Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stacy gonna Stacy

The City Council has begun its annual series of hearings leading up to adoption of the 2017 municipal budget. The mayor's proposed operating budget is available for review via the city's website here.  The hearings schedule is available on the council's site. As usual there are several points of controversy contained within this document all of which will be argued over in council chambers this week for your entertainment.

One of the primary disputes involves the mayor's scheme to nearly double the number of traffic cameras around town.
Jeff Hebert, Landrieu's chief administrative officer, mentioned the additional safety cameras Wednesday (Oct. 26) during the first day of budget hearings for the city's 2017 spending plan. Revenue for traffic cameras is projected to increase nearly 50 percent next year to $24 million. Hebert said the city will see $5 million in new revenue after figuring in the $3 million cost of adding the new devices. 
Traffic cameras are one of the many measures by which New Orleans is one of the most regressive cities in the country. As far back as eight years ago other cities had already begun to abandon their experiment with the questionable practice of depending on traffic violations to fill budget holes.

When a law enforcement function is repurposed as a revenue generating scheme, an obvious conflict of interest arises. Which is how we find municipalities trying to trick people into violations, or partner with unscrupulous private contractors in order to squeeze money out of the citizenry. It has also been well documented that this sort of predatory behavior falls most severely on the poorest, often "ruining the lives" of those who cannot afford to pay up.

New Orleans, of course, is moving full steam ahead with its program. Because the expansion is the mayor's decision and not the council's, some councilmembers felt free to express their skepticism yesterday.  Not all of them cared to, of course.
Cantrell also asked Hebert for information on unpaid traffic camera tickets, with the idea that it could show lower-income drivers are more adversely affected.

"Speeders are disproportionately affected," Councilwoman Stacy Head interjected, expressing her support for the cameras.
 Never change, Stacy.

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