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Why do traffic deaths fall in recessions? Dangerous drivers drive less

http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1105825_why-do-traffic-deaths-fall-in-recessions-dangerous-drivers-drive-less

http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
2006 US Death rate per mile 1.42 Total Deaths 42,708 Miles Driven 3.014 Trillion
2007 US Death rate per mile 1.36 Total Deaths 41,259 Miles Driven 3.031 Trillion
2008 US Death rate per mile 1.26 Total deaths 37,423 Miles Driven 2.977 Trillion
2009 US Death rate per mile 1.15 Total deaths 33,883 Miles Driven 2.957 Trillion
2010 US Death rate per mile 1.11 Total deaths 32,999 Miles Driven 2.967 Trillion
2011 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,479 Miles Driven 2.950 Trillion
2012 US Death rate per mile 1.14 Total deaths 33,782 Miles Driven 2.969 Trillion
2013 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,894. Miles Driven 2.988 Trillion
2014 US Death rate per mile 1.08 Total deaths 32,675 Miles Driven 3.026 Trillion
Fatality rate is per 100 million miles traveled

Government Can’t Help; It Can Only Hurt

by Ron Paul

Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.

In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!

The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.

The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA’s failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.

If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.

The head of the VA also made headlines last week when he said it is unfair to judge the VA by how long veterans have to wait for medical care, since no one judges Disney World by how long people have to wait in line. Perhaps he is unaware that no one has ever died because he waited too long to go on an amusement park ride.

For years socialized medicine supporters pointed to the VA as proof that a government bureaucracy could deliver quality health care. The stories of veterans being denied care or receiving substandard care demolish those claims.

If Congress truly wanted to ensure that veterans receive quality health care, it would stop forcing veterans to seek health care from a federal bureaucracy. Instead, government would give veterans health-care vouchers or health savings accounts and allow them to manage their own health care. Congress should also dramatically reduce the costs of providing veterans care by ending our militaristic foreign policy.

Another story last week highlights the one thing government does do well: violate our rights. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his role in the IRS’s persecution of conservative organizations.

Those who value liberty and constitutional government should support impeaching Koskinen. However, truly protecting Americans from IRS tyranny requires eliminating the income tax. Despite the claims of some, a flat tax system would still require a federal bureaucracy to ensure Americans are accurately reporting their income. Since the income tax is one of the foundations of the welfare-warfare state, it is folly to think we can eliminate the income tax without first dramatically reducing the size and scope of government.

The TSA, VA, and IRS are just three examples of how government cannot effectively provide any good or service except authoritarianism. Individuals acting in the free market are more than capable of providing for their own needs, including the need to protect themselves, their families, and their property, if the government gets out of the way.

Source: http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2016/may/29/government-can-t-help-it-can-only-hurt/

February 2016 Commission Report

2 special called commission meetings
The Mayor called two commission meetings this month.  Mayor Ed Mitchell has decided that his role is to cut ribbons and attend every breakfast and dinner that he can rather than running the courthouse.  He has entrusted too many things to his Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, who is not even a good finance person, let alone qualified to run the courthouse.  This has lead to poor management decisions, which have been costly to the taxpayers.

1st meeting to offer a new insurance plan
The first called meeting was to offer a new health care plan to county employees because the state deemed the current plan to be inferior to the state plan.  The state provides some funding for health insurance for teachers.  The local plan has to be as good or better than the state plan or the county can lose those funds.

The problem is that the state offers several plans while the local government offers only one plan.  The comparison wasn’t done to all state plans, which I was told would have likely showed that the single plan overall is just as good as the state plan and costs substantially less.  The broker shared that the state has miscalculated its costs and is actually going to have to significantly raise employee costs next year.

The new plan isn’t much different than the old plan.  You can see them both on page 2 here.  This situation was bureaucratic red tape and the people who went to Nashville seemed hopeful that the state won’t require unnecessary hoops to jump through next year.

I took the opportunity to ask the Finance Director, Randy Vineyard, to provide the commission with a monthly report on the financial status of the self insurance fund.  He wasn’t happy about that and told the commission we could look the numbers up in the general ledger if we wanted them.  The Finance Director didn’t realize why the fund was losing large sums of money until state auditors pointed it out to him.  A good quality financial person would be tracking this and providing regular updates on the fund to the board.

