Anyone who has ever worked around attorneys or architects has heard about "billing hours." Each attorney or architect keeps meticulous records of the hours worked for a particular client. Attorneys routinely charge for phone calls and even lunch. There's pressure in each of the firms to rack up those billing hours. After all, that's how they stay alive. No billed hours, no paycheck.
Apparently, the same type of pressure is building down in the bowels of City Hall. You see, they've got a license to print money... or at least siphon it out of the pockets of drivers, at an astonishing rate. Photos are snapped, bills are sent, and $5 million is dumped into the general fund. There's only one problem, the system isn't quite as automatic as Mayor Marty would like it to be.
You see anyone snapped in one of these Red Light Districts has a right to an administrative hearing. Our Eyes tell us that over 1,000 Red Light Camera "citations" have been dismissed by the city's hearing officers. That's over $100,000 that didn't make it into the city coffers. Sure, that's only 2% of the total take but when you're projecting a $22 million shortfall (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required), every penny counts.
You can almost see the pressure building in every department. One of the easiest ways to get "free" revenue is to make sure that as many traffic camera "citations" as possible are upheld by the city's hearing officers.
Our Eyes on the Inside tell us that the administration is putting pressure on the hearing officers in the City Attorney's Office to deny as many Red Light Camera appeals as possible and that the pressure to wrongly deny dismissals led directly to the resignation of Hearing Officer Albert Chavez. Our Eyes tell us that Mr. Chavez (the Hearing Officer, not the Mayor) has a reputation for fairness and is known for being compassionate and firm. According to our Eyes, he resigned after being threatened with termination if he didn't stop dismissing so many "citations."
This episode illustrates one of the biggest problems with traffic camera systems. Your hearing officer works for the complainant, in this case The City of Albuquerque and more specifically the Mayor. The interests of the Mayor can easily compromise the fairness of your hearing. It's an awful lot like going through a divorce and having your spouse act as the presiding judge... Kiss the house, the kids, your car, your paycheck, and your @#$ goodbye! At the very least this is a conflict of interest; at most it could be a violation of your Constitutional rights.
The Piercing Truth
This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes