Observed at the corner of 12th and Q Streets, Logan Circle, D.C.:
Observed at the corner of 12th and Q Streets, Logan Circle, D.C.:
The D.C. Council is trying to figure out how to make people shovel their sidewalks after it snows. While this might seem ridiculous in D.C., it does snow here, and about half of city residents walk partially (mass transit) or entirely to work. So it matters. Apparently, however, there are challenges (boldface mine):
Over the last five years, various attempts have been made to change the law that requires residents and businesses to shovel their walks after a snowstorm. None have succeeded, despite the increasingly snowy winters that the city has dealt with in recent years. A new attempt this year looks more likely to succeed, but it still faces opposition.
The current law, which dates back to 1922, requires snow and ice to be cleared within eight daylight hours of the storm’s end. If that doesn’t happen, the city can clear the snow for the resident or business, then file a lawsuit to recover the costs of doing so.
But according to city officials, those lawsuits are rarely — if ever — filed. “This cumbersome and bureaucratic approach has led to zero enforcement,” says Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who since 2009 has been trying to change the law to make it easier for the city to levy fines on non-shovelers….
Under her bill, which she introduced again this year, homeowners who fail to shovel away snow or ice within the eight-hour window would face a $25 fine for a first offense, $50 for a second and $100 for a third.
Fines would be steeper for businesses: $125 for a first offense, $250 for a second and $500 for a third. The Department of Public Works, Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Police Department would be empowered to issue tickets to violators…
But for Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who has long opposed changes to the law, the issue is how to identify who owns a particular home, especially when many homes in the city are owned by LLCs and occupied by renters.
“I don’t think this law is going to work. We don’t know who the property owners are. Unless there is a very clear indication that tenants are not responsible and will not be subject to fines, there’s going to be a lot of confusion and anger,” Graham says.
The Ward 1 Council member also worries how residents will respond when they receive their first ticket for not shoveling their walks. “The angriest response I have ever received to a fine in the District of Columbia has been when someone has been given a fine for jaywalking. This will take this to new heights,” he says.
OK, first of all, if the city doesn’t know who the property owners are, then how the hell are they collecting property taxes on the residence or business? Second, once you identify the owner, there’s a simple way to get an out-of-state/absentee landlord respond: make the fine a lien on the property. Boston did that, and sidewalks that had never been shoveled for years suddenly were cleared.
It’s amazing what the ability to impair a landlord’s ability to get a loan will do.
Again, according to the Census, half of all D.C. workers’ commutes involve walking. Clearing your sidewalk is part of owning a home. You shouldn’t be allowed to externalize that cost to someone’s bruised ass (or worse) after he or she slips.
Update: By a vote of 7-6, the D.C. Council has voted in favor of snow shoveling legislation.
Observed on 33rd Street, between Volta Place and P Street, Georgetown, D.C.:
So this part from a Washington Post story about the Ebola quarantine rules that were put in place has been making the rounds on the intertoobz:
“It seems a quarantine would be unnecessary,” said John Ard, an anesthesiologist affiliated with Bellevue and NYU Langone Medical Center. “We should stick with the science and avoid hysterical overreaction.”
But Tom Sullivan, who was working on a construction project a block from Bellevue, said quarantines make sense for returning health workers. “You’re working with diseased people. That’s common sense. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.”
Unlike some, I’m not bothered that the Post decided to run a quote by someone who isn’t a microbiologist. After all, an ordinary citizen came up with this gem:
“Oh, lovely,” said Brooke Christensen, who lives in the building, after learning about her neighbor [who was isolated with Ebola].
“I’m not concerned,” she said. “I’ve had no fluid exchanges with my neighbors.”
No, what bothers me is that the Post gave voice to a misinformed and stupid opinion, at a time when we really can’t afford that.
Sure, I’m probably not going to be on Mr. Sullivan’s Christmas card list (wasn’t likely anyway), but his opinion is stupid. First, health workers work with far less protection around patients with tuberculosis and HIV, both potentially deadly diseases, and we don’t quarantine them. So it’s not “obvious” at all. In fact, the data are overwhelmingly clear: if there is no or little fever, there is no possibility of Ebola transmission. It is the exact opposite of common sense to overreact to an imaginary, non-existent Ebola virus, when the real thing is doing enough damage as it is. It defies common sense not to take advantage of any biology that works in our favor.
It is also not common sense to impose absolutely unnecessary and draconian rules on those healthcare workers fighting this epidemic–and who will likely respond to future epidemics. While many people are disappointed in our healthcare system (including me), it doesn’t seem to occur to some people that healthcare responders might, at the same time, be disappointed in some of us and some of those whom we elect to govern us. To spend several weeks watching a lot of people die, only to be treated harshly as a result of imaginary concerns does not engender trust in us. Forget this epidemic (well, actually, don’t–go give some moolah to MSF), when the next one hits–and there will be a next one of something–healthcare workers will want to hear how they’ll be treated after they do their public service. Unlike Ebola, many potential diseases move a lot faster (e.g., influenza), so there may not be time to waste assuring healthcare workers.
That’s common sense.
I’ve been trying to figure out what has been bothering about the quarantine orders that are popping up around the U.S.–other than they are unnecessary and counterproductive. What helped it was reading about Gov. Christie’s defense of his ill-considered and ill-planned policy. It’s the oozing arrogance. Rather than treating these healthcare professionals as honorable people who are risking everything to help others–a true credit to our nation–he sneers at them, treating them as if they were self-indulgent brats who decided to go on a drinking binge across the border.
I don’t think Christie and his ilk can truly understand why someone might volunteer to work with Ebola patients. There’s just something lacking there. Surely, only suckers and fools would do this. You know, squishes. Real men know they’ve got theirs, and screw the rest.
The assholes that walk among us might want to consider that even those who have made caring for others their profession regardless of their own society’s regard for them do not have inexhaustible reserves of compassion.
Then again, arrogant people don’t think about things like that.