There’s been a lot of discussion in San Diego lately about making the city more bike friendly. Mayor Sanders held a media event not long ago touting a public “bike sharing’ program, a low cost rental system that could encompass downtown, the beach areas and midtown by next spring. Three bike ‘corrals” that allow riders to safely park their bicycle in crowded urban neighborhoods have been opened recently. And it would appear that the people in charge of the area’s roads are starting to take a more serious look at making the streets more user friendly to riders.
From the venerable New York Times Sunday Review comes an article suggesting that, if we truly want to succeed in making San Diego more bike-centric, we should look at what many will consider a heretical idea: lose the helmets.
In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.
But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.
Recent experience suggests that if a city wants bike-sharing to really take off, it may have to allow and accept helmet-free riding. A two-year-old bike-sharing program in Melbourne, Australia — where helmet use in mandatory — has only about 150 rides a day, despite the fact that Melbourne is flat, with broad roads and a temperate climate. On the other hand, helmet-lax Dublin — cold, cobbled and hilly — has more than 5,000 daily rides in its young bike-sharing scheme. Mexico City recently repealed a mandatory helmet law to get a bike-sharing scheme off the ground. But here in the United States, the politics are tricky.
The article goes on to cite Piet de Jong, an Australian researcher who has studied the issues of cycling’s health benefits versus its risks. He concludes the benefits outweigh the risks by a ratio of 20 to 1, pointing out that it makes more sense statistically speaking for people to wear helmets when climbing ladders or getting into a bath tub, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.
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City Employees Featured in Anti-Romney Ads
San Diego City employees are the stars in a series of three video commercials produced by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) critical of GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The ads, which are part of an on-line advertising campaign by the union, criticize the Republican nominee for benefiting from governments services while advocating for cut backs that affect middle class citizens.
Here’s Richard Hayes, a sanitation worker who has worked the La Jolla route that includes Romney’s beachfront house.
New City Hires to be Enrolled in Social Security
San Diego city employees also made the news in Sacramento over the weekend as Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill authored by State Assemblyman Ben Hueso requiring newly hired employees of the City of San Diego to be enrolled in Social Security. This will provide for a minimal guarantee of future retirement benefits, something not provided for under Proposition B, the pension reform ballot measure that changed the City’s program for newly hired workers (police were exempted) over into a 401(k) style plan with payouts to be determined by stock market.
City employees voluntarily gave up Social Security enrollment back in the 1980’s in return for a promise by then-Mayor Pete Wilson of guaranteed future medical benefits, a pledge that was taken back during the Sanders administration.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith wasn’t happy about the Governor’s ok on the measure, telling a UT-San Diego reporter “We can do well if we’re able to be free of state meddling.” Local unions representing City employees have been publicly silent on the question of Social Security benefits, fearing that taking a public stance would damage their position in closed-door negotiations about pension benefit currently in progress.
More News From the Dougchester Empire
The press release announcing the formal take-over of the North County Times by the Dougchester’s UT-San Diego hadn’t even hit our email in box before accounts of massive layoffs started appearing in various journalists Twitter accounts yesterday morning. We hear that one-third of the NC Times newsroom staff were given notice and additional employees in the UT-SD’s Mission Valley location were impacted. NC Times employees received emails directed them to one of two locations within the building, one for those being retained and one for those being laid off.
In Case You Had Any Doubts About Where the Local Daily is Headed…
An interview with UT-San Diego’s CEO John Lynch in The Wanderer, which bills itself as a national Catholic Weekly newspaper, minces no words when it comes to the opinions he holds regarding the current President of the United States:
Barack Obama is “openly anti-Catholic and antireligious freedom,” the vice-chairman and CEO of San Diego’s dominant media player told The Wanderer during a 40-minute interview in his fifth floor office here overlooking bustling Mission Valley.
Asked why he thought Obama directly tackled the Catholic Church early in this volatile presidential election year, media executive John T. Lynch replied, “I think he’s an ideologue” who can’t change. “A), he’s an elitist. B), he’s so socialistic. He believes in changing our country forever.”
For decades there has been chatter about splitting California in half, between north and south, because of differences in the very large state. However, Lynch indicated, the talk has grown more serious because of the Democratic-dominated state legislature, up north inSacramento, ignoring conservatives and pursuing its own failed economic policies.
“We get to the point California is so broken, and so non-reflective of the people,” Lynch said, that discussion turns to “ bifurcation of thestate,” with southern California’s more-conservative San Diego, Orange, and inland counties splitting from the rest of the state.
“We kind of talk about a [Nancy] Pelosi California and a [Ronald] Reagan California” resulting from the split, he said.
