Government Technology

NewsWatch: Telemedicine, Mayors, Metal Detectors, Transparency Revenge, More

May 13, 2010 By

Is Chicago Mayor's Transparency Really Revenge? 

In the name of "transparency," said the Chicago Sun-Times, Mayor Daley on Thursday got some measure of revenge against the investigative reporters who've made his life miserable by digging up dirt on city hiring and minority contracting scandals. He revamped the city's new website to include a log of all Freedom of Information Act requests. The list includes the name and organization of each applicant, documents demanded and dates the information was requested and is due to be released. A new state law merely requires city departments to maintain such a log -- not to post it on the Internet to tip investigative reporters about the trail being followed by competitors. But Daley gleefully declared that he was going "above and beyond what's required" in the interest of "transparency, openness and the free-flow of information."

Telemedicine Helps County Jail Reduce Healthcare Costs

Telemedicine solution provider American Educational Telecommunications has implemented a telemedicine system for the county jail in Madison, Neb. The system has resulted in significant cost savings, according to the company, but has also mitigated safety issues to staff as medical transports of inmates have been greatly reduced. According to Capt. Terry Howell, who supervises county jail operations, key components of the system include a 32" television monitor, otoscope and three magnification scopes for throat, skin, eyes, and ears. "We are primarily dealing with Norfolk Medical Group physicians but are consulting with other doctors to insure we receive the lowest possible rates," Howell said. "We have treated skin and throat infections, and foot and toenail infections. We'll be increasing this as other complaints come up. We're also considering a dentist to have the first exam done within the jail." Howell added that the county is saving $750 on average when they don't have to take an inmate to a local hospital for treatment.

Homeowners Associations Object to Green Practices

According to an article in USA Today homeowners seeking to use green practices such as using clotheslines instead of dryers or moving to solar or wind power, are finding those plans in conflict with the rules of homeowners associations that encourage conformity in order to maintain property values.

Mayors: American Power Act Ignores Cities

In a statement, United States Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran said: "Last year the nation's mayors were most encouraged with the partnership we had with the United States Senate, when the 2009 energy and climate bill included Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. Mayors stood with Senate leaders on the Capitol lawn where senator after senator praised the work of the nation's mayors on climate protection." However, continued Cochran in a release, "We are frustrated and perplexed that the legislation does not include Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants for cities and local governments. "The fact is that the cities of America are leading the nation on this issue while many states and some in Washington fail to recognize the contribution that we continue to make."

Faulty Metal Detectors Put Deputies at Risk

Aging metal detectors at Los Angeles County's Men's Central Jail frequently break down, said the Los Angeles Times, posing safety concerns for deputies who routinely confiscate weapons that inmates make from scrap metal, sheriff's officials said. "We're stuck with old technology and stuff that breaks down regularly," said Sheriff's Capt. Daniel Cruz, who oversees the jail. Cruz said that of seven machines at the jail, only one is operational at the moment.

Florida Legalizes Red-Light Cameras

According to the Miami Herald, Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday signed a new law authorizing red-light cameras as enforcement devices despite opposition. At least 30 Florida cities already have installed them under questionable legal authority. State law neither permitted nor prohibited them until now. AAA, formerly the American Automobile Association, had urged a veto, arguing the bill (HB 325) was more about raising money for state and local government coffers than it was about safety.

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