Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Scattershot and Sinking

This is what happens when the ship of my day is broadsided by work-related phone calls - it is after one in the afternoon and I have not accomplished anything. New work has been generated. The big, messy kind.

Day started well.

I was only 15 minutes late today, "on time" being 8:30 and facts being that I was working until 6:30 last night and have put in 30 hours of overtime this year that will never count because I am on salary. "Overtime" assumes that a work week is 40 hours.

I'm almost a week ahead of the game!

And then (do you hear music from Pippen too?). . . .

Call from friend, re: family life; call from Eastern Jackson County resident, re: the Jackson County Legislature's fighting ways and evidence cover-ups, etc.; call from local resident, friend-esque woman, re: rental issues, personal issues, justice issues.

The call from my friend was not that long, but the total of ear-time ended up being something like three hours. So, I come and blow more time with this, because I can't leave because no one else is here.

And I'm tired (blog-style whining) and my throat hurts (draw your own conclusions) and the office anchor/reception person, while she has been in three times today to use the fax or whatever, is off until Monday.

That means when the phone rings, it's mine. I used to have things to write about and work on. They have all been obliterated, much in the same manner as the oft-cited "Kubla Khan" poem was obliterated when Coleridgewas interrupted 54 lines in by that legendary knock at the door. Damn visitors.

Things about which to write include:

Tuesday night's action-packed event, the public opinion session thrown together at the last minute by the Board of Police Commissioners or the mayor's office. Subject, let's talk about traffic cameras, the kind that send tickets to snapshotted motorists running red lights.

No one knew why they were there, it seemed, and one woman took the microphone opportunity to ask, "I wanna know how are you all gonna spend tax money on [a red light camera system] when my nephew's in jail downtown for a smash and grab jewelry on $50,000 bond and the tape is lost. What about that?"

The commissioners were not answering those kinds of questions (not even when she said, "I've been assaulted by the police. My son was murdered." She wasn't yelling, seemed rather resigned. Had brought a video camera along. I didn't see her use it).

The whole comment-gathering thing was stupid, since no one official had any stats about how many people get into wrecks because of traffic signal flouting, how many were perpetrators or victims of someone else's red-light-running, number of deaths, etc. In other words, we were wasting time.

They wouldn't even commit enough to acknowledge that the cameras have a $60,000 to $90,000 price tag - per camera.

"Just here to here your comments; we have no official opinion."

So, there's a commission to study the issue for a month. Another public hearing will come at the close, but in light of the way the police department has made a push (under the new chief) for transparency and accountability, it was a bit obvious that this meeting last night was a base-covering move. People are easily surprised by new initiatives, which the city seems to spew out every 10 minutes, especially ones involving money and privacy.

One thing that "came to light" and which some of us have known for some time (though do not believe!), is that the cameras already atop the traffic signal arms are not really recording anything.

Even a commissioner had to admit just finding out that those cameras are merely there to "deal with traffic flow."

One police officer found out recently himself when trying to get taped material to use as evidence in a non-traffic offense. No can do.

So, for now, Kansas City seems safe-ish from the all-sweeping eye.

This month's issue of Popular Mechanics features an article about traffic cameras' pros and cons, and a citizen at the meeting last night handed out photocopies to anyone who would take one. This is how "wonderful" cameras are in England:

To see where we could be heading, look at Britain with its surveillance cameras. Starting in December, the British government began compiling a database of information from thousands of cameras around the country. Using 35 million license-plate "reads" a day, it will be able to pinpoint the location of every vehicle on British roads.

2006-1984=22 years to get it right!


Susan said...

Fun pic tho :) very fun. Tks for the tip on the Kaplan book - it's wonderful that there might be an alternative to the traditional coat-hanger method. I've had a similar day to yours here today - lots going on but nothing done off my (humongous) stack. Bad Susan. And one of my students sent me a witness email (as in witnessing for Jesus). {ode to Susanjoy} oh là là là là....

Susan said...

yay! We have _The Story of Jane_ in our campus library (knock me over with a feather btw). tks again t.

hearmysong said...

ack! sorry to have stressed you out. you should have told me that you had to work!

i got nothing done today except the dentist and errands. grocery shopping. one paragraph of a story about the opera season.

interestingly, there was just a feature in a monthly magazine about the cameras too and how they are coming. must be a regional thing.