10 worst ideas of the week: Sept. 21, 2008

1. Wi-Fi dreams

The promise of free Internet for all is still unfulfilled.

The details: Meraki Inc. has been working to blanket San Francisco with free Wi-Fi, and so far the areas that are covered seem to be working. But Mayor Gavin Newsom has promised in the past that all of San Francisco would be covered — and that was four years ago. After a failed EarthLink-Google deal last year, the mayor might be smarter to wait until all of The City is surfing the Web for free before making any more grand statements.

2. Zoned out

SFPD’s zone strategy appears to be shifting homicides to other neighborhoods.

The details: San Francisco police Chief Heather Fong, not usually one to draw media attention to herself, told reporters this week that new San Francisco police statistics show a drop in homicides and shootings in certain high-crime areas targeted by a new “zone strategy.” An Examiner look at the data, however, also suggests that as The City’s homicide total continues to climb, some of the gun violence has been pushed into other neighborhoods. With The City’s current homicide rate trailing last year’s decade-high by only a few killings, we’d like to see homicides decrease in all parts of The City.

3. Tragic texting

State regulators ban cell phone use for rail crews — too late.

The details: Common sense should dictate that train operators should not be using their cell phones while on the job, but the revelation that a Southern California Metrolink engineer had been sending and receiving text messages on the day his train crashed and killed 25 people reminds that rules are needed when personal responsibility is lacking. The emergency order passed the California Public Utilities Commission by a unanimous vote.

4. Halloween fright

City officials still scrambling to find safe Halloween option promised two years ago.

The details: In 2006, after a shooting at the Castro Halloween celebration, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that a task force would be convened to organize a safer event for 2007. That party never took place due to a lack of organization; instead, The City just killed the Castro event with a heavy police presence and promised that an alternative party would be organized for 2008, when the Oct. 31 holiday will fall on a Friday night. With fewer than six weeks before Halloween, city leaders have conceded that another attempt at an alternative bash, near AT&T Park, has fizzled due to a lack of sponsorship, and Newsom is making a last-minute suggestion that closing some streets near The Embarcadero might divert rowdy revelers from descending on the Castro. Cities such as New York and New Orleans can organize safe street parties — why can’t San Francisco?

5. Un-fare hikes

SamTrans and BART should encourage public-transit ridership.

The details: Rising gas prices are forcing Bay Area residents out of their cars and into public transportation. With climate change a real threat, this is a change that should be encouraged. Now, word is coming from BART that the agency might charge higher prices during peak commute hours — as if riders have a choice when to show up for work. And SamTrans might bump up monthly passes as much as $16 per month. We understand that the public-transit agencies have their own fiscal considerations, but this is not the time to pass the price on to passengers.

6. Bailout blues

Government takes on debt with AIG bailout.

The details: While the government needed to do something to help ailing AIG — the world’s largest insurer — it shouldn’t have taken a controlling share of the company. In taking a 79.9 percent stake in AIG, the government is, in a sense, nationalizing the company and placing the debt on the shoulders of taxpayers. This is the second time this month that the central bank has used taxpayer funds to rescue a private financial company.

7. Down the drain

Extra medicines still being put down the drain.

The details: An Associated Press report shows that millions of pounds of medicine are flushed down the drain each year in the United States, with some of it making its way into drinking water. The rest of the nation should follow the Bay Area’s lead of having a pharmaceutical recycling program.

8. Ike ignored

Thousands of residents need rescue after hurricane slams Texas coast.

The details: Residents along the Texas coast ignored warnings to leave as Hurricane Ike approached, and in the storm’s wake nearly 2,000 people had to be rescued. After Hurricane Katrina, it seems everyone would heed the call to head to safety.

9. Burning rubber

Tesla decides to leave San Carlos.

The details: It is good that the electric-car company is staying in California, but San Carlos should have done more to keep Tesla in the area. San Jose offered up land that the company will not have to pay a lease on for 10 years to help woo the company away from the Peninsula. The company will build a production plant for its electric sedan and then move the company headquarters south as well.

10. Tainted baby food

Babies falling ill, dying from formula in China.

The details: A handful of babies have died and thousands more are sick after the industrial chemical melamine was found in milk powder. Drinking the milk formula can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure. Along with sickening children, Chinese officials confirmed that the contamination is not limited to milk powder — it has been found in liquid milk as well.10 worst ideasGeneral OpinionOpinion

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