Arizona's ambitious statewide speed camera program faces increasing resistance both from the public and from state and local officials. At least half a dozen speed cameras have been temporarily taken out of service by ordinary citizens using nothing more Post-It Notes and silly string.
A video released yesterday documented a speed camera having its lens covered with silly string. Vigilantes then labeled with signs variously reading, "scamera," "scamera: ka-ching!" and scamera: smile." Over the past month other cameras have had their lenses covered with multiple yellow notes with the phrase "honest mistake" written on them. This is a subtle dig at camera operator Redflex which had argued that the importation, marketing and use of certain radar equipment in violation of federal law was an honest oversight (view letter). The Post-It Notes refer to a July incident where Redflex angered the office of Secretary of State Jan Brewer (R) which had been investigating a citizen's complaint against the company. According to Brewer's office, a Redflex employee "wrote a short response to the complaint on a post it note," making light of an official inquiry into the company's falsification of legal documents (view Brewer response).
Angering Brewer may turn out to be a serious mistake for the Australian ticketing company. Current Governor Janet Napolitano (D) was responsible for pushing the freeway speed camera program through the legislature to help deal with a mounting budget deficit. Early next year, Napolitano is expected to resign and head the US Department of Homeland Security for the Obama administration. Brewer would then assume the role of governor for the remaining two years of Napolitano's term.
Napolitano's lobbying effort was the only thing stopping state Senate lawmakers from putting the question of photo radar before voters as a ballot initiative (view proposed legislation). Lawmakers have also noticed that voters sent a strong message against the speed camera program by electing Paul Babeu as Pinal County Sheriff. Babeau's campaign signs bore the message "End Photo Radar." Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen on Wednesday called for the removal of cameras. As more motorists are hit by the photo tickets, the number of angry phone calls to local politicians has increased.
Much of the grassroots political opposition has been organized by the group camerafraud.com which holds regular protests to encourage fellow citizens to get involved and call not just lawmakers to express their opinion, but to call Redflex spokesman Shoba Vaitheeswaran, 33, as well. Post-It Note image courtesy of camerafraud.com.