El Mirage Officials Withholding Accident Stats at Intersection with Speed Camera Until After Election, Despite Councilman's Request for Data
El Mirage's appointed and elected city officials are not releasing accident data for an intersection with a speed camera -- until after the election.
El Mirage has installed cameras thorughout the city to catch drivers speeding.
That, despite repeated requests by El Mirage City Councilman Jim McPhetres for those statistics.
As has been the case with the photo enforcement cameras across the state, there has been consternation in this community about the ones officials have peppered throughout the city.
One camera is placed at the intersection of Primrose Street and (Grand Avenue) U.S. 60, a state route that cuts through the city and fast-tracks drivers to popular destinations such as Wickenburg and Las Vegas.
Motorists buzzing along the divided highway with a 45 mph speed limit can get caught on camera for going 11 mph over the posted limit. El Mirage gets to collect the fines, and RedFlex, the private company that installs the cameras, of course, also gets a cut of the booty.
McPhetres wanted to know how many accidents occurred at the intersection before the camera went in, and how many since it's been in place.
After McPhetres request for info, Mook and Vice Mayor David Shapera ask for the same thing. They, along with City Manager Spencer Isom decided that the information would be presented to everyone, at the same time, during their first meeting in September.
The election is on August 28.
Isom tells New Times there's "no story here, unless you manufacture one."
And he adds that they're giving the information to everyone, at the same time "as doing so is the most efficient use of Police personnel's time."
He's right. We're not manufacturing anything. We have the e-mails going back and forth, including the one from the police chief to McPhetres telling him that a police analyst had already prepared a report on the accidents at the intersection.
All he had to do was review it, and hand it over to McPhetres.
But that never happened.
This isn't sensitive information that rises to the level of such secrecy.
Mook and company preached heavily that those cameras would increase public safety. Shapera is running for re-election, along with Mook's other followers -- Councilman Lynn Selby and Councilman Roy Delgado.
McPhetres, not surprisingly, is the odd-man out on the City Council -- asking too many questions and expecting too many answers, as far as his colleagues are concerned.
Shapera says McPhetres is wasting thousands of dollars by asking too many questions
(Up until recently, the cameras also captured red-light runners, but the city shut down that program without offering any explanations. More on that later.)
Here's what we know:
On July 20, a Friday, McPhetres asked Police Chief Steve Campbell for those accident statistics at the intersection.
The same day, the chief replied: "Sure. Will Monday or Tuesday be ok?"
McPhetres never got any stats.
On July 24, he repeated his request to Campbell: "Any idea on when I might see the crash figures for this intersection for the period of time the cameras have been installed?"
That same day, Campbell apologized to McPhetres, stating that he "was out of the office most of the day and have not reviewed my analyst's report. I will complete the review in the a.m."
The following day, (July 25), Mayor Mook and Vice Mayor Shapera asked City Manager Spensor Isom for the same accident information -- but told him they wanted it presented at a meeting ... in September.
On July 27, McPhetres again repeated his request.
That same day, Isom e-mailed the chief: "I understand that you have had a request for some of the information from a third member of council. I request you gather all pertinent information for a single presentation to the Council as a whole during the first meeting in September."
A sheepish chief replied to McPhetres on July 31: "Sir, I wish I could give you an absolute answer on that right now, but I can't. At the present time we are still drawing down the data. We have been asked to present the findings to all at the same time once all the data is researched and a report is composed."
Wait a sec ... the chief had already told the councilman eight days earlier that the analyst's report was completed, he just hadn't reviewed it.