Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Polk Street Lie goes national

Like the Valencia Street lie last year, the lie about Polk Street has now gone national in Planetizen. 

The Valencia Street Lie is about how creating bike lanes on that street has been good for business, that those lanes are a good argument for the Polk Street bike project, that all the small businesses and restaurants on Polk Street supposedly don't have to worry about losing all that parking for their customers. The reality: no street parking was eliminated to make the Valencia Street bike lanes, which means that they have had no impact on the businesses in the area.

The Polk Street Lie is that the street is so dangerous the city has to take radical measures by taking away a lot of parking on that street to make a protected bike lane. Except for a brief mention on page 25 of the last Collisions Report, Polk Street has never been listed as one of the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. The MTA conveniently found some accident numbers to make the safety case just when it began pushing the Polk Street bike project (The safety lie is also deployed to justify the Masonic Avenue bike project).

The Polk Street Lie is part of City Hall's new "high-injury corridor" strategy. Since that UC study told us that the city hasn't even been accurately counting injury accidents on city streets, it had to come up with a new justification for making bike lanes on busy city streets. 

Since every street in the city has had a lot of traffic accidents over the years, every busy city street can now be dubbed a "high-injury corridor" to justify taking away a lot of street parking to make bike lanes.

Unlike the old Collisions Reports, the "high-injury corridor" approach doesn't require that the city tell us anything about these alleged accidents---exactly where they happened, why they happened, or who was responsible. 

And the accident numbers can be impressive, since over the years every busy street in the city has had a lot of accidents. 

The SF Examiner reporter parrots the party line: "From 2006-11 there were 122 collisions on the small stretch of Polk alone, equating to two collisions per month, advocates say." They would say that, wouldn't they? Who collided with what and where? Apparently the Examiner reporter made no attempt to find out if that statement is true or even relevant. 

There's no longer any way for the public to verify those numbers, since the city no longer has to bother with analyzing accidents and intersections to figure out why accidents happen.

In fact if a city worker does any serious analysis of traffic accidents, he will be exiled to Siberia.

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Hillary's email: a phony scandal

For the anti-Clinton movement, when trying to damage Hillary any stick will do. The story about her email practices is a bogus scandal, as Kurt Eichenwald explains in Newsweek:

"...In what has to be one of the most snide journalistic defenses in a long time, Margaret Sullivan, the Times public editor, calls detractors of the piece as just Hillary supporters and dismisses most of the criticism by helpfully linking to the 2009 Federal Register, which lists an exceptionally technical series of regulations relating to the use and preservation of emails. She even cites a place to look, section 1236.22b. With all those numbers and letters, and the information coming out of a document as dull as the Federal Register, the story must be true, right?

Well, no. In fact, the very rule that Sullivan cites contradicts the primary point of the Times story. For everyone except the two people who actually followed the link Sullivan posted, here is what the section actually says:

Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.

Catch the problem? The regulation itself, through its opening words, “specifically designates that employees of certain agencies are allowed to use non-federal email systems.” And one of those agencies just happened to be…drum-roll, please.…The State Department. In other words, not only was the use of a personal email account not a violation of the rules, it was specifically allowed by the rules.

That’s why, after many, many paragraphs of huffing and puffing about how terrible it is that Clinton used a personal email account, the Times article goes on to mention that Secretary of State Colin Powell did the same thing. And, just a tidbit—so did every other Secretary of State up until the current one, John Kerry. Why? Because the rules changed in 2014, after Clinton left office, and now it’s required to use a federal system. If Kerry used a personal account, he would be violating a regulation. Clinton did not..." 

The rest of the story here.

Thanks to Little Green Footballs.

See also this.

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