Saturday, November 16, 2013

Distracted Driving... flavour of the month

So before you all go ape on me for this post, try to get your head around this little nugget,

"In 1930, laws were proposed in Massachusetts and St. Louis to ban radios while driving," writes DeMain. He goes on to say a 1934 Auto Club of New York poll said 56% thought car radios were a "dangerous distraction."

The biggest issue with "distracted driving" is that is purely suggestive. The statistics trotted out are speculative at best, and a guess at worst. Who has been in an "accident" where both vehicles operators were completely "in tune" with the situation that preceded the collision? Could one safely suggest that a large portion of driving incidents are a result of being distracted in some way, shape, or form? Today our police Chief has suggested that he'd be in favour of taking away vehicles and suspending the driving privilege of people caught being "distracted".

Great. Now a subjective call by one person I cant argue against because my word isn't equal in weight to theirs, can lead to me losing my ride, and my ability to work. Remember the old folks who got a cell phone ticket that was defended vehemently by our illustrious Police Force and then dropped by the Crown?

Sounds perfect Devon... next idea?

I absolutely used to LOVE the single officer cruiser cars where the driver had his lap top open, punching in license plate numbers (which I call fishing) and reading the results while driving along. Police are still allowed to use their cell phones in the traditional fashion while on duty. Are they talking to their spouse? Kids? Mom? Can't really say, but you'd be stupid if you believed that it doesn't happen. With the amount of moonlighting that goes on, you'd be safe to assume that the side jobs scheduled for their day off is being planned. Personal phone? Police issued cell phone? I dunno... does it matter? We're told that it's about how our brains are wired... that we're not capable of processing the information properly... except Police... they are wired differently.

The idea of putting teens in go carts and asking them to text is another great "study" trotted out for those who have never carted to say, "See... it must be true!" A go cart is set up completely differently than a car, the track is purposefully more difficult to negotiate than a road, and they are only similar in the same sort of way that a child's pedal car and a go cart are "the same". Can you steer a go-cart with your thigh? Didn't think so...

I don't really have an issue with the whole notion of texting being a distraction, yet for years I have seen idiots with their lap dogs driving...with their dog steering, or at least hanging on the wheel. Screaming kids in the back? Want to tell me how THAT'S not distracting?

25 road deaths are due to "distracted driving". What does that mean? Were they distracted by virtue of being sleep deprived? Did they see a bear, and were too busy gawking at it to not realize they were in the oncoming traffics lane? "Rubber necking" at an accident scene has been more than one cause of an accident... is that also a "distracted driving" statistic?

When I was young, my old man bought himself (well the family I guess) a brand spanking new car. He got it on a Thursday, and we all piled in on Good Friday to head off tho church. Dad was trying to figure out the new radio, which was one of those new fangled digital things (with an 8 track) and stopped at a STOP sign. He drove out onto the road perpendicular to our direction of travel and "BAM", the new car was heading to the body shop. (True story)

You're thinking, "Nice story, but what's the point?"

You don't need a cell phone to be distracted, you can have a passenger you are arguing with next to you, frustrating you to the point of distraction (insert ex spouses name as required), or perhaps an unruly set of three kids, with the oldest one poking the youngest and Mom yelling at them, or any other number of distractions, (Squirrel!)

MPI continues to "drive" issues to suit themselves, and get their Sixty Second driver infomercials to convince us all about what a huge problem this is, yet there are no concrete numbers provided to support their newest money making "crackdown". At the reported 50 tickets a day, the fine of $200 gets the Provincial coffers $10,000 from Winnipeg alone. The Sun reports that MPI is providing $140,000 province wide, with $80,000 to Winnipeg to "aid with" enforcement.

Hey. News flash. In 8 days the money is paid back. Everything over that is gravy, and don't go telling me about how it's different pockets because in this province the pockets are all in the same suit, even if some are pant, jacket, or a vest pocket.

If MPI REALLY wants to make a difference they should find some other ways. Suggestions? Pay me to get my PAL, my Hunters Safety, and my deer hunting license. 80% of wild life collisions are deer related.

Vehicle collisions with deer are both dangerous and costly. On average, there are about 6,800 vehicle-deer collisions each year in Manitoba, resulting in about 300 injuries to occupants in the vehicles. The financial cost of all of this is approximately $33 million. (From MPI website)

Not really as much of a cash grab though is it? Imagine someone calculating what an increase in hunters BRINGS to the economy as opposed to the sucking sound Government imposed fines are to it.

If we stopped providing a drivers license to almost every one, regardless of their skill level, we might not have to worry about a little distraction.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I pay EXTRA for this?

Last year we received yet another "tax" from our City. I'm sure they have a name for it, which in the mind of our mayor, makes it a user fee or something, but not a tax.

The tax imposed was a flat surcharge on our water bills to help us all recycle.

I wrote about the slush fund solid waste was creating... no real plan for the money, but they needed it, so we all got to fork over another $50 to fund stuff. What kind of stuff?

From the City web site, "The daily waste diversion fee was introduced to fund new programs that provide residents with more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle (e.g., curbside yard waste collection, a curbside kitchen organic collection trial, Community Resource Recovery Centres)."

Ah Ha! So now I suppose I can't complain that I'm not getting my monies worth. You see, we typically go two weeks between recycling pick ups. Sure... I know what you're thinking,

"No way! After all, it's Recycling Day! Don Woodstock had them rename it, and that's the most important part of the whole day, NOT garbage!"

