Saturday, November 16, 2013

Driverless Personal Transportation at London's Heathrow Airport

U.K. town to deploy driverless pods to replace busses

Nov 05, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
( —Milton Keynes, a town north of London, has announced that it will be deploying 100 driverless pods (officially known as ULTra PRT transport pods) as a public transportation system. A similar system has been running for two years at Heathrow airport. The plan is to have the system up and running by 2015, with a full rollout by 2017. The move marks the first time that self-driving vehicles will be allowed to run on public roads in that country.

Read more at:

Florida County votes OUT of Seven50 Regional Plan (Like Plan Bay Area)

I realize that this is a long video but it has some amazing testimony by the "little people"  like us who are facing the destruction of their community from a regional plan like "Plan Bay Area".  It is worth a quick scan.  See their home page HERE

Why are special interest groups so powerful?

An economist explains why special interest groups have so much power in our democracy. This is not a pro-gun lobby video.  It applies equally to the Sierra Club, AARP and Business Groups too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why young kids are struggling with Common Core math

Why young kids are struggling with Common Core math

Common Core critics argue that some of the standards are not developmentally appropriate for young students. Earlier this year I published this post by Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige about how the standards smack in the face of what we know about how young children learn. Here’s is a new post with concerns about the developmental appropriateness of some Core math standards. This was written by Carol Burris and John Murphy.

Burris is the award-winning principal of  South Side High School in New York who most recently wrote about a ridiculous Common Core first-grade math test for students, which you can read here. Burris has been chronicling on this blog the many problems with the test-driven reform initiative in New York (here, and here and here and here, for example), which was one of the first states to implement Common Core and give students Core-aligned standardized tests. She was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010,  tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is the co-author of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student test scores. It has been signed by more than 1,535 New York principals and more than 6,500 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens. You can read the letter by clicking here. 

Murphy is an assistant principal at South Side High School. He was recognized by the Harvard Club and Phi Delta Kappa for his teaching and outstanding leadership. John is South Side’s International Baccalaureate coordinator.

By Carol Burris and John Murphy

Why are New York parents reporting that their elementary school students are having such a difficult time doing Common Core mathematics?  Burris’ last blog post presented an example of a first-grade test, created by Pearson, the author of New York’s 3-8 tests.  Some readers commented that perhaps the problem was not the Common Core standards, but rather their implementation at the school level. In the case of New York, rushed implementation is certainly a factor.

There are far too many reported problems, however, for us not to consider both. Are these only the result of rushed implementation, or, are the standards themselves problematic? What follows may provide insight into that very question.

A few days ago, our superintendent shared a Common Core assessment question from a PARCC website, which directed viewers to the Mathematics Common Core Toolbox.  This site “offers examples of the types of innovative assessment tasks that reflect the direction of the PARCC summative assessments.” He was interested in a question designed for fourth graders, who are typically 9 or 10 years of age. You can find the question that he shared here: under elementary tasks, fourth grade, “Number of Stadium Seats.”  Part A of the assessment task is a straightforward question that asks students to put three, 5 digit numbers in order.   Part B is a very different kind of question.
Part B provides students with the following information:
The San Francisco Giant’s Stadium has 41,915 seats, the Washington Nationals’ stadium has 41,888 seats and the San Diego Padres’ stadium has 42,445 seats.
It then asks the following question:
Compare these statements from two students.
Jeff said, “I get the same number when I round all three numbers of seats in these stadiums.”
Sara said, “When I round them, I get the same number for two of the stadiums but a different number for the other stadium.”
Can Jeff and Sara both be correct? Explain how you know.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marin IJ: Marinwood ousts incumbents; housing issues took center stage in election discourse

Marin IJ: Marinwood ousts incumbents; housing issues took center stage in election discourse

By Megan Hansen

Justin Kai, winner CSD Director
Concerns about housing drove Marinwood's election and some believe the ousting of all the incumbents highlights the community's growing fear of high-density, affordable development.

Tuesday's election came during a perfect storm of housing issues, when residents are fretting about the regional housing effort Plan Bay Area, priority development areas, the county's housing element and plans for the still-undeveloped Marinwood Village property near Highway 101. With tensions high, three vocal newcomers opposed to high-density, subsidized housing stepped forward and swept the polls.

Justin Kai, a 33-year-old real estate agent, garnered the most votes on Election Night. He said the No. 1 topic residents are talking about is affordable, high-density housing.

"Residents are concerned about large tax-exempt developments and how it will impact the community," Kai said. "Our community is very much in support of doing our part for providing affordable housing for the county, we just want to make sure it's done responsibly in a way it can sustain itself. Not in a way where it's fully dependent on the rest of the community having to pick up the slack."

Bill Shea, winner, CSD Director
Kai was followed in the polls by Bill Shea, a 62-year-old accountant, and Deana Dearborn, a 43-year-old facilities project manager and architect, who secured a two-year seat in a second race for a community services district position.

