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Posts published in “Day: March 7, 2009”

Second string on deck

We've suspected for a while that the top-tier Republican possibilities for governor, former Senator Gordon Smith and current Representative Greg Walden, wouldn't go for it.

From an Oregonian story on the Republican Dorchester Conference, held this weekend at Seaside, come growing indications that seems about right.

About Smith, close associate Dan Lavey is quoted, "He's focused on the future, but the future has more to do with pea picking and the law firm than it does with politics." That sounds pretty clear.

And the story says, "Walden says the seniority he's built up in Congress and the lopsided voter registration edge Democrats hold over Republicans give him pause as he looks at a run for governor. He says he won't decide right away." You don't have to parse that too hard to get the drift.

No real specific indications from the Dorchester - this said from a distance, but with such information as is available - of active efforts as yet underway for GOP candidates for governor. Our best guess, for the moment, remains state Senator Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point. But the field is looking fairly open.

Profiteering by radar

The whole area of profiteering from law enforcement is an ugly arena bound to get uglier before it clears up. From private prisons to speed traps (profiteering even without a private organization involved), it's a distortion - money becomes the driving force, not public safety. Anyone who tells you otherwise is conning you.

That profiteering - in this case by private companies - from red-light and other some traffic violations - is what a new Oregon bill is going after: The profit-sharing between cities and the companies they hire to install radar cameras tracking stop-light violations.

Senator Alan Bates, D-Ashland, was quoted: "They should be about deterring traffic accidents and not making money. I have asked departments around the state to send me information to see if they are making streets safer."

Intersection cameras, carefully used, may in fact improve safety somewhat. But when they're set up as they are now in many jurisdictions - in which private companies get a slice (often somewhere around half) of the fines paid by people who run red lights and such - what happens is that there's suddenly an influential force for enforcing some laws rather than others, for the essential reason that one type of enforcement makes money, and others don't. So much for a professional attitude toward "to protect and to serve."

And of a sudden, we have profit profit depending on finding people guilty of offenses. That ought to send a little chill up even the most cautious of drivers.

We'll see where this one goes.