JUST FIX IT
Public chips in to remove debris piles along Encinitas street
By Jeff Ristine (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. April 8, 2009
UPDATE: While officials in Encinitas and the North County Transit District ponder what to do with the wood chips illegally dumped along a coastal roadside, the public is taking care of the problem.
[The UT had reported that the city had to hold a meeting to figure out what to do.]
On Friday, Just Fix It featured wood-chip piles up to 5 feet high along San Elijo Avenue. After the column appeared, people drove by and helped themselves to free mulch, and the piles are considerably smaller.
John Presson, who lives across the street from the mess, watched the material get shoveled away.
“A few single loads by (some) folks, multiple loads by others,” Presson said. “A couple of guys showed up with wood-paneled trailers and took a few big loads.”
When contacted last week, city and transit officials said they had expected the other side to do something about the piles, which straddle their respective property lines. They promised to get together on the issue this week.
Seeing a possible way around the inaction, Encinitas resident Monica Johnston posted a notice for free mulch on Craigslist. Johnston doesn't live near the site but said she “just wanted to help a problem that no one would touch.”
“They're fighting on who is going to pick it up,” her ad read. “Consider yourself a real civil servant and go get some free mulch!”
Several Just Fix It readers asked why the city didn't just offer up free wood chips. Mark Hosford, superintendent of the city street maintenance division, said last week that an uncontrolled giveaway was “not the best way to get rid of it” for liability reasons.
Mark Jenne, who lives near the northern end of the problem area, said some residents spread out the chips dumped there to control dust kicked up by vehicles parked along the shoulder.
Joe P. Donegan, a former Encinitas resident who now lives in Santa Rosa, said the problem isn't new.
“This dumping has been going on for at least 30 years,” said Donegan, who remembers when cypress trees lined San Elijo Road. “It was once an unofficial way to beautify the area and keep the weeds down.”
WHO'S RESPONSIBLE: Mark Hosford, who can be reached at the Encinitas street-maintenance request line at (760) 633-2850 or online at eassistance.cityofencinitas.org.
NCT SANDAG jets around country
[Excerpts from an extensive article]
Officials with the San Diego Association of Governments, the region's primary planning agency, often exceeded daily expense limits for travel in recent years, according to records obtained by the North County Times.
The records also show that the agency sent its board chairwoman to a swearing-in ceremony for Sen. Barbara Boxer at a cost of $1,093, in apparent violation of an agency ban on travel to political events, and spent $2,079 on one dinner at a top-flight Washington, D.C., restaurant in March 2006.
According to SANDAG's travel policy, agency officials are supposed to travel coach class, follow expense limits for meals and hotels set by the Internal Revenue Service, and spend no more than $300 a day on those two items when visiting Sacramento and Washington. And the policy forbids travel to "political events," though it does not define what those are.
Comments on NCT from "Coastal Watchdog":
Bob Stern, president of the Center for Government Studies in Los Angeles... said it is healthy for public officials to take trips to advocate on behalf of constituents...Wow, what an expose!!! SANDAG does the right thing and gets good results which benefits us!!! What's next, a breathless report about airline pilots who fly all around too???
Lani Lutar, executive director for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which is larger than Rider's group and one of the area's most influential public-policy organizations, said that, given SANDAG's success, neither the number of trips nor their costs appear to be excessive.
Coastal Watchdog frequently comments on Encinitas articles.
The Association for Computing Machinery compiled this list of ways to increase government transparency:
Many Internet users are learning to control their online experience, including combining and analyzing information in innovative ways that go beyond what the data's original publishers imagined. Individual citizens, companies and organizations have begun to use computers to analyze government data, often creating and sharing tools that allow others to perform their own analyses. This process can be enhanced by government policies that promote data reusability, which often can be achieved through modest technical measures. But today, various parts of governments at all levels have differing and sometimes detrimental policies toward promoting a vibrant landscape of third-party web sites and tools that can enhance the usefulness of government data.
The ACM recommendations are:
* Data published by the government should be in formats and approaches that promote analysis and reuse of that data.
* Data republished by the government that has been received or stored in a machine-readable format (such as online regulatory filings) should preserve the machine-readability of that data.
* Information should be posted so as to also be accessible to citizens with limitations and disabilities.
* Citizens should be able to download complete datasets of regulatory, legislative or other information, or appropriately chosen subsets of that information, when it is published by government.
* Citizens should be able to directly access government-published datasets using standard methods such as queries via an API (Application Programming Interface).
* Government bodies publishing data online should always seek to publish using data formats that do not include executable content.
* Published content should be digitally signed or include attestation of publication/creation date, authenticity, and integrity.
For more see Calaware Today.
Today Californians begin to pay
for their leaders' failures
Starting today, every time you pay a little bit more for socks, toothpaste, a computer or a new car, you can thank the state Legislature and governor of California.
They were the ones who approved the temporary 1 percent sales tax increase to help fill a gaping hole in the state budget and end a financial crisis that was threatening to shut down the state government. Of course, they were also the ones who allowed the gaping hole to form in the first place, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Now, every time you stock up on household supplies, or celebrate a birthday at a local restaurant, or replace an aging appliance, your bill will be higher. One extra cent for every dollar you spend.
This higher tax will be in effect until July 1, 2011 - or July 1, 2012 if Californians pass Proposition 1A, the Budget Stabilization Act.
In exchange for accepting a higher tax for extra year, Californians are supposed to get a spending cap and a rainy day fund - you know, logical, responsible actions to make sure leaders don't spend the state into a hole again.
Isn't that just like California? We have to pay more simply to get our leaders to be fiscally responsible.
So, for the next couple of years, when you have to dig into your pocket for another dime or quarter or dollar to cover the 1 percent tax increase, think of your state leaders.
NCT Sheriff's Department expects to freeze 200 positions
Most North County stations should see only a small staffing impact, with just one frozen position each at the Encinitas, San Marcos and Poway stations, officials said...
Teresa Barth has sent out an email saying she learned of this change this morning, in the newspaper.
SDNN County Supervisor resignations could lead to hand-me-down appointments
Excerpts from an editorial discussing the possible retirement of County Supervisors
If Cox or Roberts were to resign mid-term the County Charter (section 401.4) gives the Board three options of how to fill the seat. The remaining board members could then 1) appoint a successor to fill the expired term, 2) appoint a successor until a special election or 3) make no appointment and immediately hold a special election.
But there is a fourth option that would be better for democracy. The supervisors could appoint a ‘caretaker’ supervisor until the next election with a commitment that he or she won’t run for the office.