If there is any doubt that the top priority of municipal justice courts is to raise revenue for cities through fines, or that local police are pressured to write tickets, former Sandy police Sgt. David W. Lundberg offers his experience.
He cites a "pay for performance" system that rewards traffic cops on the basis of how many tickets they write. And the conviction rate in municipal justice courts is about 98 percent.
Lundberg says the incentive program is disguised as "accident prevention," but the reality forces cops to find the best "fishing hole" to get the most speeding tickets in the least amount of time. Lundberg says that rather than focusing on violations that statistically cause more accidents, police are under pressure to write tickets that are easiest.
Sandy police spokesman Sgt. Victor Quezada disputes Lundberg's assessment, stating that, while all officers have stated goals and objectives, there is no ticket quota they must meet to attain raises or bonuses.
"Nobody has ever been fired or demoted for not writing enough tickets," he said.
Costly malfunction? Senior citizens James and Rosalee McNamara of Salt Lake City were traveling between Moapa Valley and Mesquite, Nev., in March with the cruise control set at 75 mph. They were pulled over by a Nevada state trooper who said an airplane radar clocked Rosalee going 106 mph.
The ticket was $1,130 for reckless driving. Rosalee insisted her car was on cruise control at 75 mph. The trooper's response: "Tell it to the judge."
She wrote to Judge Ruth Kolhoss of the Moapa Valley court, opining there must have been an error from the plane. No response.
James was diagnosed with cancer in April and needed treatments, so traveling to Nevada to fight the ticket was next to impossible. Her only other option was to pay half the fine - $640 - and take five hours online of a Nevada certified safety course.
James died in August.
One bright idea: Caroline Blair, a sixth-grader at Morningside Elementary School, has embarked on a project to save energy by getting people to sign a pledge promising to use compact fluorescent light bulbs. She also hands out small bulbs to people she meets.
Caroline, who is blind, gave her neighbor, Andy Gallegos, a copy of the pledge, written in braille and copied underneath in cursive by her father, to give to former President Clinton at the Park City fundraiser Gallegos planned to attend.
Gallegos, through intermediaries, got the pledge to Clinton and thought that was the end of it. But later, he was handed a note from Clinton that was for Caroline.
"Thanks for your great project," Clinton wrote. "My home has lots of compact fluorescent bulbs. Keep it up."