Eric Ernst loaded film into the traffic camera debate in an op-ed piece in Wednesday's Sarasota Herald-Tribune. As if there weren't enough logs already on the conspiracy-theory fires, Ernst piled on more by referring to the two of the three things that Sarasotans care about most: their wallets and the perceived erosion of their civil rights. If he would have only found a way to tie in early-bird specials, he would have hit the trifecta.
It's easy to get the rabble-rousers up in arms these days, what with the Tea Parties, fears of forced socialism and Nazis around every corner. The red-light camera debate serves to prey on those who are afraid of having the unseen, unknown powers-that-be infringe on their Constitutional Amendments Four through Six, inclusively.
Even though traffic cameras have been catching red-light runners since the '70s, this is a new concept on the Suncoast. Cameras record citizens every day, from when you make an emergency deposit at the bank to keep that check to the liquor store from bouncing, pick up a Slur-pee at the 7-11, abduct a little girl at the car wash, you unspeakable bastard, cruise the mall in those God-awful shorts that you shouldn't wear anywhere let alone in a public place, pilfer penny candy at Publix, buy wart remover at Walgreen's and lots of other places around town that you probably never even thought of.
But the difference is that our taxes are paying for these intersection cameras, although it's actually you and I that end up paying for all those cameras listed above through higher prices for goods and services anyway. And these traffic cameras will aid law enforcement in catching drivers who zip through red lights like they don't think that particular shade of red is sufficient for them to come to a stop and waste their precious time while others cars get to go.
Contrary to what the right-wing libertarian conspiracy theorists say, the cameras are here to stay. If the city or county makes money off them, well, that's OK, too, if it means that these jamokes running red lights because they were drafting a UPS truck in front of them as a means of conserving fuel and being "green" have to drop a few bucks in the state coffers. Perhaps relieving their wallets of a couple hundred bucks will allow more blood to flow down to their feet so they can step on the brake next time.
And maybe that'll keep you and me from getting T-boned at some intersection someday, too.
Mote Marine admits that "Waldo" was not used to research red tide, it actually took underwater pictures of swimmers to see who was peeing in the Gulf.