Last night's Town Hall put on by Councilor Brad Winter drew a large crowd of around 150. (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). There were a lot of good questions raised, questions of the length of yellow lights, economic profiling, funds distribution (where $4 Million of the $6.3 Million received has gone), due process, and excessive fines. Most of the crowd was less than happy with the program; in fact, down right angry. But even supporters found things to be concerned about and many of them were the same complaints voiced by the program’s critics.
If you distill the evening down to a few points you find that people believe that the program is a cash cow for the city, that the fines are excessive, and that they do not receive a fair and impartial hearing (how can they when there are bills to pay?). We told you about the pressure not to dismiss these citations here. The fact is, as long as the City of
If there was ever any doubt that this program was all about money, just look to today's Albuquerque Journal (Subscription Required). The Legislature has managed to do something that angry citizens have been unable to do... threaten the existence of the program. Mayor Marty has vowed to pull the plug if the Legislature passes a bill that would send $74 of every citation to the state. Why? Yep… Money.
The Almighty One claims that it cost $5 Million a year to operate the program, a figure that is sure to include every "cost" even those charged by the City. And apparently, if the City weren't allowed to keep all of the loot, that $5 Million a year would be "a program killer." Wait, wasn't this about public safety? According to the Journal this is how the fines collected are broken down:
"Of a standard $100 fine, city officials said, $14 goes to the company that owns the equipment, $15.65 funds the hearing office, $18 processes the fines and $9.60 pays for officers to review the citations."
There are other costs associated with start up and expansion but when you take a look at the core costs of each citation, your immediate reaction is that the City is paying $57.25 per $100 ticket and only keeping $42.75. Hey that seems fair... right? Not really. You see at least $25.25 of the $57.25 actually goes to City departments, upping the City's take to 68 bucks and that's on a citation of $100. Remember those fines of $100, $250, $500, and the two year term for repeat offenses? There ends up being an awful lot of gravy or profit over and above the $68.
Let's review... We've established that the
Now the real question after last night's Town Hall Meeting is: Councilors, Mayor Marty, were you listening?
Looks like great minds... well, you get the idea. The local blogs are a buzz over last night's Town Hall Festivities. Take a gander at these great minds!
Mario Burgos - MarioBurgos.com
The Wednesday Morning Quarterback - WednesdayMorningQB.com