2nd meeting to hire an IT consultant
Commissioners Archie Archer and Gary Farmer were absent.

A meeting was called in December, after the commission canceled its scheduled meeting, to ram through the creation of a $1.3M Information Technology (IT) capital fund.  This month an IT consulting firm was rushed through in a called meeting.

Blount County has several IT needs.  It is why I sought to be added to the IT Committee.  However, after serving on the IT Committee for over a year, I am left wondering why we have an IT Committee.  The Mayor and his Finance Director have no respect for the authority of the IT Committee.  They have bypassed the IT Committee for all major IT decisions.

The Mayor’s Finance Director got the cart before the horse.  He pushed for Kronos before upgrading the county’s IT infrastructure.  A good analogy is that the Mayor and Finance Director went out and bought the most expensive wheels that they could find and put them on a car with engine problems.

The Kronos software project is likely the largest and most costly IT project in county history.  Read more about that project here.  It has been mismanaged and is behind schedule.  It is generally not a good idea to start more IT projects when your current project is behind, but that doesn’t seem to concern the mayor and finance director who are proceeding full steam ahead with your money.

When the Kronos project was first presented to the commission in 2014, then commissioner Jim Folts warned of the problems that would happen if Vineyard was allowed to proceed with the Kronos project as planned.  One of his biggest concerns was that a volunteer from the Sheriff’s Office, an attorney, would be in charge of the project.  The attorney quit the project, early into it.  Folts’ concerns have been realized.

Vineyard realized that attempting a major IT project without a dedicated manager/director was a big mistake but has failed to acknowledge that he was forewarned of the problem.  His solution for upcoming IT projects is to hire expensive consultants to manage the projects.  However, there are problems with this approach as well.

The county had a good IT Director who ran the county’s IT Department on a shoe string budget while using old technology.  John Herron had managed the IT Department for 30 years.  He left last year to work for Blount County Schools.

The county has been operating with an Interim IT Director since August.  I was stunned when the Interim Director told me that the mayor isn’t looking to hire an IT Director.  Instead the mayor (and finance director) sought to employ an IT consulting firm to manage the county’s IT projects.

Mindboard Inc. was presented to the commission.  The Purchasing Agent, Katie Branham, chose this company based on the scores of a team that she chose to evaluate prospective companies and because of their references.

The evaluation team consisted of select members of the IT Committee.  I am on the IT Committee and she never told me that she was going to choose member of the IT Committee.  She did not invite me to listen to the interviews either.  It would have taken her about 1 minute to send me an invitation by email.   She smugly told me that the meeting was advertised in the paper.  Apparently she thinks that county commissioners should have to subscribe to the newspaper to know what their government is doing.  One of the people she chose was Jimmy Cox from the Highway Department.  I asked her what his IT experience is.  She told me that she didn’t know.

In Mindboard’s response to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ), they give 5 references.  Only one of those lists a project budget over $60,000.  The capital fund (budget) is over 22 times this amount.  With a capital fund containing over $1.3 million, having only one project with a budget anywhere close to this is not very assuring.

This company, and some of its employees, are currently being sued.  The representative (Principal) for the company said the suit is frivolous.  I hope for the sake of the taxpayers that none of the allegations are true.

The company has applied for several H1B visas to employ foreign workers.  These are good paying jobs that could be going to workers who are not US citizens.  Blount County government should not be taxing citizens making minimum wage or living on social security checks to pay foreign workers far more than the taxpayers are making and living on.

The agreement (contract) looked like a boiler plate document that hadn’t been reviewed by an attorney because of obvious mistakes that should have been fixed.  However, the agreement was actually reviewed by two attorneys, who apparently don’t pay close attention to details.

The agreement lists Blount County government as a company rather than a county.  The principal office line in the first paragraph was blank in our packets.  These two items are what made me think it was a boiler plate document.  It turns out that it is.  The Purchasing Agent told me that the agreement was written by Mindboard with input from the county.  Apparently the county gave so little input that it didn’t even request to be called a county or have its address typed into the document.

There is no mention of software in the agreement.  Article 5 defines work product but does not mention software.

Perhaps the most alarming thing is the blank page in the contract.  Page 13 is blank.  Usually pages that are blank say they are intentionally left blank.  Frankly, the taxpayers should ask for their money back from attorney Craig Garrett who supposedly reviewed the agreement for form.

