Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christian Allaire's 2010 Year In Review Video

East Village, NYC
Mission? Chillackin

I had a wonderful year, and am so thankful. Do what you love. If you don't know what you love, get in gear and figure it out. If you know what you love then pursue it with gusto. Don't lock-up.

Christian Allaire's 2010 Year In Review Video from Christian Allaire on Vimeo.
A Kick Ass Year!


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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Racheting Up the Creativity

Williamstown, Mass
Scheduled to head back to California in a Week

My latest creations!

Shot with the Canon G11
Bricks wondering where his ball got off to

Peace Out!

Blast From the Past
My First Sailboat. A Helms 25 on Lake Tahoe in 1997


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Photo Traffic Enforcement is Enraging

Williamstown Ma
Mission? Visiting Friends, biding my time until school

Not long ago, in San Rafael, California, my current home, I was sifting through when I came upon a lengthy article regarding a specific traffic light that I drive through on a regular basis. What I learned enraged me regarding the photo enforcement movement throughout the United States. It should seriously bother you too.

This topic is relevant for me as I really want to make California my permanent home. However, issues like the intersection of Irwin and 3rd street in San Rafael is indicative of a state that has mismanaged its finances so badly, supports all kinds of crazy social programs, and leans so heavily on its productive citizens, that local governments move to gather revenue anyway possible. Ultimately, this type of thing fails. The only other place I would consider relocating to is Texas. In terms of taxation, and the over all thirst of the government, Texas is a clear choice. But I really love living in Marin County California. This is why I decided to speak up about the photo enforcement thing, as it simply points to a tone that has been set in California.

The Intersection of Evil

The above intersection traffic fine levied by the Australian company, Redflex, under the authority of the San Rafael City Council is a staggering $503! This includes rolling through yellow to red, and not making a complete stop on a right or left turn. This is insanity. Check these numbers.

In one year citizens were ticketed approx 4,000 times @ $500, which amounts to about two million in revenue to a city with a population of about 55,000 (2007 census). This breaks down to approx 7 percent of the population receiving a ticket from this one intersection. Spread out amongst the total city population, this amounts to $36 per year per citizen. What really made me fly is the article not only was giving the scoop on the Irwin light, but detailed the cities plans to install cameras at three other intersections. Enough! Here is the breakout of how the revenue from one ticket is sliced and diced, and then sent to a specific budget category. This information comes from the article in
  • $139.06 – Violation fine to City of San Rafael (30% of fee)
  • $ 8.92 – County General Fund
  • $ 17.15 – Criminal Justice Facilities Construction Fund
  • $ 13.72 – Courthouse Construction Fund
  • $ 19.60 – EMS
  • $ 7.20 – 2% Automation Charge for Criminal Records
  • $ 9.80 – DNA Identification Penalty Assessment
  • $ 13.72 – Maddy EMS
  • $ 3.43 – Automated Fingerprint ID System Fund
  • $ 9.80 – DNA Additional Penalty Assessment
  • $ 48.02 – State Penalty; Criminal Offenses
  • $ 20.58 – County Share of State Penalty
  • $ 20.00 – 20% State Surcharge; Base Fines
  • $ 29.40 – State Court Construction Penalty; Criminal Offenses
  • $ 30.00 – Court Security Fee on Criminal Offenses
  • $ 35.00 – ICNA-Conviction Assessment-Infractions
  • $ 19.60 – ICNA – Court Const PA 
You can see how the state government somehow seems to think they have a right to the revenue generated from this traffic light, just by virtue of the fact the state legislature passed the law that allows local governments to erect the camera system in the first place. It makes sense to me that when a local city council person votes to remove the system, they now have to deal with push back from the state because it effects the state budget. What a scam.

In a funny twisted turn of events, progressive minded folks realized that Redflex is Australian, but is based out of Scottsdale Arizona, and thus California citizens are sending some revenue to Arizona. A state they are supposed to have boycotted. San Rafael is overflowing with illegal immigrants, and is a sanctuary city. Everyone is all up in arms over Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law, and the city is unable to cut off city contracts with Arizona unless it wants to dump the camera enforcement program. It seems that 2 million per year trumps.

I object to the use of photo enforcement on plan ole unfairness grounds. Call it ideological, I don't care. Coming near that intersection creates paranoia. The margin for any kind of error is slim. People now stop when the light is still green, and people will not make a legal right hand turn just to be super cautious. It creates road rage. At $500 beans why risk it? I now simply avoid the whole intersection. I emailed the city and let them know I won't visit any more local businesses in the downtown area. To get downtown, I have to go through the Irwin intersection, find parking at $1.25 an hour with a $38 dollar fine for exceeding your time limit. If the meter is expired more than 20 minutes the fine nearly doubles. Why bother? I also take into consideration that I still have Florida plates, as I am a Florida resident attending college in California. The state will get all kinds of herdy turdy over the fact I have not re-registered the car in California. After all they want their $300 bucks, the ease of delivering fines, and the leverage gained over me.

Furthermore, it is not clear that photo enforcement saves lives or assists in traffic flow. Motorist behavior is already heavily regulated with speed limits, stop signs and traffic lights. We have arrows pointing everywhere, red zones, white zones, bus lanes, fire lanes, taxi zones and POV lanes. It is just ridiculous, and needs to change. People squawk about distracted drivers due to smartphones and the like, but never mention the overwhelming task direction the government provides in the form of signs, and all in the name of safety. Now the safety motivator and revenue motivator have merged to really anger the population.

Here is a quick sample: Sykesville, Maryland was put to a referendum, in which 321 out of 529 voters (60.4%) voted against the cameras. The turnout for this vote was greater than the number of voters in the previous local Sykesville election for mayor where 523 residents voted" (wikipedia). Arizona operated 76 cameras and has decided to not renew its contract with Redflex. Arizona need not worry though, because apparently San Rafael, California plans to keep cash flowing to Arizona.

What can you do? You need to voice your opinion to the elected officials. Local business needs to also engage, and realize that this type of overbearing governing results in people not visiting business districts. At least today, people still have the ability to move. California, New York and Connecticut are losing big time to states like New Hampshire, Texas and Florida. When a local government has the cojones to fine someone $503 dollars for a traffic infraction something is seriously wrong. The best resource I found to gather information and fight is

Blast From The Past
Seaman Allaire. Heavy Weather aboard Polar Sea, circa 1988

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