Sunday, May 30, 2010

Test mobile phone post

I'm testing out my new Google Nexus One - a graduation gift from El Hermano and La Novia.  I'm watching the Braves play, and they have finally started to play like I thought they would at the beginning of the year. Troy Glaus has really started to come around and Jason Heyward is as advertised. 

I didn't expect much from Melky, so I haven't been very disappointed.  I'm not as concerned about Yunel as some folks - injuries take a while to come back.  from in baseball and he is 3 for 3 today as I write this.

Hopefully I'll get back into writing again. I stopped around finals, and just got lazy about it. I'll try and have some posts up his week before I go on vacation next week.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peachtree-Pine foreclosed, finally

It appears that the Peachtree and Pine shelter has finally gone through foreclosure.  I think this is really just the end of round 1 - the shelter is suing the city and downtown booster organization CAP for conspiring against the shelter.  On top of that, the Task Force for the Homeless is suggesting that they aren't moving, despite having lost ownership and control of the building.  Now, the new owners haven't told the shelter they have to leave, or put a timeline of it if that is the plan, but it appears the Task Force is anticipating more conflict:

Beaty says she hasn’t yet heard from Fialkow, but would resist any effort to oust the shelter and its residents — which she says averages 700 men a night — from the building.
“We’re here and we’re going to be here,” she says. “These men have nowhere else to go.”
That is a threat, right?  Is the Task Force hoping that the new owners will try to force them to leave, and we'll all have to watch the performance theater of police officers kicking homeless people out of the shelter?  Is there another way to interpret this statement?

I'd feel a lot more sympathy for the Task Force if they, like, paid their bills.  I understand that the city and the federal government stopped funding the Task Force a few years ago.  It is their prerogative not to fund the organization.  I suggest you read this 2008 Creative Loafing article that helps put the situation in some perspective.  The Task Force has not evolved over the years, and has slowly alienated everyone that should be on their side.  

Also, the article notes that the Task Force got the Peachtree-Pine building as a donation originally - when did they take out a mortgage on it, and how exactly did they intend to pay that mortgage down?  How else did they see this ending?

Selling Underground a great idea in theory

Stephanie Ramage reports that the idea of selling Underground Atlanta was floated at the city's budget hearings. Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean suggested it, which prompted an interesting reaction from Councilman Ivory Young:
Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr. expressed concern about what would be at the site if Underground wasn’t there. He said he was puzzled as to why so many people—Georgia State students, state employees, tourists—go through near by Five Points MARTA station each day, but fail to leave spend any money at Undergound, which has lost money for years.
Really?  How can this confuse you?  Presumably Councilman Young has been to Five Points recently, but every time I've been one of those 'many people' going through Five Points, it has been for the sole purpose of, well, going through Five Points.  When you are commuting you don't just decide to stop and see Underground - you are trying to get to work on time, etc.  It also isn't like Underground catches your eye from Five Points, either, assuming you even leave the station.  The number of commuters at Five Points doesn't really translate into traffic counts like on a main arterial road.  As one of the many GSU students who works a block from Five Points many days, I rarely cross the street even to Five Points Plaza, much less Underground.  Why would I?  There is nothing there to do.  It fails as a destination in its own right.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Viewing city government as a services firm

Via Marginal Revolution comes this interesting news item on improving municipal customer service:

Potholes, stray garbage, broken street lamps? Citizens of Eindhoven can now report local issues by iPhone, using the BuitenBeter app that was launched today. After spotting something that needs to be fixed, residents can use the app to take a picture, select an appropriate category and send their complaint directly through to the city council. A combination of GPS and maps lets users pinpoint the exact location of the problem, providing city workers with all the information they need to identify and resolve the problem.
...Developed by mobile solutions provider Yucat, the BuitenBeter app will soon be available for Android and Windows Mobile phones, too. Eindhoven has signed on for a twelve-month trial, and Yucat hopes to roll out the system to other cities in the near future.
San Francisco has allowed folks to send in complaints via Twitter for almost a year now.  Looks like they are still active.  

This seems like the sort of thing that Kwanza Hall would get on board with.