Opinion

Big brother comes to Federal Way | The Pirkle Report

It was bound to happen. I got a letter in the mail from the Federal Way Police Department’s photo enforcement division. They said that I had run a red light. It was to cost me $124. The letter stated all my options like appealing, etc.

So I called my lawyer. He said that I could go to the Internet and actually see the video of the violation, and that the judge would play the video in court if I challenged the ticket. So I went to the Internet, and there it was. It seems that I did not stop at the white line. Rather, I crossed it and started a right turn on red before I slowed to a stop.

The $124, I felt, was excessive. It was as if I had just sailed through a red light, when in fact I made a very safe turn. This was all caught on tape by big brother on 320th Street. So I paid the money on the website. So simple and so clean.

In fact, this will not even count on my driving record. Of course it won’t, because if it did and my car insurance went up, and if this happened to everyone, then the public outrage would cause the city to take down all those big brother cameras at intersections, and the city would lose all that revenue. So it has to be the case that this will not count against your driving record, otherwise the whole system would fail.

But the point I want to make here is that this whole big brother approach would not have happened if we had had a popularly elected mayor. What you say? Why not? Because there was considerable objection by the public when this was all set up. But that popular objection was focused on a committee — the city council. If you know anything about politics, then you know that you cannot blame a committee, you have to blame a person. You have to be able to threaten a person and threaten to remove him or her if you don’t like what he/she is doing. It does not work with a committee because no one person is responsible.

Thank God that we finally have a popularly elected major thanks to the tireless efforts of Jim Ferrell. It’s curious that several of the city council members who fought this tooth and nail, saying that we do not need a popularly elected mayor, have now changed their minds and are running for the very office they fought against for so long. It’s as if they are saying “we don’t need one and I don’t believe in having one, but if there is going to be one, then I want to be it.” There seems to be a little hypocrisy in that kind of thinking.

So the cameras of Federal Way’s big brother caught me making a slightly improper right turn on red and I paid the price. It will catch you one day too. This can only grow into more cameras at more intersections since it is making money for the city. So just wait your turn and ask yourself, do I want to live in a city where I am always on camera, every move being filmed?

Then remember that this is because no one person stood forward and promoted this idea. It was promoted by a committee and thus there is no one to blame for it.

This is the essence of the argument as to whether we should have a popularly elected mayor — somebody who is in charge and who can be held responsible for their decisions. The committee that is the city council has it easy. No one is in charge and thus no one can be blamed.

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