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

Mar 14, 2007

Carrying the Almighty's Water

Have you ever noticed that right when Mayor Marty starts to feel the heat about something, the folks over at the Yellow Pages (Albuquerque Journal) come riding to his rescue? For instance, when Councilor O'Malley publicly criticizes the Almighty Mayor for soliciting $80,000 for his MyCentennial Towers (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) February 19th; by February 22nd The Yellow Pages reports that "Council President Takes Developers Cash." (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required) Three days later the Journal comes to the rescue. Read our take on it here.

They're at it again today... Just over a week after Councilor Winter's Red Light Camera Town Hall, D'Val Westphal of the Journal comes out with an Op/Ed that purports to debunk the "Myths" of the Red Light Camera Program (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). Her "opinion" piece could have been written by someone in the Chavez administration. (We don't know... Maybe it was.)

In a vain attempt to explain reality to someone who chooses to believe otherwise, we'll take a shot at debunking the debunker.

"Myth" no. 1 - Big Brother is watching you.

Big Brother is watching you! Just who the heck does she think is watching these intersections? Whether or not you believe that public places should be monitored, and whether or not it will lead to bathroom cameras, the people watching you are from the government (and Red Flex). Specifically, from the executive branch here in Albuquerque.

"Myth" no. 2 - There's no due process.
Ms. Westphal points to every part of the process from receiving a citation to your administrative hearing. She makes the argument that the citation is reviewed twice, once by APD, once by Red-Flex before the citation is even sent. Then if a hearing is requested, the citation is reviewed again by APD and then heard by (and this is the tricky part) an "officer of the court." Technically she's correct. The Hearing Officer is an officer of the court. In fact, every attorney is an officer of the court. The difference here is the "Officer of the Court" is an attorney that works for the prosecution! There's a reason that our judicial system includes an independent judiciary and while there's a lot of process involved here it's not due process by any stretch of the imagination.

"Myth" No. 3 - The city's rolling in camera dough.
True... not a "myth" at all. Except for $32 that goes to Red Flex and a "processor" the balance of the citation goes to the city. Many of the "costs" associated with the program simply go to the city itself. Now they are currently using profits to drive expansion, but eventually those capital costs will go away making this a great business deal for the city and for Red Flex.

"Myth" No. 4 - Camera-wary drivers are slamming on their brakes and causing more rear-end accidents.
The jury's not in on this one (especially if you are relying on the "due process" provided by the Red Light Camera program). However it's very easy to find studies that show that rear-end accidents do increase at intersections with photo enforcement. The city's data itself is less than complete and shouldn't be used to definitively assess the program.

"Myth" No. 5 - The cameras target the rich parts of town.
True... We told you about it here. It's called Economic Profiling. The city did not install these cameras in order of the most crashes to the least crashes. They installed them in the areas that have high traffic and are most likely to have the offenders pay the fine.

"Myth" No. 6 - The state doesn't get its fair share of fines because cops aren't writing as many criminal citations.
Another one where the jury is not in yet and 1 year of data isn't nearly enough to determine levels of enforcement. Government usually works with restricted resources. If APD no longer needs to police these intersections, then you can bet the first time money gets tight in the department or staffing gets too low (a real and dangerous problem for APD), the first thing to go will be criminal enforcement of red light violations at intersections where there are cameras. The former costs money the latter makes money.

"Myth" No. 7 - The fines are too high.

It's simple... They are too high! Running a red light is a petty misdemeanor. This civil nuisance system is designed to empty pockets as punishment and fill the coffers down at City Hall. The two year fine period proves that it's all about the money. How many of the 1st time offenders will end up with a second offense within that time frame? How many even a 3rd? The system is designed to keep you buying at the company store by keeping you in debt with at least one violation.

"Myth" No. 8 - The radar isn't calibrated/checked.
The reason that traffic cops have to calibrate their radars before and after each shift is to ensure that the evidence that they obtain will stand up in court. (Here calibration doesn't matter because guilt is assumed... but I digress.) These systems are self-calibrated. How often are they independently verified? The answer we hear is never.

Ms. Westphal... whether it's radar or a set of magnetic loops, both systems are doing a time and distance calculation based on movement. Both systems are computer driven and subject to changes in accuracy over time.
(End Sidebar)

"Myth" No. 9 - Yellow signals have been shortened.
We don't know... and neither does Ms. Westphal. Quoting the Almighty One (Mayor Marty) on whether the timing has been changed is like asking the thief standing there with your stereo whether he took it. The fact is, the Traffic Engineer and APD both work for the same person!

