- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2010

A handful of city councils around the country have recently grabbed headlines by adopting anti-Arizona resolutions in response to that state’s toughened stance on unlawful immigration. Leftist groups have worked overtime to organize the effort to pressure Arizona lawmakers into repealing the new law before the ink had dried on the governor’s signature. While these council ordinances promise dramatic action, they amount to little more than a feel-good measure for armchair revolutionaries. When it comes to choosing between dollars and principle, cities choose cold cash every time.

San Diego’s city council offered the most symbolic protest in the form of an ordinance that “urges the State of Arizona to repeal SB 1070” and takes no further action. Seattle and Oakland each kicked it up a notch by pledging to avoid contracts with Arizona-based companies. Though the press releases sounded tough, the actual legal language was more porous than our border with Mexico. The cities boldly pledged to urge municipal departments “to the extent practicable” and where there is “no conflict with law” to “refrain from entering into any new or amended” contracts with Arizona firms. The weasel words were necessary because none of these jurisdiction has any intention of actually cutting off their favorite cash cow: red-light cameras.

It turns out that the two largest providers of photo-enforcement equipment are headquartered in the Grand Canyon State. San Diego and Seattle have an existing contract with American Traffic Solutions, which is based in Scottsdale. Oakland contracts with Redflex Traffic Systems, which, although it has a large Phoenix office, is really based in Australia. Oakland politicians, however, can hardly escape their dilemma by admitting to their constituents that the millions in ticketing revenue is going to a foreign country instead of Arizona. Nor are they about to give up the city’s share of the loot. No matter how loud the rhetoric against Arizona’s new law, no city has announced any intention whatsoever of dropping an Arizona-based traffic-camera contract.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn let slip to a Seattle Times columnist what the real reason is for exempting cameras from the boycott. “You may have noticed we have a budget deficit here,” the mayor admitted.

Generally speaking, the only time greedy bureaucrats will release their grip on money-making robotic traffic enforcement is when they get clobbered in a public referendum. That’s just what happened in Sykesville, Md., earlier this month as 60 percent of residents voted to reject the accident-causing devices. Coincidentally, the same percentage of Seattle residents oppose the Arizona boycott, according to a KING-TV poll released Monday.

It’s time for these arrogant local officials to grow up and drop their ineffective and unpopular cameras and boycotts.

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