Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Migratory Birds

October 5, 2008

In the report of it’s 7th meeting, the the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) advises the Environment and Transportation Committee (ETC) that there is currently “very little signage regarding responsible feeding of geese at the City’s parks” and that it is waiting for a report from the Manager of Parks Operations about “key signage locations, appropriate signage wording and cost estimates for proposed public education signs.”

Interestingly, the report notes that there is an (unidentified) individual who “verbally educates the public on the risks of feeding the birds inappropriate food” and that the City has hired this same individual “to run their dogs on a irregular basis, in geese populated parks, in an effort to discourage congregating of the geese.”

I can’t help but wonder if this job was advertised, and how much it pays?

Typically, this terse report follows information which was brought to an advisory committee in verbal form and not properly captured. In other words, there’s no audio recording of the presentation for interested citizens to listen to.

Perhaps there will be some further disclosure at tomorrow night’s ETC meeting. On the other hand, given the poor manner in which committee members use their microphones, maybe there won’t be.

Other Links:
GTF Submission #05 – Audio Recorded Meetings

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2008/10/06 ETC Meeting

October 3, 2008

I’ll continue to add commentary about items of interest to me as time permits. For full details about agenda contents, interested persons should log on to the city website and review what’s available there for themselves.

4:00 PM ETC(07)
Appeal of an order to muzzle a dog.

4:30 PM? ETC(01)
7th Report of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee..

4:30 PM? ETC(02)
Response to Requests to Discontinue Water Fluoridation in London.. A staff report which describes “the fluoridation of the City of London’s drinking water and recent lobbying efforts by citizens and organizations opposed to drinking water fluoridation” and a recommendation by the Middlesex-London Health Unit that no action be taken by the city at this time because of a currently ongoing Health Canada study.

4:30 PM? ETC(03)
PCB Storage Facility Decommissioning Project.. Information requested by the 2008/08/18 City Council meeting. It describes the removal of PCBs and related contaminants and their storage in containment vaults, the permanent decommissioning of the Westinghouse PCB storage site (near Huron Street and Clarke Road), blood testing of interested individuals, public consultation, etc.

4:30 PM? ETC(04)
Removal of Maple Trees@) at 165 Grey Street..

4:40 PM? ETC(05)
Request to Reverse…Traffic Direction….

5:00 PM? ETC(06)
7th Report of the Trees and Forests Advisory Committee..

5:00 PM? ETC(08)
Raising…Awareness About…Plight of Factory Famed Animals… A letter from Humane Society International (Canada) asking that London adopt a “non-binding, no fiscal impact” resolution (draft provided) to raise awareness about the egg industry’s cruel use of confining battery cages.

NDP Website an Embarrassment… Stolen from Obama.

September 29, 2008

Old NDP siteHistorically Canada’s political branding and websites have been sub par at the best of times. But the one exception to that rule in the last few years has been the New Democratic Party (NDP), their recent re branding and online presence previous to this election has been a refreshing break in that trend. So when I went to visit the party websites after an election was called on the 12th I was disturbed at what I found.

It’s no secret that Layton is trying to import American style politics into our election this year. The party pridefully admits that their media strategy, their online campaign and their fundraising campaign is from south of the boarder; it’s painfully obvious that the NDP are hoping to catch some of the enthusiasm in the American Presidential campaign by borrowing from Senator Barack Obama.

But despite concepts being lifted wholly from Obama’s website, the execution of it is, quite frankly, horrible. The most obvious similarities are the donate splash page, and the sites header and navigation. However the thought put into Barack Obama’s layout and graphics are notably absent.

The content of the site appears to be jammed wherever there was space, action items are marginalized, and the content not directly inspired by the Senator’s site seems hapazard. The riding map page is one example of missing the boat entirely, and while I wouldn’t pick Drupal as my first choice to manage the sites content, the use of tables to layout the site, an archaic practice, is embarrassing.

Riding Maps

It’s clear that the shape of political branding is going to follow in Obama’s footsteps for years to come, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest brands to grace the political landscape in a long time; and Layton’s NDP are not the only party to recognize the success of Obama’s campaign. In the UK the Labour Party has adopted elements from Obama’s website into it’s own, but unlike the NDP they used them as jumping off points and not as something to be copied whole.

