Naming a new school

I’m typically not one to think about such frivolous matters such as naming a new school. But living nearby, I had to pipe in on this conversation.

A few months ago, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) was prepared to name a new school after Hmong Freedom Fighter General Vang Pao. However, Pao was recently indicted in a failed coup attempt, and MMSD requested new names. I agree that the board should not name the school after such a controversial issue. After collecting suggested names, the board is now requesting comments.

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World Carfree Day 2007

Tomorrow, September 22, is World Carfree day. The challenge is to reduce vehicle usage, either by a day, a week, or a month… and then see how much longer you can go. I started riding a bicycle this year so I could attempt such a goal, at least within a few miles of home.

In Madison, a group of companies and groups are sponsoring a Car-Free Challenge. I’ve signed up to participate for one day (again, options are one day, one week, or one month). I know, it’s only one day, and a Saturday nonetheless. But with my regular job, travelling from one end of town to the other would take me too long. Despite that, I have already started planning for Bike-to-Work Week 2008. Hopefully by then, I’ll be able to manage the 15-mile journey each way.

Local police sacrificed for war

I came across this Government Technology “Point of View” editorial today regarding the cost of the war in Iraq to civilians here at home. Many communities depend on federal funding to provide salaries for law enforcement officers and personnel, but the funding is being diverted to the war in Iraq.

The editorial references the Government Technology article, “Vanishing Act.” It’s an article about how funding is diverted from community policing to the war efforts and homeland security. As a result, crime is up (although, admittedly, there are other factors), and police departments are forced to revert to reactionary methods of policing versus the proactive benefits of community policing. Additionally, many police officers are also military soldiers and are now serving in the war.

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Milwaukee County strengthens smoking ban

If there’s one thing about which I agree with County Executive Scott Walker, it’s strengthening the smoking ban around county buildings. He recently passed a new executive order banning smoking from within 30 feet of all county buildings, including Mitchell International Airport, and he is now pushing the county board to pass a county ordinance to make this permanent.

I know that smokers are all for safer locations to smoke, especially during the brutal Wisconsin winters. But it’s not a question of pushing them out or forcing them to quit; it’s a matter of public health, especially with health care costs increasing steeply.

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Illinois becomes smoke-free

Last month, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law a bill that makes the state smoke-free. This means that smokers will not be allowed to smoke in almost any public building.

There are exceptions. According to the Chicago Tribune, smokers can smoke in private homes (at least the freedom to smoke isn’t banned altogether), as long as a day care or any public business is not conducted in the same space. Furthermore, “They can smoke in designated rooms in nursing homes and hotels, according to the law. They can smoke in tobacco stores, as long as 80 percent of the store’s revenue comes from the sale of tobacco.”

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MoCo: Convenience with a conscience

MoCo Market A friend of mine is an assistant manager at a great new convenience store called MoCo Market. What makes it great? It focuses on providing healthy alternatives to people on the go, offers products made either locally, independently, or conscientiously, and promotes alternative transportation: pedestrians and cyclists (it’s hard to believe that walking is actually considered “alternative transporation” when we’ve been doing it since we climbed down from the trees however many millions of years ago).

MoCo Market is also Green Restaurant Certified. This means that MoCo practices environmentally sustainable methods in everything it does, from using energy wisely to reducing waste and clutter, and to providing healthier ingredients in its menu.

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