"Myth" No. 10 - Drivers are ticketed if the signal turns red while they're in the intersection or they speed just 1 mph over the limit.
Again, who knows? There's no independent judiciary to determine whether or not a citation was issued incorrectly and no police officer to stand witness to the "infraction."

The problem with carrying the Almighty Marty's water is that the pail often gets T-Boned by the facts. And so it is with this ten point piece of propaganda.

----- UPDATE -----

We've never had any doubt that the Red Light Camera Program was about Marty's Cash Cow. We even heard that Councilor Winter's cell phone lit up during his town hall last week apparently because of an unidentified auto dialer sent to his district. (Read about it here.)

No one's saying who paid for the "campaign," but we're told that these types of auto dialers must be accompanied by a disclaimer that indicates clearly who paid for it. One of the dialers featured Councilor Craig Loy. We suggest a few hundred emails asking him to disclose who paid for the dialer that featured his voice supporting the program.

Craig Loy (

P.S. - Councilor Loy is up for re-election this year. No word yet on whether he'll run but...


Anonymous said...

OMG, read the transcript from the chat today online.

I lost count of the number of wrong answers, misconceptions and spin. I've done more research on this and it's not my job to.

This was my favorite part:

"i am an editorial writer and columnist, so after 16 years in journalism i finally get to have an opinion. but i base mine on facts. i am fortunate that i get to talk directly with the officers and city officials who run the program and who pick up the pieces at wreck sites."

Wow, clearly an early front-runner for my Miss Information 2007 award.

Hillary, the bar's been set high this year, but there's lots of time left.

Anonymous said...

When is Councilor Loy going to be subpoenaed to tell the truth about who put him up to his auto dialer message? Better yet, who paid for it? Either these politicians start telling the truth or they should be put in front of a grand jury to tell the truth or have them expelled from office. I can't believe we have to treat these people like grade school kids, for at least grade school kids are held to a higher standard. Gee, what exanples adults set for those very same kids. Albuquerque Politicians set the worst example for a 'Civic Lesson'

Anonymous said...

D'Val Westphal?
I guess her salary from the City is more than what she makes at the Journal.

Anonymous said...

I know some cops in Craque who swear the number of rear-end collisions is increasing at the camera intersections.

Anonymous said...

The LIE on Albuquerque continues to spew its conspiracy propaganda. Oh, to be so miserable at life's unfair hand of fate. Woe is me. These Red Lights are just so Big Brother. Woe is me that I run a red light and have to be held accountable. Woe is me that I seek solice in the quagmire of my own misery. Seeketh the TRUTH for it will set you free. LIE on Albuquerque, step out of the Darkside with your minion of undeducated fools and let the light of TRUTH warm your miserable whinning hearts. VIVA La Red Lights and Speed Vans. THE TRUTH

The Eye said...

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

Perhaps you speak the TRUTH... running red lights is far too dangerous to allow to continue under any circumstances. The city really should consider outlawing driving and the ownership of personal vehicles. Viva safety!

Anonymous said...

The 1st camera was installed at Eubank and Montgomery. San Mateo and Montgomery was the worst intersection when it came to accidents. However, Ther is a little more money in the Northeast Heights up the road.

Anonymous said...

Be aware. The next one is going up as we speak at Academy & Wyoming. Forget the rest of the city. Just let them get away with it and not worry about fines, fees, etc. The Northeast Heights will shoulder this program.
Just send everyone in the Northeast part of town a bill for $100.00 and call it good.
This is called payback for the so called injustices of the 'poor & the proud'. If you don't pay, we'll seize your car. If that doesn't work, we'll put a lein on your house. As for those who live in the Southeast, their cars are probably not worth more than the fine and the house will probably be a rental. Thanks Marty for protecting your own. I hope you remember that when come election time; I assure you, we will. The real money that put you on your little throne didn't come fronm the lazy non working Southeast or Valley crowd, but the motivated working class of the Northeast Heights.
Don't come a knocking and don't come a campaigning around here.
After your 'Red light' program 'Shake down' there will be nothing left. Oh, that's right, this IS how you (we) are funding your bid for Governor.

Anonymous said...

Hey Truthiness,

Have you listened to the inane rambling sound-bites of your mayor on this subject lately? Too funny.

Some of the best western jibberish this side of Gabby Johnson (a Blazing Saddles reference, not a New Mexico politician- although...).

Viva la $$

Anonymous said...

Hey Truthiness,

Have you listened to the inane rambling sound-bites of your mayor on this subject lately? Too funny.

Some of the best western jibberish this side of Gabby Johnson (a Blazing Saddles reference, not a New Mexico politician- although...).

Viva la $$