Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bill to Ban Photo Enforcement Extortion Cameras Dies in Committee

In case you were wondering whether Olympia actually gives a rip about what the people of this state want, the answer would appear to be "no," at least when it interferes with the government's ability to shake the citizenry down for cash.

You may thank Rep. Judy Clibborn, Chair of the Washington House Transportation Committee, for single-handedly killing a bill that would have made photo-enforcement extortion cameras illegal.

This should give every citizen of this state pause, and here's why:

1: Photo enforcement cameras make the roads more dangerous.

I know, I know... there was a recent huge "study" that "proved" they actually make the roads safer, right? Yes, well... you need to consider the source. That document was written not by a traffic engineer, indeed not by any kind of engineer, but by a government-employed "public policy" person (i.e., a spin doctor). Whose bridge would you drive your car across? One designed and built by an engineer employing the scientific method and valid statistics? Or one designed and built by some "public policy" bureaucrat employed by strapped-for-cash government which has grown dependent on camera revenue? I rest my case.

Besides, just use your common sense, for the love of God. I ask you, what do you think is more dangerous: a three-second-long yellow caution light? Or a four- or five-second-long yellow caution light? Obviously, a short caution light is way more dangerous. So if safety is really the driving force behind these cameras, then why do camera corporations insist on shorter yellow caution cycles of less than four seconds on intersections with cameras? And more pointedly, why does government put the public in danger by accommodating that demand? Clearly, they are out to maximize the chances of somebody running a red light so they can snap a little piccie and generate revenue. And if, in so doing, they're also making it more likely that there will be accidents, perhaps with death, dismemberment, and so forth? Well, I guess that's considered to be an acceptable trade-off.

Finally, in promoting an atmosphere of driver paranoia, the danger is elevated all the more. Drivers approaching red-light camera intersections are more apt to brake hard (hello rear-end collision) or gun it in an effort to avoid being in the intersection at all costs. Doesn't seem too safe, does it? And further, they are obsessed with watching the traffic signal, which means they're paying less attention to things like other cars, kids riding bikes, pedestrians, etc.

2: Photo enforcement cameras promote an atmosphere of presumption of guilt rather than innocence.

On its face, this used to be about as un-American as it could get. But not nowadays, apparently.

Contrary to the relentless, facile and utterly disingenuous propaganda put forth by camera corporations, it is not only law-breakers who get ticketed. On the contrary, right here in Lynnwood there was a driver who was objectively not breaking the law but received a camera ticket anyway, and even though the photo evidence proved that no infraction occurred, a ticket was issued anyway, and the city told him the evidence was against him and was reviewed by three employees including an officer under oath!

He took a day off of work to contest it in court, whereupon the prosecutor reviewed the footage and dropped the charges on the spot. KING-5 News in Seattle did some first-rate reporting on this and you can see it all for yourself right here.

I don't know about you, but if this happened to one citizen, that's one citizen too many, and I have a bit of a hard time believing that it's an isolated occurrence.

Can you afford to take a day off of work to contest a patently bogus ticket? More importantly, should you have to? Is this the United States or the Soviet Union? What's to prevent some camera revenue-addicted city like the People's Republic of Lynnwood from just setting those cameras to take random pictures at all hours of the day and night and issue tickets just in the hopes that the recipients will find it more cost-effective to fork over the dough than lose even more in the lost day's wages that it would take to contest it?

Don't tell me this isn't a bald-faced shake-down racket. I wasn't born yesterday. And neither were the citizens in the legislative districts whose representatives co-sponsored this bill, which was allowed to die in committee thanks to Rep. Judy Clibborn.


So, folks... if your kid is out riding his bike or crossing the street some day and gets mowed down and turned into hamburger in a traffic accident caused by a too-short caution light, or by a driver preoccupied with staring at the traffic signal because he can't afford an extortion ticket... just remember that that's apparently A-OK with our government. You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, after all.
Rear-end Collision
Politicians Laughing All the Way to the Next Biennial Spendathon
Soufflé omelet as served in Olympia

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bill to Ban Red-Light Extortion Cameras May Die in Committee

Our friends over at Bancams report that Rep. Judy Clibborn, Chair of the Washington State House Transportation Committee, may allow HB1823 to die in committee today. (Today by close of business is the deadline for scheduling a hearing for the bill.)

Bear in mind that this bill is supported by 31 state representatives, almost one third of the House. If it's allowed to die despite that kind of backing then I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself whether Clibborn respects the will of the people or has only contempt for it.

You can contact her office as follows:

Rep. Judy Clibborn
(360) 786-7926

Caron Benedetti, Legislative Aide

The deadline for scheduling a hearing for this bill is end of day today. Contact her and your own state representatives and demand that the hearing be scheduled.