10 Brightest Ideas of the Week: Aug. 10, 2008

Tenderloin put on track for a makeover, dangerous intersection fixes roll along and football in the Bay Area heats up even before the season.

Neighborhood makeover

1| Swaths of Tenderloin deemed historical. The details: The face-lift of the famously seedy neighborhood is being pushed by neighborhood activists who want to boost the morale and economy of the area. Plans to deem the Tenderloin a historic area reach back to the 1980s, but cries for change have finally drowned out the cries of possible gentrification.

Dangerous intersection

2| Masonic-Fell crossing will see upgrades. The details: The Panhandle intersection is known for cars that are turning left from Masonic Avenue onto Fell Street darting past pedestrians and bicyclists. A judge has ruled that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency can make changes to the intersection despite an injunction on The City’s bike plan. If only the judge would have also allowed an exemption for the Market-Octavia intersection, too.

Sick scheme

3| Hospital CEO arrested in health care fraud scheme. The details: Rudra Sabaratnam, CEO of City of Angels Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Estill Mitts, operator of a Skid Row health-assessment center, allegedly were part of the racket that asked homeless people to fill beds in hospitals and then billed MediCal and Medicare for millions of dollars in unnecessary care. The FBI put an end to a scheme that was hurting taxpayers’ wallets.

All charged up

4| City looks into readying for electric cars. The details: Mayor Gavin Newsom has often shared his goal to have San Francisco be the greenest city on Earth. He is now driving that goal forward by attempting to have The City, with the help of Pacific Gas & Electric, prepare for an influx of electric cars. Although the plan is in its infancy, it is good someone is thinking of how drivers without dedicated parking spaces could charge an electric vehicle.

Excess taxes would be returned

5| Indiana governor proposes refunds when the state collects too much. The details: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says taxpayers ought to get automatic refunds whenever state officials collect more than a pre-determined amount of revenue each year. That way the politicians would have to do real budgets for the year ahead instead of the usual accounting fables.

Muni moving forward

6| Agency revamp would cut buses, add vans. The details: Change in San Francisco sometimes runs as slow as a Muni bus, so news that The City’s transportation agency was moving forward with its aggressive plan to boost service on the busiest lines was welcome — particularly since Muni officials revised the plan to accommodate route cuts that had provoked the sort of protests that could have stood in the way of the overall reform effort. Providing vans for low ridership routes, instead of costly buses, is a good compromise.

Scrappy teams

7| Joint 49ers-Raiders practice leads to scuffle. The details: If you thought there wasn’t any fight in local NFL teams, you were wrong. When the 49ers and Raiders got together Monday for an otherwise routine practice, a few minor dust-ups occurred. It was the first time the two teams had practiced together since the 1980s. The Bay Area rivals should do this more often — if for no other reason than to fire up their fans.

Disaster dress rehearsal

8| City plans to simulate terrorist event. The details: A plan to simulate a terrorist attack in downtown San Francisco next weekend is an unfortunate reminder of the times. With emergency officials warning that another attack on American soil is a matter of when, not if, it’s important that San Francisco — with its iconic targets, airport and density — prepares for the worst.

Can you hear me now?

9| Newsom leaves cell phone on while in Africa. The details: Mayor Gavin Newsom, who faced strong criticism for his decision to leave for Hawaii with now-wife Jennifer Siebel in the days following the worst oil spill in San Francisco Bay in decades, promised that while on his honeymoon in Africa, his cell phone would remain on.

Big problem, tiny solution

10| Nanotechnology may have answers to energy crisis. The details: Both presidential candidates have stepped up to the plate with proposals to encourage development of nanotechnologies that may be helpful in developing more alternative-energy sources and making better use of existing ones. A nanodot known as XGnP may be especially helpful.

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