March 5th, 2012

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AAA Watch
No. California AAA Restructures Towing Contracts

Will Response Time Be Restructured As Well?

The news has been full of stories about the impact of NoCal AAA moving its contracts to larger towers to save money.  This could be a wise business choice for the company. However, it leaves many towers wondering what impact this will have on AAA's service.

From the Lamorinda Patch:

"Although this may save AAA some money in the near term, [Orinda Towing owner Larry Lindsey] believes that the effect on AAA members will be drastic. With fewer towing companies available for service calls, motorists with flat tires, dead batteries, or dead engines will have to wait longer for AAA service."

From the Press Democrat:

"...the auto club consolidation already has hurt roadside service in the East Bay, said Walter Kohler, owner of Ron's Tow Service in Martinez, who lost his AAA contract in September. "They're covering a larger territory with less equipment," he said. "There are going to be service delays."

He's already getting calls from stranded motorists reporting long waits for AAA tow trucks, Kohler said."

From SF Gate:

"I walked away when I knew I wasn't going to get the rate to cover the costs," said Jeff Lance, owner of R. Lance & Sons, who had a 31-year contract with AAA to cover the Livermore Valley. "It's going to be a trying time for us," said Lance.

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In The News
BWC Prexy Wants to Pay More Taxes

Well...As Long As BWC Has More Income

Rofsky's Reaction Sought to Obama's Tax Proposals

As reported by CSR Wire, BWC President Mitch Rofsky was quoted on President Obama's recent corporate tax proposal:

"Corporate tax loopholes need to be closed, but this alone will not assure that large profitable corporations are paying their share. We need a strong Buffett rule for corporations. Then, no longer would the GEs and the Exxons be able to escape paying corporate taxes entirely."

The Buffet Rule is the popular way of describing President Obama's proposal that a new 30% minimum tax be applied on all indivdiuals earning $1 million or more. Rofsky is saying that a similar minimum should be applied to corporate taxes. (Let's hope that none of BWC's shareholders read Kicking Asphalt.)

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Member Alert
Redeem Your Good Car-ma Points!

Your accounts are filling up with points - which means you're doing a great job of saving up for rewards like free associate memberships, park passes, movie tickets, carbon offsets and more! Just remember to log on and redeem them, or we'll be tempted to invest them in Ponzi schemes and blow-out office doughnut parties. Just saying.
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Better World Club Donates to Business for Democracy

"Limit Corporate Spending in Public Elections!" Cries President Mitch Rofsky as Adoring Crowds Hoist Him into the Air

(At Least, That's the Video Our Well-Paid Media Team is Going to Publish)

January 21st marked the one-year anniversary of a ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. The decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited money to advocate or detract from political candidates. Opponents fear that, in combination with lobbying efforts, the Citizens United decision has given profit-driven entities unfair influence over the democratic electoral process.

As reported by the Gothamist, In 2010 "30 corporations spent a combined $476 million, or $400,000 a day every single day of the year, to ensure their interests were represented in Congress." The incredible power of political lobbying has historically been balanced against a ban on corporate campaign contributions and on corporate involvement in PACs. Now, however, because of growing rights associated with "corporate personhood," the First Amendment is being re-interpreted. As stated in Tom Goldstein's Supreme Court blog,

"Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads"

The American Sustainable Business Council is asking for-profit companies to take the lead in a protest against the Citizens United ruling. The Better World Club has donated $3,000 to help fund the protest, and President Mitch Rofsky has shown his support by signing a "Business Statement in Support of Government by the People," as have business leaders from Seventh Generation, Patagonia, Ben and Jerry's, Utne Reader, and Green America.

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Read More About Our Activism:

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We provide hundreds of discounts for products, services, hotels and car rentals - many of which are green! Click here to log on and take a look.


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ExtremeWrench has cataloged over 150,000 independent auto repair shops from coast to coast. Their mission is to match consumers with highly-rated local repair facilities. The site is free for both shops and consumers, and ExtremeWrench uses customer reviews and ratings to keep their information up to date. The easy-to-follow search results include technical details (such as whether shops have OEM parts and factory-trained technicians) as well as info on family-friendliness, waiting room facilities, and towing.

