Honolulu Lite


Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Dead critters or speed
cams -- it all stinks

Something stinks. Really. As I sit here in my little "home office," considering how to follow up on my last tirade against the new Candid Camera Highway Speeding Enforcement and Fleece the Hicks Program, the air seems just a little off. I'm trying to convince myself that the smell is not that burgeoning not-quite-ripe dead varmint odor.

The smell is suspiciously similar to one I remember from a year ago, when a large rat or a small pony or some other animal of significant sizableness contrived to get inside a closet wall and die. Within days nature had begun its inexorable process of degeneration, breaking down once living matter to its basic elemental components, which, from a scientific standpoint, I can appreciate, but, man, is the smell absolutely necessary?

The smell of a decaying animal goes through stages, none of them pleasant. But because the animal ceased to exist inside a wall instead of, say, on the driveway, it could not simply be kicked onto the neighbor's property. In fact, it could not be kicked, poked, prodded, lifted or even seen at all. A professional for a pest-control company explained the obvious, which was that unless we were prepared to tear down the wall or levitate the late creature by some ancient levitating-type procedure out of whatever ingress it had used to enter the wall to begin with, we were stuck with it. So we sealed the closet with plastic sheets and duct tape and let nature take its slow, odoriferous course.

I'm beginning to recognize the distinctive Stage One Bouquet on the Decomposing Animal Smell-O-Scale: Faint, ethereal, yet definitely "there."

It's somehow fitting that I am forced to hold my nose while I try to write about how curious it is that the odoriferous speeding camera enforcement program has suddenly been put on hold to allow thousands of island car owners to become "more comfortable" with the notion of paying through the nose for merely going a few miles over a posted speed limit and thereby creating a financial windfall for the private company chosen to run the program.

State transportation officials are delusional if they think that the public's "comfort level" is the only thing holding back such a swell idea. Judging from the amount of e-mail I received after Monday's column assailing this turkey, the peasants are revolting, or at least getting into a righteous pre-revolting mode. Most drivers have no real beef with using cameras to enforce red-light violations because most drivers don't run red lights. But most drivers do exceed posted speed limits by generally modest amounts. The politicians and bureaucrats pushing speed-cam busts seem to consider these thousands of drivers clueless rubes, ripe for the plucking. They may be rubes, but they've got noses. They know when something stinks. And here's something for the DOT pencil-pushers to get comfortable with: These rubes make the rules.

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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