For the past 4-5 years since the last economic boom-bust in AZ, the Republic has been the mouthpiece of the ticket camera industry in Arizona which appears to be the next bubble ready to burst. It really shouldn’t be any surprise given the fact that Redflex has embedded reporter Michael Ferraresi for a few years now.
In that time, photo tickets have gone from a 90% pay rate down to less than 30% and freeway camera systems commissioned by both the city of Scottsdale and the state of AZ have been an utter failure. Redflex has gone from revenue in the $100’s of millions down to near zero profit. Their cameras as well as those of ATS have been shut off, by voters and legislative action, in huge numbers while millions of tickets are going unpaid.
After an expose last year, Ferraresi’s name has not been seen on an article about Redflex since, but his influence over the angle the Republic takes on photo enforcement remains.
It would be naive to think that a daily newspaper like the Arizona Republic wouldn’t sell out to corporate interests, especially in a time of economic turmoil that has been responsible for the demise of publications much older and more respected than our local “daily.” However, the reports about Redflex, ATS and police statistics are becoming more and more delusional and shrouded in mystery.
Last week, there was a report about traffic stats coming out of Mesa which suggested red light camera installations and crash data could be interpreted with a positive correlation. However, the study was not available to be viewed by the public and calls by CameraFRAUD volunteers requesting a copy of the study went unreturned. This is bizarre behavior by both Mesa PD and the Republic. The absence of any type of fact checking or public disclosure at all is very disturbing.
Another article appeared last week that seemed to be a glowing PR piece about the business of photo ticketing expanding throughout AZ and the entire country, but had no mention of all the places that have completely banned camera ticketing. There was no mention of the battles in Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Washington, California, Maryland, South Dakota, South Carolina and Tennesse and only briefly mentions Henry Bentley who owns banthecams.org in Florida. There was no mention of others who are pushing a state-wide ban through Florida state legislature.
This article also casts the current AZ referendum as a mere nuisance, but at the same time says that Arizona is a “hot bed” and has critics “among the most vocal.” While the voices coming from this website do carry weight, any meaningful research of 2011 photo ticketing industry news would show that Missouri is currently the most embattled state with the most vocal opposition. Again, the Republic fails to do their diligence.
Of course, they couldn’t help mentioning the IIHS study, which includes the city of Chandler. The writer interviewed a spokesman from that institute, but either didn’t bother to contact the city of Chandler or didn’t include their input because it didn’t serve the purpose of his spin. Several major media outlets in the Phoenix area were told last month by city representatives from Chandler that the numbers from the study were clearly bogus and not relevant to where red light cameras had actually been placed.
The photo enforcement industry isn’t the only topic that the AZ Republic keeps blinders on for, or is co-opted by corporate interests, but this may be the most blatant.
Expect to see more puff pieces and cheer leading for Redflex and ATS as SCR 1029 moves towards a vote in the AZ House, which would place the all out ticket camera ban that Arizonans have been asking for on the ballot.
If newspapers are meant to be predictable and biased towards special interests, the Arizona Republic can be very proud.