Friday, January 04, 2019

Who watches who and why

Here is a map to all of the traffic cameras in New Orleans that are no longer active as of the new year. It's the mayor's way of.. almost.. keeping a campaign promise.
As of Jan. 1, 20 of 31 cameras outside of school zones, including the one southbound one in front of Scoggin’s home, were shut off, in a boon for motorists who have long complained about being ticketed on their way to work or school.

Left up are the city's most lucrative non-school-zone cameras. Also still rolling are dozens of cameras in about 50 school zones, though the devices have been adjusted to only issue tickets during school zone hours.

The changes balance the need for motorists' safety with the mayor’s desire to remove a financial burden on the city’s residents, said Cantrell’s Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño.

“We took the cameras that were providing the least amount of tickets and turned those off,” he said in a Friday interview. “The 11 that remain on were ones where we still need a little bit of help from the public.”
Montano's phrasing is rich.  A different way of putting it would be they deactivated the cameras that were providing the least about of revenue and kept the 11 that enable the public to "help" keep the city budget in balance by graciously continuing to be "nickel-and-dimed" as the mayor once put it.

Oh also, this doesn't mean they're actually getting rid of all 31 deactivated cameras.  Some of them are just getting moved. 
Meanwhile, non-school zone cameras deactivated under the rules will likely be relocated to school zones, Montaño said. Although those locations haven’t been determined, he said the city is considering placing more cameras near high schools since most cameras now are located near schools with younger children.
Whatever part of this qualifies as LaToya keeping her campaign's founding promise is getting more and more difficult to see. But there probably isn't going to a be a political price to pay. The traffic cameras are unpopular, generally. But the public seems to be grudgingly ok with the ones in the school zones.

What is the public's feeling on mass police surveillance, though?  I'm sure there's some depressing poll out there that says everybody is for it. I just haven't seen it yet. No doubt our councilmembers have, though, since they're all gung-ho about reviving Mitch Landrieu's failed camera-in-every-corner-bar ordinance this month. It doesn't have to be a poll, actually. It's really just a matter of the right feedback from the right money to get them to move even on something as morally objectionable as this.

It's an interesting contrast, though. Generally speaking we hate the cameras pointed at our cars in case we run a few miles over the speed limit. But we love the cameras pointed at other people in case they... happen to be hanging out on the corner in a way that makes us uncomfortable. What do you think the major distinction is?

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