Wrong. The garbage get's picked up (finally), but all the blue bins are left (full of paper and other combustibles) sitting out in front of our vehicles, naively believing that they might just be a little behind (yes fearless leaders, I do go out and move them around every time I need to move one or the other vehicle. Thank you very little).

Is there anything this City can accomplish with any sort of success? Other jurisdictions seem to manage, but really, the whole issue is indicative of the poor leadership we have running this gong show (with all due respect to the Gong Show, where at least clanging the gong made the performer stop, and the pain went away).

We have a CAO who is hired as a result of nepotism, is unqualified, and has the propensity to over rule those under him, and not provide any clear answers. Who would expect anything more from those under him?

Would we really expect the Signal Department under the leadership of Escobar to mange to keep our antiquated traffic lights work when it rains?

Can we expect the Water Department to come up with anything better than, "The water is brown because someone is STEALING water!"

Can we really hope that the Fire Chief knows his place, and realizes that he's out of his league when it comes to making a deal with the largest real estate developer in the City (and a former business partner of the Mayor)? (Or Barry Thorgrimson or Deepak Joshi?)

Can we expect 311 to be anything other than a complaint centre, with no ability to bring any real satisfaction to a caller? Or to gather any useful information that might be used to target City services to areas where they are most needed?

Can we dare to hope that the twit at the weigh scale at the landfill site, and their purposefully deceitful signage care that they are misrepresenting the fees you pay to use the dump?

Is there a chance that we might hope that the parking fiasco that sees vehicles consistently taking up two spaces by virtue of having no lines on the road now that there are no meters to demark a spot?

NO, we can't.

Until we have a mayor AND councillors willing to take on the union and the status quo, and LEAD BY EXAMPLE, we'll continue to have City services run by under achievers who fail to deliver even the basic services they are expected to, while patting themselves on the back for reclaiming all that methane from the landfill... and burning it off instead of using it to fuel vehicles as they said they would.

Good job, I'm sure you'll all be promoted!

As long as the leaders are of questionable quality and character, we truly can't expect those working under them to be any better.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"A Big Fraud"

That's what Senator Mike Duffy called the whole "cover-up" of this mess.
"What mess?" you ask.
The mess Senator Duffy created by defrauding Canadians of monies he claimed for an illegitimate housing allowance... a "fraud".
Now good old Duff is doing the magician routine, attempting to distract you from understanding what you are seeing, rather having you focus your attention elsewhere to pull off his "trick".
Same goes for Pamela Wallin, crying about her besmirched reputation she worked so hard to refine, citing that having been invited into Canadian homes for oh so many years should have left her unscathed by the review that found she stole our money by claiming travel expenses as an expense we should cover, when in fact it was personal.
I'm tempted to bring up a certain RRCC President, but I'll try to stay focused.

This whole mess has now led Duffy to reveal the story teller that he is. There is a reason a guy can schmooze his way through Ottawa for the better part of my lifetime, interviewing every one and any one while making a decent living at the CBC and CTV.  Mike paid his dues as a TV journalist having covered many major news stories. He was the last reporter to leave South Vietnam before the north invaded. Cool. I won't attack what I think is an admirable career. I watched Duff interview Trudeau, Cretien, Mulroney, and even that guy Joe (Joe who? It's a thing you have to be of a certain age to "get").

His good work as a reporter aside, it did not take old Duff long to learn how to be a politician. He falsely claimed that he lived in Prince Edward Island when he didn't. His health card said he lived in Ottawa. Did he know that his health card information was important to the claim? IT DOESN'T MATTER.

Why not? Well if you or I complete a government form, say like your income tax return wrong, we can face penalties and even jail. "Oh I didn't know" doesn't buy you a "pass", and you can't go on talking about what a nice guy you are, or point fingers at someone else... you pay, and that's the end of it.

Mike couldn't scratch together the $90K he bilked us out of, so the Prime Ministers assistant wrote old Duff a cheque. Pretty sad that Mike doesn't have that kind of cash on deposit... I mean he's making (at least) $132K as a BASE salary a year. You'd think he would be able to put a little aside... a vacation fund perhaps?

Regardless, Mike took the cash (cheque) from a millionaire who didn't need it, ostensibly to repay the monies he defrauded us of and hope it all went away. Mike couldn't seem to get his head around the fact that he'd actually done something wrong and so decided the next best thing was take someones money to cover up his "mistake".

Nice. And now he's the victim.

Like poor Pamela. "The government has tried to discredit me." Boo hoo, poor Pam. She has three versions of her outlook floating around, tells stories about where she was and who she was visiting which are clearly lies, and the Government is trying to discredit her? Seriously Pam... get over yourself.

It sure didn't take these two long to become latched to the public teet and become entitled.

Then there is Brazeau, listing all kinds of addresses that he never even visited. I have the most respect for him because he seems to be talking a lot less about how "unjust" this all is than the others. Updated... did you hear his last speech in the Senate?

It's a pity the MSM leaves out the liberal Senator who may have trained those mentioned above. Mac Harb repaid almost $300K of questionable expenses under the threat of being audited. Really... you tell a guy to pay the amount you find easily to avoid doing the deep digging?

How many other Senators have screwed Canadians out of their hard earned money?

If anything, this debacle is a CLEAR mandate to reform or abolish the Senate. I'm not sure why PM Harper needs the advice of the Supreme Court. He has the "notwithstanding" clause... use it.