Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What is going on here?

Over on, a commenter (hey Karl) asks 'what is the backstory here?' with respect to the new EMS program at the fire department.
A good place to start is the presentation by the chair of the oversight committee and the report the committee created.

You know the saying, "the ends justify the means"? It is kind of what is going on here. I am going to take this story backwards since at the end here it started to make a little sense.

The Chair of the Committee (MaryLooseDeviney- and I know I butchered her name, apologies) was the one who described it best- when she visited the emergency communications center on a weekday- all the ambulances (3) were out on calls at some point (she got there at 8, the time all ambulances were on calls was 9:15). She then details her thoughts, if at that time, one of her customers falls on the downtown mall, what would happen, who would come to their aid?

In reality- a first responder would until an ambulance was cleared. Cville/Albemarle (and many other jurisdictions) have a tiered response system- fire engine goes first with a medic/EMT onboard to administer care. The ambulance comes next.
Notice she didnt mention anything about response times? Funny...
In fact she stated there is no problem with the response times on CARS end. (the report [pdf] indicates the CFD has some issues with response times, but apparently is outside the scope of inquiry).

There is this lovely thing called ambulance utilization yadda ya- it is a metric, the metric for Cville is 3.5 ambulances (I am not an expert on this stuff), CARS has three ambulances during the day. The report indicates this metric standard is used widely but "much debated." um, ok.

Again nothing to do with response times.

What the CFD is pleased about is getting rid of the tiered system, they are seeking to collapse the tiers into one, one in which they will be the only ones to respond, I suppose CARS will still respond too since CFD is only seeking 2 ambulances ($530,000 over ten years) and 6 paid medics (high level training). Will this translate into quicker response times? I dont think it matters for CARS since that is not an issue for them, but for CFD? I hope so.

Finally the emergency communication center will still have to ask tier questions for County calls. An argument made by Taliferro is 'you never trust the person on the phone to be as accurate as an impartial observer' about the condition of the patient. And here I absolutely agree with him. But I dont think it is worth spending all of this money on since the same tier system questions will likely still be asked of every caller.

A great aspect of the Oversight Committee is the creation of standards for performance. I know everyone will benefit from that.

So despite the means being about CARS response times, the ends of creating an taxpayer subsidized ambulance service justified that tarnishing of CARS (I jest of course). I wish the CFD had approached it in a better, more honest way.

The question left unanswered by everyone "how are these recommendations going to change the response times for first responders?" Lynch asked some good questions that were answered in very circular fashion thus creating frustration and confusion by those of us who thought the questions were reasonable.

I know reasonable people differ, I respect the folks who created this new service and hope it does create a better service for the community since we are spending so much money on it. My opinion is ultimately the committee didnt need to rely on the 'four' chiefs to come up with a proposal, an innovative, more cost effective plan could have been achievable and workable. I will gladly change my thoughts on the subject if I see a dramatic improvement, so stay tuned.

Media Difference

With respect to the new ambulance service in the City, the media outlets in town are all over the map. NBC29 is actually pretty balanced in its coverage. CBS19 states that "firefighters welcome changes."
Seth Rosen has some balance in his articles in the DP. Actually Seth focuses more on some of the decisions that will be made in the future- providing some context to the story.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last Council Meeting for Hamilton and Lynch

I am impressed with last night's council meeting, many things were accomplished.
1. CAHIP money allocated per the recommendations of the CDBG Task Force + the addition of a CAHIP staffer to watch over the outcomes and results for this money. 5-0 margin.
2. YMCA ground lease approved by a 3-2 margin.
3. EMS/fire recommendations of the Oversight Committee were adopted and moved forward by a 4-1 margin.
Other things happened too. Controverial and non-unanimous votes- really a great exercise in democracy last night and proves the point "reasonable people may differ".

I really appreciate Kevin and Kendra's voices on Council. While I wildly disagree with either one of them at any given moment, they were cool, calm and had honest debate (mostly with each other). I look forward to the new voices on the City Council in January, but I will miss these two.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ABC's worst moments in sports

After the release of the Mitchell report earlier this week, ABC decided to list the top ten worst moments in sports - with no actual basis to define the top ten. Many of these are awful times for sports (Mitchell Report, Black Sox, NHL lock out, etc.). The problem is obvious so I wont belabor it too much, the top ten doesnt distinguish between what sports does to itself and what outsiders do to the sport (Terrorists at Munich in the same classification as the Mitchell Report?). It doesnt make sense. Finally as an avid cycling fan, the failure to mention the 2006 Tour de France or the 2006 Operation Puerto doping scandal prior to the Tour is disingenuous and incomplete or even if cycling is not a sport for Americans so ABC isnt going to include it, why not Marion Jones, this year? For goodness sake, she was just stripped of her medals for her doping. Incomplete and lazy work by the ABC folks in putting this list together.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This is better than last year

I am in the newspaper today! How fun. The local media has been very kind, this kind of press doesnt get old (and to my dad- they spelled my name right). The article discusses some of the recommendations the task force made for the housing fund created earlier this year. As I have stated, I am real proud of the work we did, it was tough but exciting to be part of the process.

This time last year I was laying sick in bed- how do I know this? Today was my second attempt to get into the Political Leadership program at Sorenson. I hope they tell me when I should stop applying- so far I have been encouraged to apply multiple times. The interview was so much better this year- first the interviews were done by two panels and only four people interviewed me, compared with what felt like 15 or more last year. I had a few advantages this year- I wasnt sick, I wasnt as nervous as last year and I had already had the experience of the interview.

