By: Sharon Aron Baron
This week has been a successful week for many of the residents, and Tamarac Talk has two reasons to celebrate.
Why shouldn’t we?
Two things that we have been a strong advocate against: red light cameras and the Doral Academy Charter School are now behind us. Add this to the list of changes we have had a hand in bringing forward, including getting our parks reopened on Mondays, and streaming city commission meetings.
Red Light Cameras
First of all, the red light cameras are no longer operational. Just like Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Hallandale Beach and Margate, Tamarac has dropped their red light camera program. Yes, we lived without red light cameras for 50 years before they voted for them, and we’ll survive another 50 years without them. This vote by the commission in 2012 showed how little they understood what the cameras could or couldn’t do.
They truly believed that the red light cameras could save lives. They didn’t. They believed it would be cost-neutral. It wasn’t.
No camera could possibly stop a 4,000 pound car from hurtling through an intersection. But the folks at American Traffic Solutions sure sold them a bill of goods – as well as showed them some incredible footage that made them believe they could.
They believed it wouldn’t cost us any money. In fact, we were supposed to make lots of money, but that wasn’t the City’s objective. The cameras ended up costing us money and plenty of extra staff including extra BSO personnel to review tickets and a part-time judge magistrate to oversee hearings. We were losing money.
The worst part was our City had the audacity to stick one in front of the emergency room entrance at University Hospital, and when someone who was driven to the emergency room made a safe turn on a red light when there were no cars in the intersection, they couldn’t even get their pricey ticket excused by the judge magistrate – even if they showed proof of their emergency room bill! They wanted to stick it to our residents in their most desperate time of need. What a terrible move for our commission – a move that was captured on WPLG with no apologies from our mayor who stood by the camera at that location.
Even our police captain couldn’t even confirm that crashes were down with the use of the cameras.
“To be honest with you, there were mixed results. Some studies showed a decrease in crashes and some showed an increase which is to be expected because most jurisdictions noticed that people now think they’re going to jam on their brakes and they’re going to cause rear end collisions, so we’ve seen a slight increase since the cameras have been put in. But it’s been such a short period of time, so it really hasn’t been definitive, in my opinion.”
The second cause for celebration this week was the city pulling out of the whole charter school negotiation with Doral Academy. I’ve been accused of being anti-charter school, but for those that read my articles in Coral Springs Talk, they’ll find that I’m supportive of well-run municipal charter schools. Because of this whole issue I’ve had people bringing my own children into the argument. First of all, as a Tamarac resident (who doesn’t make money from the City or State coffers) I don’t even live in the boundaries to attend Tamarac schools as we live in North Lauderdale and Lauderdale Lakes boundaries.
Secondly, I’ve been writing for years about reassignments on Tamarac Talk and make no secret that residents can attend any Broward County Public School through school choice. I had the good fortune of having my daughter attend Challenger Elementary in Tamarac for several years where I sat on the School Advisory Council, was School Advisory Forum representative and was the District Advisory Chair representative for our school board member. I learned a lot about how our schools work and still continue to do so to this day. It was obvious that Doral Academy was not a good fit for the location – a public park near a senior community, as well as in close proximity to some great, under-enrolled Broward County Public Schools.
The way our City went about this should be an example of how not to go about laying the groundwork for any big plans, especially one so close to a 9,000 resident senior community. Let’s just face it, you don’t mess with the folks at Kings Point.
And to Commissioner Diane Glasser who didn’t stand beside her constituents during this time, her legacy will be how she let her residents down during her remaining years in office. And to the candidates who are running for office in district three who didn’t speak out: your days may be numbered as you sat idly by and said nothing publicly at meetings or in print against your friends in office because you probably didn’t want to “make waves.” What type of leader will you be? How will you think on your own? Who will you stand for, your friends or your constituents?
Len Ronik President of Kings Point told me this: Kings Point residents never forget. I’m certain they won’t when November 2016 rolls around.