Shea said he believes the government shouldn't subsidize anything and doesn't want to see the "projects" he grew up seeing in San Francisco come to Marinwood. He said he's opposed to the proposed plan for Marinwood Village, which has most of the 82 units slated to be affordable, and doesn't want government agencies dictating where multifamily housing should go.

"The idea now that they want to put high-density, low-income housing in a rural area, I just think it's a horrible idea," Shea said.
He said people are looking at the apartment complex being built at the former WinCup site on Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera — which will be market-rate units — and fearing a massive development like it could be built in Marinwood.

Deana Dearborn, winner, CSD Director
Ousted incumbent Leah Kleinman-Green, 35, said people's fears of having affordable housing in Marinwood won the three aligned newcomers their seats. She said the community appears to be so afraid of change and different demographics that they'll let their emotions trump reason.

"Housing is completely outside the purview of the community services district," Kleinman-Green said. "The (newcomers) think they are going to be able to do things that they can't."

The district, which provides fire protection, park maintenance, recreation programs and street lighting for about 1,750 households, doesn't make housing decisions. The county Planning Commission and the Board
of Supervisors make those calls.

Supervisor Susan Adams
Campaigned on No Grow in 2002:
This is something county Supervisor Susan Adams said voters didn't understand about the race.
"Any campaign promises that were made that the community services district was somehow in a position to make a decision about the (Marinwood Village) project was misinforming the public," Adams said. "There's been a lot of misinformation provided that has created fear."
Adams winning campaign slogan was
"Cows not Condos" in 2002.
She created the Marinwood Priority Development Area
 in 2007 and voted for the Housing Element in 2013
 that gave us 71% of all affordable housing for
unincorporated Marin and may grow our community by 35%

She said everybody in the community will have an opportunity to weigh in on the plan for the project during community outreach sessions.

Bruce Anderson,
has been lobbying for housing
since 2004 as CSD Director now
claims housing is not
of interest to the CSD
See Bruce promote Marinwood Village
as CSD Director HERE
Bruce Anderson, a 66-year-old retiree who has served on the board for 10 years and lived in the district for 27, said it may have been his ties to Adams and support of affordable housing projects that lost him re-election.

He said the newcomers are anti-affordable housing and led voters to believe housing issues could be addressed by the district.

"Tying the whole community services district to the housing issue turned people off," said Anderson, who also cited low-voter turnout as an issue. "I don't yet think the (newcomers) understand what they're getting into."

Dearborn, who could not be reached for comment, states on her website that she knows housing developments are not within the district's jurisdiction. She also said the Marinwood Village project needs to be changed, according to the site.

"I fully expect the community services district to review any development proposals and to ask for impacts under their purview to be mitigated by either modifying building designs or through monetary means," Dearborn wrote.

Leah Kleinman-Green former CSD Director is disheartened that
her neighbors are unable to accept low income people.
In August 2013 she had plans to move to Ross but changed her mind.
See Leah submit her resignation in August 2013: HERE.
Kai agreed and said it's not that he and his fellow election winners are against affordable housing, it's that they're concerned tax-exempt builders will place a financial burden on the district and residents.

"A large portion of the district's budget comes from property tax," Kai said. "By bringing in hundreds of new residents without the proper funding to support them, who does the rest of that bill fall onto?"

Appointed incumbent Michael Dudasko, a 56-year-old environmental consultant, was ousted by Dearborn in the election. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Kleinman-Green said it's horrifying to her that people feel so entitled to live in Marinwood that they are unable to accept low-income people living in the community. She said the attitude seems to be: "I worked hard. I made it here. It has to stay this way."

"It's been disheartening," she said. "There's no acknowledgement of change and other people having that same dream of living here."

The Times they are a Changin'

Bob Dylan

"The Times They Are A-Changin'"
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Monday, November 11, 2013

VIDEO: Plain Talk about the impact of Marinwood Village on Dixie Schools

For the Full planning meeting: February 11th Planning Commission Meeting

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In this clip from the February 11, 2013 Planning Meeting discussing the Housing Element for unincorporated Marin,  Lele Thomas, Planner describes the taxes that Marinwood Village will pay.

The total tax burden of Marinwood Village is around $10,000 and they expect to apply for a tax rebate because they are a non profit.


The Dixie school district will receive a one time impact fee of $200,000 which must be used for construction only.  It cannot be applied to teachers.  A portable classroom is estimated to cost $150,000 each.  With at least 150 school children expected, an estimated 7 teachers, 5 portable classrooms, administrators, teaching materials, computers costing in the millions will be the sole responsibility of the local taxpayers.

For this reason alone,  Marinwood Village project should be rejected.  It is shocking that neither the planning department, politicians or neighborhood leaders have considered this fundamental problem.

Lele Thomas concludes her remarks with "The bottom line is whether or not there is funding for Dixie Schools, this is not a reason for the Marinwood Village project to be rejected."

We must not let our community be exploited like this.  Join us today. The next big planning meeting is March 11th. Please attend. 