This new NDP site is not only an embarrassment but a huge step backwards from what was one of the only good political party websites in Canada. And for what? To trick people into thinking you’re Canada’s Barack Obama? How about a made in Canada solution for Canadian problems? We don’t need to copy our neighbours ideas, strategies, and designs; esspecialy if the execution is going to be so obvious and poorly done.

I believe Canada can do better, do you Jack?

Next Week’s Planning Cte Meeting

September 20, 2008

I’ll continue to add commentary about items of interest to me as time permits. For full details about agenda contents, interested persons should log on to the city website and review what’s available there for themselves.

4:00 PM? Planning(01)
Development on the South Side of Legendary Drive. The Legend Development Ltd. subdivision comprises a 20 hectare (50 acre) parcel of land located on the south side of Wharncliffe Road S, south of Southdale Road E and north of the Bradley Avenue extension. Phase 1 of the plan of subdivision was registered on May 2, 2005; Phase 2 was registered on September 5, 2007; Phase 3A was registered on September 20, 2007; Phase 2A was registered on July 28, 2008; Phase 3 and Phase 4 are currently being worked on and further approvals/conditions are being sought.

4:00 PM? Planning(02)
Response to 2008/03/03 Council Resolution/Modifications to OPA438. As a result of the Five Year Review of the Official Plan, Council adopted amendment OPA 438 on 2008/03/03. This is a lengthly/complex report back to Planning Committee about certain items raised at that Council meeting.

4:00 PM? Planning(03)
SAB Realty Ltd. – properties located at 655 and 665 Fanshawe Park Road West.

4:00 PM? Planning(04)
Candidate Approval for the Urban Design Peer Review Panel.

4:00 PM? Planning(05)
Appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board re West Woodfield Heritage Conservation District.

4:00 PM? Planning(06)
Fees for By-law Inspection Services.

4:00 PM? Planning(07)
Inspections By-law.

4:10 PM? Planning(08)
10th Report of the London Advisory Committee on Heritage.

4:15 PM? Planning(09a)
Special Provisions – Sifton
Properties Limited – Andover Trails, Phase 2;

4:15 PM? Planning(09b)
Special Provisions – Sifton Properties Limited – Andover Trails, Phase 2.

4:30 PM? Planning(10)
Compassion Canada – property located at 920 Wilton Grove Road.

4:30 PM? Planning(11)
Goldcrest Properties Inc. – property located at 1455 Trafalgar Street.

4:30 PM? Planning(12)
Versteegh Bros. Ltd. –
property located at 792 Southdale Road West.
Application for Demolition Permit.

4:35 PM? Planning(13)
Western Fair Association – property located at 900 King Street.

4:40 PM? Planning(14)
Sanskriti Furniture – property located at 761 Fanshawe Park Road West.

7:00 PM? Planning(15)
Sifton Properties Limited – Block 1, Plan 33M-405 (Also Known as 34 Debbie Lane).

7:00 PM? Planning(17)
Sifton Properties Limited – property located at 34 Debbie Lane – Site Plan.

7:15 PM? Planning(18)
Ali Soufan (1640209 Ontario Ltd.) – property located at 1959 Wharncliffe Road South

7:30 PM? Planning(19)
Woodlot and Tree Preservation -Van Horik Property – property located at 930 Gainsborough Road.

8:00 PM? Planning(16)
Official Plan Amendment 438 – 2006 Official Plan Review Policies for Specific Areas, Block 1, Plan 33M-405.

8:00 PM? Planning(20)
Sifton Properties Ltd. –
property located at 1270 Sunningdale Road East.
Application for Demolition Permit.

8:00 PM? Planning(21)
University of Western
Ontario – property located at 1493 Richmond Street.
Application for Demolition Permit.

8:00 PM? Planning(22)
M. Hussein – property located at 1796 Adelaide Street North. Application for Demolition Permit.

8:00 PM? Planning(23)
B. Dhinsa – property located at 1949 Fanshawe Park Road West. Application for Demolition Permit.

