10 brightest ideas of the week: Sunday, June 6, 2010 

Feds push to punish airlines for bumping passengers, filmmaker offers expertise to Gulf oil spill crisis, AT&T Park named veggie-friendly, and Ken Griffey Jr. retires graciously.

1. Passenger rights

Airlines hit harder for bumping
The details: Federal officials plan to raise the maximum amount airlines must pay passengers who get bumped off an oversold flight, currently at $400 or $800 depending on how long a trip is delayed. Bumpings rose in three of the past four years and jumped 10 percent to 762,422 in 2009, the highest total since 2002. Passenger-rights advocates say bigger payments — raising the maximums to $800 and $1,200 — to people forced to give up their seats could in turn force airlines to give volunteers more generous offers.

2. Lead limit

Retailers cap amount of lead in handbags, accessories
The details:  Many of the world’s most well-known retailers and apparel-makers made major strides this week when they agreed to limit the amount of lead used in handbags and other accessories. Some of the retailers include Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Guess, Sears, Kmart, Saks and Victoria’s Secret. The move comes in reaction to a lawsuit filed by the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health that found high levels of lead in dozens of handbags and other accessories bought in the Bay Area.

3. Inclusionary transit

BART adopts new participation plan for minority communities
The details: Earlier this year, the U.S. denied BART a funding request for a connector to the Oakland Airport, stating that BART did not do enough to involve minority communities in the planning process. Now BART has set up meetings with minority residents and come up with a better plan to improve communication over the project. BART has submitted this new Public Participation Plan to the government and hopes that the feds will find improvement.

4. Fee shelved

SF taxis won’t charge extra for taking credit cards
The details: A proposal to charge credit and debit-paying cab riders an extra 75 cents per ride has been shelved temporarily for further review. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees taxi operations, proposed the 75-cent increase as a way to help cab companies pay for the increasingly high transaction fees for credit and debit cards. Taxi drivers and cab companies said the fee would take away from drivers’ tips, and the fee should be included in a more general increase to taxi rates. The SFMTA’s Taxi Advisory Council will address the fee proposal this summer.

5. Get a gift card

Shirtmaker’s promotion aids nonprofit organization
The details: Coinciding with the TV premiere of USA network’s “Royal Pains,” a physician comedy, shirtmaker Lacoste is offering New York customers a $50 gift card toward a new shirt when they trade in a gently worn (no holes or stains) shirt. For every shirt collected, no matter the manufacturer, USA will donate $10 to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the international medical humanitarian organization.

6. Clean up

Pulling out all the stops to help with oil spill catastrophe
The details: As attempts to clean up the Gulf oil spill continue, federal officials are looking for creative solutions to the catastrophic damage. That’s why they called in someone known for thinking outside the box, film director James Cameron. The “Avatar” and “Titanic” director met with scientists and other experts this week to brainstorm how to stop the disastrous leak. Cameron is considered an expert in underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies, a possible solution considered by engineers and technical experts.

7. Teaching benchmarks

States to establish uniform standards
The details: Sweeping new education benchmarks announced Wednesday called the Common Core State Standards will help replace a hodgepodge of educational goals varying wildly from state to state with a uniform set of expectations for students. It’s the first time states have joined together to establish what students should know by the time they graduate from high school. States are expected to use the standards to revise their curriculum and tests to make learning more uniform across the country, eliminating inequities in education not only between states but also among districts.

8. Time is money

‘Time banks’ give members credit for services, not funds
The details: Time banks are springing up all over the country in areas that have been hard hit by the recession. It’s a modern twist on bartering — members get credit for services they provide to other members. For one hour of work, one “time dollar” goes into an account, good for services offered from other members. Services are helpful in nature, such as repair, cooking or car rides.

9. Vegging out at ballpark

AT&T Park named one of the most veg-friendly parks
The details: This is no surprise to locals, but the home of the Giants has been nationally ranked by PETA as a home of giant vegetarian flavor — one of the best in the country. PETA put AT&T Park in second place in the standings for vegetarian-friendly concessions. First place went to the reigning champions, the Philadelphia
Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park.

10. Street music

Program will bring lunchtime entertainment to downtown SF
The details: Swing, jazz and Caribbean musicians will take to the streets downtown July 1 to kick off more than 100 lunchtime performances planned along Market Street this summer. It’s the fourth year of the People in Plazas project, and the free concerts have grown to about 150 gigs along Market Street’s open spaces, stretching from The Embarcadero to the Castro. This year’s organizers are focusing on the mid-Market Street area, specifically near Sixth and Seventh streets, to draw more attention to an area people don’t typically think of using for their lunch breaks.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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