Gas tax holiday wrong solution

According to the Appleton Post-Crescent, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain are suggesting suspending the federal gas tax to help drive fuel costs down so that Americans can continue to afford to drive.

Today’s prices are $3.69 per gallon in my city. With an 18.4-cent per gallon suspension, I’d still be spending over $3.50 per gallon. So instead of paying what was a record-high $3.25 last year, I’m still spending more after a suspension. Let’s do the math.

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Bicycle traffic light

Now here’s a neat concept for bicycle commuting. The City of Portland (Oregon) installed a bicycle signal at one of its dangerous intersections. The purpose is to help bicyclists cross, especially inexperienced riders who are still uncomfortable in traffic. In a way, it also helps drivers to remember to share the road.

The setup includes a sensor and a dedicated traffic light tied into the rest of the traffic lights at the intersection. The traffic light is activated when a bicyclist rides over a marking on the trail to trigger the light. The bike traffic light then turns green; the regular traffic lights in all directions turn red, stopping all motor vehicle traffic and allowing the bicyclist to go through.

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More debates on statewide smoking ban

The state continues debating over the details of a smoking ban. The ban, if passed as intended, is to go into effect on January 1, 2009. Legislators in Madison are battling over whether or not to postpone the ban in taverns and restaurants.

The American Cancer Society recently sponsored a town hall meeting to discuss the impending statewide smoking ban, also known as the Breathe Free Wisconsin Act. Tavern League of Wisconsin representatives clashed with non-smokers and other business owners during that meeting.

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Suburban teens bring holiday cheer to inner city youths

Given all of the bad things happening lately, it’s nice to know that there are still people in this world that have big hearts… especially when they’re teens. Students from Oconomowoc High School and Hartford High School collected all kinds of presents for students at Hopkins Street Elementary School in Milwaukee.

For many of us, it’s often hard for us to envision what it’s like to live without simple things like toothpaste or laundry soap. Yet many of the students at Hopkins Street Elementary live like that daily. To have strangers from 40 miles away come in and deliver not only toys but also necessities like mittens, hats, and soap is something of a Christmas miracle.

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Former mayor slams bicyclists

Some people just take things too darned seriously.

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin slammed some die-hard bicyclists for riding in a snowstorm… the second one of the year. An avid bicyclist himself (or so he claims), he approached it with a tongue-and-cheek style. But his overall message was not without merit: bicyclists need to use common sense when riding in conditions that put them in as much danger as the vehicles that they’re driving with.

With the recent dumping we’ve received lately, I’m surprised that people are even out riding during a storm. The city’s ability to clear streets has slowly improved since I moved here several years ago, but when getting dumped by tons of snow, I can’t imagine being able to maintain control (I keep to four wheels in this kind of weather, and I have a hard time maintaining control). Although the streets do eventually get cleared (from additional plowing, people displacing the snow by driving over it constantly, or the sun), the real danger occurs when the streets have fresh powder on them and drivers are varied in their ability to control their vehicles in it (whether they have front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive).

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My idea of a good smoking ban law

Wisconsin Governor Doyle recently called for a special session to pass a statewide smoking ban (among other things). I support one, but only as long as it is discussed and debated properly.

There is a lot of anti-smoking sentiment in the state, but there are also those that feel that their rights are being trampled. I’ve been on both sides of the debate. I smoked for 14 years, and quit almost 3 years ago. Although I can no longer stand the smell of cigarette smoke or odors, I also experienced how difficult it is to quit. I’ve seen many others struggle to quit. I don’t agree that the first amendment allows people to assemble peacefully for the sake of smoking… I never visited a bowling alley just because I was a smoker (I did it to bowl). But the reality is that smokers still have the right to choose to smoke… as much as I have a right to bitch about how much they reek (don’t get me wrong; I also complain about those that bathe in perfume).

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