Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Trash Math

In addition to trying to keep the many newspapers that cover Los Angeles in English and in Spanish, I like to see how the blogosphere reacts to each week's hot stories, or, as often, generates its own stories. This month, City Hall made critical decisions about how we will deal with the 3,600 tons of waste that we currently send to Sunshine Canyon every day. The story was widely covered in the news, but of all the blogosphere, I would have to say that "Ms. Burnham's Weblog" addresses the issue from the most unique perspective:


As a math problem.

1. To help you make your near-term decision on how to cast your vote, you will first analyze the two articles from the LA Times. The following questions will help you understand the article and make a choice as to which option to vote for. (You may want to refer to the glossary of terms I have provided to you. A more complete and technical list is available at:

• In the first article, 3 options for LA’s waste disposal. What are they?
• What is the estimated dollar cost of each option?
• Are there other costs that should be considered?
• What is the 4th option proposed by Councilman Greig Smith?
• Is this an immediate option or a long-term solution?
• Why does Councilman Smith want to pursue other waste options?
• What option does Councilman Ed Reyes prefer?
• Why do you think Reyes holds this view?
• Why is the city budget woes discussed in this article, in particular the interruption by the Engineers and Architects Association?
• In the second article, what plan did the Council vote for?
• How much will the choice cost the city?
• Is the contract cost the same as noted in the first article? Why the difference?
• Which option did Councilman Eric Garcetti support?
• Why do you think Garcetti holds this view?
• Why did Mayor Villaraigosa support the Council’s decision?
• What long-term options is the City Council pursuing?

2. Now that you have the back ground, what would you have voted for if you were a City Council member? In a paragraph (or two) state your position, and why you have chose it. Include mention of dollar, economic, political, and environmental costs.
3. With your last decision, you have taken care of the trash problem for the next 5 years. What solutions do you recommend for the future. Be creative, but keep it real. You must consider to dollar, economic, political, and environmental costs. Again, in a few paragraphs outline your proposal for the future of LA’s waste disposal.
4. You may need to do a little more research into the topic. I have provided some resources to get you started. Some of the material is very technical, and not always relevant. Don’t get too bogged down. This is supposed to be fun. Keep it simple.

Ms. Burnham teaches Algebra 2 at the New Media Academy within Hollywood High School. Students, in case you need some extra background material in addition to what's on Ms. Burnham's blog, there's a lot here.