Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Burning Carbon to Save Carbon

The City of Boulder has been invited to make a presentation at the Copenhagen global warming summit. Pretty cool, huh?

It seems that some of the innovative things we've done have gotten noticed, things like open space, bike trails, and our climate action plan. Other municipalities want to learn from what we are doing.

Some naysayers here are saying that we should not be putting the CO2 into the air from flying two of our staffers to Denmark and back. They are also complaining about the $2,500 the city is spending on this.

(That's actually quite cheap, as the staffers are flying coach, bringing sleeping bags so they can sleep in private homes, and bringing bikes so they don't have rent cars.)

The money is coming out of the climate action plan budget, so if it furthers the goals of that plan the cost is not an issue. No other programs are affected.

If even one other city takes what we've done and implements it because of what we present, then the carbon savings from that one community will more than offset what's being burned for two airline tickets.

This was also unanimously approved by city council, from the most liberal to the most conservative. So obviously once you look at the tradeoffs it becomes worth it.

I hope this proves fruitful, and maybe even they'll bring back some good ideas from elsewhere.

Ideas that will, no doubt, inflame that same group of naysayers.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

No, You May Not Have this Test for Cancer!

A bunch of Republicans are pointing out that the new suggestions that mammograms and pap smears are overused means that under government health care they would be rationed.

The Republicans much prefer the current system in which the insurance companies ration services like this.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Climate Change causes Civilization

Here`s an intriguing coincidence.

Humans evolved about 200,000 years ago in Africa. For most of the time since, we have lived as hunter-gatherers. There were fits and starts at agriculture, but nothing really "took."

And then, starting about 10,000 years ago, we figured it out. We domesticated wheat, oats and barley, and other grains. We started herding cattle, sheep, and goats. We built villages and towns.


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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How Did I Do? -- Election 2009

First of all, I'm glad to say that all of my choices on the City of Boulder issues were agreed to by the voters. Four out of four, not bad.

I didn't do so great on the county issues. Issue 1A, the extension of the Open Space tax, failed by about 4 percentage points. It looks to me that this was partly because of the economy, partly because the County Commissioners did not do a good job of explaining why it needed to be renewed 10 years in advance of when the tax expires, and partly out of backlash against current open space policy.

However, if you look at that backlash, it seemed to come from both sides -- for example, one person commented that he voted against the tax because he wasn't allowed to mountain bike on county open space, while another said he voted against it because of too many bikes on open space. This sounds like a can't win situation. That's especially true since most of the folks who complained about the open space department seemed to be confusing the city's open space rules with the county's -- the contentious mountain bike rules actually are on city property. So, bottom line, lack of a good sales pitch by the county, coupled with ignorant voters who had to lash out against something.

The real puzzler was County Issue 1B, the extension of the ClimateSmart loan program, which lost by two percentage points. This program is already in place and has been enormously successful. It helps locals fund improvements that cut CO2 emissions. It adds to local jobs. And the best thing is that it doesn't cost anybody a nickle except the people who take out the loans.

It looks like 1B was caught in the backfire against 1A, as there was no organized opposition. Again, opponents seemed to not understand it, thinking it was a tax increase, and the county did not do much PR in advance of the election.

Both of these issues will undoubtedly be on the 2010 ballot, and the county will undoubtedly do a much batter sales job then.

Still undecided is Question 1D, the extension of term limits for DA from two to three terms. Latest results show that ahead by just 41 votes, too close to call with the last of the ballots still to be counted.

And that leaves me with the city council race. My endorsed candidate, Barry Siff, came in sixth in a race in which the top five get seats. He missed it by just 672 votes (not all votes have been counted, but there are not enough ballots outstanding to change the results).

Why did Barry lose? (Ok, best of the rest.)

As I see it, the biggest issue was the media and others who lumped the candidates together into so called "power blocks". There was the pro-environment slate, those endorsed by the Sierra Club and PLAN Boulder County, and there was the so-called pro-business slate. With his credentials, Barry could have been on either list. But because he has been a businessman, he was lumped in with the second group.

In Boulder, not being endorsed by the Sierra Club and being labelled pro-business are the kiss of death at the ballot box for many. Undoubtedly, he gained some votes by association with the business crowd. But he did not stand out from that group, and I think it was a net loss for him.

It would have been a better strategy, I think, for Barry to have tried to straddle both groups. He could have been the environmental candidate who actually knows how to pay for it, for example.

In any case, the fundamental makeup of council didn't change much, in spite of the loud voices of the mostly anonymous single-issue attackers.

So, Barry, have a well deserved vacation and when you come back think about whether there is some other way to contribute to this community and maybe get to be better known for the next election cycle (if you're still up for it).

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Summary of 2009 Boulder Ballot Issues

This post summarizes my analysis of the 2009 City of Boulder and Boulder County ballot. You may not agree with any particular recommendation, but you can easily see how I came to my recommendation and come to your own decision based on all of the facts. My biggest goal is to ensure that fewer people vote on issues based on either just the ads or just reading the issue title on the ballot.

Remember, when in doubt, vote no! Here's the list. Click on any specific issue to see my full analysis.

Boulder County Measures
YESIssue 1A
Open Space Sales and Use Tax Extension
YESIssue 1B
ClimateSmart Bond Authorization
YESIssue 1C
Energy Conservation Bond Authorization
YESIssue 1D
DA Term Limits Extension

City of Boulder Measures
YESQuestion 2A
Sales and Use Tax Extension
YESQuestion 2B
Open Space General Obligation Bonds
YESQuestion 2C
Pension Bond Funding
NOQuestion 2D
Changes to Housing Excise Tax

City of Boulder Council
Barry Siff

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