Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gas Rises As Oil Soars

No revelations with that headline. Want a heads-up on a near-future headline? Numerous oil industry analysts predict that the price of regular gasoline at New York City gas stations will be over $5.00 ... by the Fourth of July! Maybe it's time to invest what’s left of your money in charcoal and SPAM company stocks. Who can afford restaurant steak? The highways around here will be less backed up than usual this year. Many more New Yorkers will likely be celebrating Independence Day right at home. Backyard barbecues are expected to be going strong in all five boroughs. Enjoy your SPAM burgers!

Hot Dog!

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the most valuable things aren't always found inside the Metropolitan Museum. The Parks Department received a $630,100 bid from Pasang Sherpa for two hot dog vending spots located outside the front doors of the museum. That bid is $54,110 higher than what last year’s, and current franchise holder, Thomas Maddos paid. It will take a few weeks for the Park’s Department to verify all bids and confirm service quality. Service quality? Woody Allen says, "take the money and run!"

Got (Cash To Afford) Milk?

The City Council says that last November, 86% of city food retail outlets that were studied were charging more that the state-mandated price for milk. That fixed rate is set each month by the New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The price overage averaged a whopping 40 cents per container! State officials argue they don’t have the resources to enforce the law. Current rates for New York City in June are $3.93 per gallon, $2.01 per half-gallon and $1.04 per quart. Milk isn’t a luxury for our children. It's a necessity. Mayor Mike and city officials should take immediate action to protect city kids and to stretch the family’s food dollar. Maybe stores that sell milk should be required to post their milk prices on their windows right next to the state's milk maximums for consumers. Cops could write tickets for lawbreakers. The city could put the fines they collect towards the school lunch program. Parents could then buy milk at the legal and one would think, lesser rate. They say "the cream always rises to the top." Let's hope our elected officials can do the same here.

Free Water Beats Fee Water

Home water bill going up, up, up? This month, the Department of Environmental Protection will give away 250 rain barrels for FREE to Queens' residents. The barrels will be used to collect storm water from homeowner's roofs to water their lawns with. And the water is FREE! Estimates are given that 40% of a house’s water bill is for irrigation. These barrels may also serve to prevent flooding during bad storms in poor drainage areas. DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd has a good idea worth testing. The "common sense" of it seems overwhelming. I expect that the sooner more homeowners (and perhaps apartment dwellers too) can collect water and recycle it, the better. With this kind of "green" plan in the days of the Bible, Noah might now be known more for his gardening than his boat building!

High School Sports - Brought To You By …

City education officials are looking to expand revenues by getting brand name companies to help underwrite and promote New York City high school team athletics. Sports equipment, food and beverage companies are being especially considered. No billboards or uniform patches though. Brand name companies under the plan being considered would only be buying the right to claim an affiliation with the team. If the plan goes through, it's slated to begin next summer. On the face of it, things seem OK. Perhaps even after more analysis the plan will pass inspection. But, there's a certain purity in high school athletics that a financial affiliation might somehow diminish. Business providing direct financial support to schools for their own financial gain seems wrong. No harm may come from this idea. Many student-athletes may benefit. But, perhaps other measures to raise capital should be considered first before selling out to brand name sellers. Don't play "money ball" before knowing all the rules. The impact on our kids and the adults they'll become must be determined now.

Two Times To Times

First it was Alain Robert, 45 (aka “French Spider-Man”). Hours later and not connected with Monsieur Robert's deed, Renaldo Clarke, 33 of Sunset Park, Brooklyn did it too. What they each did still boggles the mind and stretches the imagination beyond normal limits. Both of these men climbed, by hand and foot (without any special tools or safety gear), the fa├žade of the 52-story New York Times building in Times Square! Mr. Robert ascended to the roof in about an hour; unfurling a banner along the way to "end global warming." Mr. Clarke's climb was motivated to end malaria (sporting a “Malaria No More” t-shirt) and also because he saw Mr. Robert doing what he had long been making plans to do. Both climbers were taken into police custody. Both were later sent to Bellevue for psychiatric evaluation. So, who is really crazy here? Mr. Robert and Mr. Clarke for daring to promote causes in which they believe? Or perhaps, many of us for believing in causes and not going above and beyond like the two of them. Or maybe, not taking any action at all.