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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for April, 2007

Driving in Manhattan


Queens City Councilman John Liu was on WNYC radio this morning talking about express buses into Manhattan.
He’s among the City Council members who are open to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed daily driving restrictions — the so-called congestion pricing. Liu wants more express buses in return. That makes sense.
What doesn’t — to me anyway — is all the opposition on behalf of the poor and middle class. The ones who are supposedly driving into Manhattan each day.
Where do they park?
Garages are expensive to use every day, there’s no parking in midtown, Wall Street and other business areas and if you park in a residential area, you’ve got to deal with alternate side of the street parking.
So unless you’re entitled to special parking somewhere, public school teachers and other city and state employees, how can anyone afford it? Especially the poor and middle class.
I could understand if you’ve got a construction van, or are in some other way bringing in tools for your job. But not otherwise. Not if it’s just you. What do you do with your car? I’d be curious to know.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, April 30th, 2007 at 10:10 am |

Clinton appears on Rachel Ray


clinton85.JPGBill Clinton appeared on Rachel Ray’s cooking show this morning to talk about childhood obesity.

Some snippets:

He lost 16 pounds, 16 times, weighed 185 pounds and he won’t be cooking out on the campaign trail. Watch it “here.”:http://www.rachaelrayshow.com./?q=shows/april-26-2007

The timing, though, was funny. This was the week you were supposed to turn off the TV to help fight childhood obesity.

But I’ll admit: I’ve been touting a TV-free week while watching some myself, as evidenced by the post below about greehouse emissions.

Photo from www.rachaelrayshow.com

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at 3:01 pm |

Sex offender bans


Interesting post on a Los Angeles Times blog about California’s sex offender bans.
Sex offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of schools and parks, a statewide law approved by voters.
But some California cities are setting even stricter standards. San Marcos, for example, approved a 300-foot safety net around schools, parks and school-bus stops. Offenders cannot linger in these areas.
Read it “here.”:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/politicalmuscle

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at 1:45 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Turn off your TV


A reminder: This is the week to turn off your TV.

National TV Turnoff Week runs through Sunday and you can get outdoors instead of sitting on the couch.

Childhood obesity is at record levels, Americans on average watch more than four hours of television a day and one contributes to the other, says Westchester’s commissioner for health, Joshua Lipsman. Plus watching too much TV exposes kids to ads for high-sugar, high-calorie foods.

Nor does it help the health of adults. According to the TV Turnoff Network, a Harvard University study found that men who spent 40 hours a week watching television were twice as likely to get diabetes than those who watched less than two hours each week.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 at 5:19 pm |

Traffic restrictions


A commuter disagreed with my column today supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s “congestion pricing.”

“What is the rush to jump on the first solution that soaks it to the driver?â€? he asked.

He had a different idea: require drivers into Manhattan to have one or more passengers as was done after Sept. 11.

That solution would have to be policed differently; traffic officers would probably have to turn away solo riders at the bridges and tunnels.

I still like Bloomberg’s idea. But if the state Legislature balks, as many predict it will, maybe the two could be combined. You would charged the fee unless you have one or more passengers, for example.

After Sept. 11, New York City implemented a ban on single occupany vehicles crossing into Manhattan south of 63rd Street weekdays between 6 a.m.

This is from a report done by the U.S. Department of Transportation:
“Most people who work in Manhattan take transit or walk,” according to the report, “Effects of Catastrophic Events on Transportatin System Management and Operations, New York City — September 11.” “Only 16 perent of all workers rely on the automobile to commute to Manhattan. During the daytime, more than two-thirds of all trips in the 8.4 square miles that comprise central Manhattan are made on foot. Even so, 14,000 motor vehicle trips are made per square mile per day, far exceeding trip density of all other counties in the New York metropolitan area.”

And the following:
“The 15% decrease from the normal peak commute (6 AM – 10 AM) shows that the SOV ban did deter some commuters from driving to the city alone or traveling during the peak. The increases in traffic volumes from 10 AM – 1 PM suggest that employers were sensitive to the new commuting restrictions of employees and allowed them to adjust their work schedules accordingly….ABC TV in New York reported in December that the SOV restrictions were having three effects: an earlier citywide rush hour, additional volumes on bridges above 63rd Street (e.g., George Washington and Triborough bridges) with corresponding longer delays on feeder roads, but an overall reduction in volume of traffic on the highways.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 at 4:37 pm |

Greenhouse emissions


I’m watching Nova on PBS — about how Germany might produce 1/3 of its energy through solar panels.

