Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Government cyclops (try to) rule

The Examiner
William Heuisler

Government cameras scan our streets. Meddlesome hooded cyclops spy, indict, summon and extort large amounts of our hard-earned cash with magisterial flashes of light.
But it’s all about our safety, not the cash…right?

Pima County says, “Speeding is a leading cause of urban crashes...” (Pima County, 2011) But the county ignores US Department of Transportation statistics showing “distraction” as a major cause of accidents. (Distraction.gov. 2011)      We have all seen how traffic cameras “distract” so many of our (startled, braking, swerving) fellow Pima County drivers.

Two weeks ago, Bear Canyon homeowners said they should have been advised of those speed camera cyclops newly installed on Tanque Verde between Houghton and Catalina Highway. But Pima County Administrator, L. Funk-houser, said County engineers and Sheriffs decided RTA-widened Tanque Verde would “increase speeders”. And residents weren't told of traffic cameras because, "Based on prior experience with driver behavior, it would be in the interest of public safety to place it (?) where it is". (Casey, 2011)

Bear Canyon neighborhood Association President, Lori Oien disagreed, “We do not have an excessive speeding problem,” and cited zero fatalities in 20 years she lived in the area.

Soon Ms. Orien became aware the government-hired camera company, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), really knows best. When residents complained about the camera flashes at night, ATS imperiously decreed, "We are certainly willing to work with (residents) to minimize the camera's impact…but if neighbors' assertions about the low number of speeders is true, then the number of flashes will be minimal." (Casey, 2011) Take that, taxpayers!

According to a recent Washington Times editorial, local governments around the US are giving law-enforcement responsibilities to companies that exploit “safety” for money. For example, Alexandria, Virginia “deputized” a company, Redflex Traffic Systems, to take pictures and collect big fines for everything, even right-turns on red, or missing a yellow light by a split second. But safety? Similar camera-laws in northern Virginia from 1997 to 2005, resulted in a 29 percent increase in traffic accidents, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). (Washington Times, 2011)
But nonpayment has become a problem for Governments and their camera companies.

Alexandria announces unpaid citations, “will be turned over to a collection agency”. Similar threats were made in LA, where citizens who ignored $500 red-light tickets got two collection letters…but no further action. VDOT finally admitted that, unless a jurisdiction devotes many court officers to hand-serving citations, those mailed summonses for camera violations are unenforceable. (Washington Times, 2011)

Perhaps a reckoning with Government cash-cameras is at hand. As more and more citizens become aware of the extralegal loophole in most mailed traffic-camera-tickets’ “service-of-process” they will trash the tickets and pull the cyclops’ teeth.

Casey, M. (2011). Arizona Daily Star. Pima County Speed cams anger Tanque Verde area.  http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_57e42e03-ea90-5333-99da-3d8bdbc60a7f.html
Distraction.gov. (2011). US Department of Transportation. Statistics and facts about distracted driving. http://www.distraction.gov/
Pima County (2011). Pima.gov. Pima County, Arizona enforcement program. Frequently asked questions automated speed camera. http://www.pima.gov/Administration/SpeedEnforcement/enforcement.html
Washington Times (2011). Editorial. Run a red light, win $1,000. Photo ticketing scam could end up costingVirginia localities big money. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/11/run-a-red-light-win-1000/

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