the Governor. Within hours, the Governor vetoed this bill. GAMC health care will end in about 30 days unless the legislature overrides the veto. The Senate looks poised to override. However, the House vote will be very, very close. General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) offers health care coverage to the poorest adults in the state of Minnesota. The Governor eliminated funding for the program last spring with a line item veto and further reduced funding with unallotments. Without action by the legislature, GAMC expires April 1, 2010. The House and Senate both passed a GAMC reform bill, and on Thursday, February 18th, the Governor issued a veto. Highlights of GAMC Bill (SF2168): * Reduces costs. This bill cuts costs by $219 million for the next 16 months of the program. * Reforms the program: This bill eliminates layers between the health care provider and the patient and encourages new, local collaborations to better manage the health conditions of the many chronically ill Minnesotans who rely on GAMC. * Provides health coverage for 85,000 people. The Governor's proposal would cover only 28,000 people. * Saves jobs. Hospitals across the state are preparing to cut hundreds of jobs if this legislation does not pass. * Does not rely on any tax increases. *The nine "no" votes in the House: Anderson, B., Buesgens, Drazkowski, Emmer, Hackbarth, Holberg, Kohls, Severson, Shimanski. Help us.Donate now to JRLC. Justice work endures. Remember JRLC in your estate planning. --------4 of 9-------- From: Teddy S <tyimenu2007 [at] gmail.com> From: MN Socialist Alternative <mn [at] socialistalternative.org> Subject: TC janitors strike 3.01 4pm Twin Cities Janitors to S T R I K E M O N D A Y Show your support: Join the picket lines! Donate to the strike fund! Picketing shifts between 4 - 10pm Monday through Wednesday! Show up at 4pm at Central Labor Hall at 312 Central Ave SE, Mpls or any time at Gethsemane Episcopal Church at 905 4th Ave S, Mpls to be dispatched to picketing locations. Click here to commit to supporting the strike - http://26.seiu.org/page/s/holdtheline Contributions to the strike fund can be mailed to SEIU Local 26 at 312 Central Ave SE Suite 356, Minneapolis, MN 55414. Make checks out to Working Partnerships and write Justice for Janitors on the memo line. Contact Steve Payne from SEIU local 26 for more details at 612-325-9401. --- Dear Socialist Alternative Supporters, The over 4000 Twin Cities janitors represented by SEIU local 26 who work in the downtown and suburban metro areas have had enough! They have worked without a contract since January and management remains unwilling to move on their draconian demands for concessions. At a membership meeting today, Janitors of local 26 agreed to begin strike action on Monday. Socialist Alternative will be on the picket lines and continue doing all we can to mobilize community support. We are appealing to you to join us and the brave janitors of the Twin Cities on the streets starting Monday! In this time of crisis, big business is demanding working people pay the price for their system's failure. All working people of the Twin Cities need to unite with the janitors struggle to "hold the line," and make this struggle a success for them, their families and all Twin Cities workers! For more details on the issues involved with the strike - please read the article below linked here http://socialistalternative.org/news/article14.php?id=1264 and pasted below. Solidarity and Justice for Twin Cities Janitors! Feb 23, 2010 By Dan DiMaggio Thousands of janitors in the Twin Cities are preparing to strike, if necessary, for decent wage increases, affordable health care, paid sick days, and in defense of full-time jobs. These janitors, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, clean buildings owned by some of the most profitable corporations and banks in Minnesota, including Wells Fargo ($8 billion in profits in 2009), U.S. Bank ($1.8 billion), Target ($2.2 billion), and Medtronic ($2.2 billion). Yet the cleaning contractors hired by these companies have proposed ZERO wage increases, no paid sick days, increased health care premiums, and a host of other attacks. These cleaning companies are also quite profitable enterprises, with the largest, ABM, a Fortune 1000 company with 100,000 employees and revenues of $3.6 billion (MPR, 11/9/09). The importance of this struggle was summed up in the words of one worker, a young mother of two, who said, "The bosses, they sleep easy at night. I wanna sleep easy at night like they do! And if my kids have to do something like this - though I hope they don't - it will be easier for them because we fought. I consider us a gang now. There are more of us than there are of them. We've got the dust pans, the brooms, the mops, and if we stop using 'em, what do you think, they're gonna start doing the work?" The struggle by Twin Cities janitors deserves the support of all workers and youth, and anyone who is fed up with the greed of the big banks and corporations, who aim to take advantage of the recession to roll back the gains made by workers in order to boost their profits. While CEOs might be able to survive a pay cut (the CEO of Goldman Sachs is "only" getting a $9 million bonus this year - how will he pay the mortgage on his mansions and pay off his yachts and still be able