Look for the Better World Club logo: it indicates shops that have made a commitment to reduce and control toxic substances by safely recycling oil, transmission fluid, batteries, anti-freeze, tires, and other waste products. In the future, we will also be partnering with eco-friendly shops to offer discounts to Better World Club members. Stay tuned!

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Life Without Plastic

Life Without Plastic connects consumers with non-plastic alternatives to common household goods (as well as suggesting some replacements you may never have considered). Chantal and Jay were inspired to found the company by the birth of their son - and by their backgrounds in business ethics, biochemistry, and ecotoxicology. Their mission includes "raising awareness about plastics issues by providing solid science- and experience-based information and showing people, one person at a time, the beauty and simplicity of a life without plastic."

Better World Club members receive 10% off products on the Life Without Plastic web page. Log in to the member section of our website to take advantage of the discount.

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Washington Watch
The New Transportation Funding Bill

Now With 100% Less Funding for Bikes, Transit, and Pedestrians. Oh, and an Unhealthy Obsession with Fossil Fuels. What's Not to Loathe?

House Republicans recently introduced the new Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a bill that will shape federal transportation funding for the next five years. The bill includes acts which would lift President Obama's drilling ban on new offshore areas; promote development of U.S. oil shale resources; and open ANWR for oil and natural gas development. Needless to say, these acts are of great concern to those of us who believe in the importance of decreasing U.S. dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

H.R. 7 does not include any earmarks for the distribution and use of federal funds, which House Republicans say will increase states' ability to eliminate redundancy and unnecessary spending. House Speaker John Boehner explains in his blog that, "The bill eliminates federal mandates that currently force states to spend highway money on non-highway activities, helping to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on our most critical infrastructure needs, not wasted on non-highway projects."

To put it another way, H.R. 7 eliminates all dedicated funding for mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian programs.

H.R. 7 is currently scheduled for debate on the House floor. To read the bill itself, go here. To track the progress of this bill, or to send your representative an email voicing your concerns, visit OpenCongress.

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TravelCool Website of the Month
"A catalogue of the singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks."

Atlas Obscura is your one-stop guide to the world's (and your neighborhood's) most delightfully weird sights. From the Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn to the largest known meteorite (located in Namibia), this site takes you on a tour that eschews over-worn tourist destinations. Be the envy of your friends by witnessing the annual "Rain of Fish" in Honduras, or traipsing through Alabama's Unclaimed Baggage Center. And don't forget Obscura Day on April 28th, when Atlas Obscura hosts tours of places not usually open to the public.

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Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
Electric Car Battery Prices on Track to Drop 70% by 2015, Says Energy Secretary

by Michael Graham Richard

There is a common thread to how new technologies are developed and then commercialized. They don't just emerge low-priced and 100% finished. They typically begin at low volumes and high prices, with many technical kinks left to be worked out. Incremental improvements then take place until a certain tipping point is reached where the price/performance ratio is close enough to the competition that a large number of people will choose the new tech over the old one. This leads to the final phase, where economies of scale provide significant benefits and further refinements put the last nail in the coffin of the old tech. It's the same whether you look at the past 100 years for automobiles or the past 10 for cellphones. A similar thing is happening with electric car batteries - which are the bottleneck for EV adoption - and the main question is: How fast can we make progress and reach the tipping point?

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Toyota gets slammed in Japan with Aqua/Prius C pre-orders

by Danny King

Perhaps the the "c" in the Prius C stands for ka-ching. According to reports, Toyota in Japan received 10 times its monthly sales target in pre-orders for the compact version of its Prius hybrid within the first five days of the model's debut, leading to what's likely to be a shortage and long wait times for the car., citing the Japanese publication Nikkei, says the Japanese automaker received about 120,000 orders for the Aqua between December 26 and 31, adding that Toyota had targeted sales of about 12,000 units a month. Toyota had already received about 60,000 orders prior to the launch of the model, which will be called the Prius C when it debuts in the U.S. later this year, and had estimated a four-month wait time between order and delivery. Toyota's current production capacity is limited to 30,000 Prius C units a month.

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