Thursday, October 18, 2012

Biscayne Landing Fund Town Hall Meeting, hosted by Scott Galvin, 2012/10/18

City council will spend the money at the final meeting in October, 23. Galvin says its worth going, and that community uproar has helped prevent some catastrophes in the recent past.

Galvin wants to withhold the money for a rainy day, or to see what will come of the local economy. Does not know if the council feels the same way, and if they're dead set on spending it he wants some good options for how to spend the money.
Those present have paper ballots where they can give input for an unofficial unscientific ballot. Galvin particularly warns about a looking pension deficit crisis facing the city.

Someone asks about PAL youth center and suggests buying old Miami Way theater.
Someone asks about 143 st road in to FIU. FIU wants a second entrance to the campus, according to Galvin, and cannot afford to build it. FIU suggests 135th street.
Someone asks about moca, and mentions how great it is. Reminds about money that was promised to moca but not given due to something relating to BL. Mentions nonprofit feeding elderly losing over 100k.
Shirley of pony ranch at enchanted forest wants sand for the coral.

Galvin's personal opinion on manager's suggestions is that it's all centered at city hall, not the city.

Someone else asks about 143, Galvin doesn't know more but expects they will be back soon. And another question.
A question about a new car dealership on 119 and Biscayne.
Comments about upgrade to Cagne park.

Councilwoman talks about investing the money and using interest only, particularly for grant writing.

Again it's brought up whether it's worth it or not to show up. Is it a done deal?

Linda, Realtor, brings up city funding for housing. Beckons the audience to show up.
Marc feels like a powerless individual and group against corruption. Mentions the privatization of sanitation as example of how public opinion doesn't matter.
"If he wasn't in tune to the east side before..." regarding mayoral candidate who voted for privatization.

Vinnie appeals to everyone that although some battles are lost some have been won specifically by community effort, and the war is fought and won in the long term.
It is brought up that this is a voting base.

Elizabeth Acosta, volunteer at library. Sees the need for a good library. Gets me watery eyed in less than two minutes.
Terry points out something regarding more fishiness around the trucks, and the city manager could technically give the trucks away without council approval.

Someone "echoes the sentiment" that if everyone here tonight shows up Tuesday it could make a significant difference.
It is brought up how long meetings are and taxing on citizens.

Galvin brings up that the 99k for the sidewalk pressure cleaning has been tabled. Explains the story to the audience briefly.
Jeff asks about a wall around San Souci.

Someone brought up Linda's comment, mentions a federal grant for purchasing homes, fix them, and sell them. Not to give the money away for free. What happened to the money? Also, how many leads have been foreclosed for code violations? Something to do with losing money , or not making the most economic decisions.

Susy, of San Souci, mentions city manager comments about stability of city budget and a surplus. Is something in place to refund furloughs?

Housing brought up again, particularly Steryle's mother getting a house on our money.

Imperfect notes, obviously. Galvin ends meetings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

reductivism of news

One might argue it's good to read the news, but what is news and which of it should we read?
On that latter question I mean that there are many different types of news, their differences essentially as a matter of either scope, content or quality.

I expose myself to rather narrow content and don't much want to discuss the utility of different types of content. Rather, I think mostly about the scope and quality of news, however now I want to work out a bit why the scope of the news concerns me. Scope concerns statistics.
Many will be expected to read on the minutiae of celebrities' lives, though any feasible utility in assimilating that information apply only to social situations. Certainly societies acclimating to this content will produce superficial and hollow social interactions, therein relationships.
Likewise, in much news focusing on so few, the circumstances of the many lie hidden from public consciousness. Newspapers commonly present the machinations of insignificant polls as being representative of reality, and religiously cite government statistics assuming they make use of reasonable methodologies. Bureaucracies and the esoteric tax system developed for them allow methods of accounting, spiting public ignorance, inaccurately presenting the organization's health and dealings. These kinds of information, while sometimes dolled out in general news, find most use in professionals relying on accurate reporting of the legally binding prices and actions of organizations. These professionals, unlike fans of gossip, use the data to profit from the often limited possible outcomes in financial dealings. General audiences are subject to less precise news, but as before won't benefit from it.

The intended demographic for news provides interesting notions of scope. Corporate bureaucracies provide news content for all manner of consumer. US general news content is mostly national or regional. The news is often compiled by graduates of accredited journalism programs. Writers have editors who guide and focus their work; they both have limited knowledge of and access to what's going on and so rely on the channels that have been legislated to homogenize the acquisition of information.
But while accredited and sanctioned journalists are privy to certain privileges (press pass), can that be enough to sufficiently provide news to the public? This enters territory which begs for content to be considered, but rather I remain on scope.
The regional newspaper may provide a leaflet with the local corporate market's prices, but does that same paper also educate on what affects those prices, where those products come from, and what impact that company has on that community and others?