to feed his family?), janitors making less than $13/hour can hardly afford to "tighten their belts" anymore. The ultimate goal of the cleaning companies and building owners is to revert back to part-time, poverty-wage janitorial jobs, with workers firmly under the thumb of management and afraid to assert their rights. All workers have a stake in this struggle, because defending and expanding the number of good jobs helps counter the race-to-the-bottom and raise standards for all workers. Janitors are not taking these attacks lying down. In a union meeting in early February, they voted to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike. The African-American, white, Latino, Somali, and Ethiopian members of the union chanted "Sí se puede" ("Yes we can") in 5 languages, in an inspiring display of unity. (See video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XglK_L8CaBo) Janitors have been working without a contract since January, and the companies have offered virtually nothing in negotiations. The biggest company, ABM, is proposing NO pay increase for 2010 and 2011, and then 13 cents in 2012. Marsden, another major contractor, proposes no raise for 2010, and 5 cents in both 2011 and 2012. When workers were presented with the employers' proposal at a recent union meeting, most laughed at what they consider a sick joke. Right now, Twin Cities janitors covered under the union contract make $12.97 per hour, a wage that is extremely difficult to raise a family on, or even to survive on alone. But the proposal from the companies amounts to a pay cut, given inflation. In addition to offering no wage increases, the employers want yearly increases in health insurance premiums paid by workers, while offering the same bad plans. Many workers complain they have racked up thousands of dollars in debt for hospital bills and other medical expenses despite having insurance. The union is demanding better coverage, fighting to achieve free health care like janitors in Boston, Chicago, and Seattle have won. The companies have also refused to accept the union's demand for three paid sick days per year - an extremely modest demand (and one that is many other countries a constitutional right, with 127 countries guaranteeing at least a week of paid sick days a year - and 102 countries guaranteeing a month or more, while in the U.S. 48% of private sector workers have no paid sick days - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_leave). The companies are also trying to do away with any commitments to full-time work, to allow them to create more part-time jobs. They have refused to give workers job protection when buildings change contractors, refused to guarantee paid breaks on the job, and callously refused to allow workers to save vacation up (crucial to many immigrant workers with elderly relatives and families in other countries). The union is also calling on the companies to make janitorial jobs "green jobs," by transitioning to day-shift cleaning instead of having to light buildings at night while workers clean. They also want to move to more environmentally-friendly, safer cleaning products. There is no reason why janitorial jobs shouldn't be good jobs, paying a living wage, with good health care, full-time hours, paid sick days, and decent working conditions. Yet for the past 30 years, building owners have shifted to subcontracting work to cleaning companies who often pay poverty wages with no benefits, in an effort to cut costs. SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign has fought against this trend and built a fighting union in numerous cities across the country. If the union did not exist, the building owners and cleaning companies would be happy to be paying workers $7 an hour, with no benefits and absolutely no rights. The struggle by Twin Cities janitors is a struggle in which all workers have an interest. As one security guard, also a member of SEIU Local 26, put it at a recent union meeting in offering his support to the janitors, "If the janitors don't fight it will affect everyone" - encouraging the employers to go for blood against the security guards and other workers throughout the cities and surrounding suburbs. The mainly immigrant janitors are setting a heroic example by fighting back against some of the biggest corporations in the Twin Cities - and the country - during this time of economic recession and corporate assault on working people. This is even more the case given that 1,200 janitors working for ABM lost their jobs in October in a "quiet immigration raid, one of the largest immigration crackdowns under the Obama administration to date" (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/11/09/immigrants-fired/). As one janitor put it, "I really want people to hear - and if possible even get to the ears of President Barack Obama - that we don't come here for anything other than to work. And if anyone could see the places we come from and were in our shoes, they would do the same thing" (MPR, 11/9/09). Coincidentally, this raid just happened to take place a few months before the janitors' contract was set to expire. It is to the enduring credit of these janitors that they are still standing up to their employers, at the bargaining table, in their workplaces, and on the streets. As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass put it, "Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted ... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." Come out and march with SEIU Local 26 on Monday, February 15 at 11:30am, starting at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. And hear from janitors and union activists about their struggle at a public meeting sponsored by Socialist Alternative, La Raza, and the SEIU Local 26 Solidarity Committee on Tuesday, February 16 at 7pm at the University of Minnesota in Coffman Union Room 211. The union is also looking for supporters willing to walk on the picket lines and even be picket captains. An injury to one is an injury to all! Support the struggle of Twin Cities janitors! --------5 of 9-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 3.01 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------6 of 9-------- From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com> Subject: Keep Chief Dolan? 3.01 6:30pm Community Forum: Should Police Chief Tim Dolan be Reappointed? Monday, March 1, 2010, 6:30pm Shiloh Temple, 1201 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis (enter parking lot from Girard Ave. N. & park in fenced lot, enter building through the back) Come to a forum to discuss whether or not Chief Dolan should be reappointed for another three year term. Three knowledgeable activists will share their experiences over the years of trying to bring about a change in the culture of the police. Please come and share your ideas, opinions and experiences with other concerned residents. Pizza and pop will be served. Speakers: Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality Dave Bicking, member of the Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA)* Kenneth Brown, former chairman of the Civil Rights Commission * for identification only, not speaking on behalf of the CRA Board If you can't attend this forum, please come to the public hearing about Chief Dolan's reappointment downtown at City Hall on Wednesday, March 3, at 1:30 pm, in room 317. It is vital that concerned residents show up. To speak, it is helpful to come a little early to sign up. Sponsored by New Broom Coalition, a group of activists from varied political backgrounds who have come together to bring about change in Minneapolis. Our website is NewBroomCoalition.net. Or contact Dave or Jan at 612-276-1213. --------7 of 9-------- From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: Uhcan-mn 3.01 7pm Next Universal Health Care Action Network of MN (UHCAN-MN) organizing meeting. Monday March 1, 7pm Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S., Mpls,(1 block from Lake str and Bloomington Ave. Lower-Level Gallery Items: 1.Reportbacks: Network Bldg;need website mgr,other 2.state level:framing GAMC debacle/debate to need for MN Health Plan 3.national HC debate; analysis, actions, networking w/ key groups Ice house demo at health insurer CEO's Mansion ? 4.UHCAN-MN Film 20" footage of Seattle WTO shutdown,10th Anniv;analysis, Implications for HC direct action;date,time,location ? other films ? Let me know if you want to add an agenda item. --------8 of 9-------- From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com> Events on Chief Dolan and police accountability This is going to be a busy week for those concerned with the problems of policing in Minneapolis. This is a critical time - and our best opportunity - to do something about it. There are three events this week - a forum for information and preparation, a City Council public hearing on the Chief's reappointment, and a public meeting of the Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) board which will be confronting some of the same issues. 1) Monday, March 1, 6:30pm: Forum on Chief Dolan I have been working with the New Broom Coalition, which sponsored a previous forum about a month ago. That was a big success - important info, good discussion, and media attention. We are repeating it, with new info added, on the North Side. We hope that the CUAPB will be unveiling their comprehensive report on the performance of Chief Dolan! Here is our full announcement: Community Forum: Should Police Chief Tim Dolan be Reappointed? Monday, March 1, 2010, 6:30pm Shiloh Temple, 1201 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis (enter parking lot from Girard Ave. N. & park in fenced lot, enter building through the back) Come to a forum to discuss whether or not Chief Dolan should be reappointed for another three year term. Three knowledgeable activists will share their experiences over the years of trying to bring about a change in the culture of the police. Please come and share your ideas, opinions and experiences with other concerned residents. Pizza and pop will be served. Speakers: Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality Dave Bicking, member of the Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA)* Kenneth Brown, former chairman of the Civil Rights Commission * for identification only, not speaking on behalf of the CRA Board Sponsored by New Broom Coalition, a group of activists from varied political backgrounds who have come together to bring about change in Minneapolis. Our website is NewBroomCoalition.net. Or contact Dave or Jan at 612-276-1213. 