8:00 PM? Planning(24)
P. Queen – property located at 1755 Fanshawe Park Road East. Application for Demolition Permit.

Next Week’s CAPS Meeting

September 20, 2008

I’ll continue to add commentary about items of interest to me as time permits. For full details about agenda contents, interested persons should log on to the city website and review what’s available there for themselves.

5:00 PM? CAPS(01)
The 2008/09 edition of the Dearness Home Community Newsletter.

5:00 PM? CAPS(02)
Overview of Ontario Works Service Delivery Model.

5:00 PM? CAPS(03)
Social Assistance Trends Quarterly Report- Second Quarter 2008.

5:00 PM? CAPS(04)
Ontario Works Participant Profile – July 2008.

5:00 PM? CAPS(05)
Proposed agreement re Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program. The existing Affordable Housing Program (AHP) agreement between the city and the province has been amended. The city has to agree to the changes and sign the new agreement in order to continue delivering it, and that requires passage of a new by-law.

5:00 PM? CAPS(06)
Proposed agreement re Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program. Approval and by-law is needed for the city’s share of the 16-unit project located at 753 Dundas Street. Total project cost will be $940,000 with the city kicking in $166,470.

5:00 PM? CAPS(07)
Proposed agreement re Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program. Approval and by-law is needed for the city’s share of the 11-unit project located at 234 Riverside Drive and so that one of the units can be enlarged enough to make it accessible. Total project cost will be $990,000 with the city kicking in $320,000.

5:00 PM? CAPS(08)
Allocation of Provincial Funds for Social Housing Capital Repairs. This year, London was allocated $3,316,229 from the province’s “$100 Million investment to kickstart its new poverty reduction strategy.” In other words, the province is starting to re-assume some of it’s responsibility for some of what it downloaded under the Harris government. Municipalities are in critical need of such assistance because the province froze “funding of non-profit housing and co-operative housing capital reserve contributions” in 1992 and only resumed funding at “1/3 of the original contribution amounts” in 1995. The city must submit this repair/expenditure proposal to the province by September 30.

5:10 PM? CAPS(13)
Community Advisory Committee on Dearness Services 5th Report.

5:25 PM? CAPS(10)
Public Transportation Funding to ODSP Recipients. Hard on the heels of the Health Unit report about the huge inflationary increase of food during the past year, and the recent LTC fare increase proposal, the committee is being asked to consider that London compares very unfavourably with other communities in the province re transportation subsidy for ODSP clients.

5:40 PM? CAPS(12)
Kidzone Day Care Centre Request for Relocation Funding

7:00 PM? CAPS(11)
Provincial Anti-Poverty Strategy.

Next Week’s ETC Meeting

September 19, 2008

I’ll continue to add commentary about items of interest to me as time permits. For full details about agenda contents, interested persons should log on to the city website and review what’s available there for themselves.

4:00 PM ETC(08)
Appeal of an order to muzzle a dog that bit an 80 y.o. man and his own dog.

4:30 PM? ETC(01)
Consent Item: TAC report #8. (1) Although TAC’s report notes that the committee received a copy of the City of Toronto Pedestrian Charter from A. Cook it neglects to mention that the committee only requested a copy of that document after a delegation by Greg Fowler; (2) TAC has “requested notification as to when the proposed Urban Design Program policies relating to pedestrian activity are being developed;” (3) a communication received from D. Szoller has been forwarded to staff but only describes it as “a new resource on active transportation” nor is it attached to the online agenda; (4) TAC comments about the Sifton Properties background study re Riverbend South Area/Subdivision Plan includes a recommendation that “roundabouts should not incorporate private driveways;” (5) identification of recent TAC appointments but no mention about Greg Fowler’s criticism of the secretive selection process that was employed.

4:30 PM? ETC(02)
Consent Item: Lead mitigation program & lead testing. “By adhering to a target of 500 lead service replacements per year, all lead services in London can be replaced within 18 years.” The pH of London’s treated drinking water is being raised in order to “reduce lead uptake” and is now in excess of 8.0 but “the long term impact of these changes will be determined through future testing.”

