Arizona Republic Loses Respect of Readers for Pushing Agenda of Redflex and ATS

March 21, 2011

We’ve seen this before. The AZ Republic seemingly couldn’t exist if they didn’t find some industry shill for.

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 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.

Breaking: The Redflex Freeway Cameras Are Coming Down

May 5, 2010

Just when the Arizona Summer Heat is hitting its peak, the motorists of this state will have a reason to celebrate. On July 1st, 2010 the contract between the Arizona DPS and Redflex Traffic Systems will expire and not be renewed. Redflex broke the news in a Press Release to the Australian Securities Exchange, dated May 6th, 2010.

What this means, in effect, is that 10% of the so called Photo Traffic Enforcement Cameras in Arizona will be dismantled and removed in about seven weeks. This development is very encouraging, but there is still much work to be done to ban this system state-wide, just like 15 other states already have.

Even after we all watch the freeway scameras dismantled and removed, the chance of them coming back one day will not be eliminated until the Ban Photo Radar in Arizona Initiative is approved and voted on in November.

Regardless of the spin put on this story by Redflex or DPS, know that public opinion and the efforts of CameraFRAUD and Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar played a major role in this decision. The work of our volunteers and the voices of our supporters are vital in the effort to ban the scam. In other words, your voice has been heard loud and clear.

We found a way to make 10% of the cameras come down and we won’t stop until the other 90% do as well.

The 7 Sheets by 7/1 Challenge will continue, so let’s all keep the momentum going!

AZ Republic Shills for Mesa Photo Program (Again)

April 16, 2010

The Republic is at it again. In another display of journalism at its worst, Arizona Republic writer Nathan Gonzalez spreads propaganda and tries to give credit to Mesa’s photo enforcement program where credit isn’t due.

In what is truly a stretch of a headline, the Republic proclaims, “Mesa police credit photo enforcement for accident decline.” Never mind that quotes from police Sgt. Andy Nesbit in the same article contradict this, “Understand, though, that we can’t say photo safety is the cause.” In fact Nesbit point out that several other factors have probably helped, “Traffic patrols and the city’s involvement in DUI task forces have played a role along with the photo-enforcement program,” Nesbit said.

Proper journalism would call for an interview of an expert on the matter such as a city traffic engineer as well as a comparison of data to other cities and regional and national trends. Had Nathan done this, he’d have shown a national trend of a reduction in fatalities of about 9%, and a 18-20% reduction in overall accidents. The traffic engineer could have also provided data on traffic volume through the city, as the number of miles traveled can have a huge impact on crash numbers. When these facts are considered, Mesa probably saw an INCREASE in accidents and fatalities, as Mesa reports that the number of fatalities was unchanged and a reduction in overall crashes of only 7% – significantly less than national averages. Accidents are usually categorized as either non-injury, injury, and fatality. Curiously, the article omits injury accident numbers.

Nathan also attempts the classical tactic of using emotion to tug at the readers heartstrings by opening the article with a story about a fatal accident involving a red light runner. It’s unclear because of how it’s (purposefully?) written, but the person killed in the accident was actually the person who ran the red light as explained in this article. There’s not enough information to draw any solid conclusions, but our money says that the 60-year-old woman probably wasn’t merely trying to “beat the light” or avoid sitting in traffic and that a camera would not have made any difference except to mail her a ticket a few weeks later.

The article also highlights the ineffectiveness of the photo enforcement system but glosses over these facts:

Of the photo-radar speed tickets generated, Mesa Municipal Court documents indicate that 7,693 were paid last year and 8,488 were either dismissed by the Police Department or dismissed because the driver wasn’t served with the ticket.

Of the red-light citations, 4,849 were paid and 6,139 were dismissed.

This gives the speed tickets an effectiveness rate of only 48%, and red light tickets a rate of 44%. So much for fair “law enforcement.” The rates get even worse if you consider the total number of citations which were mentioned in the side bar. Total speed citations: 23,533. Total Red Light citations: 18,200.

Another curious observation is the lack of the ability to comment on the story. Afraid of letting the truth get in the way again, Arizona Republic?

The Tale of Two Headlines

November 25, 2008

AZCentral seems to be torn between two masters when it comes to photo enforcement related news, redefining the Orwellian idea of doublespeak in the process.

Case in point: The bizarre retitling of a story regarding the victim of a motorcycle theft receiving a photo ticket in the mail long after his vehicle was reported stolen.

Original headline?

“Motorcycle theft victim gets ticket in mail”

Revised, politician-safe headline?

Man who stole motorcycle responsible for speeding ticket”

This development follows a disgraceful hit-piece done by Phoenix NBC affiliate 12 News, which lumped all who oppose photo enforcement into the category of “vandals” while reporting on the post it note epidemic. (12 News, AZCentral, and The Arizona Republic are all owned by Gannett.)

The Arizona Republic has proven to have little regard for keeping appearences above reproach:

(Redflex’s) Vaitheeswaran had only recently taken over the media relations role from Michael Ferraresi, 28. Ferraresi, himself a frequent ticket recipient, has been through a revolving door with the Australian camera vendor and the Arizona Republic newspaper. After writing stories about the company for the Republic, Redflex hired Ferraresi to be spokesman — often speaking to his former colleagues at the paper about the company. Ferraresi is once again reporting for the Republic, a paper that offers enthusiastic editorial support for the use of speed cameras and red light cameras.

Scottsdale Launches All-out Assault on Freedom of Speech

August 28, 2008

Scottsdale Police has arrested a reporter who was videographing anti-camera activists. Two individuals were exercising their first-amendment rights by waving signs on a sidewalk on Shea Blvd when, incredulously, the Scottsdale Police arrested the person holding the camera. One of the charges was even for a non-existent crime: “disrupting the operation of a photo radar van.”

“A Scottsdale man arrested Wednesday night was accused of disrupting the operation of a photo radar van parked in the 6800 block of East Shea Boulevard, police said.

Shelton, 35, was holding protest signs and blocking the van’s cameras, Officer Dave Pubins said.

Last Friday, a grass-roots group called gathered at Scottsdale and Thomas roads to protest the use of photo-enforcement cameras.”

The Scottsdale Police is in such an outright tizzy that they even went as far as to issue a press release in a section of their website normally grazed with information pertaining to death investigations and armed robberies.

The arrested reporter is a contributor to local-news site, as well as his own Youtube channel, “RP4409.” He was released on his own recognizance on 8/28 around 5:30 PM.

Best of luck with your proceedings, Scottsdale. You’ll need it, because by acting illegally under the “color of law,” the TRUE law shines though as clear as day.

UPDATE: A few of our readers pointed out an interesting question: If it’s a crime to wave a sign on a city street near photo radar equipment, why didn’t the Scottsdale Police take enforcement action on Friday, August 22nd during the Thomas Road protest, in which footage from local channel KTVK-TV clearly shows activists who may have purposefully been blocking the equipment?

Is it because they were afraid of possible public backlash and blowback for being heavy-handed? Is it because the Scottsdale Police is afraid of the media? Or, perhaps the City of Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Police are terrified of cameras catching them in the act when they do something wrong?

%d bloggers like this: