June 28, 2007

Top Stories * June 21-27

“Hedonics” Leaves Bogota Happy

Bogotans thank Enrique Penalosa for building parks, schools, and bike routes instead of freeways during his tenure as mayor in the late 1990s.

At the time the city’s streets were “a living hell,” the Toronto Globe & Mail reports. Penalosa increased gas taxes, added buses and banned cars from driving at rush hour more than three days a week. The measures were controversial, but resulted in drops in traffic congestion and pollution, a 40 percent drop in the murder rate, and increased school enrollment.

Penalosa, who is running for mayor again, attributes this success to “hedonics,” which values happiness above ordinary economics, and prioritizes access to parks, spending time with friends and family — and shorter commutes. The ideas are now attracting attention from cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Charlotte’s Shelters Operate in Secret

The Charlotte Observer reports that a dire shortage of beds for the homeless there has prompted the creation of 17 “safe houses” across the city. Many are run by evangelists, and provide shelter to abused women and their children, among other hard-hit clients.

Now the shelters, which operate in secret, are being shut down by the city fire department over zoning violations — but shelter owners say they’re worried about registering their operations for fear of being shut down.

The Great Lakes’ New Enemy: Ballast Water

Shippers from around the world that pass through Great Lakes territory have stowaways in the ballast-water tanks used for ship stability. These include invasive species such as zebra mussels and a lethal hemorrhagic fish virus, both of which proliferate in the lakes’ freshwater ecosystem

Now, the Detroit Free Press reports that eight environmental organizations are suing six shippers to force compliance with the Clean Water Act, which requires ships to sanitize ballast water before docking. Ship operators say the $250,000 equipment cost is too prohibitive, and are suing to reverse a recent Michigan law requiring them install the equipment on all their vessels.

Sources:

“Bogota’s urban happiness movement”
Globe and Mail, June 25, 2007

“Secret shelters a last resort for Charlotte’s homeless?”
Charlotte Observer, June 17, 2007

“Eight environmental groups start ballast water lawsuit”
Detroit Free Press, June 21, 2007

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