The resolution refers to him as the County Attorney but there is no official position of County Attorney.  That office/position has never been created.  Commissioner Karen Miller made a motion to correct the description of Craig Garrett but her motion failed.  Apparently the commission is OK with someone misrepresenting who they are.

The Purchasing Agent should not be given a pass for these errors either.  She is an attorney.  This agreement was reviewed by two people who are attorneys.  There is no excuse for such poor quality work.

The agreement does not give actual project expenses.  All it gives are hourly rates.  The Finance Director said that we don’t have the actual costs because we don’t know how much these projects will cost.  We’re suppose to turn these consultants lose at hourly rates exceeding $100 so that they can provide us with the costs.  The Purchasing Agent told us that Mindboard thinks it will take about 2 months for them to analyze the county’s IT needs.

In the private sector, if a financial person came to a board and said we don’t know what this will cost, give us some time with some expensive consultants and we’ll figure it out, he/she would be laughed out of the room and possibly offered a mental health evaluation on the way out.  I felt like I had entered the land of Oz with Vineyard as the man behind the curtain, listening to this nonsense.

The former IT Director had actually provided a list of capital needs in 2014 but it was not acted upon.   The county paid an IT consulting firm to examine the county’s IT needs last year.  The Mayor’s Finance Director described that study as the 10,000 foot view.  What was the point of that study, if we’re going to have to pay consultants big hourly rates to study the situation again?

The contract manager said he will be moving to Blount County for a couple of years.  He will be one of the $100+ an hour consultants.  If he works full time at 40 hours a week, that one position could cost over $450,000 over a 2 year period.  There are too many unknown variable with this agreement and capital fund.

Commissioners Mike Akard, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and I (Tona Monroe) voted no.  These are the commissioners watching out for you the taxpayers.  It’s a short list but an important list.  Share these names with the people you know because these are the commissioners worth reelecting.

Commissioner Archie Archer voted no on the creation of the capital fund in December but he was absent for this vote.

The better approach – hire an IT Director
The better approach for the county would be to hire a top notch IT Director.  I suggested to the commission that an IT Director be hired on a salary and that he/she be given a bonus, along with the staff, for successful completion of IT projects that are on time and under budget.

Some of the IT projects will still need to be outsourced.  However, an IT Director who plans to stay with the county for several years would be motivated to see that things are done correctly.  Additionally, outside consultants may end up doing things that an IT Director may not find useful for the county.  It boggles the mind that Blount County has embarked upon over $4 million in IT projects without an IT Director to lead the way.

Commission Meeting
Commissioners Archie Archer and Gary Farmer were absent.

Nominations finally where they should be
At the January commission meeting, I spoke against the practice of putting important nominations under the consent calendar to rush the process through with little discussion.  The consent calendar is suppose to be for non-controversial items that require no discussion.  The commission has been doing a great disservice by putting these names on the consent calendar and offering no discussion.  This practice has allowed the commission to vote on the people being nominated, appointed or elected before public input is allowed.  You can see the order of the agenda here.

For several months I have been trying to get Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples and Commission Chairman Jerome Moon to place appointments and confirmations to important boards under the correct agenda item where they belong.  I am pleased to announce that the appointments were on the agenda in the correct place this month, under Elections, Appointments and Confirmations.  The public can now offer comments and concerns about elections, appointments and confirmations during the time for public input on the agenda.

Federal grants
I attended commission meetings for several years before being elected to office.  While I was aware that the county applied for and received many federal grants, I didn’t realize just how many grants the county received until I took office.

The first thing that I did was raise my right hand and take an oath to support the constitutions of Tennessee and the United States of America.  The subject matters of most of the grants are not found in the delegated powers given to the federal government in the constitution.  Congress does not have authority to spend money on most of these projects and programs.  Therefore, in order to remain true to my oath of office I have and will continue to vote no on these unconstitutional grants.

Furthermore, many grants have strings attached.  The commission is given little, if any, information about the conditions that come with these grants.  While many talk about the 10th amendment and the power of the states, that talk quickly goes out the window when federal money is involved.

Cost of feeding inmates is higher than the numbers the sheriff gives
One of the selling points for keeping federal prisoners is the low cost of feeding the inmates.  The Sheriff told the Blount County Corrections Partnership at its November meeting that it costs $2.50-3 a day to feed an inmate.

