Looking at photo vans, politics and hospitals - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Looking at photo vans, politics and hospitals

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Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2008 9:23 pm | Updated: 10:28 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Welcome again to Scarp's Scottsdale Sunday Brunch, a review of the week's news where there's sooooo much to choose from. Strangely, no one ever comes back for seconds....

The state law governing those mobile vans that snap photos of speeding vehicles contains an interesting provision.

Check out Mark Scarp's blog: Scarpsdale

It allows officials to keep packed away those portable signs warning of such a van's presence a few hundred feet away, if the speed limit where the van is parked is 40 mph or less, the Tribune's Mike Sakal reported Saturday.

Now, police and politicians who support photo enforcement often say that the program is all about safety and not about revenue. Assuming that's true, then what's wrong with posting the signs wherever the vans are parked, no matter what the speed limit?

Scottsdale's city Web site lists the next several days' van locations and times at www.scottsdaleaz.gov/photoradar.asp. This is evidence for the safety-first argument, which also would say that if everyone saw and then obeyed those signs, then photo enforcement would have done its job even if it didn't flash one photo or bring in $1 in fines.

But on the vast majority of the city's streets, where the speed limts are 40 or lower, why not, where physically possible, have the vans put out warning signs no matter what the speed limit?

It's a name that's good for a brief laugh, because a new political action committee, "Republicans for a Bright New Day in Scottsdale," parodies Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross' campaign slogan (and the phrase has showed up in variation in earlier speeches) "It's a Bright New Day in Scottsdale."

Organizers told the Tribune's Brian Powell in Friday's paper that because city elections are for the first time being held on the same days as the primary and general elections for partisan offices in September and November, that it's OK to create a partisan organization.

Manross told Powell that at least such a committee is "unethical" in officially nonpartisan Scottsdale city elections.

The whole nonpartisan label in local elections is outmoded and should go. Unlike decades ago when the concept began, today there's no longer any mystery about candidates' political affiliations.

Just about anyone who considers himself or herself an informed Scottsdale voter already knows Manross is a Democrat and her opponent, Councilman Jim Lane, is a Republican.

But until voters themselves change Scottsdale elections, sorry "Republicans for a ...", having simultaneous elections on the same days isn't enough of a reason to organize a partisan committee.

What exactly is there among the issues in the current mayoral and City Council elections that one can attach to either the Republican or Democratic platforms, anyway? Both Manross and Lane voted for the same city budget a few months back.

Perhaps the Democrats might want to achieve that bright new day by using solar power, while Republicans might want to drill for more oil to do the job?

Set up a partisan election system first. Then let the partisan committees form.

Frank Burns, the insensitive surgeon of the long-running TV series "M*A*S*H," once observed that hospitals would be great places to work if it weren't for all the sick people.

Burns' observation comes to mind when considering Scottsdale Healthcare announced a 20-year plan with a couple of high-rise buildings, including one that could be as tall as 120 feet, Powell reported Thursday.

It's too early to say whether a 120-foot building will be necessary by 2028, but it's a safe bet that the hospital folks aren't planning these structures for the heck of it; it probably has something to do with the larger Valley population that will be here 20 years from now.

Burns might be the perfect spokesman for the viewpoint that taller buildings don't belong in downtown Scottsdale:

"Why do all these people need more hospital beds? Don't they have anything better to do?" he might say.

"Besides, what's wrong with getting sick on the first floor?"

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