2) Wednesday, March 3, 1:30pm: Public hearing on Dolan at City Council Mpls Police Chief Dolan's first three-year term as Police Chief ended in January 2010, and he is up for reappointment to another three-year term. He remains in that position until reappointed, or until another chief is found. Now is our best opportunity to get rid of him, or, if that fails, to bring attention to the problems in the Police Department and win some concessions. The City Council's Executive Committee has already acted, on Feb 17th, to forward the Mayor's recommendation to the City Council. The Public Safety and Health Committee acts next, and is required to hold a public hearing before voting on the appointment. If the Committee votes in favor of Dolan, that goes to the entire City Council for a final vote on Friday, March 12. Unfortunately, the Mpls City Council holds its public hearings downtown during weekdays, ensuring minimum public participation and input. Let's surprise them! If there is any way you can take the time off to come, this is the time! A big crowd can have a substantial impact - it did many years ago when Chief Olson did not get reappointed. Though this City Council tends to be a rubber stamp for the mayor, particularly on appointments, there are concerns by some Council members about Dolan's record, his unwillingness to accept any direction from the Council, large lawsuit settlements, and budget problems. The hearing is held in Council chambers, Room 317 of City Hall (the old stone building, 350 S. 5th St.). Please come, even if you do not feel prepared to speak. If you wish to speak, it is best to prepare 3 minutes or less of comments. More than that is never allowed, and we could be cut to only 2 minutes each. It is best to come just a bit early to sign up to speak on the sheet outside the chambers. Additional speakers are generally allowed, after all those who have signed in. ALSO, if you can't come, or if you don't wish to speak, or even if you do, please contact the Committee members ahead of time! They generally take a vote as soon as the public hearing ends, so it is also good to give them your opinion ahead of time, in addition to appearing in public. Their email addresses are: Don Samuels, chair, Ward 5: don.samuels [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us Cam Gordon, Ward 2: cam.gordon [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us Diane Hofsted, Ward 3: diane.hofstede [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us Barb Johnson, Ward 4: barbara.johnson [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us Meg Tuthill, Ward 10: Meg.Tuthill [at] ci.minneapolis.mn.us Betsy Hodges, Ward 13: betsy.hodges [at] ci.minneapolis.mn. I hope to see you there!! 3) Wednesday, March 3, 6:30pm: CRA Board meeting, City Hall, Room 333 The volunteer board of the Civilian Police Review Authority has its monthly meeting this Wednesday evening. It is sure to be an interesting one. There has been some conflict lately, with the Chair of the board telling me I have to resign, and with fallout from some legal action. Too much to explain it all here, I hope you have received some previous emails about this or have seen it on the news. Best single source for an overview is: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/02/13/controversy-cra Public attendance and interest will help strengthen the resolve of board members to serve the community. With the failure of the Police Chief to impose discipline in sustained cases from the CRA, the CRA could become meaningless without action to bring about changes. The community has fought hard for civilian oversight and police accountability. Victories need to be constantly defended! I will be bringing up several issues at what could well be my last Board meeting, given the attempts to remove me. Comments from the public are accepted at all CRA board meetings, generally limited to three minutes each. That's it for now. Please participate in whatever way you can! All of this is a way to put our Green Party principles into action. Dave Bicking 612-276-1213 --------9 of 9-------- Cities Shortening Yellow Traffic Lights for Deadly Profit By Scott Thill AlterNet February 23, 2010 http://www.alternet.org/story/145752/ Reeling through a 21st century addicted to technology and surveillance, citizens may be too overwhelmed to complain of increasing cameras popping up atop red lights at intersections across the nation, most of which are designed to catch them breaking traffic laws. That is, until they're caught in those intersections as the yellow lights unexpectedly change, and cars in front and back of them hit the brakes or punch the gas to avoid tickets. And when they find out those cameras and lights are being gamed, sometimes lethally, in the pursuit of quick profit? Then they get mad, and maybe even, for being used as motorized money pits. "With all of the stories we hear on a daily basis, there is little doubt that the desire for ticket revenue trumps safety concerns," Gary Biller, executive director of the National Motorists Association told AlterNet. "A quick current example is California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who a few weeks ago proposed state budget including a proposal to add speed sensors to 500 existing red-light cameras. The reason? Safety wasn't mentioned, but an expected additional annual revenue of $338 million was." Roughly multiply that revenue by 50 states, and you quickly get an idea why red-light cameras designed by companies like Arizona's Redlfex Group and American Traffic Solutions (ATS) are an increasingly attractive crutch for America's cash-strapped cities. But they're unsafe short-cuts, because they haven't necessarily proven very effective at anything other than generating ticket revenue -- and accidents, lots of accidents. