Well, it’s official. The city of Boulder is getting rid of the last few pay phones that still dot the Pearl Street Mall. Most of the city’s motive is pretty simple: The phones just aren’t used that much anymore because “everyone” has a cell phone. And then, of course, there is the city’s never-ending quest for cosmetic perfection, as highlighted by Director of Downtown and University Hill Management Molly Winter’s recent quote concerning the phones in the Daily Camera, “They’re not necessarily attractive in their current form. They don’t add to the mall’s ambiance.”
We admit it, pay phones are rarely used, they are germ factories and they are not particularly attractive. But…
Once again, Boulder’s administrators have been blinded by long-term exposure to life within the open-space moat. This just in: Not everyone can afford a cell phone with its monthly payments, and some people just hate the damn things too much to own one.
Anyone who has paid attention to the mall’s pay phones in recent years knows exactly who is dependent on them. It is primarily the homeless and transient populations.
Considering other recent actions taken by the city — actions designed to get rid of our homeless population by making it more difficult for them to get by around here — perhaps those who still use the pay phones are considered to be just as out of step with the mall’s ambiance as the pay phones themselves.
Here’s a solution for city leaders that would put poor humans and those addicted to cosmetic beauty on equal footing: Leave just one measly, unattractive pay phone on the mall for those who actually need it, namely, people too poor or too wise to own cell phones. Just one. Is that really too much to ask? We’ll see.
A FRACADEMIC EVENT
We were happy to see that a couple of researchers featured in Boulder Weekly’s “fracademic freedom” series last year will be the guest speakers at a local event about hydraulic fracturing this month.
Geoffrey Thyne, who was profiled by BW on Aug. 16, claims that after he left the Colorado School of Mines due to pressure from the oil and gas industry, he lost his university job in Wyoming after an industry association complained to his superiors about comments he made about fracking.
Thyne will be one of the headliners at “Be Frack Sure” on April 27, a day-long event featuring speeches, panel discussions and music by the Hazel Miller Band.
Joining Thyne as the other featured guest speaker will be Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor at Cornell University whose work was discussed in an Aug. 30 BW article. Ingraffea and Cornell colleagues Robert Howarth and Renee Santoro published a paper in 2011 showing that methane emissions from the extraction of shale gas were higher than they were from coal, and the findings were attacked by the gas industry.
Other panelists include some of the state’s foremost experts on fracking and its impacts, including Sam Schabacker of Food and Water Watch, Phil Doe of Be the Change, retired EPA staffer Wes Wilson, Shane Davis of the Poudre Canyon Group of the Sierra Club, Jeanne Basset of Environment Colorado and Pete Morton of The Wilderness Society. They will discuss community organizing as well as the health and economic ramifications of the fracking boom.
The event, sponsored by Patagonia and organized by Our Longmont, is being held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Longmont. Tickets cost $38, and the price includes lunch as well as snacks. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, see www.fracksure.org.
Sounds like a frackin’ good time. Maybe somebody should invite Hick. Respond: firstname.lastname@example.org