Better World Club

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here We Go Again: Congrats to AAA South For Ending Discriminatory Practice Against Gay Couples...

Sort Of

In True Catch-22 Style, AAA South Now Allows Married Same-Sex Couples to Purchase Joint Memberships in an Area Where Same-Sex Marriage Isn't Legal


Better World Club congratulates AAA Club South for following our lead and ending its discrimination against same-sex couples.

Up to a point.


Until recently, AAA Club South had refused to recognize gay partnerships as eligible for less expensive associate memberships, forcing both partners to buy more expensive primary memberships. They now have agreed to provide the associate memberships to married couples.

AAA South covers Florida, Georgia, Middle and West Tennessee, and Puerto Rico. Not only is gay marriage not legal in those places, but civil unions and registered same-sex partnerships are also not recognized. Just how many couples can take advantage of this new policy? Or does AAA want them to lie about their status?

Still, at least it's a move in the right direction--and is being heralded as such by gay and lesbian groups. So here we are recognizing AAA in two straight editions of 'Kicking Asphalt' for taking a mini-step toward copying a standing BWC policy. Last time it was Oregon/Idaho AAA adding bicycle roadside assistance (but just covering those two states). And now AAA South takes a step toward BWC's policy of covering both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners in all 50 states.

But it's just a step.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

IS AAA THE HALLIBURTON OF MASSACHUSETTS?

Should AAA be Given Special Privileges to Offer License and Registration Renewal Services?

Let Us Know Your Opinion

Should the Commonwealth of Massachusetts grant AAA a Halliburton-style sweetheart deal to offer auto license and registration renewal services without any sort of competitive bidding process?

Gov. Deval Patrick says Yes: The Democratic governor has announced a state partnership with AAA to offer license and registration renewal services to AAA members. Currently the six month pilot plan is limited to 2 AAA locations in Newton and Worcester, but AAA is encouraging its 2.3 million Mass members to lobby their representatives to expand the program to its other 25 MA offices.

Labor says No: "We have two basic questions for the Inspector General that the RMV will not answer. First, where does the law allow a political appointee simply to hand public jobs to a private company? Second, show us the evidence that taxpayers benefit from this act," asked David Holway, president of the National Association of Government Employees.

Governor Patrick's fiscal 2010 budget includes language authorizing the Registrar to enter into such contracts "only with an existing entity that provides automobile-related services to the general public, or to its own members if an automobile-related association, and that maintains business offices that are open to the public during hours and at locations believed to be convenient for registry customers and in areas where a continuing need exists to provide registry services."

Citing this language, Holway cautioned against a "deal" intended to steer registry functions to AAA, noting that AAA's board includes a number of politically connected individuals.

Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents President Frank Mancini says No: "This activity is not something the state should be outsourcing to a third party." The concern is that the budget provision is worded in such a way that it could only apply to AAA, and thereby give it an unfair advantage over the roughly 1700 other Massachusetts insurance agents. Massagent.com, the website for the MAIA, offers a link to send emails to Beacon Hill leadership voicing opposition to the expansion of the plan. Dan Foley at massagent.com expects to know a bit more by July 1st when the new budget is due.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives says "No", striking the AAA/RMV provision from the 2010 budget.

However, the MA Senate left the provision in, so now its fate is to be decided in committee, where it could be kept as is, struck entirely, or rewritten as a compromise.

What do you think? Would removing AAA members from registry lines make it easier to register your vehicle?

Or, do you think it's unfair to single out one company to provide these services. No one asked Better World Club if we would like to register drivers. Does this give AAA an unfair advantage when it comes to auto club memberships? Auto insurance sales?

Email us to let us know. We'll report the results.

And Massachusetts readers should let their legislators know. It's easy. Senators Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) can be reached through www.mass.gov/legis/memmenus.htm. House members Charlie Murphy (D-Burlington), Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover) and Vincent Pedone (D-Watertown) can be reached through www.mass.gov/legis/memmenuh.htm.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Once Again, AAA Doesn't Get That More Cars = More Congestion

AAA Blasted Security Plans for Obama Inauguration

Last month, AAA roundly criticized plans for President Obama's inauguration ceremony, specifically the closing of several Potomac bridges to individual auto traffic (but keeping them open for mass transit and pedestrians). Predictably, an AAA spokesperson was trotted out to rail against "security impinging on mobility". Apparently, they think mobility would have been improved if millions of people were all allowed to drive their individual cars into the city on inauguration day.

Remember all the post-event news articles about how event planners dropped the ball, and how traffic procedures were horribly mishandled? No? That's because it all went relatively smoothly. Sure, there were traffic snafus, and getting to the event was a pain. How could it not be, with over two million people attending, plus all of DC's regular commuters coming into the city to work?

How much worse would this have been if all of these people had been allowed to drive into the city? This comment (which is posted on greatergreaterwashington.org) sums it up nicely:

"Think of it this way: 1.3 million people commute to Manhattan daily, and most of them don't drive because, if they did, the traffic and parking would be insane. Now imagine almost twice that many people cramming into a space the size of Central Park. Still, AAA thinks that everyone should be able to drive their own car to downtown DC, if they wanted to."

Automobiles are an important part of our nation's transportation system, but they're not the only part. Blindly "advocating on behalf of the motorist" as AAA continues to do is not helping anyone (except AAA, the highway lobby, and the automobile industry). Complex transportation problems need complex solutions, which include a combined use automobiles, mass transit, and (gasp!) cycling and walking.

Click here to read more.

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