Serve on SacRT board

From our friends SacTRU and also noticed by Ridership for the Masses.

Mayor Steinberg is appointing a member of the private sector to the SacRT Board. This seat will replace one of the Sacramento City Council seats currently filled by Councilman Rick Jennings and will serve until the end of 2018. The member of the private sector would have full voting rights as a board member representing the city of sacramento.

Position: Seat A – A member of the private sector with an understanding of the importance of regional transit and public transportation.

Deadline to Apply: March 30, 2018 at 5:00pm

The requirements and selection process are vague, but all are encouraged to apply. We hope many qualified members of the community will apply and represent the needs of riders, and that this seat is not simply filled by an interested member of the business community.

Apply at: Scroll down to Sacramento Regional Transit Board; no direct link is available.

It has been suggested that the best candidate is a woman of color. There is only one woman serving on the board currently, Linda Budge. There are two people of color, Rick Jennings and Phil Serna, but it is Rick Jennings seat that is being offered (see board list). STAR believes it is important to have someone who is a regular user of the transit system, since the current members range from low transit use to no transit use. Finding that ideal candidate that increases the diversity of the board and better represents riders will be a challenge. If you know that person or those people, please let them know and ask them to serve.

At the same time, STAR encourages everyone to apply. This can be a transformative moment for SacRT, and a strong interest in the position may encourage the other entities, county and cities, to appoint citizens. The board suffers from having politicians as members who are already very busy with their other boards and commissions, and other interests, and don’t pay enough attention to transit. We need someone whose passion is transit that works for everyone.

Is law enforcement the answer?

From my post on Vision Zero and law enforcement, it might be assumed that I think increased enforcement is the answer. I’m not so sure. The problem is that law enforcement in general, and traffic enforcement specifically, has long been used as a tool by law enforcement to harass and oppress people of color, low income people, and the homeless. As a white male, or course, I don’t experience this, but I certainly observe it happening to others. I see it in Sacramento, I see it everywhere I travel. It is part of the purpose of law enforcement to maintain privilege for those in power. And it can, and does, also protect people. But the privilege function seems to me to overwhelm the protection function. It is certainly true that people of color and low income, and the homeless, do not trust law enforcement officers, because they have long been victims. Having a tail light out, which results in a stop, and frequently a search, and sometimes brutality, and sometimes even death, does not lead anyone including me to think that simple enforcement is a solution to traffic violence. And yet, ignoring the real threat of traffic violence, which affects people of color, low income, and homeless, far more than people of privilege, is not a solution either.

So, what to do?

Automated speed enforcement (ASE) is part of the answer. Cameras don’t racially profile, and assuming that there is no bias in sending tickets, does not oppress. The city has included a recommendation for ASE in the Vision Zero Action Plan: 3.4 Support state Automated Speed Enforcement legislation. Of course speeding is much better controlled by street design, but ASE can contribute to a reduction in the number and severity of collisions, particularly during the long period of time it will take to fix our unsafe streets.

I have a theory that most traffic violations, at least the ones likely to result in fatality and severe injury (KSI), are the result of what I call egregious violators, those who continuously and flagrantly violate the law. These are the ones that are not going 30 in. 25 mph zone, but going 50 in a 25. If ASE can catch these drivers, and eventually remove them from the road, I would expect a great decrease in KSI.

Another solution is to prevent law enforcement from using stops as a pretext, for the purpose of racial profiling. A stop should be just a stop, dealing with the violation and no more. That will take a change in law enforcement policies and attitudes, and probably changes in law that restrict officers in what they can do on traffic stops. When traffic stops shift from low riders to Escalade drivers, we will have made some progress.

Another solution, one implemented in some European countries, is that a traffic violations of safety significance results in a ticket whose amount depends on either the value of the vehicle or the income of the driver, and is not a flat rate. Standard violation fees, with court and processing costs added on, are a huge burden to many lower income people, while high income people hardly notice. If you don’t think that income matters, look at parking violations. Many higher income people routinely get parking tickets, every day, but it does not change their behavior, they see it just as part of the cost of getting the best parking spot and keeping it.

To implement Vision Zero in Sacramento, the community is going to have to talk about how law enforcement has long affected people of color, and continues to. We are going to have to come up with solutions that reduce and eliminate the effects of profiling based on race, income, and housing status, and the disparate impact of tickets on different income levels. I don’t have the answers, but I have faith that the WHOLE community does.

What do you think?