“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another Brainless Editorial

The Amarillo Globe-News will never buck the Amarillo City Commission or any city official.

This time it's an editorial backing the city's position on red light cameras and opposing Lubbock Republican Rep. Carl Isett’s bill to ban red light cameras in Texas.

Typical of the weak-minded editorializing by the AGN, its argument is loaded with flaws.

Let's deconstruct, shall we?

The first slippage of gears in what little brain the AGN has belittles the Legislature over its ability to use recording devices.

This is what the AGN writes, "This carjacking of cities by the Legislature would carry more weight if it had not taken years for lawmakers to recognize the necessity to record their votes. It seems lawmakers have a problem with recording technology, be it a picture of a traffic violation or their voting record."

Linking the issues of recorded votes to traffic cameras is just plain stupid. It's pretty clear legislators resisted recording votes because they wanted to duck accountability. Their bad, but it has nothing to do with the ability to record. The AGN throws this out, but it's nothing but a red herring.

The editorial then goes on to state, "The primary argument against red-light cameras is that cities are only using the devices to rake in money.

Even if this is accurate, how is this different than law enforcement staking out I-40 traffic for drug busts or a motorcycle cop perched on a median near I-40 and Western in Amarillo? These areas are patrolled because of the high probability of crime or traffic violations.”

How are red light cameras different? The U.S. Constitution gives us the right to confront our accusers and cross-examine them in court. Talk to the camera? Ain’t going to happen.

Of course, cities are using red light cameras and speed traps to make money. In that respect there is no difference, but note there is no safety issue raised. Where would the revenue come from were there not a high probability of violations? That’s why they put the speed traps there. Duh.

Then, “According to the city, Amarillo netted only $229,347 in red-light camera fines from June 12, 2007 to April 30. That's a lot of money to the average motorist, but hardly a financial windfall for city coffers.”

Right about that one. Almost a quarter million bucks won’t even pay City Manager Alan Taylor’s annual salary.

As for the city’s argument about increased safety and that it has evidence that accidents are down at intersections with red light cameras, the city really can't prove that properly. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a methodology that requires a control and an experimental intersection for evaluating whether red light cameras work at particular intersections. The city engineer has admitted he didn't know about the IIHS protocol.

So, what’s the bottom-line? There are two.

First, it’s about the money.

Second, it’s this.

City of Amarillo: “Hey, Les.”

Les: “Yes?”

City of Amarillo: “Jump.”

Les: “How high?”