The adopted food budget for the jail is $430,000.  The Sheriff’s Office requested a $250,000 increase which would bring the food budget total to $680,000.

The average daily inmate total for 2015 was 528.  At $2.50 a day, with an extra day for the leap year the cost of feeding 528 inmates a day would be $483,120.  The cost at $3 a day is $579,744.

Both of these numbers are less than $680,000.  At 528 inmates per day, the cost would be about $3.52 a day.  Food costs are rising.  $3.52 is not an unreasonable price but it should no longer be said that the inmates are being fed for $2.50-3 a day.

Budget amendments form updated
Last month, there was some confusion about the actual impact that budget amendments had on the budget.  Each time a budget request is made throughout the year, after the annual budget is adopted, a form has to be filled out explaining the amendment.  The form had two boxes to check, one for transfers and one for increases and decreases.

A new form was presented providing four options: transfer, decrease, increase and adjustment.  The example that the Finance Director gave for an adjustment was actually an increase because it would spend more of you local tax money.  The description given, on the new form, for an adjustment says, “(correction to adopted budget due to “grant award” or “budgetary adjustment”).”  An increase, using local tax money, should not be recorded as an adjustment; therefore, I moved to strike the words budgetary adjustment and replace them with the word reimbursements.  An example of a reimbursement is the money that the county received from CSX for work done during the train derailment.  It is technically an increase to the budget, but it is not an increase in the use of tax dollars.  My amendment failed.

Commissioner Mike Akard said the changes still leave the water muddy.  I agree.  Allowing increases in spending of your local tax money should not be classified as adjustments.  The commission could have fixed this but didn’t when it rejected my amendment.  Commissioners Mike Akard, Brad Bowers, Karen Miller and I voted no.

Chairman Moon allows return to old, bad ways
In the past, it was common for commissioners to blurt out call the question, without being recognized, in order to shut debate down.  Commissioner Steve Samples did that this month.  Chairman Moon told him that he would recognize him if he would turn his light on.  Samples turned his light on and Chairman Moon recognized him, even though there was a commissioner who was had been waiting to speak.  This is a dangerous practice to return to, allowing a commissioner to blurt out call the question to end discussion and ignore those who have been patiently waiting their turns.

Up next:
A meeting has been called for the commission to appointment a replacement for Roy Crawford who recently passed away.  Roy was the only elected official in the courthouse who did a good job, would give you a straight answer and actually deserved to be reelected so many times, like he was.  Richard Hutchens gave him the first Statesmen Award.  He will be missed.

The commission will also be tasked with finding a replacement for Bill Dunlap who retired at the end of January.

The NMA Holiday Travel Checklist: NMA E-Newsletter #362

Record numbers of Americans are expected to hit the road this holiday season. Couple that with the inevitable bad weather and overbearing traffic enforcement, and we thought it made sense to provide this holiday travel checklist—NMA style.

Be Prepared: Pack a roadside safety kit in case you find yourself stranded, especially in bad weather. Pick one up premade or put together your own with a few basic hand tools, jumper cables, flashlight, tire inflator, blankets, first aid kit, etc. Check here for a full list of recommended items.

Plan Ahead Part 1: Staying safe means anticipating road hazards. Check www.speedtrap.org and www.roadblock.org before you leave to see where to expect stepped-up enforcement along your journey. Beyond speeding, police will be working overtime (thanks to federal grants) looking for things like seat belt violations, DUI and distracted driving infractions.

Plan Ahead Part 2: Speaking of distracted driving, cell phone and texting laws vary widely. What is permissible in one state will result in an expensive ticket in another. Check here to get an idea of the laws in the states you plan to visit.

Weather the Storm: Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and ready for the conditions. Check things like the battery, tires, fluid levels, wiper blades, etc. Here’s a full list.

Take a Deep Breath: Heavy traffic, bad weather and the stresses of the holidays bring out the worst in drivers. Be patient on the road, leave plenty of space between your vehicle and others and …

Spread Some Holiday Cheer: Practice Lane Courtesy and make everyone’s trip a little more enjoyable.

