A hundred more automatic red-light traffic cameras are up around Long Island, 50 in Nassau County. The warning signs that are supposed to encourage drivers to be very careful aren’t up yet. Revenue is up.
Laws that try to alter driver behavior are not necessarily a bad thing, although setting it up so that private parties and local governments make significant money off it blurs motivations and can weaken public trust. If safety is really the first concern, and not tricking or confusing drivers into committing fineable offenses, then there are other things that can and should be done to make the camera program fairer, more logical and more open.
Former Governor Elliot Spitzer did something bad. He keeps doing it. I’ve seen him do it with my own eyes, in public and on television. It has to stop.
He is mispronouncing the office for which he is running. People of Long Island, we have a proposed merger of Suffolk County’s Comptroller and Treasurer positions, a competitive race for Nassau County Comptroller and the whole Spitzer media circus. That word, Comptroller, is going to be coming up a lot, and if we don’t get together on this, it’s going to be a long, long summer and fall: Kahn-Troh-Ler.
There are already more than 3,000 conventionally-drilled natural gas wells in New York, spread around 22 counties upstate. Go visit some of these places if you’re curious to see what happens to old railroad towns and factory towns when those things go away.
When the suits come by waving a contract that will let them open a high-volume hydraulic fracturing well on your property, it can seem like the only way out. You just want to believe, need to believe, that the stories the loudmouths are spreading aren’t true. The loudmouths who show up everywhere and say, “Don’t do this to the rest of us.”
“Adopt-a-Hydrant” is an “app” that runs in your web browser or smartphone and it shows the location of every hydrant. It was written by one of the rockstar software coders at Code for America, a not-for-profit foundation that puts top software writers, designers and managers at the disposal of innovation-oriented local governments. It’s a kind of Peace Corps for Geeks, and their work is posted and available to others.
Not a year goes by without some report recommending that Long Island build its future around “Tech” and software. The ongoing disclosures about our government’s surveillance methods may have dealt a body blow to that kind of future, and to large segments of the American technology sector.
Our European allies are going ape over revelations in the German and British media that our National Security Agency has been spying on European Union offices on both sides of the ocean and has been intercepting over half a billion telephone calls, emails and text messages a month in Germany alone. Among our closest allies, only Canada, Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand have been exempted from these spy attacks.
We can liberate that money we send in to the tax office. We can transform it into the missing mechanism we need to control our fiscal destiny and begin addressing the future instead of pretending it isn’t there.
We need to consider the creation of a publicly-owned bank. Support for public banking as a solution to opening up credit to governments, small businesses and the public at large has been percolating for some time. With many now resigned to the idea that no help will be coming from Washington, probably ever, the idea is now geysering up. There are bills in at least eight states to create a state-owned bank (or a trust or public authority with banking powers) and bills in at least eight more states to direct some agency to study the possibility and report back.
We’re heading toward the deeper end of the pool now, and it’s past the time for local officials to seriously consider the sustainability of the governments and important programs we’ve entrusted to them. If we’re going to come through the stress tests of the next decade with critical functions intact, everything has to be rethought, everything has to be on the table.
We’ve got to build a common, positive “corporate culture” out of our public workforces. There are too many governments (see Nassau County) where training a fellow employee or even creating your own job description seems like only one more path to job elimination. Efficiency, innovation and cooperation are being stifled, just at a time we really need those qualities.
“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time. Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have … we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”
That’s a quote from Ira “Gus” Hunt, the CIA’s chief technology officer, discussing the agency’s goal of eventually collecting virtually all human-generated data — emails, texts, tweets, videos, all of it — and saving it for analysis. It wasn’t leaked. It wasn’t classified. He said it three months ago from a stage at Structure:Data 2013, a major annual technology conference in New York. You can watch the video. Two days later, the CIA entered a 10-year, $600 million deal with Amazon for cloud computing capacity. Saving everything takes disk space.
None of the four developer proposals to “reinvent” the Nassau Veterans Coliseum is shockingly flawed or disturbing.
A couple of the artist’s conceptions seem like real improvements to the look of the arena building, but it’s not clear that making a cooler coliseum is what we should be looking for. Now that we no longer have to focus on what the public can do for the Islanders hockey team, we no longer need to lock ourselves into merely a newer version of what we already have.
Yet we haven’t unleashed the public’s creativity, and we still haven’t measured or reassessed what it is Nassau County needs, wants and expects out of that site and any remaining space around it. The county government seems resigned to give us Islanders Lite. No NHL hockey? We’ll have minor league hockey. Minor league something.
Maybe all of us wear clothing or use electronics or a hundred other things manufactured in conditions we wouldn’t tolerate for our children or in our communities. We choose not to live hidden away in caves, and for important items for which there are few obvious alternatives we can put our heads down and plow through our day and make another small compromise with the world.
Most of us don’t want someone to die or endure suffering for our pleasure. Many of us draw our own lines regarding non-critical products. Most readers would not knowingly purchase “conflict diamonds,” which have helped fund murderous civil wars in Africa.
Page 4 of 25<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>
Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org