About two months ago, I wrote that the speed cameras installed in front of schools throughout the county was nothing more than a scam by politicians to raise revenues through fines while they perpetuate themselves in office by running on a platform that they haven’t raised taxes.
After being criticized for my stance in opposition to the bogus speed cameras by people who claimed I must be insensitive to child safety, the County Legislature backed down and turned the cameras off. I certainly won’t take credit for getting them shut down. No, they were made inoperative because thousands of Nassau County residents recognized the phony child safety claim and virtually accosted their legislators in supermarkets and on the streets with justifiable outrage. The fact is that nobody produced a shred of evidence that children in this county are at risk from motorists passing by their schools. Maybe because we have school crossing guards, huh?
I noted that while the school speed cameras has been shut off, they hadn’t been removed. They’re still there. So I predicted that it would only be a matter of time before the dust and anger settled, and then voila, the switch would be turned back on again to raise those desperately sought after revenues. Well, I was wrong and I’m the first to admit that yes, I was wrong about the switch being turned back on. I was wrong because I never realized they’d just find another way.
In the past couple of weeks, there’s a new movement under foot in our county government to raise $64 million to fund policing efforts—all without raising a nickel’s worth of taxes. So, you ask, how they gonna do it? Simple. Now there’s a proposal by our county executive, Ed Mangano, to more than double the fines for red light cameras from $95 to $200. And to boot, he has the crust to claim that he’s not going to raise property taxes. It’s what I call the Reverse Robin Hood approach to governing—take from the poor to protect the rich.
What’s significant here is that the politicians are no longer hiding what they’re doing. Mangano is admitting that the doubling of fines is intended to raise revenues. At least give him credit for no longer claiming it’s about child safety.
This past week, I witnessed a horrendous rear end collision at the intersection of Glen Cove Road and Northern Boulevard. The cause of the accident? Well, how about the red light cameras coupled with the short yellow light that causes drivers to slam on their brakes in order to avoid getting a ticket. Just imagine how many more accidents there will be when the fine is bumped to $200. Fees and fines are nothing more than a form of regressive tax that affect those least able to afford them. But politicians seem more than willing to stick it to people at the lower end just so they can claim they haven’t raised taxes. But that’s exactly what they’re doing—raising taxes on the backs of a few instead of on everyone.
And this is why, if my legislator votes to approve this kind of increase, I will get actively involved in the next election cycle to make sure he loses his seat in the County Legislature. I’m pretty sure he’ll understand that.
—Michael A. Levy