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Marin Independent Journal                                                                                              Wednesday, April 17, 1996

Bridge barrier pitched on the Web
Advocate hopes online Voters will join his campaign

By Janet Korublum

     Five days a week, eight hours a day, Robert Guernsey is out there pounding the pavement, walking the malls, trying to sell people on his idea: a Retractable Barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, or just a traffic barrier of other designs to the bridge.  Guernsey, a San Anselmo resident and inventor, basically will go anywhere he can to get people to listen to him. 

So it was only natural that Guernsey, with the help of a local businessman, took his idea to the potentially biggest soapbox on the planet; the World Wide Web.  The Web site allows users to download a one-page petition, which calls for the Board of Supervisors to conduct a feasibility study on the barrier system that Guernsey invented.   Guernsey is convinced that his retractable barrier will stop all head-on collisions. The general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge District Carney Campion has a different idea, how about no barrier at all.

     Carney Campion says the idea of a barrier is great, but the one Guernsey’s proposing simply won’t work and “the public is being duped” by Guernsey’s “hype.” No matter, Guernsey is determined. In fact, he’s downright passionate. That’s what prompted George Rothbart, CEO of Software Science Inc., to build a Web page promoting Guernsey’s idea. (Guernsey was hoping to find someone to help on the web idea for his petition drive).

     “He’s got a wild gleam in his eye,” said Rothbart, a San Rafael resident who met Guernsey while he was shopping at The Mall at Northgate. “He has a tremendous issue in making the bridge safe.”  Rothbart said he was impressed by Guernsey’s determination and stopped to look at the model Guernsey has built and to talk to him about his ideas.  “I looked at the model,” Rothbart said. “I looked at the man. I looked at the petition. I said, you know, this is a perfect application for a Web site where we’re trying to make large documents available. It will be the first time it has been done

 

 “I know it’s lofty to say we’re bringing democracy
right to your desktop, but that’s just about it”

George Rothbart, CEO of Software Science Inc.

If enough people actually download the initiative, sign it and send it into the given address, Rothbart and Guernsey are determined to expand their idea. They want to create a Web site to list all voter initiatives.  I realized people shouldn’t have to go to shopping malls to do this,” Rothbart said. “If they’re interested in participating, they should be able to download petitions and sign them from their homes or offices.”

 “This is a very busy world,” Guernsey added. "People haven’t got time to do a lot of research.”  The Web allows people to access information in a hurry.  “To me, it’s a good media. It’s a working tool,” Guernsey said.  Unfortunately, technology can only go so far. 

    The Registrar of Voters only accepts original signatures so voters must print out the petition, sign it and send it to an address provided. And despite the fact that the medium is the World Wide Web, signatories must live in Main. So far, Guernsey and others have collected more than 5,500 signatures, he said. They need 10,824 by May 28, 1996.  Rothbart says he doesn’t know if it will work, but it never hurts to try.  ‘Personally, I think we’re over­looking one of the benefits of the Web if we don’t try this experiment,” he said. To access the page, go to http:// www.Well.com/user/ssi/ggb/ (This address is a old one, don't use it.)

 

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