Readers respond quick poll question:

Are deer dogging your department?

Visit to weigh in on our next quick-poll: Are furloughs a reasonable way for elected officials to balance the budget?

Here's why we ask: Last month, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced that city employees will get the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve off without pay for two years to help offset a $470 million budget shortfall. Claiming the furlough will save 225 jobs; the mayor assured Chicagoans that workers will be called back in “if there's a big snowstorm or other emergency.” If your city, state, or county has taken similar measures, how are they affecting service levels?

Hugged your garbage man today?

Waste-to-energy operator Wheelabrator Technologies and Baltimore city and county representatives distribute commemorative hats and serve food to Wheelabrator employees during “Garbageman Appreciation Day.” The haulers also were honored with a 15,300-gallon trash can, possibly the largest ever built.

A different stimulus package

Analysts say every $1 billion invested in transportation projects creates 35,000 jobs. More than 3,000 highway projects could be under contract in 30 to 90 days if Congress would appropriate an estimated $18 billion for them, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). See page 19 for a guest editorial on investing in U.S. infrastructure by former AASHTO President Pete Rahn.

L.A. breaks ground on clean-water bond project Funding

Four years after approving half a billion dollars to fund clean-water projects, the city of Los Angeles launched its first fully funded project in September.

In 2004, Los Angeles voters approved Proposition O, authorizing the city to issue general-obligation bonds totaling $500 million for water-quality improvement projects. The measure also funds improvements to provide flood protection and increase water conservation, habitat protection, and open space. The bonds are supported by property taxes.

The first “Prop O” project — Grand Boulevard Tree Wells project — will install seven Filterra Bioretention Systems with saucer magnolia trees at various locations along Grand Boulevard in Venice. With the systems in place, stormwater flow along the boulevard will be diverted to the tree wells for treatment before entering the city's storm drain system, reducing the pollution that flows to the Pacific Ocean. The trees help to remove stormwater pollutants and add aesthetic value to the urban streetscape. Expected to be completed by Spring 2009, the project costs around $900,000.

Eligible Proposition O projects must:

  • Reduce loads of pollutants to impaired waters
  • Satisfy multiple objectives
  • Consider source control measures
  • Leverage funds
  • Promote collaboration with other agencies
  • Use a strategic adaptive management approach.

Projects must not:

  • Have a negative affect on flood protection
  • Lead to a net loss of habitat or hardening of creeks or rivers
  • Exacerbate any existing environmental problems in the vicinity or downstream of the project.