Ya gotta be kiddin’
It is a rare day, indeed, that we find ourselves agreeing with Mayor Ethan Berkowitz on a policy call, but when he right, he is right.
The city’s ombudsman, Darrel Hess, says in a memo to the Assembly and city officials that Anchorage should do away with its traffic-fine scofflaw program, the Anchorage Daily News reports. There are about 3,500 names on the list of such drivers.
A longtime critic of the program, Hess says it is unfair; that it overly affects low-income driver; that it affects people whose cars are impounded after they loan them to scofflaws.
We thought he was kidding. He is not.
To his credit, Berkowitz says he still thinks the program is a good idea, the ADN reports. “In our experience, there is a positive effect in terms of public safety in that it enforces ideas of personal responsibility,” he said.
While we have a soft spot in our hearts for ombudsmen and what they do, Hess is dead wrong.
If the program is unfair, it is unfair that scofflaws continue driving while the vast majority of Anchorage drivers, who, after receiving a ticket for a traffic infraction, pay up as responsible citizens. It is unfair to drivers who maintain their cars and are not menaces to the motoring public. Some of those on the list are lousy drivers and have dozens of traffic offenses going back years. It certainly is unfair to drivers who obey the law and are responsible.
It seems to us that if you refuse to obey the traffic laws, perhaps you should not drive. But giving scofflaws a pass because “Gee whiz, it is just too hard,” does not make a lick of sense, nor can it possibly make our streets safer.
It is too bad the program is an inconvenience for those who likely should not be driving anyway, but the city should not even begin to consider doing away with it. The sad truth is that people who chronically ignore traffic laws ignore other, more serious, laws, as well. Even considering giving them a pass simply is ridiculous.
We are happily surprised that Berkowitz gets it.