Oh, the irony.
When New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ran in 2017, she campaigned hard on a deep professed skepticism over the city’s use of traffic cameras. She said they nickel and dime residents. She complained that the pricey tickets cost cash-strapped residents money that they could otherwise spend on their families. She wondered aloud how much they improve safety, and whether their real purpose is to increase revenue.
Cantrell’s actual position shifted around during the campaign and the first budget process of her new administration — she eventually started espousing the safety benefits of keeping cameras operating in school zones, for example — but her purported sympathy with ticket recipients didn’t change. Or didn’t seem to, anyway.
Now comes word that her administration has altered the rules for speeding cameras, quietly abandoning a policy that exempted drivers traveling less than 26 miles per hour in a 20 mph school zone, for example.
She didn’t announce the change. Drivers around the city have been finding out when they’ve gotten the tickets in the mail.
The law’s the law, of course, and the city can penalize people for any violation. But changing the ground rules without warning people is a cheap shot. It makes the administration seem as if it’s embarking on a cash grab, and — despite Cantrell’s sympathetic stance — it puts a disproportionate burden on residents who can afford it least.
Is there a traffic camera nearby? It can be tough to remember.
In the long run, drivers will adjust to the new rules, just as they did to the old ones. So any new cash infusion is likely to be short-lived.
But the hard feelings among those who may have backed Cantrell over this issue may likely linger.