The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, November 23, 2002
K-12 Education: Privatization Roll Back in Kansas. An article in the Wichita Eagle dated Friday, November 22, 2002 describes the roll back of the last two schools operated by Edison Corporation in that city. Interestingly financial considerations -- a 500,000 dollar annual saving -- were seen to drive the decision and no discussion was offered of student achievement. The full story may be found at: (221)

Friday, November 22, 2002
Technology and Economy: Both e-Commerce and Internet Access Rise Sharply. Use of the Internet is booming around the world, bucking the global economic downturn and the crisis in the information technology industry, according to United Nations figures issued in late November 2002. An annual report by the UNCTAD trade and development agency forecast that registered Internet users could total 655 million by the end of 2002, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent. At the same time, the value of electronic commerce -- goods and services bought and sold over the Internet -- could reach as high as $2.3 billion this year, a 50 percent increase from last year, climbing to around $3.9 billion at the end of 2003. See the full story at: (220)

Public Services: Public Safety --- Drugged Drivers Big Issue. Kavan Peterson wrote a story for on November 15, 2002 on states failing to stop drugged driving. A recent state-by-state analysis of laws restricting driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) found that in 42 states, “drugged drivers” are rarely detected, prosecuted or referred to treatment programs because of weak state laws and a lack of quick and reliable drug tests. Minnesota is one of eight states with zero tolerance for illegal drugs use by drivers. “Generally, there’s a lack of uniformity and consistency in the way states approach drugged drivers,” said Dr. J. Michael Walsh, president of the Walsh Group and lead author of the study issued yesterday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The bottom line is that the current laws in most states do not provide adequate means to address what is a growing problem.” In 1999, nine million people said they had driven a vehicle within two hours of consuming illegal drugs over a 12-month period according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. A group of 28 experts from fields like substance abuse, traffic safety, auto insurance, state and local law enforcement and representatives of advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving issued a recommendation for new state laws. The full story may be read at: (219)

Thursday, November 21, 2002
Public Services and e-Government: New York City Restaurant Health Inspections Online. One of the most popular pages available via New York City's Web portal is the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's restaurant-inspections site. Visitors can search for restaurants by name and location to view the results of the latest inspection and find out more about the restaurant-inspection process. Pressure from consumers for good ratings can certainly add to administrative sanctions for poor conditions in a restaurant. The restaurant site may be found at: (218)

Public Services and e-Government: Minnesota Relaunches State Portal. Minnesota’s state electronic government services Web portal, known as North Star, has been re-launched, after the state spent a year reorganizing the site around “life experiences” to provide access to state services and information via easily recognizable themes: living and working, learning and education, health and safety, government, business, travel and leisure, and environment. State officials say visits to North Star have increased 50 percent over the past two years, to an average of 1.2 million monthly, and are expected to hit 2.2 million a month next year. This item was drawn from: The North Star portal may be found at: (217)

Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Public Services and e-Government: Arizona Gets Award for Number One Spot. The Center for Digital Government and the Progress and Freedom Foundation presented an award to Arizona Governor Hull on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 for being the top ranked state in the US in e-government. Governor Hall said that Arizona's rise from 17 to 5 to 1 was no accident and credited public and private partners in the achievement. Rankings were done over eight domains of government services - from social services to transportation. Minnesota ranked 20th of the 50 states. More on the report may be found at:">. (216)

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Public Services and e-Government: Nonprofit Portals Do Public Work. A series of new portals, Earth's 911 and Pet's 911 provide information on recycling and pet finding basd on zip codes. The portals also provide customized public information media announcements and involve direct information input from many government agencies. These portals deal with information from public agencies in many cases but are offered at no cost to state and local governments to place on their webpages. Earth's 911 may be found at: (215)

Monday, November 18, 2002
Citizenship and Campaigns. Issues PA. A foundation funded project called IssuesPA presented issue analysis online in 15 policy areas in the recent Governor's race in Pennsylvania. The project provided information items to local media around the state and updated issues and candidate responses to a series of questions. The project might be wider replication in the next round of elections. The webpage is at: (214)

Sunday, November 17, 2002
Energy and Environment: How Clean Can Coal Burning Power Plants Get? An article in the Economist dated September 19, 2002 described a number of steps to dramatically clean up coal burning power plants. While this technology is important to cleaning up the worldwide installed base of coal plants, only "coal sequestration" technology can reduce carbon dioxide emissions which the Kyoto Accord has pegged as a major factor in global warming. The article may be read at: (213)