Thursday, February 21, 2008

Red Lights, Wayfaring Votes, Air Hockey and Debt

Red Light Rewind

Almost keeping pace with the frequency of the light cycles, Mayor Marty has reneged his defiant statement and decided that, ‘in the interest of public safety’ he will continue to over-charge Red Light Runners and speeders who are apprehended by a snapshot rather than the traditional human law enforcers. Let us examine how our Mayor reached this conclusion beginning with the first camera at San Mateo and Montgomery.

Taxation Without Legislation

In 2004, Mayor Marty initiated the program to supply the city with funds without imposing a new tax. To propose and pass a new tax would have been politically devastating to his future aspirations. As we all saw, his aspirations of being our next Governor were scrapped in exchange for becoming our next Senator. For either campaign, he needed to be able to spend more money on improving the city without increasing taxes or putting the city into debt. Solution: fines in the name of improving public safety. His political team told him that the Red Light Cameras could be spun as beneficial to public safety and that the city needed to charge an additional $31 per citation in order to install and maintain this new program.

New Mexico also knew the significance of the money involved. The state shares the revenues generated by traffic citations in all communities to fund road maintenance. The Red Light Cameras’ citations were exempt from this clause, thus leaving the state wanting. Facing a shortfall in funding, a legislature and governor cooperated like never before to re-claim the lost moneys.

Do You Feel Safer?

Boy, weren’t Marty’s advisors right? Who didn’t buy every last line out of their mouths? Researchers, for one. As soon as the cameras went up, studies came out questioning whether the decrease in red-light-runners was in balance against the increase in rear-end collisions. The Mayor’s internal research came back and wasn’t fit for the public eye. Translation: it couldn’t have shown a significant, if any, increase in safety. Thus sharing it with the public would only hurt the mayor’s program and hurt his standing.

But this was never about safety; this was about money. The first four years of the program magically produced a surplus of millions of dollars. Come 2007, it was time to begin hiking the trail to the fourth floor of the roundhouse and there was no need to carry along the political baggage of a unpopular, big-brother law enforcement program so the Mayor’s office decided to end the program. He had the extra money to fund the politically expedient projects that would engender him to the Democratic primary voters and he was on his way.

And then he cashed in his Gubernatorial Campaign when Sen. Domenici announced that he would vacate his seat. And then every living Democratic Senator called him up and told him that seat was for Udall, not him. After throwing around the constitutionally forbidden idea of seeking a third term as Mayor he put them back up and start collecting the fines again.
But the legislature convened and the 2008 session has ended with a bill on the Governor’s desk ready to re-claim their money. Share? This is politics, not elementary school lunch. With a $7 million surplus and both campaigns already in the history books the Mayor did what any public safety advocate would do: he pulled the plug on it like he was starting an old lawn mower. This wasn’t Bill Richardson’s brainchild. This wasn’t the legislature’s promise to their community. He brought the cameras into this town and he would be the one to take them out. Because Mayor Marty had no political reason to continue the program, he dumped it.

The Absolute Final Irrevocable Solution

. . . until Marty launches another campaign. Not for the money, but in the name of “public safety,” the cameras are back up and snapping. To hell with all of you driving voters!, he says. In the announcement of the resumption, he stated the surplus that magically accrued over the first four years will be used to fund the program for as long as possible. By my calculations, I would expect that fund to run dry and the cameras to make one final descent right around the time our next Mayor takes the reins. Any nominations for who gets to wield that axe next December?

Air Hockey Solves Everything

The candidate he made was the first to break Stephen Colbert’s presidential cherry and appear on the Colbert Report. How this slipped under the radar until the re-run is impossible to comprehend. This old clip's significance should be revealed in the next month. Will the other candidates follow suit? Can the next guest play along with getting burned?

Over a friendly game of air hockey Colbert and former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) discussed the odds of rejuvenating his campaign and capturing the nomination. Most of the candidates have enjoyed exposure on the father program The Daily Show, but have shied away from Colbert and his witty incisive questions with no decent answer. Why worry? Everyone knows doing coke with prostitutes is a great time.

Richardson’s Campaign Debt

For those politically-minded millionaires with a sympathetic heart, our Governor would like to speak with you. Despite his record-setting take in his 2006 re-election, his Presidential campaign needs to retire the debt incurred on the way to Iowa and New Hampshire. What do you get in exchange? Umm, you probably should have been there today to ask him in person. He held five-minute sparring sessions with the public hearing ideas and solving problems.

Dems Abroad Results

No, you don’t have to wait a full two weeks for more primary results. It would be asinine to expect the public to sit idly for 14 straight days without numbers to suggest who may be our next President. From every corner of the globe -- except the ones that are actually possessed by the United States -- results have finally been compiled from 164 countries. Why there was no outrage for the week it took to tabulate these ballots is appauling. I guess only New Mexico has to hurry it along. With 65% of the vote, Obama is able to tout his 11th consecutive primary victory and remind the nation that Hillary has not won a contest since February 5th.

Marty apologists, please rebut.

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