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Fixing Broken Promises; City calls hearing on Bike Safety
The flowery, warm prose of the Bicycle Friendly Communities 2003 awards report would make a Boston bike commuter’s heart skip a beat.

“The [bike path] network grew to over 240 miles… More than one-quarter of the city’s arterial streets have striped bike lanes or shoulders… bicycle access is fully integrated into the city’s light rail and bus system... Bicycle parking is provided [everywhere]… Motorists and bicyclists are educated to share the road…” What kind of utopian village is this? Well it’s not in Scandinavia, but it is in Boston’s U.S. polar opposite attitude-wise, Portland Oregon, land of the smiley happy people.

It may be hard to view the streets of Boston through the golden lenses of Portland’s bicycle La-La land, but there are still a few folks who can catch a wink of it if they squint and throw off their eye focus on a bright sunny day. These are Boston’s bike visionaries. They see Boston in terms of how it could be. Some have 10, 20, 30 years of advocacy under their belts, and precious little city-built biking infrastructure to show for it. “Getting a few ribbon racks takes ten years.” Says Carl Kurz, Organizer of Bikes-not-Bombs, “In the twenty years that I’ve been here there’s been a little over two or three blocks of bike lanes put in on the actual streets.”

Back in 1999, Boston was rated the least bike friendly city in the country by Bicycling magazine. The city council reacted. Mayor Menino jumped. The mayor vowed to fix the problems by instating a “Bike Czar” to address pedaler’s grievances. But the title wasn’t official. And other responsibilities were folded into the job description. Paul Shimeck, the man with the job, felt like his hands were tied. Then he was laid-off. Now Maura Hennigan, Boston City Councilor at-large and Menino-critic number one, wants the mayor to fulfill his original promises.

Tonight, [Monday Nov. 22nd 5:30pm-see below] Councilor Hennigan and the rest of the Council will hear the communities problems, misgivings and suggestions on the topic of Bike safety and whether t reinstate the Bike Czar.
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23 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Environment : Politics : Social Welfare : Technology
A Failed Policy? Boston Debates the War on Drugs
Boston, Massachusetts, USA - "We have a public policy crisis: we are spending billions of dollars to fight a war on drugs and we don't seem to be able to stop the flow of drugs into this country. We are spending more and more public dollars on housing men and women who are involved with the drug trade, drug addiction seems to be increasing, and yet we don't seem to have the money to help those who want to turn their lives around and recover from addiction." With these words, Boston City Councillor Chuck Turner started the public hearing to investigate the war on drugs. He called the hearing "just the beginning of a long dialogue in Boston to see how we can move forward".
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19 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Politics : Social Welfare
Public hearing to investigate the War on Drugs
bars.jpgThis Monday, November 15th, the Boston City Council will hold a hearing to investigate the effectiveness of our nation's War on Drugs, and the Boston component of it. The questions to be raised and addressed will include how much money has been spent nationally and in Massachusetts since 1973 and in the last ten years on the "war," this will include drug rehabilitation paid for by the state in this year's budget. The information gathered from these and other questions will be used to attempt to answer the ultimate question of this hearing, which is whether it is now time to admit that the War on Drugs has failed and that it is time to develop a new and more effective approach to the use of drugs in this country.
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14 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Politics
Tensions rise as BU inches closer to a Biosafety Lab in Boston
interconnectej.jpgFaneuil Hall was home to a public forum Wednesday night on the biosafety lab that is currently scheduled to be built in the South End's Boston Medical Center. The forum opened with a ten minute overview presented by Boston University officials, including Boston University Senior Vice President Richard J. Towle, which was interrupted by a woman demanding that the lab be referred to as the "proposed lab." After the somewhat contentious presentation was over, the hall became open for Bostonians to voice approval or disapproval about the proposed lab. Advocates and concerned citizens voiced their opinions, but drew no real conclusions, besides an agreement that the conflict is far from over. Attendees argued passionately for an open question and answer session with both sides of the conflict, and "more information and more respect" to be shown by Boston University towards concerned Boston residents.
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12 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Environment : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : Technology
The Liberal Holy-Roller Gospel Hour
Bible Study for the Left: How political leftists can use the language of the bible to persuade their fellow citizens of a progressive agenda and resources for understanding that religious language.

