The State of California is considering a measure to make cell phone usage safer while driving. Similar to a long-standing ordinance in New York City, the bill would make it mandatory for your cell phone to be hands-free in the car. That means an earpiece of some sort. Some newer cars are even wired for Bluetooth or other technology, allowing people to talk through a speaker. There are inexpensive earplugs, so money should not be an issue. Libertarians hated helmets, seat belts, shoulder harnesses, brake lights and all that stuff. Well they may hate this too, but it is a great idea. Though we all often drive with one hand, we still need TWO in case of emergencies.
In the last few days alone I have noticed several near misses from drivers with one hand on the wheel and the other with a cell phone pressed against their ear with the other hand. They could barely maneuver their oversized SUVs, and one of them nearly rammed me as she struggled for control.
I was in a terrible accident when I handled a cell phone with one hand; in addition, the radio was blaring and it was raining hard. I was at a three way stop, traffic was stopped and my brain said to make that left, only I did not see oncoming traffic from the far lane. Wham, I got shoved 50 feet and virtually totaled my car. It was the cell phone that put me over the top and handicapped my driving ability.
Some people might say ban all cell phone usage from cars, as it is too much for people. I am not one of them, even after that accident. In fact, I am a big proponent of using drive time to connect with friends without interruption. I also advise my sales staff to use that long commute home as an opportunity to connect with clients and/or make personal calls rather then during prime work time.
A friend of mine suggested we just ban “bullshit” calls. With President Bush’s new wiretapping procedures it may be possible. I can see it now…“That’s just bullshit.” Click.
Why is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa so set on taking over the LAUSD? Is it just another mayoral power grab or does he have something specific he wants to accomplish? If so, I have not heard it. LAUSD is an abysmal failure, evidenced by the fact that over 50 percent of the students reaching 9th grade fail to graduate. Ouch. That is a completely unacceptable number and spells big trouble for our society. If the mayor has specific ideas on improvement he should spell them out. So far it has just been about taking control from a dysfunctional board, which may be okay. The takeover plan does have a six-year sunset clause in it, so if the Republicans take over the mayor’s house again the Democrats can take back the schools. Still, before this happens I want to hear more about what he plans to do with the schools once he gets them.
Santa Monica’s City Hall is dead-set on putting apartment complexes near the Civic Center. Perfect, the hodgepodge of planning at the Civic Center will have been completed. A bunker-style police building, an oversized commercial building (RAND) and now apartments. Huh? Makes no sense. It does not fit. Sell the empty lot on Ocean Ave. just north of the Viceroy hotel and south of the Maguire building, and use that money to buy up existing affordable housing stock in the City or build in residential areas. Apartments next to a hotel (Viceroy) surrounded by two commercial complexes (Maguire and RAND) and set up against a major boulevard is ridiculous. The City is set to exacerbate the problem by building even more housing to the north of the Maguire property. Well, at least you will be able to walk to the Civic Center if they ever take the time to polish it up. Maybe if we are lucky they will green up the old RAND property instead of developing it too.
There is talk of a trailhead from a local residential neighborhood down into the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. That is precisely what L.A. Councilman Marvin Braude had in mind when he fought so hard to get the mountains designated as parkland. Some neighbors, however, are afraid of homeless people meandering into the neighborhood. Reminds me of when a large parcel became available on Montana Ave. and many residents wanted a park put there. The merchants protested that it would just become another homeless haven and insisted on more retail. I felt a small pocket park in the center of the district would be good for lunch, rest, play for kids, etc, but the fear of homeless put the kibosh on it. It is important that the homeless do not dictate the planning for our City. Trail and parks enhance our lives and need to be supported.