For related post see: Marinwood Residents Testify at Feb 11 Planning meeting

Susan Adams "Bring HUD Housing to Marinwood Village" weeks before the Community Meeting on October 27, 2012

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See the full Board of Supervisors meeting for October 16, 2012  video:

 Days later on October 27, 2012 Susan Adams meet with Bridge Housing and the community at Mary Silvera School  to discuss the Marinwood Village plan with the community.  Supervisor Susan Adams makes no mention that Marinwood Village is the her solution for the HUD settlement to achieve diversity in all of Marin County.  In fact, 70% of all affordable housing for unincorporated Marin is located within the Marinwood-Lucas Valley and the Dixie School district. It appears that the Board of Supervisors are trying to achieve "diversity" by building some of the largest affordable housing complexes in the county and concentrating these warehouses of "diversity" in 5.78 square miles. 

It is a fast food solution to a complex problem.  Wouldn't it be better for integration goals if diversity was spread evenly county wide instead of "big box "developments?

Beware of strangers bearing gifts.

If you watch the video it explains the Westchester County case that is the basis of the HUD deal signed by the county of Marin. Arnold explains it a little, but basically it is the case that HUD won that requires that affordable housing be spread out geographically, not be concentrated in one area. Benign, on the surface, and probably a good idea really. BUT what that means is if one area (Santa Venetia) already has affordable housing or a lower income population, the County must place the units in another area that is less diverse (i.e., Lucas Valley), or face being sued by HUD and not receiving funds. This is an obligation the County took on by signing the HUD deal in 2011.

The HUD deal the county signed in 2011 requires that affordable housing be placed in areas that are less diverse and have good school districts, etc. Amazing that the HUD deal was signed without much, if any, disclosure and that it has not be brought up at all in the current land use debate. Anyway, it appears from this video that Susan Adam's advocates Marinwood Plaza as a site for affordable housing. This was at about the same time that Bridge announced a possible proposal. There had been NO community input at that point. the Bridge proposal was presented as a done deal. The 2007 County Wide Plan requires community input. It is arguable whether the Collaborative from 2008/2009 constitutes community input (Collaborative was County appointed members of the community that were supposed to come up with a plan for the plaza from community input), but even if you assume community input at that point, the development plan at that time was for a for profit developer to build townhouse/condo style units with only 20% affordable.

The current plan has not been vetted by the community and Susan Adams appears from the video to advocate for use of the Marinwood Plaza for affordable housing without community input and in compliance with HUD.

For those that do not have the documents, attached is the HUD deal the county signed and a one page snapshot of some pertinent language. This is a link to the web page where you can read the planning process for the Collaborative in 2008/early 2009. Notes and Ground Rules from the Collaborative reveal small in home meetings, restrictions on what can be disclosed to the public by members of the Collaborative, etc.

Here is a detail of a deal the County entered into with HUD in 2011

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Environmentalists are Killing Rural Communities (important lessons for West Marin)

A presentation by Time Reporter, Elizabeth Nickson on the Rural Landowners vs. Eco-Fascists
00:13 OPENING SONG - Celeste Paradise
03:06 INTRODUCTION - Mimi Steel
05:59 PRESENTATION - Elizabeth Nickson
54:21 CASE STUDY - Mimi Steel

Orinda residents object to Housing Element

Here is how Orinda residents reacted to their Housing Element. In particular, I recommend you watch Chris Engl address the council at 0:02:31

Published on Sep 4, 2013
Video by Steve Kemp
0:00:00 Opening/Pledge of Allegiance
0:02:31 - Chris Engl
0:05:58 - Herb Brown
0:08:51 - Heidi Brown
0:10:53 - Chris Kniel
0:13:31 - Ann O'Connell-Nye
0:25:35 HOUSING ELEMENT DRAFT - Emmanuel Ursu
1:15:23 - Rusty Snow
1:19:09 - Jane Johnson
1:21:46 - Dick Curry
1:24:56 - Bruce London
1:27:08 - Chris Neil
1:30:40 - Dan DeBuscherre
1:35:22 - Kathleen Jenkins
1:38:48 - Heidi Brown
1:43:31 - Herb Brown
1:47:02 - Chris Engl
1:50:18 - Woodie Karp
1:53:51 - Maggie Reeves
2:00:39 - Eartha Newsong
2:03:04 - Rev Will McGarvey
2:05:27 - Rev Hubert Ivery
2:09:29 - Rev Scott Denman
2:11:04 - Carolyn Phinney
2:13:55 - Kathleen Kerr Shockett
2:18:31 - Richard Colman
2:22:08 - Clyde Vaughn
2:24:17 - Bill Legler
2:27:37 - Kat Schmidt
2:31:06 - Laurie Reich
2:34:23 - Grant Power
2:36:13 - Valerie Sloven
2:39:28 - James Bitter
2:41:30 - Father Robert Herbst
2:44:11 - Vince Maiorana
2:46:54 - William Abriel
2:49:56 - Betty Murphy
2:53:45 - Virginia Harrison
2:57:23 - Julian Schmidt