Letter: One Last Riposte – The photo radar issue

To the Mayor and Councillors, Municipality of Morinville

Perhaps unbelievably, I really was quite willing to let this die a natural death. Then our neophyte Mayor just had to get in a parting shot.

On April 16th an article appeared in the Edmonton Sun that upset and subsequently angered me – a great deal. Here is why:

Sun journalist Trevor Robb reported, “Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes says the issue was brought forth by a group of concerned citizens looking to open up a dialogue. He then quotes the Mayor: “They just wanted to have a discussion on photo radar, I don’t believe they intended it to turn into a full-out public vote,” said Holmes.

Robb further stated that some residents feared that if the program was scrapped taxes would be raised, but Holmes says that was never the case.

As well, Robb reported, “…The current photo radar contract is up for renewal at the end of the month and Holmes admits the town will most likely not move forward with the current plan and are contemplating changes to photo radar times and locations.”

Robb uses some statistics in his report, but does not divulge the source of those statistics. At any rate, they are grossly wrong. He says 8,672 violations were handed out in 2009 and 3,684 were handed out in 2013. Unfortunately for Mr. Robb (and whoever gave him the numbers), there were actually 5,049 tickets given in 2013. Yes, a smaller number than in 2009, but a significantly larger number than that given in the Sun’s article.

“So what?” might be your comeback.

Well, the first quote attributed to Mayor Holmes is not quite true, particularly when one considers the history of the issue. We have been trying for over three years to open this dialogue to which Mayor Holmes refers. We have never received a satisfactory answer from Councils of the day (of which, by the way, Lisa Holmes was a participating Councillor, having full knowledge of our concerns), Town Administration, the Traffic Advisory Committee or the photo radar contractor. However, once the decision to attempt the petition route was taken, rest assured that it was most definitely intended to turn it into a full-out public vote!

The statement “…some residents feared that if the program was scrapped taxes would be raised, but Holmes says that was never the case.” is very disturbing. When one reviews all of the letters and comments in the media, including not only our Morinville papers, but media such as Global TV, CTV, CBC, INews 880 radio and the St. Albert Gazette, a VERY different picture emerges. While the word `safety’ might be included there was a definite thrust towards the potential loss of revenue, how that might be recouped and an unfounded assumption that we would have to hire all sorts of extra staff to cover the loss of photo radar.

That is about it my friends, except for one last thing you might wish to keep tucked away in the backs of your minds.

A valid petition was presented to you once. Please do not make the mistake of thinking it could not happen again… and again.

Respectfully yours,

James O’Brien
Citizen and Taxpayer

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6 Comments

  1. Good letter James. It amazes me sometimes to see good honest people turn to liars when they get into politics. The first quote I read from our Mayor on this issue made reference to raising taxes to make up for the lost revenue if photo radar disappeared, now she does an about face. Not good.

  2. With all due respect, I think you’re using the word ‘neophyte’ rather loosely Jim. I give full marks to our mayor and council for giving this issue the attention it deserved–and believe they will make the appropriate changes to the way photo radar in our community is utilized (based on the feedback they’ve received from community members).

  3. With all due respect Moe, I believe you’ve missed the point of this letter. I too sincerely hope that Mayor Holmes and this Council make the “…appropriate changes…” (whatever those might be) to the way photo radar is utilized in our community. However I was (and remain) HIGHLY upset about both the ‘flip-flop’ statements re: revenue and Mayor Holmes’ patently false statement about WHY the petition was pressed.

    I note with interest that you neglect to comment on those aspects of my letter.

    And as far as my use of the word ‘neophyte’ goes, I suppose I could have said ‘novice’. Would that have been better?

    Have a nice day.

    Jim

    P.S.: Looking forward to seeing you at the Open House on Monday and congratulations on the birth of your first child!!

  4. Jim, I didn’t neglect to comment on the other “aspects” of your letter–rather, I was simply pointing out that your “One Last Reposte” (call it a parting shot) seems personal and not political. The people who voted on this matter had the final word.

    • You’re right – they did!

      I just don’t like being lied to… Never have, never will and I’m sorry if that offends you.

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