Editorial hypocrisy produces Flores endorsement

Lubbock’s daily newspaper, we like to call it the Daily Nickel, has come out with its endorsements. They are notable but only for their hypocrisy.

Commissioner Sedeno

The Daily Nickel’s endorsement of former Commissioner Gilbert Flores for county commissioner over incumbent Bubba Sedeno in the Democratic Primary was, in its best light, a blatant act of doublespeak. It also renews questions about how relevant a daily newspaper can be when it is owned by a Georgia media conglomerate and has little or no corporate memory.

The argument for editorial hypocrisy is found in the editorial’s reference to Sedeno’s vote for a raise for commissioners. That vote was 4-1 for the raise and Commissioner Bill McCay, who received the Daily Nickel’s endorsement for Pct. 1 Republican Primary, also voted for the raise.

Flores made the motion for a twenty percent raise.

A further demonstration of the duplicity at work is found in a July 24, 2001 article in the Daily Nickel. There we learn that during his previous tenure on the commissioners court Flores himself made the motion for a larger, twenty percent pay raise. The commissioners approved that raise by a 4-1 vote also. McCay was not on the commissioners court at that time.

One of the underlying reasons for the Daily Nickel’s duplicity is found in its ignorance. Ignorance is a sad accusation to make of a media outlet however the Daily Nickel boasts a lack of any institutional memory of itself or the community it presumes to serve. imageTwo thirds of its editorial board are new transfers to Lubbock. Collectively, editorial board opinions are a vivid demonstration of the absence of any historical context.

This is the same publication that in its December 27, 2015 edition announced on the front page that it would soon feature a new column edited by a former Lubbockite who at the time also appeared on the state’s registered sex offender list. The article no longer appears on the paper’s website yet no retraction can be found.

One assumes that Daily Nickel management, when confronted with public outcry over the outrageous move, backed down and attempted to cover up all trace of the lapse. Had management merely looked up its new columnist in its own archives it would have learned the truth. Ignorance on the front page.

Sedeno refuses to be a token.

But ignorance is not the only reason behind the specious endorsement. Unlike his opponent, Bubba Sedeno refuses to be a token. He didn’t take office to get along with the rest of the commissioners. He has consistently challenged the status quo and boldly represented his district without apology.

The commissioners court has long been run by a Queen Commissioner and her Duke. Those two believe their districts, although equal in population to Sedeno’s, merit better and more attention from taxpayer dollars. For years, while Flores was commissioner and without his objection, those two commissioners ran the county with an iron fist behind a cloak of secrecy that produced questionable expenditures and backdoor raises to favored employees.

Commissioner Sedeno has fought for transparency. Unlike Flores, he’s not satisfied to merely collect a paycheck. But the power establishment at the county and the Daily Nickel abhor a minority who isn’t there to just get along.

The power establishment at the county and the Daily Nickel abhor a minority who isn’t there to just get along.

If Sedeno “erred” past offending the Queen and her Duke, both of whom have the ear of the editorial board, it was in cooperating with any media outlet except the Daily Nickel. The editorial board is punishing Sedeno for not realizing that the Daily Nickel and it’s ever shrinking circulation is the only game in town. Except it isn’t the only game in town and Sedeno made no mistake when he refused to bend his knee to the Queen and her Duke.

Whether on the front page or the editorial page, the Daily Nickel has become the marionette for establishment interests and the politicians who cater to it. That calls in question the legitimacy of every endorsement it makes.

They’re back…speeding cameras from ATS

They’re back. Perhaps taxpayers thought they’d rid themselves of the pestilence but like unwelcome relatives and seasonal influenza, traffic enforcement cameras from American Traffic Solutions are trying to make a comeback in Lubbock County.

This time it is in the form of school crossing zone cameras. Anything for the kids, right?

Tonight’s KCBD/Sandstorm Scholar Investigates report by Sarah-Blake Morgan focuses on American Traffic Solutions’ attempt to convince Lubbock County Commissioners to bring photo enforcement to Lubbock County’s school crossing zones.

Anything for the kids, right?

By some quirk of the Texas Constitution county commissioners are reportedly the final authority for installation of enforcement cameras in school crossing zones for both county roads and municipalities. The county commissioners we talked with were of mixed minds.

Commissioner Mark Heinrich had one response, “no.” His opponent for the Precinct 2 seat, Jon David Brugel, agreed.

Commissioner Bill McCay was more open-minded saying he felt he should talk to the school superintendents first to determine whether they believed there exists a problem of enforcement in school zones.

Then there is Bubba Sedeno, possibly the most conservative official in county government. Commissioner Sedeno was a little more colorful but his response was essentially the same: “no!” And no, the irony is not lost on us that the most conservative Republican in the courthouse may be a Democrat.

School zone speeding cameras are not the same as red light cameras. There does not exist the same data showing that speed zone cameras contribute to traffic accidents. Speeding is a cut and dried issue. You are or you aren’t.

The most conservative Republican in the courthouse may be a Democrat.

Traffic stops can be dangerous for enforcer and offender alike. And one can argue that if revenues are going to be raised it is better they come from fines than from taxes.

But this is Lubbock, America. We live here because there are certain elements in the rest of the country that we’d prefer to put off as long as possible. Photo traffic enforcement has clearly been one of those things.

There are constitutional issues involved with photo enforcement technology. And while we acknowledge that traffic stops are a dangerous part of an officer’s duties we are reminded it is at routine stops that some of law enforcement’s best interdiction work is done. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was caught by a state trooper in a traffic stop for no license plate. There is no substitute for the human element in law enforcement – even at the traffic enforcement level.

American Traffic Solutions sells itself on the safety issue but it has the purest of motives: profit. In exchange for 50% of the ticket revenues ATS proposes to provide the equipment, process the tickets, bill the offender and remit 50% to Lubbock County. That’s a virtual guarantee the program will have the best equipment and tightest enforcement standards possible. Sandstorm Scholar trusts a profit motive. It is the only motive we can consistently predict.

There is no substitute for the human element in law enforcement – even at the traffic level.

However if Lubbock County Commissioners expect to introduce school crossing zone radar enforcement cameras we hope they are prepared to commit the energy necessary to sell the public on the need for increased policing and value of photo enforcement. This requires a greater effort at persuasion and public interaction than the commissioners have traditionally shown the willingness to commit.

A vendor approached the commissioners and they are entertaining the solution. As Commissioner Bill McCay said, this is only in the beginning stages. But at the Sandstorm Scholar, we remain unconvinced.