Archive for June, 2017

‘Batman’ star Adam West dead at 88

LOS ANGELES — Adam West, whose straight-faced portrayal of Batman in a campy 1960s TV series lifted the tight-clad Caped Crusader into the national consciousness, has died at age 88, his publicist Molly Schoneveld said Saturday.

West died Friday night after “a short but brave battle with leukemia,”

West played the superhero straight for kids and funny for adults. He initially chaffed at being typecast after “Batman” went off the air after three seasons, but in later years he admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal.

“We’re so incredibly grateful for all of the wonderful messages and tributes from Adam’s friends, fans, colleagues, and the media since his passing. It’s an amazing experience to grieve with the rest of the world and the good thoughts and outpouring of support have helped to ease the pain. We know he hears you and feels your love too. Thank you so much.” – The West Family

 

Bylaw enforcement to be beefed up

The city could soon take on a greater role in enforcing hundreds of bylaw violations, possibly speeding up appeals.

A report headed to council’s executive policy committee meeting next Wednesday proposes to allow about 600 more bylaw offences to be enforced under the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Act (MBEA).

The city says the change should streamline ticketing for citizens and the city.

“There are a few things that make it simpler for people to to deal with … rather than any big court process,” said Michael Jack, the city’s Chief Corporate Services Officer. “Court time and court resources were (previously) scarce and we were still under a process where all of our bylaw offences would go through provincial court.”

Instead of fine disputes heading to court, a screening officer appointed by the city would hear them instead, if EPC and council approve the plan. Appeals of screening officer decisions could then be heard a provincial adjudicator. The report notes the city has dealt with parking offences this way since August 2016.

The report proposes to use the method to deal with many neighbourhood liveability, public transit, responsible pet ownership, vacant buildings and water bylaw violations.

“It simplifies how we can do it. We now have the ability to simply mail out the offence notices. It’s easier administratively to issue the ticket, so the hope is they we can be more efficient with bylaw enforcement,” said Jack.

The city’s public service proposes to report back to council within one year with an implementation plan for municipal enforcement, including how to collect fines long-term. Until that point, the Winnipeg Parking Authority would administer screening and adjudication.

The city doesn’t expect the switch to cost more.

courtesy of Winnipeg Sun

‘Long overdue’: Wheels in motion for Winnipeg’s first transit committee

Now that he’s helping lay the foundations for the city’s first transit advisory committee (TAC), the president of Winnipeg’s transit union is “optimistic.”

It may have taken the city a while to take its first steps towards improving bus safety, but officials are wasting no time taking the next ones with a “long overdue” transit committee.

That’s according to John Callahan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1505, who has been anxiously awaiting and lobbying for action since February, when a Winnipeg Transit operator was killed on the job.

Operator assaults continued, and Callahan shared concerns with the media that he and ATU members felt there was not enough being done to fix the service’s safety issues.

Then, at the end of May, council’s public works committee approved a variety of safety measures, including the formation of a transit advisory committee (TAC).

Not long after, committee chairperson Coun. Marty Morantz began working with Callahan to set the wheels in motion on forming that group.

“We’ve just been spit-balling, but obviously want to get it together and come up with the term’s of reference for who will be on the committee, what the mandate will be,” Callahan said.

So far, he’s expecting the committee will include representatives from a ridership group, post secondary institutions, people who are disabled, Winnipeg Transit, and the ATU; but he wouldn’t call that list exhaustive and expects to have a clearer picture in the coming days.

Morantz and Callahan are meeting Friday to discuss the details.

“Since we are one of the only major cities that doesn’t have a TAC this is long overdue,” Callahan said, adding being late to the game does have the advantage that there are “many great examples” of transit committees in Canadian cities like Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Guelph, London and Toronto.

“(They’ve shown) a good public transportation system that is safe and reliable is a key in any modern city,” Callahan said. “It’s a staple, so obviously it needs attention it hasn’t been getting here in Winnipeg—I think that shows—but I’m really optimistic about the future of Winnipeg Transit as a result of this ongoing discussion.”

Callahan said the “first task would obviously be the safety issues,” but beyond that the committee will be able to focus on “making the service the best that it can be.”

Morantz said he’s keen to see the TAC organized “as soon as possible.”

“It’s a clear priority to get teh TAC establisehd right away. That’s why we’re meeting and I expect there will be a series of meetings, I want to make sure that we have the right structure in place, so when recommendations come out of the TAC they get proper hearing.