Have a Contingency Plan: Despite your planning and diligence, you still find yourself along the side of the road with a cop looking to fill his federal grant-driven holiday enforcement quota (oops … performance measure). What do you do? Look here for some great tips on how to minimize the damage and get back on your way as soon as possible.

Speak Up: Using the phrases “Am I free to leave now?” and “Am I being detained?” during a traffic stop or roadblock could extract you from further harassment. Also, by exercising your civil rights you can protect yourself should the situation turn more serious and lead to future court proceedings.

Hide the Presents: If you’ve got presents in your vehicle, keep them out of sight. You don’t want any Grinches stealing your Christmas, especially if you’re traveling to New Haven, Connecticut, where police have been stealing valuables from unlocked cars, just to teach their owners a lesson. No kidding.

Go Cashless: Civil forfeiture is always a danger, and the cops will look for any excuse to pick your pocket, even if you’re only carrying a few hundred bucks. Carry as little cash as possible.

Give Back: Consider a year-end donation to the NMA Foundation, which may be tax deductible.

Finish up your Holiday Shopping: Giving a NMA gift membership to someone on your list is easy, inexpensive and always appreciated. Call us at 1-800-882-2785.

https://www.motorists.org/alerts/the-nma-holiday-travel-checklist-nma-e-newsletter-362/

The licensing effect

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/opinion/sunday/how-salad-can-make-us-fat.html

This article refers to the licensing effect in the last paragraph saying:

“But the only foolproof way to defeat the licensing effect is to hold yourself to a higher standard when you’re making health decisions. Stick to the well-proven basics and tune out the noise of the commercial health-promotion industry, whose ever-optimistic mantra is “It might help … and it can’t hurt.” That’s a nice thought, but it’s almost always an illusion.”

Wonder what driving would be like without government issued drivers licenses (for the ‘privilege’ of course to use the roads that we pay for) that does so much to (not) keep us safe on the roads.  What about the carry permit, or any other government issued license?  Do they give us a false sense of security?

Private citizens in Tennessee can make traffic stops and arrests for traffic violations

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/47/4775.asp

For those who would like to see more DUI enforcement, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Tennessee at Knoxville has affirmed that state law empowers citizens to arrest those driving under the influence of alcohol.  See the opinion here: http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2015/tn-privatecop.pdf

Arresting power of private citizens includes misdemeanors in addition to felonies.  Most of us have had police officers blow past us at high rates of speed that far exceed the posted speed limit without having their lights on.  I once witnessed an officer put his lights on to go though an intersection and then turn his lights off after he got through the intersection.

Minor traffic offenses are usually handled with a citation in lieu of arrest but more serious violations usually result in arrest.  I wonder what would happen if private citizens started exercising this power to arrest officers for all the traffic violations that they commit in public.  An officer once told me that courts frown on it, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Not everything on this website is written by me

There are some in the community who think that everything on this website is written by me (Tona Monroe).  That is not the case.  This site was never intended to be a website solely with material written by me.  I own domains with my name and could just as easily write the material there.

There are some in the community who think that I agree with everything written on this website.  That is not the case either.  My intention in creating this website was never to have complete and total agreement with every word posted here.

The litmus test for content on this website was never complete and total agreement with my views and is not the case now.  My goals are to promote freedom and transparency in government.  Those are the reasons why I started this website and why I continue publishing on this website.  Those are also the reasons that I ran for office and what I hope to achieve while in office.

The content here is intended to be thought provoking while promoting freedom and openness in government.  Everything that is posted here should no more be viewed as my opinions than letters to the editors are viewed as being the opinions of the editors at newspapers.

As I’ve said many times before and will continue saying, let freedom ring!

It’s a ‘fine’ day and night in Blount County and throughout Tennessee

Well the Tennessee General Assembly just voted to raise the seatbelt fine from $10 to $25.  This is a great way for Republicans to enrich public treasuries without ‘raising taxes’.  It’s no surprise that Blount County’s 3 nanny $tati$t $upported the tax… err fine.  Good Ole’ Big Government Bob Ramsey, Art Swann and Doug Overbey.

Here in Blount County the Commi$$ion just took an unconstitutional grant for nighttime $eatbelt demo.  Buckle up, or you will find out what a ‘fine’ place Blount County is to live, especially since the federal government and the Tenne$$ee General A$$embly made $ure that you’ll be adding more to the public trea$ury if you don’t.