4:30 PM? ETC(03)
Consent Item: Traffic signal warrants re Highbury/Killarney Notwithstanding the refusal of city staff to consider traffic signals for the dangerous Commissioners/King Edward intersection as requested by Greg Fowler simply because it doesn’t meet the traffic volume criteria, staff are recommending that work proceed at this location even though it “does not yet meet signal warrants based on a recent traffic count.”

4:30 PM? ETC(04)
Consent Item: amendments to the traffic & parking by-law. Construction of Queens Ave. between Quebec Street and Elizabeth Street is now complete which reduces “the roadway to a single lane of one-way westbound traffic with the inclusion of a bicycle lane and on-street parking…to reduce the speeding.”

4:30 PM? ETC(05)
Consent Item: update re cat care program. Feral cats (that “live wild and are generally fearful of humans and avoid human
contact… roam free and reproduce at will… are a growing concern in the city”
“There are no estimates on the number of feral or stray cats in London In London, feral cats that are caught by citizens “must now be delivered to the shelter by the public” (in order to reduce the London Animal Care Centre workload) and “the majority…are euthanized.” The city will spend $7,750 – $17,000 (est) on development of a Feral Cat Management Plan (click link to read more).

4:40 PM? ETC(09)
ACE: 7th report. (1) the committee recommends that the 2009 Special Events Policies and Procedures Manual “incorporate the restriction of Rib Festival vendors plumbing grease and waste water directly into the City’s storm or sanitary sewers;” (2) this committee has an operating budget of only $1,000; (3) a document was received from the Council of Canadians re naturalization of London boulevards and forwarded to staff but no copy was attached to the online agenda; (4) the committee received a communication about “the enhancement of environmental profiles” from C. Morningstar but no copy was attached to the online agenda; (5) ACE will pay the expenses for D. Szoller and one other ACE member to attend an Oshawa event next month.

Delegation by Dir. Roads & Transport. (verbal) Ontario Good Roads Association.

7:00 PM ETC(07)
Public Participation Meeting. Update on the province’s proposed ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides; proposed city by-law amendment.

8:00 PM? ETC(06)
Delegation by New St. James Presbyterian Church. Request to waive the 2-hour parking limit around the church.

Pedestrian Obstruction

August 28, 2008

This morning. Just before noon. More of the same…

media1.jpeg

Forget calling the police or complaining to City Hall … pedestrians aren’t even on their radar screen unless it comes to meaningless rhetoric. All I can do is continue to document this and other pedestrian problems and hope that over time it will contribute to similar action by other people. That might provide sufficient public embarrassment that they finally feel compelled to do something.

Other Links:
2008/08/01 – FMBS: Friday Walkabout link
2008/05/10 – FMBS: City Hall Sidewalk
2008/02/29 – FMBS: My CSCP Appearance
2008/01/20 – FMBS: Because They’re Allowed To
2007/11/14 – FMBS: Obstructive Landscaping

Pedestrians Are Being Shafted

August 1, 2008

You’ll recall that I applied to be a pedestrian representative on the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee and on the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Committee. There were vacant positions on both, and the city subsequently even went so far as to advertise the need to fill a lot of positiions. I was invited by the Chair of CSCPC to apply to that committee, and my name was put forward for TAC by Councillor Baechler and approved by ETC. So, what’s the problem?

Well, it may be that I’m not a very good schmoozer. I’m not very good at staying silent when there are things going on that just aren’t right. I’m not adverse to naming names. I’m very well known in many quarters as London’s most publicly outspoken pedestrian rights/safety advocate, something I’ve been doing for decades, for good reason.

Readers of this blog know the kind of pedestrian-related issues that concern me, and the kind of advocacy that I’ve been making at City Hall on behalf of pedestrians “from the outside” for these many years.

This blog’s readers also know many of the valid criticisms that I’ve had of City Hall and the several presentations that I made to the Governance Task Force, including my concern for transparency, accountability, and due process.

It appears that there are those at City Hall who don’t appreciate the kind of change that my appointments could bring. Which is why they don’t want me there, and probably beat the hell out of the bushes to find alternatives for those vacant positions.

