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Unclassified Info: Improving traffic safety, Rose floats

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"It all points toward pedestrian safety," Chris Cochran, a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety, said in July as state officials awarded Glendale police $254,800 to boost pedestrian safety measures and reduce the number of distracted drivers.

Evidently, that investment has yet to pay any dividends as the recently released California Office of Traffic Safety figures suggest. They rank Glendale as having the third-worst overall record for pedestrian safety among cities with a population of 100,001 to 250,000.

I'm not exactly sure where that money went, but it doesn't look like it made much of an impact on the way we drive. From the statistics, we seem to be aiming at pedestrians rather than avoiding them.

The way I see it, we have two choices: We either start driving more consciously (which I know is asking a lot when you've got a cell phone in one hand and a low-fat vanilla latte in the other), or start procreating like bunnies to increase our population rate. If we can claim 250,001 people living in Glendale, we'd be ranked among larger cities, and our driving tendencies might not look so dismal. We might rank only fourth or fifth worst in the solar system. So let's get busy, people.

While I'm looking at things on the bright side, I've been asked by a few people on the street when I'm going to weigh in again on the scandal involving Advanced Development & Investment Inc. Evidently, my ability to vociferously rant and rave more than the average bear has drawn the attention of those outside my family. The answer is: I'm not going to say anything about ADI — at least not yet.

Yes, there are more than a handful of items that appear suspicious, what with subcontractor contributions and such. But I would like to remain hopeful that the majority of the wrongdoing was on the part of ADI and not with those working at City Hall.

I know what you're shouting: "Gary, you need to put down the martini shaker!"

Nevertheless, I'm going to believe, naive though it may be, that Glendale might walk away from all of this with our civic dignity intact. And if not, then I've got a few columns' worth of fodder in my future. But for now, I'm not going to start advancing any wild conspiracy theories — except when it comes to our Rose Parade float.

Who designed that thing? Who voted on that thing? Who built that thing? Courageous volunteer efforts aside, our float was by far the most lackluster entry in this year's parade. Sorry, but it's true.

It lacked conceptual thinking and was a horrification of epic proportions. Unfortunately, you can't hide a bad idea under 5,000 roses and a variety of seed pods, especially when it's lumbering down the street at 5 mph.

I know we don't have corporate sponsorship behind us, but do we have to put something out there that lacks inspiration? Think about it this way: Big-budget films give you lots of "eye candy," special effects and star power. That's what floats from Honda and China Airlines are like. On the flip side, independent films rely on story and higher concept to compete in movie houses. That's what cities like Glendale need to do.

Heck, the city of Sierra Madre won the Governor's Trophy for the best depiction of life in California. And they have a population of about 11,000! Yet they seem completely capable of conceptualizing and building a float that doesn't have them bringing up the rear of the parade.

I do believe it's time we step up our game. Maybe we can use the new brand image that company in Tennessee has been working on since 1932. You know, the one that, after much research, identified Glendale as being close to Burbank and Pasadena? Huzzah! That branding fiasco has got to get us something someday, so why not a more creative float and a trophy in the 2012 Rose Parade?

Maybe we could tie next year's float into our city's new-found love of the sun? I rather like the City Council's decision to invest in the ambitious La Paz Solar Tower Project. It would be the city's first use of utility-scale solar energy and appears to be a forward-thinking move on the part of the council to bring more clean, renewable sources of energy to our area, which is a positive.

While the cost is substantial, I do believe it's time to consider something other than the short-term price tag and see what we will pay in the long run by relying on energy sources that continue to pollute the environment.

And hopefully, before we write any checks and construction begins out in the Arizona desert, we will perform some due diligence and make sure ADI isn't the contractor on this baby.

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at gh@garyhuerta.com.

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