On April 26, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s now-famous statement moved the bar for responsible city government to an all-time low. What she meant to say was that, in the process of trying to give peaceful protestors the space to demonstrate about the death of Freddie Gray, marauding thugs were given free rein to sack her city.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”
– Nat King Cole
“I have a fireplace in my kitchen that I light every night, no matter what.”
— Alice Waters
“We thought of this as a doable way of trying to get our wood-burning emissions in the Bay Area ratcheted down over time.”
— Wayne Kino, Director of Compliance and Enforcement, BAAQMD
When a building that was budgeted to cost $3.2 million winds up costing $11.5 million, something is likely to hit the fan. But in this case, the unhappy noise is local and migratory birds smacking into its environmentally-hip, LEED-Certified wall of windows.
Let’s say you’re a Portland citizen. You were an assistant manager of an auto parts store for almost nine years, and were laid off a few months ago. You have an excellent reference from your former employer, coach your son’s Little League team, and have had no brushes with the law, not even a speeding ticket. You hear a new auto parts store is opening, and send them your resume. Move quickly to the back of the line.
I have a pet theory that some of the worst damage done to our cities is inflicted by local school boards. Recently, NYC Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña tossed my pet theory a large tasty bone.
Clashes between evangelical Christians and the gay community are hardly news. Because I think people’s private lives should be private, nine times out of ten, I take the side of the gay community.
On September 28, the Seattle City Council embarrassed themselves by voting unanimously to search citizens’ garbage and fine them for food scrap violations. On October 6, they embarrassed the entire country.
There’s a lot not to love about a compost bin: The smell. The fruit flies. The general ick factor. The Seattle City Council has a response to your concerns: Get used to it or else. A little background: In 2009, Seattle passed an ordinance that said every resident, whether a single-family homeowner or apartment dweller, must practice mandatory composting or pay fines. The city delivered 13-gallon composting carts to every homeowner, and currently force them to pay a $5.15 a month pickup charge. They also offer a 96-gallon bin for $9.90/month.
Transit Oriented Development is an innocent-sounding term that gets some critics of local government all wee-wee’d up. In a nutshell, it’s based on the belief that your Subaru is killing the planet, so we should all ride our bikes in the rain to a train that drops us at a station just a second soggy bike ride to the office. The city and county planners and regional agencies who dream up T.O.D. schemes exercise a twisted logic that says, build a light rail or streetcar line between Point A and Point B, and soon, “vibrant communities” will sprout up around the train stations and streetcar stops.
We have 5 1/2 years to go, but here’s the one to beat: At a city council meeting, a 20-something community task force member was asked when her group would pave a sidewalk near a school.
Her answer? “Oh, we don’t do anything. We’re just a Task Force.”