The interviewers ask amazing and difficult questions. What would I change about the Democratic political system? If the Governor called and told me we had a $6 million dollar deficit that needed to be dealt with immediately-what would you recommend? What do I think about the decline in attorneys in the General Assembly and should the people who serve be paid more and/or have longer sessions? The first question was- why you and why now? As some know, my biggest weakness is the interview- in fact it is something I want to work on in Sorenson (if). I did enjoy the challenge of it and the interviewers werent trying to get me, like I felt last year :) which may have had something to do with my illness.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A sad day for Baseball

I love baseball. It is the national pastime and what a delightful afternoon a day of baseball makes. Today's Mitchell report [pdf] is out and I am depressed again (cycling in the summer, baseball in the winter).
Brian Roberts? How is Baltimore drowning in steriods and they are so darn awful!? Lenny Dykstra? Bigbie, Clemons, Petite, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Miguel Tejada and the list goes on and on. My stomach is sick from this report.

I am reminded of the 1993 tobacco hearings- those five or six executives from the tobacco company stood up, put their right hand up and swore to tell the truth-->then said tobacco did not cause health problems. Liars. Cheaters.

Americans love their heros and I am certainly one of them - not that sports figures are heroic (certainly not now). We love to think if one works real hard, has that much commitment great things can be accomplished, it is fundamentally the American Dream played everyday. The highs and the lows, the drama all of it is awesome. I am really ok though if athletes are good but not record setting- sports is inherently dramatic without cheating.

Are we so needy as Americans to be the best that we drive our sports figures to steroids, performance enhancing drugs?

The Washington Post affair- break up or no?

I might have to break up with the Washington Post. I have subscribed to the Post for the past decade. I love it- 3 pages of comics, sometimes they write about cycling, if I have time to read the A section, I have more to say and a better understanding of a situation (but I always assume it is at least partially missing info pertinent to the situation as we all should assume). I particularly LOVE the online chats and blogs the Post offers online (and that they were so quick to embrace the online genre and make it relevant to modern users). And I love, love, love reading a newspaper not the online news- I just read headlines on the internet so it is unlikely I would know stuff anymore (except about Brittany Spears and entertainment news, I read that crap). Finally the food section's annual cookie section is a favorite (I know I can still buy the edition of the newspaper). (It came out this week, honestly I was a bit disappointed because the cookies were too fancy and complicated, I dont have time for that during the holiday season).

So why would I break up with the Post? I dont have time to read it and it is expensive. I also receive the Progress, admittedly not a great national/local newspaper, but it at least covers some local issues. I have enough time to read the not lengthy Progress- although for the love of God, please get Zits and Baby Blues in the comic section (those two comics may be the reason I dont break up with the Post).

What newspapers do you get, wish you could get, or are you done with paper?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

two other recommendations- food category, not inclusive

At the Gingerbread Ball this year I met a lovely woman who volunteered through her Junior League affiliation. She was really funny and helped me bartend the event in this great dress. Well come to find out she co-owns Raising Canes with her husband. The boys and I love Raising Canes. There arent many choices on the menu, if you want a vegetable or salad this is not the place to go. The Texas toast and yummy fingers and sauce though are worth the dinner or lunch of no veggies.

Lunch on the downtown mall is dramatic in the number of choices falling into all sorts of price ranges. This week I was reminded of my favorite sandwich on the mall its from Rev Soup. The 90s is so delicious. A yummy roll, pieces of chicken (not a thick,dry chicken breast), bacon, cheddar, avocado, some mustard type sauce, lettuce and tomato. The bread is crunchy in this non-stale or too hard way and everything just mushes together perfectly. Call in and pick it up- simple as 1,2,3. It is a modestly priced sandwich ($6 ish) and well worth it. The Rev Soup menu is so full of delicious stuff so even if you dont like the items on the 90s then you are bound to find something you like- but dont hit it at the lunch rush on cold days (before or after is ok).

Rant milk prices

So I confess, I occassionally read The Rant section of Cville Weekly. I know people protest it is trash- whatever, it is base but has some truths to it.
First, a caller mentioned the prices of milk at Food Lion. The caller complained that FL is supposed to be for poor people but that the price of milk is over a dollar more than at other more toney grocery stores. I checked the prices at a lot of grocery stores in the area- and do you know that ranter was right? FL has milk at $4.59 a gallon- that is outrageous compared to Giant/Kroger which is $3.49-$3.89ish. However, I went to Kroger today and I was thinking about buying something... Quaker Oatmeal Bars (the apple cinnamon are delicious)- at FL it costs $2.89/box, sometimes 2/$5 which is when I like to buy them. At Kroger the same box cost $3.89.

I like what Patience has discovered in her shopping local experience, she has lessons for us all, but I think I would rather pay $1 more for milk if the rest of the prices are comparably lower than other stores (which in this limited survey means FL). I shop carefully nowadays but I dont feel like I have to so much at FL which is kind of a relief.

Recommendation 1- Into the Wild the book

I read the above referenced book, it is a quick read so I got through it all. Isnt that exciting? I never get to go to movies so I knew I wouldnt be able to see the movie, the book is fantastic. Prior to picking the book I wondered why even bother? It is an adventure book for boys or so I thought. I found it quite enlightening. I have never had the inclinations this fellow had but I sincerely enjoyed the story and learning about these sorts adventures. The author's experience (he wrote Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven- John Krakauer dont quote me on the spelling) is harrowing and fascinating too (the book isnt about him but he has this amazing chapter on his own adventure climbing this awful face of a glacier in Alaska- edge of my seat exciting).
I highly recommend this read either as a gift or for an afternoon to yourself.