Journalism is not entertainment, but when it embodies noble service, like a good teacher, will captivate.
Captivating, relevant journalism will foster a powerful community. Citizen media offers the potential for the community itself to produce that journalism. The success of social networking demonstrates a strong supply of information, but the paradigms for this content do not suffice to establish reasonable citizen journalism. Therefore the market for citizen journalism platforms is open.
Means of acquiring, organizing, and accurately organizing information are vital. Separate is how processed information is retrieved by citizens. Google News provides a strong example of these efforts, but there are many reasonable criticisms of that service. Blogs, forums and more recently journalism allows a correspondence between those taking responsibility of providing information with those relying on and consuming it.
Citizen journalism can fulfill this role, and using social networking make journalism interactive and transforming.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the death of a local (Miami) cyclist,

The recent death of 37 year old Andy Cohen, a recent example of an ongoing trend in Miami of terrible unfortunate hit and runs involving cyclists dying. Local bicycle blog Miami Bike Scene drummed interest in the death with an impressive moving memorial.
With a large focus after the unfortunate death of Christophe Le Canne, and the subsequent detention in punishment for it, demonstrate in the interim that retribution is not a sufficient method for deterring accidents involving vehicles hitting cyclists.
The rights of people to use roads at their pleasure have been protected--even if only superficially by laws and regulation. But these laws alone and without a concerted effort focused at deterring the circumstance, rather than condemning its occurrence, surely persist it.
Having personally witnessed promises made about the very road of this more recent bicycle death on the Rickenbacker Causeway, I recognize the frustration of those in the community who would publicly demand the living rights of all people. Bicyclists, though a perceived nuisance to drivers, represent a legitimate and growing demographic of transported people. Public transportation and a personal car are not always sufficient and necessary means of meeting our transportation needs.

If the community gathers to demand justice in response to this recent of various bicycle deaths, it would do best though to focus not on response, rather sharply at the inability of the ongoing approach to adequately or noticeable promote the safety of that community.
The answer is not simple, but do we even ask the right questions of those who act in our names? It is unreasonable for government to approach problem solving by the paradigm of costly studies and lofty schemes promoted by public funds seeking firms.
While drivers mostly advance the conventional wisdom that bicycles belong on the sidewalk, any bicyclist worth their damn uses the streets to get places otherwise far away.  They would tell you the impracticality of relying on the sidewalk.

There are probably many ways to get the idea in the minds of Miami drivers that bicyclists should be respect. (everyone should be respected) Some cheesy in part of me like sharrows; others like bike lanes. More ubiquitous exposure will certainly have its place and unfortunately so too will the accidents.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Miami's Critical Mass

For two years now I've enjoyed the monthly congregation of Miami metro's bicycle community at Miami Critical Mass. Meeting on the last Friday of every month outside the Stephen P. Clark Center in downtown Miami, around 7:00 pm, Critical Mass is my near-mandatory, public expression of a deep enjoyment of the act of bicycling.
Unlike most group rides which keep a rather difficult pace and go distances in excess of 20 miles, Critical Mass is an opportunity for the entire community of cyclists to gather and take to the streets. The ride, which when I began garnered participation of around 300 people, has in recent months expanded to average over one thousand.
The meaning is quite clear, the people of the Miami metropolitan area enjoy riding bikes! The ride has no particular end other than enjoyment.

But while cyclists enjoy themselves, many car drivers find the ride a nuisance. It can be a long wait if one is caught at an intersection in which the mass passes.
What's more, any unsuspecting police officer we pass often immediately tries to stop the mass. On a few occasions that police efforts have successfully halted our progression, they demand to know who the leader is. I've heard it said, "someone's getting arrested for this!"

Critical Mass has a unique meaning to each, but most generally it's simply the opportunity for enjoyment. At a somewhat more controversial level, though CM is an active recognition that the streets of Miami belong to the people of Miami, regardless of their mode of transportation. While few would think twice about being stuck in a Miami traffic jam, something about a jam caused by bicyclist induces a tremendous range of thoughts.
Some cars honk in pleasure, happy to see such an occasion, but few others honk in impatience. There have  been incidences of drivers getting out of their car to physically threaten cyclists, and others of drivers cutting into the mass.
While personal threats are short-lived due to drivers being severely outnumbered by participants, those driving into the mass put cyclists in a very dangerous situation, particularly those inexperienced with biking in vehicular traffic.

Despite the few instances of danger, the overall experience is pleasant, perhaps even wonderful. On the rare occasion the mass gets stuck at a drawbridge the sight is beyond words.

What an occasion!

Monday, January 30, 2012

in an age of austerity

with virtually all municipalities teetering on the brink of bankruptcy or collapse, attempts to cut spending should normally be accepted as necessary, but it's precisely where these cuts are proposed that one should worry about. while pay cuts to public sector employees may ultimately be necessary, one should look into the complicated bureaucratic structure of these governments to find corruption and inefficiencies before putting the burden upon those manning the front lines of oublic service. administrative pay and responsibilities should be thoroughly re-evaluated. we should decide what public service means to us and find creative new ways for commu ities, raer than governing bodies, to self-determine the means by which their needs are met. these governments should also look at their expenses objectively to find excessive spending on services from third parties. and most of all, conflicts of interest and corruption should be ropted out from these governing bodies, implementation of transparency methods should be finally addressed, and open source solutions should be used whenever they meet the needs that otherwise cost thousands, sometimes millions of dollars.

a problem with politics

While mainstream media would have us believe the ills of modern governance are simply the product of citizenry choosing the wrong officials to lead, even a cursory look in to generations of two-party politics tells a quite different story.

I first learned of the commission on presidential debates (CPD) during the 2004 election when the Green and Libertarian party presidential candidates were arrested while attempting to get into a presidential debate being held in St. Louis. A supposedly non-partisan organization, the CPD took over control of presidential debates from the League of Women Voters, their parting words on the matter were, "the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter."
This was in reaction to Bush Sr. and his opponent creating a secret deal to help orchestrate the debates. Since then though the fraud has been institutionalized by the CPD, controlled by Democrat and Republican back-room dealers. Most alternative parties are unknown to Americans, due to their total exclusion from national discourse.
We don't reap what we sew for our food is harvested far from home. I've lost a lot of my interest in national politics.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

explain this to me

Around two minutes and thirty seconds into the video one of the journalists in conversation with others says, "See this room? Two-thirds of us will be laid off when Ron Paul is President?"