NMA E-Newsletter #229: Time to Recognize Those Who Take a Stand

Public officials taking outspoken, principled stances? It’s rare, but it does happen. What’s even rarer is when those stances favor drivers’ rights. Here are a few recent examples.

During his 2012 re-election bid, Fullerton, California, City Councilman Travis Kiger publically spoke out against taking federal grant money to implement DUI roadblocks. He rightly criticized this heavy-handed enforcement approach as costly, ineffective and unconstitutional. Despite standing by his principles, Kiger lost his bid for reelection last November.

After 25 years on the force, Novi, Michigan, police officer Michael Corbett called the department to task for implementing ticket quotas, which, he said, led to the shakedown of innocent drivers. Corbett faced reprisals, lost his job and is suing the department for wrongful termination.

Ken Burke, the County Clerk of Circuit Courts in Pinellas County, Florida, recently wrote a “no holds barred” letter to the mayor of St. Petersburg detailing his many concerns over the city’s red-light camera program. Burke is still on the job, but given his insider status, he took a huge risk by exposing the many flaws and abuses so prevalent with photo-based traffic enforcement.

Chicago Committeeman Scott Davis took on Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council by calling for a repeal of the city’s speed camera ordinance in light of recent corruption allegations. Davis’ action prompted this endorsement from NMA President Gary Biller, excerpted here:

I wish more politicians had the courage to speak out as you have against what are clearly revenue-generating efforts but are presented falsely as safety programs. Thank you for taking a public stance against photo enforcement.

The NMA wants to recognize more officials like Davis, Burke, Corbett and Kiger for their principled stances in support of motorists—especially when those stances could trigger serious backlash like losing a job or an election.

That’s why we’ve created the Sentinel Award for Outstanding Service to Motorists. This award will recognize public officials, or organizations, who take a risk by publically standing up for motorists’ rights. And we’d like you to submit nominations. Here are few guidelines to consider:

  1. The nominee should ideally serve in some public capacity. This includes elected or appointed officials, law enforcement officers, legal/court personnel. However, we will consider others, such as community organizations, journalists or even private citizens.
  2. The nominee’s actions or positions should be known publically and show direct support for motorists rights.
  3. Ideally, nominees will have taken some kind of risk or faced repercussions for standing up for their principles.

If you know of a person or group like this, send us the details and tell us why you think they’re a good candidate for the Sentinel Award. We’ll review the nominations and determine the winners. Winners will receive a framed certificate. We will also issue a local news release and tell their stories in upcoming newsletters. The goal of the program is not only to show appreciation for those whose work benefits motorists but to encourage others in the public eye to stand up as well.

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