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Red-light cameras are not worth the outrage

Robert Neuhausen's daily commute from Spring Hill to a factory near Interstate 75 takes him through a gantlet of red-light cameras south of downtown Brooksville.

Watching the cameras flash, thinking about all those tickets going to all those drivers — some of them unsuspecting out-of-towners — he decided people need to rise up and "send a message to the Brooksville City Council."

The way to do that, he wrote on the Facebook page that he created Monday, is to boycott the city's signature annual event, the Florida Blueberry Festival, scheduled for the first weekend in May: "We do not want or need these cameras in our county. Boycott this event unless (council members) agree to remove the cameras."

So far, it doesn't look as if Neuhausen is going to bring preparations for the festival to a screeching halt.

Only 37 of the more than 1,000 invitees to his page have agreed to join the boycott, and one of his "friends" pointed out that a boycott could potentially do much more harm to Brooksville's businesses than to its elected leaders.

"It is pretty sad that hurting our fellow community members is how we take vengeance on the government," wrote Jenny Lynn, who I don't know but, after reading this, wish I did.

If this is a sample of the thinking Neuhausen would have brought had he been elected to the Hernando School Board last year, it might be a good thing he lost.

And if the lack of enthusiasm for his boycott means that some of the outrage about the cameras is fading, then thank goodness.

Because there are a lot more worthwhile political targets than cash-strapped governments using technology to collect a few dollars from drivers who are, after all, breaking traffic laws.

You want to boycott something?

How about boycotting gun shows that make it convenient for criminals to pick up a deadly weapon without a background check?

When I see our truck makers pitching the idea that the fossil-fuel-guzzling pickup is a fun and manly form of personal transportation, I almost feel like organizing a boycott of dealerships.

Look, I understand why people don't like red-light cameras. Without a doubt, the city's program is a tax, which is enough to turn the political right against it — even before factoring in the matter of government intrusion.

On the left, the problem is that the camera revenue amounts to a regressive tax — one as likely to be levied on poor folks as the rich.

But, really, are the cameras such a big deal that we have to talk about them nonstop, as we have almost since they first appeared in Brooksville back in 2009?

With azaleas blooming in January, it might be time to talk more about global warming. Or maybe the pollution that has caused hideous mats of algae to clog Florida's once-gorgeous springs.

Let's "send a message" to the state lawmakers who seem to be paid representatives for power and insurance companies; let's save some outrage for local elected officials who don't seem to understand a basic tool for making development pay for itself — impact fees.

And if you really want to make a statement to the city and deprive it of ill-gotten camera revenue, there's always this option:

Every time you see a red light, put on the brakes.

Red-light cameras are not worth the outrage 02/07/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 7:10pm]
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