“That is, I think, a key to making sure it has a real role to play in terms of its advisory capacity.”

Good intentions evident in new Winnipeg bus safety practices

Three-and-a-half months after Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, bus driver, Irvine “Jubal” Fraser, was stabbed to death, the City of Winnipeg is finally making recommendations to bolster bus safety after a 90-day study of the problem. The proposals include hiring more inspectors, installing more cameras, zero tolerance on fare evasion, and more. Local President John Callahan, said the host of security measures being proposed demonstrate “good intentions.” One committee proposal, however, stands out above the rest: the creation of a new transit advisory committee made up of key stakeholders, including workers and riders, to consider ways to improve public transit, and make it safer and more reliable.

It’s been a productive and busy week at the Tommy Douglas Conference with ATU local leaders from across the U.S. and Canada taking part in innovative labor-related trainings. An Advanced Arbitration training is teaching attendees new skills and strategies for negotiating strong contracts for their members. A training on Public Engagement is focusing on building alliances with riders and the public for local campaigns and polishing public speaking and communications skills. In addition, local presidents and the leaders of Local 113-Toronto, ON, learned new ways to motivate their members to get involved, make their Locals stronger, and empower their Locals for the battles ahead. All of the skills taught this week will prove vital in our local leaders’ efforts to engage their membership, riders, and like-minded organizations in local coalitions that will fight for Labor and public transit in their communities.


ECAT workers, commissioner at odds over ECAT’s future

With Escambia County Commission Chairman Doug Underhill threatening to end transit service, ECAT workers leafleted riders urging them to contact county commissioners to tell them support the transit system. The future of the system is in question after the commissioners began the process of taking over management of the system from private contractor First Transit. Local 1395-Pensacola, FL, which represents the workers, supported the move, but Underhill has proposed a voter referendum on whether the county should continue funding public transportation. The Local argues that ECAT serves the neediest in the community, and called for a public forum for riders to voice their opinions on this important issue. Read more.


Spokane transit workers sue authority over refusal of pro-union bus ad

Local 1015-Spokane, WA, has an ad with a simple message it wants to put on Spokane Transit Authority (STA) buses “Do you drive for Uber, Lyft, charter bus, school bus? You have a right to organize.” But STA has rejected the request. In response, the Local has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the agency seeking an order requiring STA to allow bus ads that “promote the availability of union services or that contain public service announcements.” The Local argues that STA’s policy constitutes an unlawful viewpoint-based restriction on speech in a public forum by allowing the promotion of charitable, religious and educational public services while prohibiting the promotion of labor-related public services. A trial is set for June 27, so stay tuned. Read more.


Portland transit workers push for better safety in wake of attacks

After a high-profile attack on a Portland, ON, light rail train that left two good Samaritans dead and another seriously injured for protecting a Muslim rider, TriMet beefed up the security on MAX trains by increasing the presence of transit police officers, supervisors and private security officers. However, the increased security was not enough to prevent a disruptive passenger from assaulting a MAX driver last Friday afternoon. And, in a letter to the public, Local 757-Portland, OR, is calling on TriMet to hire more fare inspectors instead of increasing the presence of armed police and private guards. Read more.


Bus driver blind spots: Isn’t a life worth $300?

Each week we hear another story about a preventable pedestrian accident involving a bus workstation blind spot. U.S buses have huge left hand mirrors, mounted in critical sight lines, that needlessly block the driver’s vision. In fact, from the point of view of the bus driver, up to 13 pedestrians may be hidden behind the massive “A” pillar and left side mirror at any given time. ATU has been at the forefront of exposing this problem, meeting with transit agencies and federal and state officials on the issue. In addition, ATU has produced a video highlighting the problem of bus driver blind spots and solutions to fix it for under $300 per bus. Watch video.


Report bus, rail and maintenance violations on ATU App

Broken mirrors, engine problems, defective steering, malfunctioning air conditioners, oil spills, fire and electrical hazards, emergency equipment issues, inadequate tools, lack of safety training, dirty workplaces, and foul air are among the many dangerous safety issues and working conditions that our members have reported on the ATU App. Now you can help us to fight for your safety by reporting violations. Just download the App to your smartphone and then go to the “Report Bus, Rail and Maintenance Safety Violations and Defects” page and fill out the form to report safety violations. Remember when filling out the form to please follow your transit agency’s cell phone policies if you are working.

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