You may recall my telling you how the City Clerk interfered when I asked to appear before the Disability Advisory Committee during the last election campaign. You may recall that I called for the termination of Mr. Shane McGuire with respect to the Commissioners/Pond Mills intersection. You’ll recall the way that I was lied to by senior city staff last Fall when I indicated that I wished to have the opportunity to provide pedestrian-related input into the review of the Master Plan. More recently, you may be aware of the way that city Planning Staff have failed to inform the local community association that I’m active in with respect to certain proposed zoning changes. And you may remember that a local walkway was allowed to remain in absolutely deplorable condition until I started going door-to-door trying to drum up citizen support for a class-action lawsuit against the city.

I understand the fear which may exist down at City Hall lest I get the opportunity to be more acquainted with what’s going on and to report back to you about it. Lest I cause them even more “inconvenience” than I already do, at this particular time when they’re sitting on a rather large pile of money from the two upper levels of government for transportation-related projects. God forbid that pedestrian concerns be allowed to impact the spending of that money!

Which maybe explains why the appointments process ended up being carried out in secret, instead of being vetted in a public meeting by Board of Control or City Council, and ending with my receipt of this cursory statement from the City Clerk:

I have been asked by the Nominating Committee for the Transportation Advisory Committee to express its thanks to you for submitting your name for consideration to the Advisory Aommittee and to convey its regrets that it was unable to favour you with an appointment at this time.

There’s more to come. Stay tuned.

Added 2008/08/02 @7:00pm:

I’ve just checked the City of London ‘Media Releases’ page to be sure, and it’s as I suspected. There’s no mention of the underhanded secret process in which my application to TAC was rejected.

Although most decisions at City Hall ought to be reflected in a media release, I’ve decided in this instance to leave no slimy stone unturned. So I checked out the ‘Committee Vacancies‘ page as well. Again, no indication of what’s going on. Not even any mention about whether or not there are any outstanding vacancies, much less the ones that have been filled.

Do citizens know that this is how decisions at City Hall are being made?

City Hall Humour

July 15, 2008


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fowgre avatarDuring last evening’s CPSC meeting, in response to a rant by Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen which included a mention of “Mercedes and BMWs in the parking lot” of the city-subsidized indoor tennis courts…

…this quip by Mr. Ross Fair (G.M. of Community Services): “That’s the staff!”

Should London Be Sued?

June 22, 2008

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fowgre avatarAre you a woman who’s ever been raped? Are you somebody who has ever been otherwise physically assaulted? Are you elderly and afraid to walk the streets past dusk? Are you a parent who worries about the safety of your children after they leave your house? If so, this post is for you…

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Closed Meetings at City Hall

May 31, 2008

fowgre avatar“The Municipal Council of the Corporation of the City of London has selected the Ombudsman of Ontario as the closed meeting investigator pursuant to section 239.1(b) of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended. Requests for an investigation of whether the municipality or local board has complied with section 239 of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended or a procedure by-law under subsection 238(2) in respect of a meeting that was closed to the public are to be submitted directly to the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, Bell Trinity Square, 483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower., Toronto, ON M5G 2C9. Further information is available at the Ombudsman of Ontario website.”

Despite the fact that I have frequently suggested to members of Council that there needs to be an Ombudsman for citizens to appeal to, and despite the fact that I referred to that when I appeared before the Governance Task Force, and despite the fact that I have also suggested that interested citizens ought to be able to subscribe to topics of interest (via RSS feeds, listserve, etc), not much progress has happened. I only just stumbled across this announcement on the City of London website by accident, while looking for something totally unrelated. And a quick investigation shows that there was no mention of it in any media release (that are posted on the city website).

Given that fact, and the previous communication that I received from the Ombudsman’s office, I’ve decided to make an inquiry about something that’s been gnawing at me for some time…

Do the kind of practices employed by the Corporation of the City of London and which I’ve complained about, effectively constitute a ‘closed door’? Things like:

  • Not publishing agendas online until the Friday immediately prior to the Monday meeting
  • Holding all of the Standing Committee meetings at the same time
  • The problem of citizens not being able to hear proceedings
  • Ignoring requests for recorded meetings
  • Ignoring requests that all votes be recorded
  • Ignoring communications about public safety issues
  • Refusing to allow me to appear before ACCAC
  • The secretive/deceptive manner in which my proposal for a Pedestrian Advisory Committee was handled

It will be interesting to see if the Ombudsman’s office is willing to investigate and, if so, whether or not they agree with me.

