By Gary Biller, NMA President
Popular lore has it that the phrase “throw the bums out” originated during the 1941 World Series when the New York Yankees faced off against the Brooklyn Dodgers. A man supposedly walked into a bar—stop us if you’ve heard this one before—in Brooklyn in the midst of the games and loudly toasted to all in attendance, “May the best team win.” New York hospitality being what it was, the man was set upon by the resident mob with shouts of, “T’row de bum out!” The Yankees won that series four games to one which probably didn’t improve the mood or diction of Brooklynites.
Today “throw the bums out” is more commonly applied to the world of politics where it is demonstrated all too often that our elected officials forget who they are representing and why. No better an example of this exists today than with the Brooksville, Florida, city council which has fought tooth and nail to prevent citizens the right to vote on how they are governed and regulated.
The United States is a federation of states with a republican form of government where the governing power rests with the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Most of us know this from Civics 101 but it bears repeating for those cretins in elected office who are more interested in preserving their power status than in representing the interests of the people.
Earlier this year Brooksville’s Pat and Shirley Miketinac gathered enough signatures to submit a petition, subsequently certified by the city’s supervisor of elections, which would allow voters to decide whether to approve a charter amendment prohibiting the use of red-light cameras by Brooksville. City administrators, supported by the vendor whose cameras were already in place, filed a lawsuit to prevent the up-or-down vote on the ticket cameras from ever being placed on the public ballot.
A week before the November elections, a county judge ruled in favor of denying Brooksville voters the opportunity to decide the fate of the cameras, determining ironically that a vote now could prevent a similar vote at some future date. Higher courts in California, Ohio, and Texas previously overturned similar rulings that would have prevented the people from determining the fate of red-light cameras in their communities. With election day come and gone, it is not certain that the ruling in favor of Brooksville cameras will be appealed.
Our advice to Brooksville voters: Throw the city’s leadership out at the earliest opportunity for opposing the will of the people.
The Brooksville issue aside, November 4, 2014 was mostly a good day at the ballot box for motorists:
- Four cities voted to discard red-light cameras—Cleveland; Maple Heights, OH; St. Charles County, MO; and Sierra Vista, AZ—by more than 70 percent majorities in each case. This brings the number of communities that, when given the chance to vote, rejected ticket cameras to 32 out of a possible 35.
- Maryland and Wisconsin passed constitutional amendments that prevent their transportation funds from being robbed for non-transportation projects.
- Texas voters overwhelmingly decided to allow the transfer of up to 50 percent of oil and gas production tax revenue that has been going to the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to the Texas Highway Fund under certain economic circumstances.
- Bond issues to authorize new mass transit projects were voted down in Florida (in the Gainesville and St. Petersburg areas), in Texas (Austin), in Kansas (Wichita), and in Washington (Seattle).