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Google Car


New York State could pave the way for self-driving cars.

Assemblyman David Gantt, chair of the transportation committee, has introduced a bill (read it here) that would allow the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles.

California, Nevada and Florida all have laws allowing self-driving cars. The technology, spearheaded by Google, raises a number of issues, as this TIME magazine article points out:

There are some compelling reasons to support self-driving cars. Regular cars are inefficient: the average commuter spends 250 hours a year behind the wheel. They are dangerous. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for Americans ages 4 to 34 and cost some $300 billion a year. Google and other supporters believe that self-driving cars can make driving more efficient and safer by eliminating distracted driving and other human error. Google’s self-driving cars have cameras on the top to look around them and computers to do the driving. Their safety record is impressive so far.


That is a reasonable concern. If we are going to have self-driving cars, the technical specifications should be quite precise….

How involved — and how careful — are we going to expect the human co-pilot to be? As a Stanford Law School report asks, “Must the ‘drivers’ remain vigilant, their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road? If not, what are they allowed to do inside or outside, the vehicle?” Can the human in the car drink? 

Gantt’s bill calls for a study period in New York. The commissioner of motor vehicles would propose laws and regulations to the governor by February 2015. The bill was introduced a couple weeks ago and is still in committee.


Links of the Day:


– Rochester area residents and police are worried kids will disrupt festivals all summer. 

– President Obama nominated Ann Marie Buerkle to a $155,000-a-year post.

– New York high school students will be paid to develop new high school equivalency degree. Meanwhile, kids subjected to field tests get nothing.

– John McCain wrote an editorial calling for a la carte TV programming.

– Why David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” is against legalizing pot.

– What Jane Saw: An art gallery visited by Jane Austen, put on line for virtual tours.

Links of the Day:

– The Democrat and Chronicle reports that Assemblyman David Gantt appears to be the “lone driver of the mayoral control train.” No one – not even Lt. Governor Bob Duffy – is rushing in to fight round two of this debate. Excerpt:

 Leaving office a year ago, he said his successor — who was unknown at the time — should support such a change and that he, as lieutenant governor, would work from Albany to get the legislation passed in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Richards has been silent. He didn’t return calls from the D&C or yours truly yesterday.

Update: Rochester’s Mayor penned an op-ed saying that he does not support mayoral control at this time. Tom Richards has yet to take reporter questions this week. Without Richards’ support, it seems the measure is effectively dead on arrival.

– I frequently get asked how many people are actually sleeping in Washington Square Park. We see the tents, but the place looks like a ghost town. I stopped by yesterday and got the answer.

Brighton came oh-so-close to dissolving the West Brighton Fire Department. The town contracted with the city for fire services, but will keep a small volunteer force in case the city crew is out on assignment. I wonder if this consolidation will be an anomaly or wave of the future.

A number of New York City entrepreneurs have come up with hangover remedies.

The Democrat and Chronicle reported today Assemblyman David Gantt would reintroduce his legislation giving Rochester’s mayor control of the school district.

This is not a surprise, as it has already passed the assembly. The bill has powerful allies in Gantt, Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy and the business community. But the state senate is a lot trickier, as senators Joe Robach and Jim Alesi have expressed strong reservations.

Meanwhile, a lot has changed in the two years since then-Mayor Duffy campaigned for control of schools.

  • We have a new mayor who may not want the job as badly as his predecessor. Tom Richards  never talks about mayoral control unless prompted and doesn’t do so with any depth. While Richards has expressed support for mayoral control, I find it hard to believe Albany would hand over control of a $700-million-a-year, 32,000-student district to a man who lacks any outward passion for taking the reigns. There’s still time for Richards to show he wants control of the district. So far, he hasn’t laid out any vision.
  • Opposition to mayoral control has grown among area residents. The 2011 Voice of the Voter poll shows 50 percent of respondents oppose and 38 percent support mayoral control. In the 2010 poll, only 30 percent opposed mayoral control.
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s record on education has been knocked in polls and gains in test scores under his leadership were nearly wiped out.
  • The Rochester City School District is no longer run by mayoral-control-friendly Jean-Claude Brizard.  The district is in a state of relative calm compared to the turmoil of the last few years. Is it time to rock the apple cart as the school board searches for a new leader – one who may already be in the position? Maybe it’s the perfect time, if you want to install the mayor as chief.