Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Squeezing the Citizens, Part 11

The Washington Times today reports that DC is getting ready to enforce street sweeping violations using cameras mounted on the street sweepers. In the latest episode of DC finding ways to wring a few more dollars out of their already insanely taxed residents, we will get tickets from the street sweepers themselves, rather than the already incredibly efficient parking enforcement task force.

Without even touching on the potential invasion of privacy issues related to yet another legion of video cameras that feed to One Judiciary Square, this seems no different than red light cameras, speeding cameras and other automated devices that are supposedly put in place to increase safety, but conveniently bring in boatloads of cash for DC, despite mounting evidence that they actually increase accident rates.

Of course, I've never heard of a street sweeper-related accident due to a parked car. So there's not even a veil of public benefit here. It's simply a previously untapped opportunity to squeeze us.

Councilmember Jim Graham says, cryptically:

"What we're going to find is with these increased violations, we're going to find a source of revenue generation, which is not our purpose at all," Mr. Graham said. "Our purpose here is to get clean streets."

The obtuse statement seems to indicate that he is fully aware that this will be a new revenue stream. Yet, points out that that is not the goal. But, if the goal is to get clean streets, then one must assume that they are not clean at this time. Hence the need to act on achieving this goal.

Do you have street sweeping? Do you find that the one or two cars a week that are left there on any given day are resulting in an unsanitary buildup of detritus on your street? Have you ever thought to yourself, I am so mad at my neighbor who overslept and forgot to move his car, because that 20 foot section of street won't be cleaned until next week, I just wish that ticketer had come around to slap a ticket on him before he moved his car because he's a bad person and should pay?

The ultimate irony is that on my street, the streetsweeper often comes by before the designated time. That doesn't stop the meter maid from making a quick buck when she comes by 15 minutes later at 9:35, though. Finally, it seems very unlikely to me that increasing enforcement will have any effect on the number of violations. As it is, nobody purposely leaves their car parked during street sweeping. Enforcement is so efficient already, you'd be a fool to do so. The end result of this isn't likely to be fewer violations, just more money. As an example, violations for parking in rush hour are $100. It used to be $50. Is there anyone on earth who would have said before they changed it, "Oh, it's only $50, I'll just leave my car there, what the hell." The fine has no bearing on the fact that sometimes you just screw up. And this just ensures that you'll get no mercy, ever, when that happens.

Please. Stop with the revenue generation programs that serve no public good. If there's a problem, then I am all for aggressive enforcement of the law. But there is no problem here. It's time to stop hating the citizens under the veil of doing us a favor. You aren't fooling anyone.

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