Scarp: Scottsdale still needs freeway speed cameras - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Scarp: Scottsdale still needs freeway speed cameras

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Posted: Saturday, November 15, 2008 11:32 pm | Updated: 9:11 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Welcome again to Scarp’s Scottsdale Sunday brunch, a review of the week’s news where there’s soooo much to choose from. Strangely, nobody ever comes back for seconds ...

Read Mark Scarp's blog, 'Scarpsdale'

PHOTO FINISHED?

What? The Loop 101 freeway through Scottsdale, whose nationally pioneering set of freeway speed cameras influenced Gov. Janet Napolitano to call for — and get — a statewide photo enforcement program, wasn’t chosen as among its first locations?

That’s what an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman told reporter Brian Powell in Friday’s Tribune. Apparently, accident rates are higher on other Valley freeways, and the first series of state-sponsored cameras are going in there, according to DPS.

But, come on. Wasn’t it on the eight-mile stretch of the 101 in Scottsdale where in 2006 Goodyear resident Lawrence Pargo was clocked driving as fast as 147 mph?

He was driving a Hyundai Sonata, a four-door sedan that doubters scoffed was incapable of such speeds, but the case never went to trial as Pargo pleaded to a lesser charge. (He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a fine of more than $1,000.)

Wasn’t this the segment where Francesca Cisneros of Chandler racked up nearly 70 photo-enforcement speeding tickets in less than five months, admitting to trashing them all? (She was fined more than $10,000 and was sentenced to five days in jail.)

Wasn’t it the same roadway where Jennifer Bitton of Las Vegas received 22 tickets in 45 days?

And still at large is an unidentified motorcyclist — he had no license plate — who blasted through the cameras’ eyes at approximately 131 mph earlier this year.

DPS spokesman Bart Graves told Powell that Scottsdale is still being considered for cameras in the future, but a decision hasn’t been made.

What will it take to shuffle Scottsdale higher up? Bloody, horrific deaths?

Let’s hope not.

It certainly can’t be cost. As critics have repeatedly charged, photo enforcement programs are among few government functions that not only pay for themselves, but often end up with nice profits that are plowed back into other law enforcement areas.

These other areas are quite necessary, but not as lucrative.

Fitting the SWAT team with the latest firepower to counteract upgrades in hardware by the bad guys doesn’t make money, but it does better protect lives and property.

VOTE EARLY, AS IN, EARLY

The counting of ballots in Scottsdale’s tight mayoral election is now well into its second week. Who’s responsible for this?

Maricopa County elections officials can’t be blamed for the slowness of the results. They have been working long hours and over weekends undertaking painstaking efforts to ensure accuracy.

No, the fault lies, to paraphrase a famous saying, not in our public employees, but ourselves.

We’re the ones who order early ballots, sit on them for up to five weeks, then finally make the votes and rush down to polling places to turn them in on election day, assuring that they will be among tens, no, hundreds of thousands to have to be counted by hand afterward.

Here’s the rule for the perennially undecided: You get an early ballot, you should fill out the votes and cast it no later than the Friday before the election. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, then tear it up and show up on Election Day, as you planned anyway, and vote in a real polling place.

At least that one will be counted that day and we’ll all know who won — and winners will have these valuable days to make the transition — much sooner.

THE (NON) PARTY’S OVER

With each announcement of partial vote counts from county election officials, Scottsdale City Councilman Jim Lane continues to hold a lead of between 500 votes to more than 600 votes over Mayor Mary Manross, with no signs of shrinking.

This is going to be tough for the popular two-term incumbent, but whoever is filling the post for the next four years takes office on New Year’s Day and is fast running out of time before the last City Council meeting on Dec. 9 to put together a transition.

It’s a job that’s certainly harder with Manross refusing to concede, telling reporters variations on the theme of “it’s not over until the last vote is counted.” Of course, it’s over in most races before the last vote is counted, and in many races where the gap is wide enough, all the votes — we’re talking those provisional ballots — are frequently not counted at all.

Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz., rather famously got a much bigger, more prestigious Washington office because his Republican predecessor, J.D. Hayworth, refused to vacate his smaller office for Mitchell during counting of the close 2006 vote tally between the two. Mitchell won that count after maintaining the lead the whole time.

Call it a profile in courage. Call it class. But, mayor, call it over.

If (and I’ll buy you an apologetic drink if this extremely unlikely event happens) you end up winning, you’ll still look classier for having conceded anyway rather than having waited until the bitter end.

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