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown that red-light cameras can cause more accidents, not less. They're not particularly good at generating legitimate tickets either: Illegal camera set-ups at intersections in Seattle are issuing invalid citations, around 80 percent of red-light violations in Los Angeles are comparatively safe rolling right turns, and so on. Meanwhile, 15 states have elected to prohibit red-light cameras, and more are surely to come as motorists learn that some American cities have been shortening yellow lights for deadly profit, as countries like Italy quickly follow suit. "While several cities have been caught shortening yellow lights to increase revenue from red-light tickets," said Biller, "I think the larger issue today is that the duration of so many yellow lights has never been adequately set for optimal safety results. An increase of approximately one second can reduce the frequency of red-light-running by at least 50 percent." The standard definition of a safe yellow light is arguably hard to nail down, depending on the intersection. The Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices specifies a wide-ranging duration of three to six seconds. But the application is more important than the theory, which is why it should be left to the scientists to decide which goes where, according to Justin McNaull, director of state relations for the American Automobile Association. "Yellow light intervals should be determined by engineers," he told AlterNet. "If yellow lights are too short, motorists can't stop in time. If they're too long, motorists will continue to accelerate when they shouldn't. To borrow from 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears,' yellow lights need to be just right." If they're not, the statistics get scary. Shortened yellow lights usually increase accidents by a significant percentage. In fact, in some cities they have caused more accidents than they have stopped. But they have also pulled down millions in fast, easy money, and that is often evidently worth the cost in human lives to politicians and industry heavyweights. "The camera does have a place in the traffic safety toolbox," said McNaull. "But it's not a cure-all. There's a temptation for local governments to see it as a revenue tool. And as a safety tool, but one that produces revenue." With profit as the red-light camera's primary motive, it's hard for an already disenfranchised citizenry to find friends in those money-hungry local governments. But it's not impossible: State Representative Christopher Hurst in Washington is sponsoring a bill to mandate a four-second duration for yellow lights and severely downsize violations to $25. Given the opportunity to decide on the need for such lucrative surveillance, citizens have always opted to just say no. "Red-light cameras have never survived a public up or down vote," said Biller. "The problem is that many photo enforcement programs have yet to be put on a public ballot." Until they are, dissenters are just going to have to hammer cities with the ugly details. From letting corporations like Redflex and ATS decide where the cameras are installed to shortening yellow lights and beyond, cities are gambling their citizens' lives in pursuit of money they might just have to give back anyway, in the form of lawsuits, illegal tickets and so on. And given the major cost of the serious collisions the red-light cameras are supposed to be stopping, the whole enterprise could turn out to be a high-tech exercise in cost-inefficient waste. "The cost of traffic accidents is huge," said McNaull. "A conservative figure is $200 billion a year, but it can go beyond half a trillion in the United States annually. Reducing crashes certainly does produce significant benefits." But increasing them produces the opposite: A massive destruction of taxpayer revenue in the pursuit of massive taxpayer revenue. Even if motorists could comprehend that labyrinthine headache, it's not like they don't have enough to worry about as it is. With their safety so obviously on the back-burner, some might decide in defiance the law shouldn't apply to them. Especially when they're trying to do the right thing most of the time. "The vast majority of camera tickets for such violations is based on vehicles entering the intersection within 0.2 or 0.3 seconds after the signal turned from yellow to red," Biller explained. "These are technical violations by drivers trying to clear the intersections responsibly. The kind of red-light running that causes the serious broadside accidents touted by the camera companies are those where the vehicles enter the intersection three seconds or more after red." "It's not an issue that's black or white," McNaull said. "We're certainly operating within the gray area." Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others. c 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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