24 Hours of Good News - Locally Universal Health Care

After only 6 weeks of operation, San Francisco's foray into the world of universal health care has already signed up all the participants it expected before the end of August. The 1000th member enrolled late last week, and with 30 to 40 people joining the program each day, the goal of covering the city's 82,000 eligible uninsured will be reached in just 18 to 24 months.

Though the program is not insurance and is does not extend outside the city limits, it provides basic preventative health care, urgent care, prescription drugs, and surgery to adults who do not qualify for Medicare or Medi-cal and who don' t have access to insurance. So...for the unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, and those excluded by insurers due to pre-existing conditions, the program is a boon. Only time will tell if this kind of health-care experimentation will pay off with wider adoption because, if it does catch on, it's sure to put the fear of God into the for-profit managed health-care industry, not to mention the GOP.

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24 Hours of Good News - Hybrid Transportation

This is a Daimler-Chrysler Orion VII, diesel-electric hybrid bus. It gets 35% better gas mileage than a standard bus; puts out 90% less particulate matter; emits 40% fewer nitrogen/oxygen compounds and 30% fewer greenhouse gasses. But best of all, their electric engines make these buses quiet! I know because one of these babies can be seen in the morning on a route that goes right by the Blognonypad.

San Francisco is getting 86 of these in 2007. What's your city doing for the environment?

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Global Climate Change and Weather Perfection

A couple of weekends ago, the Frogette and I did something that we may never have done in our ten years in San Francisco. We ate at a cafe...at 5:30 pm...OUTDOORS!

Now those of you not familiar with the weather here in Sodom by the Sea, we have three seasons that I refer to as Sun--Late September through early November, when the city warms up and clears up, what most people call 'Indian Summer' but which we just call 'summer' cause it's the only one we get. Rain--November through February (or May in an 'El Nino' year) when it does exactly that...rains...and Rains...and RAINS! And Fog--the rest of the year--when we're lucky to see the sun and wind lashes this god-forsaken rock above the Pacific as if we're being punished for our wicked ways.

But San Francisco does have one redeeming characteristic, climate-wise: The best brunch weather on the whole god-damned planet. From 10:00 am to 1:00 pm most days, anytime of year, the weather here is terrific. In fact, when friends ask what time of year they should visit our fair city, I answer simply..."Brunch".

This summer has been different, though. We're getting plenty of warm days--well warm for us, the rest of you would refer to it as FABULOUS--temperatures in the 70's, clear skies, and calm winds. In point of fact, this weather has been spooky, and I'm almost sure that it's due to global climate change. So my burning issue is this, the weather has been so nice that I'm thinking of buying a car just so I can add a few more tons of C02 to the atmosphere. Is that wrong?

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Paris or Los Angeles?

The battle's on my San Franciscan friends, and the Chronicle has identified precisely what's at stake. We're going to get a chance to decide what kind of city we want to be because two upcoming ballot measures are directly in conflict with each other.

First the initiatives: On the one hand we've got billionaire and GAP founder, Don Fisher assisted by bunches of merchants groups who want to stuff more cars into our city by relaxing the rules on the creation of off-street parking. On the other hand we've got SF Board of Supervisors President, Aaron Peskin and the liberals who want to provide additional funding for MUNI (our municipal transit system). But here's the problem, the MUNI initiative also reaffirms our current parking restrictions. So we can't have it both ways.

Now for some numbers: This city has approximately 470,000 vehicles registered to it's 820,000 inhabitants. That's low by American standards, but what isn't low is the fact that it translates to almost 10,000 vehicles packed into every one of our 49 square miles. On top of that, on any weekday another 35K cars are driven into San Francisco.

Now the merchants will tell you that this shouldn't be a "transit only city", but they're wrong. If there is any city in America that should be transit only (or at least very, very transit-friendly) it's San Francisco! Do we want more downtown congestion? No! Do we want more pollution? No! Do we want more frustrated cagers clogging up our transit lanes, maiming our pedestrians, bicyclists, and each other? NO!!!

In short people, San Francisco should remain a transit first city because we simply don't have the square mileage to be another Los Angeles, and really...who needs another LA anyway?

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Can San Francisco clean up its act?

Mayor Gavin Newsom has wasted a lot of breath on how he'll clean up San Francisco. Most of his initiatives have come to naught, and a recent Chronicle article takes him to task for the deplorable situation of the homeless encampments in Golden Gate Park.
But I contend that there's plenty of blame to go around. From the Mayor, to the City Council, to the police...everybody has an excuse for why they're unable to do anything to help clean up our city. Some of my hot button issues:

Sweepers That Can't-Don't-Won't Sweep...
...because the Department of Parking and Traffic refuses to tow cars off the streets ahead of the sweepers. They say they don't make the rules--the City Council does. The City Council says that ticketing is too lucrative for the city to pass up. What? And towing isn't?! Either way, the trash piles up from week after week of neglect.

Whose Sidewalk Is It Anyway?
When it needs to be repaired, swept, or hosed down because some bum vomited on it, the 10 feet of concrete between my flat and the street is my responsibility. But when I ask the police to help me run off a junkie whose loitering on my stoop... "Hey...that's public property. Nothing we can do about that."

It's A Recycle Bin, Not An ATM
I'm not saying that there's a conspiracy going on here, but when my recycle bins end up on the curb for an hour before getting emptied--and in that hour a half dozen scavengers go through them--something's up. What's also up...or more correctly out...on the street...are any recyclables that the scavengers can't trade for pennies.

It's Not Advertising, It's Trash
This city needs to outlaw the pizza / Thai / Chinese / acupuncture / housecleaning / whatever-the-f*ck-you-want-to-sell-me-today flyer. The damn things arrive on my doorstep by the hundreds. I'm expecting flyers from the local prostitutes any day now, and where will they end up? Uh-huh! Right in the god-damned street with all the others. In California, forests die so that I can get Free delivery and bonus spring roll!.

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BlognonyBITS: Cindy...Please Stay Out Of It

Ever since Cindy Sheehan announced that she would challenge Nancy Pelosi for CA-8 if the Speaker fails to put impeachment back on the table, I've struggled for a response. But lacking further inspiration, I'm left with my original feelings on the subject:

Make your challenge if you must, but when the election finally does roll around, please stay out of it.

Don't make the mistake of believing that San Francisco's frustration with Pelosi--our referendums in favor of impeachment--will translate into votes for you. This district's electorate is complex and fickle. You won't succeed in unseating Pelosi, but you will be just enough of a distraction to put a stake through the heart of any serious challenge.

There's no question that Pelosi has to go, but unfortunately Ms. Sheehan, you are not the one to make that happen.

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