Traffic grants are federally funded not state funded

At the Agenda Committee meeting, I asked the Director of Budgets and Finance if the traffic grants before the commission are federally funded or state funded.  He said he would find out.

Jarrod Millsaps of the the Sheriff’s Office responded saying that the grants administered through the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) are state funded.  (see page 503)  However, a quick internet search revealed that state is not the funding source.  The State DOT website says that programs administered through the GHSO are 100% federally funded.

http://www.blounttn.org/comm/cc150416.pdf

http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/ghso/

Tennessee Highway Patrol quota system

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/124967/4-more-troopers-come-forward-about-dui-quota-system

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/125069/thp-colonel-responds-to-troopers-claims-of-dui-quota

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/article/125172/tennessee-department-of-safety-homeland-security-bill-gibbons-says-thp-has-no-dui-quotas

NMA E-Newsletter #321: Radar Fails Under Scientific Scrutiny … Again

NMA E-Newsletter #321: Radar Fails Under Scientific Scrutiny … Again

Most longtime NMA members understand the weaknesses of using radar to measure vehicle speeds. However, less experienced drivers and even the courts regard radar as foolproof. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have fresh evidence that further erodes radar’s patina of infallibility.

A member of the NMA Board recently attended a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and was kind enough to forward us this description of one of the research presentations titled “Testing of Police Radar”. The research was conducted by two professional engineers, one of whom previously worked for one of the radar manufacturers.

The gist of the presentation is that, despite 30 years of technological innovations, radar still suffers from the same reliability and performance issues that have made it unacceptable as evidence in a court of law. The researchers state that radar cannot meet the requirements of the Daubert test, which is a set of standards trial judges use to determine whether or not expert testimony is based on valid scientific reasoning and methodology:

The reality of police radar is that it fails when subjected to the Daubert test. In this regard, police radar operation should be repeatable—this research demonstrates that it is not a repeatable technique and is, in fact, subject to operator interpretation when multiple targets are present.

The researchers tested several radar unit brands and units. With only one target, the units were pretty consistent in their speed measurements. However with multiple targets, there was no guarantee as to which vehicle’s speed was displayed. They observe that “the radar units can well read different speeds … the decision to issue a citation is highly dependent upon the operator, relative to the instrument.” This refers to one of radar’s biggest downfalls: it can’t distinguish one vehicle from another.

The researchers further explain that radar can pick out either the strongest signal or the fastest signal, depending on road conditions and the mix of vehicles on the road. It cannot, however, pick out the speed of the nearest vehicle. They point out that radar “gun sights” intended to aid target acquisition are useless. They also note that one radar manufacturer allows the officer to black out the displayed speed of the police vehicle in moving mode to conceal from the motorist that the officer was exceeding the speed limit.

Even though the researchers come from a technical/scientific background, they have the presence of mind to point out that radar speed enforcement encourages policing for profit. The NMA has been making this argument for years, but we have seen few other observers make the same connection between shoddy speed enforcement and revenue generation. The researchers further warn that using unreliable radar readings as an excuse to conduct a traffic stop and execute a questionable vehicle search raises Fourth Amendment questions:

But some jurisdictions use strict traffic enforcement as the basis of presumptive traffic stops—they will issue a warning for the traffic violation and instead are looking for a reason to search a vehicle for contraband.

Can anyone say civil forfeiture?

Overall, the study further supports the conclusion that radar speed measurement is unreliable, easily misused and often abused for revenue purposes. In the NMA’s “Fight That Ticket!” e-book, we show you how to use the many kinds of radar error to undermine the officer’s scripted testimony. When you prove to the court that what the officer has testified to is physically impossible or technically violates proper radar procedures, the prosecution’s case will be seriously compromised.

Supporting members can download “Fight That Ticket!” at no charge from the members’ area at www.motorists.org. Non-members can download it here for only $9.95.

Traffic court is a dysfunctional money making scam

“Ferguson does not even rank among the top 20 municipalities in St. Louis County in the percentage of its budget drawn from court fines and fees.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/us/ferguson-became-symbol-but-bias-knows-no-border.html

It’s not just Ferguson, Missouri that is the problem.  Frequently traffic courts are dysfunctional scams designed to enhance public treasuries while shirking due process and failing to teach people how to improve driving habits in ways that actually improve public safety.