Well, after having had to quit my job teaching theology for the Archdiocese of Boston because I couldn't stand 1. not knowing when the funding for my school was going to end due to the Archdiocese having to pay lawsuit settlements for priests who raped kids 2. wondering when I was going to get fired for teaching my kids that homosexuality was not a sin and neither was birth control or abortion, I've finally got another excellent use for my Master of Divinity degree: helping the progressive, liberal political movement understand the other half of the country.

Stay with me here. I'm bewildered. There are plenty of folks in North Carolina, Kansas, Idaho, and Alabama, among other places, who just don't understand me, nor I them. To them, I am just an arrogant, elitist, intellectual, heathen, liberal northerner with no moral compass and no faith in Jesus. To me, they are just ignorant morons who follow an intolerant, stupid religion. I don't know where any of this so called "national healing" is going to come from because you know what, I do have trouble lately thinking of those deep red-staters in kinder terms. But - being the one with the elitist, intellectual brains in this strained relationship of a country, it's up to me to make the first move. So, I've got to stop calling names, understand my neighbor, and find some way to talk to them in small words sprinkled with terms they like, such as God, Jesus, good, bad, morality, etc., and get them to realize electing folk like W is hurting both of us.
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09 Nov 2004 | Filed under: Commentary / Politics
Race and Truth at the Polls: The Real Election Results
If we look past the partisanship of the Republicans and Democrats, this election will go down in history as a huge victory for the impulse of US democracy and a huge defeat for actual democracy.

The largest turnout figures in the our history. The biggest get out the vote efforts. Unprecedented forces coming together to turn out those most disenfranchised. Unlike the official story, an incredibly close election with both Bush and Kerry getting more votes than any president in the U.S. history.

And more voters were actively disenfranchised probably than ever before. The election was called with over 1.6 million ballots uncounted in Florida; Bush only won by 380K and Democrat-leaning forces had been telling folks to vote by absentee ballot for months to avoid the electronic machines – how might that have affected the outcome? The election was called with 175K and growing uncounted ballots in Ohio; if you add Ohio’s undervotes and overvotes (majority people of color who overwhelmingly voted for Kerry) which would have to be hand-counted, well, Bush only won by 140K officially…
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09 Nov 2004 Modified: 05:29:23 AM | Filed under: Commentary / Politics : Race
Post-Election Protest in Copley: Boston Activists Disoriented, but Still Swinging
With the partially dismantled scaffolding for Kerry’s election-night rally still dominating the steps of the library in Copley Square, Boston activists gathered there at 5:00 to vent their frustration with the outcome of the election and the state of the country in general. Although the intention was to gather in the park, the police immediately chased people away, telling them that needed to a permit, and directing them to the sidewalks across the street. Approximately 70 people gathered on the other three corners of Boylston and Dartmouth Streets. Police arrested one person, apparently because he was climbing the scaffolding left over from the Kerry rally. Many of the people I spoke to expressed their frustration with the results of the election. People also generally seemed uncertain about how the left should move forward. Nonetheless, people also clung fiercely to hope, with young one woman handing out daisies to symbolize this.
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04 Nov 2004 | Filed under: News / Politics
US Presidential Election: Your views
earth.jpgJohn Kerry has conceded the election, but did it ever really matter? Both men were of an elite ruling class that most of us will never have personal contact with. Both men were enthusiastic about war. Both men made many promises about their candidacies even the least savvy of us know were irresponsible promises.

So what comes next? Where do we go from here? Do we broaden the movement to once again include globalization, wealth inequality, and institutional racism? Or do we continue with this focused anti-Bush fight? How can we, as a movement, affect what is happening in the South and the Mid-West? How can we be effective against a growing morally conservative population that places pro-life abortion policies above health insurance for all? Enter your reactions and ideas here.
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03 Nov 2004 | Filed under: Commentary / Politics
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