Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Marshalltown, meet Big Brother

  Today's newspaper had a disturbing article. The Marshalltown City Council is thinking about installing automated traffic enforcement systems in town. You can read the article here. Reflex Traffic Systems will install the systems at 3 or 4 places around town and also possibly have a movable system to be placed anywhere in town.

  I'm not pro-speeding, but there were a couple of disturbing points in the article. A traffic ticket 12 mph over the speed limit costs $65 dollars. Reflex will take $48 of that. Don Nelson of Reflex said, "The less fines there are, the more we take, and I believe it's a $48 dollar fee structure. It goes down as the number of citations go up, so we'd be on the sliding scale of 48, 38, 28 as the number of citations increase." The town will have to write 4 times as many tickets as before just to make the same money. This money will be coming out of the townspeople pockets, and will be spent in some town in Arizona instead of here. I can see somebody thinking about moving their business to Marshalltown, touring the town, and getting a ticket in the mail days before the final decision.

  The other disturbing quote is "Upon law enforcement's discretion, a citation would then be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle." Why won't all the law breakers get a ticket? Law enforcement is a hard job, but these are the people who got a reduction in the crime rate by raising the amount of property damage needed to file a police report from $500 to $1000. And whenever I call the cops about a loose dog in the neighborhood threatening little kids, they try to connect me to the Animal Rescue League.

  I'd be in favor of this if a) Locations of the speed traps were posted in advance, b) Names , statistics, and videos are posted online so the public can see who gets a ticket and who doesn't, and c) One of the speed traps gets put on my block and I get a cut of the ticket profits.