The city’s speed cameras will “go live” on St. Patrick’s day, says Mayor Bruce Williams. There will be a 2 week period in which people will receive warnings, then around April Fools Day, fine-levying tickets will be issued. At the same March 9 city council meeting councilmember Josh Wright asserted that pedestrian safety, not income generation, was the motive for installing the cameras. The reverse has been claimed by a number of local cynics writing on community listserves and certain blogs. Wright said that the city’s share of the income (a percentage goes to the independent contractor who sets up and runs the cameras) will only be spent on pedestrian safety.
The Mayor pointed out that the county speed camera located in front of the Takoma Middle School has caused traffic to slow noticeably on that section of Piney Branch Road. He was implying that traffic would also inevitably slow to legal rates of speed on those sections of New Hampshire and Ethan Allen Avenues where the city has placed its cameras.
Of course, the city doesn’t want to quell speeding entirely. They want each camera to issue at least 185 tickets a month. Any fewer would mean that the contractor would be earning less than $2229 monthly from that camera. If that happens for two months out of six, a contract clause kicks in allowing the contractor to negotiate for a different rate.
So, while safety may be the city’s motive, profit is clearly the contractor’s, and neither party really wants a 100% decrease of unsafe driving on those roads.
Marc Elrich gave another one of his periodic reports on the county council to the city council. Elrich, a former Takoma Park city councilmember, was a bit wistful about his former colleagues’ lighter work load, but the smug council told him he was stuck with his current job.
Elrich was unhappy about the “losing public relations battle” over a proposed county ordinance concerning ambulance fees. The public perception is that the county council wants to charge the cost of an ambulance ride to every unfortunate person who gets one. The proposed bill, says Erlich, actually charges insurance companies, and waives the bill for uninsured people.
With that bill apparently doomed, one alternative is to raise taxes to cover the costs, he said.
Yes Men (and Woman)
Like the Easter Bunny on amphetamines, the council hopped through a bunch of ordinance readings, unanimously passing all of them. Here’s the list, Dear Readers, see if you can read them as fast as the council voted on them. Ready? Go!
The council authorized a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for a Maple Avenue apartment building purchased last year by the county for an affordable housing project, awarded a contract for Park Avenue Improvements, amended the city’s ethic’s code, authorized speed humps in the Pinecrest Area, and another speed hump on Ritchie Avenue, added a section on provisional voting to the city charter, and designated the deputy city manager as “Resident Agent for Service of Process.” That last one is to meet the requirement of recent state legislation that every “governing body” in Maryland have such a designated agent.
All in favor say “Let’s get home at a reasonable hour tonight!”