Peace of Mind: Personal Safety, Security and Protection


When Adding Bike Lanes Actually Reduces Traffic Delays
CityLab | September 5, 2014
“To see what we mean, let’s take a look at the bike lanes installed on Columbus Avenue from 96th to 77th streets in 2010-2011. As the diagram below shows, the avenue originally had five lanes—three for traffic, one for parking, and one parking-morning rush hybrid. By narrowing the lane widths, the city was able to maintain all five lanes while still squeezing in a protected bike lane and a buffer area.

Rather than increase delay for cars, the protected bike lanes on Columbus actually improved travel times in the corridor. According to city figures, the average car took about four-and-a-half minutes to go from 96th to 77th before the bike lanes were installed, and three minutes afterward—a 35 percent decrease in travel time. This was true even as total vehicle volume on the road remained pretty consistent. In simpler terms, everybody wins.”

Dr. Burke Healey | Department of Agriculture
Service to America Medals
“Halted the spread of the largest animal disease outbreak in U.S. history, an avian influenza virus that threatened human health, the poultry industry and the jobs of 1.8 million people.” 

Background: Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory | NPR

Thomas A. Mariani, Jr., Steven O’Rourke and Sarah Himmelhoch | Department of Justice
Service to America Medals
“Secured a record $20.8 billion legal settlement against BP for the devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, providing funds to help a five-state region recover from massive environmental disaster.”

Background: U.S., BP Finalize $20.8 Billion Deepwater Oil Spill Settlement | WSJ

Joseph J. Mueller Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Service to America Medals
“Prevented the collapse of a major dam that threatened the lives and property of thousands of residents and business owners downstream, and could have disrupted New York City’s water supply.”

Background: Water Recedes and Anxiety Rises After Hole Opens Near Upstate New York Dam | NY Times

David A. Hindin |Environmental Protection Agency
Service to America Medals
“Spearheaded the EPA’s use of advanced pollution monitoring technology to increase compliance with federal environmental laws, provide more public transparency and reduce harmful pollutants in our air and waterways.”

Background: EPA adopts rules to limit oil refineries’ emissions into neighborhoods | LA Times

Kathleen B. Hogan | Department of Energy
Service to America Medals
“Developed and expanded a series of pivotal national energy efficiency initiatives that have greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and saved American consumers and businesses billions of dollars.”

Background: Better Buildings Challenge Energy Savings Exceed $1.3B | Facility Executive

ATC privatization: a solution in search of a problem?
The Hill | September 30, 2016 
“A key question should be, what improvements would U.S. ATC privatization set out to achieve? Surprisingly, proponents have not articulated any metrics on what would be achieved through privatization. Perhaps that is because there is no proof that privatization would either save operators money (one of Delta’s arguments) or reduce flight time and delays (which place a drag on the U.S. economy).”

Don’t Privatize Air Traffic Control 
The New York Times – Editorial Board | February 15, 2016
“… there is no credible evidence that a privately operated system would be better than the current one, which is the busiest and safest in the world. And there is plenty of reason to believe it would be worse.”

“The privatization bill also gives short shrift to passengers’ interests. The new air traffic operator is to have a 13-member board of directors, with four of them representing airlines, three representing the owners and operators of private planes and one for aerospace manufacturers. Just two people would be appointed by the secretary of transportation to stand up for the public, with the other seats going to the chief executive and unions.”

“… Even more galling, the new company would not have to pay anything to acquire the towers, equipment and other assets of the existing system. The government has spent an estimated $53.5 billion on that system in just the last 20 years, with the money coming from passenger fees and tax revenue.”

Trump could privatize nation’s air traffic controllers
Reuters | December 8, 2016
“The chances that the federal government could hand off the U.S. air traffic control system to private management are increasing, say advocates who report they are getting supportive feedback from President-elect Donald Trump and his team.”

What Happens When Government is Too Successful?
Public Goods Post | October 2017

Despite decades of efforts by anti-public forces to defund, outsource or dismantle government agencies and programs, most continue to churn out essential services, products and protections every day. They do this quietly and successfully, with little recognition.

Increasingly often, now, the result of such efficiency and effectiveness is an attempt to kill or gut the successful program or bureau.

One such agency is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau whose mission is to protect American consumers from financial abuses and predatory practices. Its two call centers (one in Iowa and one in New Mexico) handle 25,000 calls monthly and 22,000 complaints each month. On behalf of 29,000,000 consumers it has extracted nearly $12 billion in refunds and canceled debts. Further, the CFPB has “curtailed abusive debt collection practices, reformed mortgage lending, publicized and investigated hundreds of thousands of complaints from aggrieved customers of financial institutions…”

The result is an all-out effort to eliminate the agency, or disable it if elimination fails.  Read More …

The Quiet Revolution and a Submerged Para-state
Public Goods Post 
Under normal circumstance, it would be safe to assume that “public goods” are delivered by public agencies.  But current circumstances are far from normal.  Over the last several decades, more and more public goods have been delivered by a para-state, a privatized government virtually hidden from view. We taxpayers still pay, but our money goes to a growing army of corporations on the public payroll.

Private corporations operate programs, deliver services and even manage other contractors. Some citizens receiving public services encounter only private contract workers, so are unaware that they are receiving a government service. While some forms of contract procurement have been in place since the nation’s birth, the very nature of contracting has changed as it has grown in scope. Basic governmental functions are now outsourced to for-profit corporations. Read more…