10 worst ideas of the week: Sept. 7, 2008

Newsom introduces an idea for the food industry at the wrong time, local schools push to keep up with federal standards and revelations of lies arise in November’s oil spill.

Dim bulb of the week

Oprah Winfrey

What: The daytime TV talk-show queen will not invite Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin on to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” until the campaign is over, according to the New York Post.

Why: Winfrey, who decided to break her nonpartisan mold and support Democrat Se. Barack Obama, said she doesn’t want her show to be used as a platform for the candidates.

Truthful? Winfrey was more than happy to have Obama on her show — twice. It was before the Illinois senator officially declared his candidacy, but that does seem like a fine distinction. Oh yeah, and she also had Al Gore on her show.

Ten worst ideas

Food fight

1| Mayor plans to put farming on city’s plate.

The details: Mayor Gavin Newsom’s idea to create a new “food policy” for San Francisco that would plant produce for the pickin’ around The City and require extensive restaurant menu labeling is big in scope, but short on details.  While the notion of encouraging the food industry and consumers to focus on local and sustainable food practices is good and increasingly popular — city government has enough to focus on without getting into farming and making more mandates on local restaurants.

Children left behind

2| San Francisco and Peninsula schools trying to improve test scores.

The details: The San Francisco Unified School District should be congratulated for new data on state-mandated tests that shows its still the top-performing urban school district in the state with steady progress for the last seven years. Likewise, San Mateo County schools have managed to keep a high overall test score average among its students. That said, San Francisco schools and the district are not keeping up with federal demands under the No Child Left Behind Act that more and more students become grade-level proficient each year. And San Mateo County hasn’t shown any improvement in recent years.

No habla inglés

3| LPGA Tour cracks down on non-English speakers.

The details: The women’s professional golf circuit has threatened sanctions against its players if they do not learn passable English by the end of next season. The LPGA, which has had an influx of South Koreans in recent years and has Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa (who speaks English well) as its No. 1 player, did this in a bid to improve its standing with the media and therefore attract more fans. Many players, sponsors, activist groups and politicians have reacted negatively to the policy, which the LPGA originally said could result in suspensions. The tour has since softened its stance. While the LPGA does need to raise its public image, this policy is not the way to go.

Con-troversial proposal

4| San Mateo pushes back on state proposal to release ex-convicts.

The details: As many as 1,000 parolees from state prisons would come to live in San Mateo County under a new proposal that would make ex-cons the responsibility of county officers. To prevent this from happening, the county has “intervened” in a federal court case to determine whether California can release that many prisoners, a request made several months ago. A trial on the matter is set to begin Nov. 17. The county’s chief probation officer said a mass release of prisoners would be “disastrous” — the state needs to listen to these concerns.

Remember Caylee

5| Daughter needs to be found before mother gets to go free.

The details: The young mother of Caylee Anthony, the missing Florida toddler, was allowed to post bail again and leave jail. Casey Anthony is charged with child abuse and making false statements to investigators. Her 3-year-old daughter was reported missing in mid-July — her mother waited one month before telling authorities. Detectives say they have evidence that Anthony’s trunk had contained a decomposing body, likely her daughter’s. However, no other charges have been filed against Anthony. Bail should not have been allowed.

Runaway bag

6| Horses used for public safety shouldn’t be scared of plastic bags.

The details: A tragic accident occurred at last week’s 49ers game when a police horse became spooked by a flyaway plastic bag and ended up fatally injuring a 78-year-old Roseville man. When a plastic bag flew into the horse’s bridle, it bucked its head back to get it loose, the officer fell off, and the horse bolted across the parking lot.  A horse that is used in crowd situations to ensure public safety shouldn’t become riled over a plastic bag.

Loose lips sink ships

7| Crew members of Cosco Busan lied to investigators.

The details: It’s not enough that the crew members of the Cosco Busan rammed their container ship into the Bay Bridge in November, spilling tens of thousands of gallons of toxic oil into the water — now we’re getting more details of the lies they told to investigators. One senior official forged a passage plan the day after the disaster; another neglected to tell officials that he was busy eating breakfast when the vessel veered off course. Federal officials are right to prosecute this group for environmental crimes.

Not so friendly skies

8| FAA investigating 11 air carriers on safety issues.

The details: Federal aviation officials announced they are investigating 17 cases in which 11 air carriers did not comply with government safety directives. While a federal aviation official said 98 percent of the 5,600 safety directives audited by the agency had been followed by the carriers, and noted that the United States has not experienced a major airline accident in more than two years, 2 percent is still a high number when you’re flying so many feet above the ground.

Nuclear standoff

9| North Korea begins reassembling nuclear facility.

The details: The rogue nation says it stopped disassembling its nuclear reactors because it is upset that the United States has left the country on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Two news agencies, however, reported that the country has actually started rebuilding its main nuclear complex, which is known as a bomb-making plutonium source.

Needy students

10| Lack of state budget could cut aid to college kids.

The details: The effects from the lack of a state budget keep growing. Now it seems that thousands of community college students may not receive their promised Cal Grants this month. As lawmakers in the Capitol bicker, real people are taking the fallout from the argument. Wake up, Sacramento.

SINKING SHIP: The toll to cross the Golden Gate Bridge went up by $1, but that may be just the beginning of the bad news. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District relies on tolls to help pay for its transit fleet — to the tune of $102 million.

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