We on the other hand get 1 percent of our energy from solar and wind, according to the program.

And there are no plans for a national incentive program like Germany’s.

That’s depressing. If Germany can do, so can we. Whether through private business or any other way.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, April 24th, 2007 at 8:42 pm |


Gun-related deaths


Many factors can account for differing attitudes about guns from country to country. What kind of government is in power? What’s the level of political violence? What are the crime rates?
Still, the numbers from this Canadian study, “Firearms Regulation: Canada in the International Context,”:http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cdic-mcc/19-1/d_e.html are striking. The author, Wendy Cukier, looks at gun homicides per million in the context of regulations and households with firearms. She also gathers numbers for gun suicides per million.
The study was updated in 2002.
You can quibble about one country or another, but however you look at it, the U.S. figure remains remarkable. It is the highest, a ranking that was true also in an earlier study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Japan: 0.3
Netherlands: 2.7
United Kingdom: 1.3
Northern Ireland: 35.5
Germany: 2.1
Spain: 1.9
Australia: 5.6
Belgium: 8.7
New Zealand: 2.2
France: 5.5
Canada: 6.0
Switzerland: 4.6
Norway: 3.6
United States: 62.4
Finland: 8.7

The countries are listed by order of households with firearms. Finland is the highest at 50 percent, compared to 41 percent for the United States. But the United States is higher than Finland in both homicides (the number above) and suicides by gun — 57.8 for Finland and 72.3 for the United States.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, April 23rd, 2007 at 2:49 pm |

More on Mayors Against Illegal Guns


As I wrote the other day, Mayors Against Illegal Guns are urging the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment.
It restricts the access cities and law enforcement have to data about guns that have been traced.
The amendment has been attached to the Department of Justice appropriations bill each year since the 2003 fiscal year.
The mayors, whose coalition now numbers more than 240 members from more than 40 states, say the legislation prevents law enforcement from tracing illegal guns and stopping weaons traffickers.
For example, according to the coalition of mayors, in February the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives denied a request from Jersey City, N.J., for all “trace data for all firearms involved in crimes in Jersery City,� between 2001 and 2006.
The National Rifle Association says that the amendment protects the privacy of gun owners.
Releasing the information would help anti-gun groups in their lawsuits against the firearms industry, it says, and serve no useful purpose.
The data remains available for law enforcement for a bona fide criminal investigation, it says.
It notes on its Web site that the Fraternal Order of Police opposes the release of the information.

But 25 other police groups support the release of the information, beginning with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. And 75 police chiefs and sheriffs have given their backing on behalf of their jurisdictions.
Plus the author of the amendment, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Kansas, believes he is on the same side as Bloomberg and the other mayors, his spokeman told The Associated Press in the middle of the week.
Tiahrt’s spokesman, Chuck Knapp, said the congressman had written a letter to a House subcommittee urging several changes to the language of the measure.
Yonkers’ Phil Amicone and Mount Vernon’s Ernie Davis are both members of the mayors’ coalition.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, April 20th, 2007 at 1:32 pm |
| | Comments Off on More on Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Off today


No posts until tomorrow

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, April 19th, 2007 at 4:30 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Mayors Against Illegal Guns


Two days after the massacre at Virginia Tech, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others in the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns moved forward with a new TV ad.
This one tagets the Tiahrt Amendment, under consideration by the House and introduced by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Kansas.
The current version does the following, according to the coalition:
— Prevents Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms from publishing reports that use trace data to analyze the flow of crime guns nationally.
— Limits local governments’ access to ATF trace data.
— Prevents law enforcement from accessing trace data outside its geographic jurisdiction.
— Generally prevents law enforcement agencies from sharing trace data with one another.
— Prevents trace data from being used as evidence in any state license revocation, civil lawsuit, or other administrative proceeding (unless filed by ATF).
The coalition has sued 27 out-of-state gun dealers for allegedly selling firearms illegally to undercover private investigators. Some are in Virginia, and in response the Virginia Citizens Defense League organized what it called a “Bloomberg Gun Giveway.�

The drawing is supposed to be tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 at 3:49 pm |

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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