PETA Protest at Sea World Set for Wednesday
An orca named Nakai, injured during a performance on September 20th at Sea World San Diego, is at the center of a controversy swirling around the Mission Bay theme park. The 11 year old killer whale is being treated with antibiotics after losing a large chunk of flesh from its lower jaw.
Activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are planning a demonstration on Wednesday demanding that the park comply with the provisions of Animal Welfare Act, requiring incompatible animals be kept in separate enclosures. PETA claims to have a whistleblower report that the killer whale was attacked by “other frustrated, captive orcas.” The animal rights group has also filed a formal complaint with the Department of Agriculture, which has jurisdiction in this matter.
From reportage by Sara Gates via Huffington Post:
This injury is not the first to mar Sea World’s reputation. The theme park has been the target of a number of investigations following the 2010 death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau at the hands of an orca named Tilikum who had been involved in two other human deaths.
In “Death at Sea World,” a book released earlier this year, author David Kirby interviewed several former Sea World trainers, who detailed concerns about SeaWorld employee’s safety and the mistreatment of animals. The accounts bordered on horrific, with claims that whales broke their teeth on metal gates, and trainers were required to remove the broken teeth with power drills.
PETA members, accompanied by a costumed “bloodied, bandaged orca”, plan to descend on SeaWorld in San Diego on Wednesday October 3, at noon.
National Caesar Chavez Monument Announced
President Obama will be traveling to Keene, California on Monday to mark the creation of a new national monument at the home and grave site of civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez. The site, located on the property known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace) includes several structures linked to the United Farm Workers leader, including the mission-style building where he held meetings and worked to organize farm laborers. Chavez also lived at the La Paz complex from the early 1970s until he died and was buried there in 1993.
Quail Brush: The Power Plant Proposal That Will Not Die
Activists with Save Mission Trails and other organizations opposed to the construction of natural gas power plant near Santee rallied at the proposed site of the generator yesterday to increase public awareness about an upcoming hearing before the California Energy Commission. The Public Workshop, scheduled for Wednesday at Grossmont College (Building 60) starting at 2pm will hear testimony about the proposed plant.
Topics for the session include: fire safety, air pollution, public health, biological resources, cultural resources, and worker safety. The workshop is being held to provide a public forum for staff, the project applicant, intervenors, the public and interested agencies to discuss issues related to the project. The workshop will also give the chance for the public to ask questions and comment about the project and the staff’s environmental review.
The project has already been rejected by local authorities on the grounds that it violates the master plan for the region. Activists are urging concerned members of the public to wear orange to the meeting as a gesture of opposition. For more information go here.
African Solidarity Event on Tap for Wednesday
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement San Diego will host a “Day in Solidarity with African People” event on Wednesday October 3rd as part of a nationwide series of events being held in Oakland, Philadelphia and other cities. The San Diego event will be held at the Headquarters Cafe, located at 5841 El Cajon Blvd, from 6- 9pm.
Organizers hope that the events will provide a unique opportunity for those in the white community to hear from the leaders of the African liberation movement and to examine the true history of the relationships between white people, Africans and other people around the world.
The keynote speaker will be Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African Socialist International and founder of The Burning Spear newspaper. A political leader who emerged in the Black Power era of the 1960s,Yeshitela has traveled throughout the U.S., Europe and Africa,building a movement for the unification and liberation of African people worldwide. Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and author of “Overturning the Culture of Violence,” will speak on the role and relationship of white people in solidarity with the African liberation movement. For more information via email , please click here
Another Big New Shiny Thing for Downtown
City Councilman David Alvarez cast the sole dissenting vote yesterday, as the City of San Diego moved forward with plans to expand the Convention Center. The construction will cost an estimated $520 million and expand the facility’s South Embarcadero location by 50%, with a projected completion date late in 2016. The 6-1 council vote yesterday was to approve final financing plans, additional design work.
Actual construction of the expansion still faces two major hurdles; a court case challenging the legality of imposing a hotel tax without voter approval and the bless of the California Coastal Commission. Despite additional questions about the impact of any liabilities the City of San Diego may have for repaying construction costs and the actual economic viability of the expansion, it’s pretty clear that the downtown crowd is bound and determined to get this deal done.
Tweet of the Day:
#Romney planing Big Foreign Policy Speech – will NOT include Offshore Banking Opportunities. Because Everyone does it already!
— Tom Hall (@TomHall) October 1, 2012
On This Day: In 1950“Peanuts,” the comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz, was published for the first time in seven newspapers. In 1967Thurgood Marshall was sworn in. He was the first African-American member of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1976 John Belushi came out on stage with Joe Cocker while he was performing on “Saturday Night Live.” It was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen on television.
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