They’ve Got It Backwards

May 20, 2008

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Typically London. Some people and points of view get media attention, others get ignored. And the democratic process gets subverted.

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Dion and Suzuki Have it Right

May 19, 2008

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It doesn’t come as any great surprise to me that “famed environmentalist David Suzuki has strongly backed Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s emerging carbon tax plan.” 01

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Reports from Alt-London

May 13, 2008

A couple of interesting posts today over on the Alt-London site.

The first article seems to indicate that local Councillor Paul Hubert isn’t 100% supportive of “a voluntary [drive-thru] idling period of not more than one minute “ and/or “a moratorium on new drive-thrus.” 01

Not too sure what to make of that. The article doesn’t actually come right out and say that Mr. Hubert opposes the proposals, and it doesn’t actually come right out and say that “the councillor is being cynically manipulative.”

I think that instead of making any assumptions about the Councillor’s position, I’ll send him an email and see what he’s got to say.

The other one claims that MPs Glen Pearson and Sue Barnes voted against “a Bill which would have provided mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods.” 02

There seems less room for interpretation there. In fact, it seems pretty definitive. So, I’m troubled. But I’ll send them emails asking for some explanation also.

Stay tuned…

Appended 2008/05/14:

This response was received from Councillor Hubert this morning…

Greg

I did not hear the final version so I can only comment on the interview. What I did not support was a ban on drive throughs as we would have to close all types of drive throughs including banks and pharmacies. I congratulated the Council of Canadians for their initiative and ideas which we will evaluate when the drive through report comes to Planning Committee on May 26th and a review of the idling by law comes forward to ETC in the summer. I feel public education and self regulated behaviour change is the most effective. Any by law must be enforcable. A one minute idling by law would be a real challenge. However I was supportive of all city vehicles leading by example.

Paul

Appended 2008/05/22:

This response was actually received from MP Pearson’s office two days ago. Still working on the email backlog, so if you’re waiting for a response don’t despair…

Dear Greg,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding bill C-517, a bill which would have required mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.

The Liberal Party’s rural caucus, of which I am a member, has studied and discussed this bill in great detail. From these discussions, I would like to explain the reasons behind my vote against this bill.

In short, the bill as written would not address the issue of food safety. During debate in the House of Commons, no study which confirms that genetically modified foods pose a threat to human, animal or environmental health was presented. What Bill C-517 would achieve would be to provide the illusion of addressing a supposed concern about human, animal or environmental health that has never been demonstrated to exist. Further to this, the legislation fails to address the issue of how mandatory labelling will be applied to imported foods and food products. How that will be achieved, at whose costs and again if the objective is to address health concerns those concerns have never been demonstrated.

Your concerns about the safety of the food that Canadians eat are warranted and I share these concerns. Bill C-517, however, was not an effective piece of legislation to deal with these issues. The legislation, if passed would serve to only increase costs upon consumers, processors, and farmers, while providing no further assurance of food safety. During these times of rising food costs and an agricultural industry that is struggling to survive, this bill would only add to the financial burden of Canadians without any safety benefit.

Thanks again for sharing your concerns, if you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to contact my office.

Sincerely,
Glen Pearson, MP
London North Centre

Sources:
01. 2008/05/13 – AltLondon: …Paul Hubert supports…
02. 2008/05/13 – AltLondon: Why did…Glen Pearson…

Other Links:
2008/02/23 – FMBS: Pollution From Traffic Harms Children
2008/04/13 – FMBS: Vehicle Exhaust May Damage Your Brain
2008/05/12 – CoC: ‘Clean Air for Children’

Committee Meetings – 2008/05/05

May 4, 2008

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Here’s my blow-by-blow description of what’s happening in this week’s committee meetings at City Hall…

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