Those Crazy Artists

The plumed wonder on Roosevelt Row artists who hate crazies, Scottsdale's refunding of 1,964 camera tickets and the new Catholic homophobia

But as Bruce Kalin, the program contract administrator for Scottsdale, explains, the city's photo radar vendor, hometown company RedFlex, was jiggling with the software in one of its mobile photo radar vans and, somehow, said software was mistakenly changed so that it deleted that little data bar that lists date, time and speed.

That happened in July. And although someone is supposed to check every citation to make sure it's got that key date-time-speed information, that someone didn't catch the problems affecting the van in question until October -- almost four months later.

At which point, the city figured it had a problem.

Pot calls kettle insane, and other shocking revelations.
Pot calls kettle insane, and other shocking revelations.

"If that [time and mph] information isn't there, it's technically not a photo that can be used as evidence," Kalin told The Bird. Which must mean that all those tickets are inadmissible in traffic court. Which could, of course, lead to something this extended third finger dearly loves -- a great big scandal!

And so Scottsdale began quietly mailing refunds.

"Anybody who paid will be refunded," Kalin vowed to this faux falcon. "If they went to driver's school, that will be refunded. We're also refunding process-server fees."

Kalin says the city isn't out a dime. The refunds are being paid by the city's outside contractor, RedFlex, since it's the one that screwed up. Damn! The Bird was hoping that greedy Snottsdale would get punished for its damnable money-grubbing policies!

Scottsdale Councilman Jim Lane, an outspoken critic of the Loop 101 plan, says he was first informed of the refunds by a constituent who'd just gotten his money back -- and, naturally, that guy wasn't calling to complain.

"He was delighted," Lane says.

But the plumed one's still guessing there are some people who aren't.

Like the people who sat through six hours of traffic school only to be told they'd wasted their time. Sure, they get their money back, but what about those six hours of their lives?

Can you say pain and suffering?

None of this much fazed the City Council majority, which went ahead and approved the Loop 101 plan. The city's now estimating that the new cameras will nab 198,500 speeders a year -- which means no one should cry for RedFlex. The company gets $42.48 per citation, which could mean $8.4 million for RedFlex in the first full year of operation. It can afford to make a couple of thousand refunds, fuck you very much!

Pope-a-Dope

The Bird's never less than entertained by the flatulent rhetoric that blows from the pie-holes of the pious, so it loved the Vatican's recent announcement of new policies against homosexuals in the church.

Seems Pope Benedict XVI (the Pope formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and author of some of the nastiest anti-gay documents to come out of the Vatican in the 1980s) has been pressed to come up with a scapegoat for all the horrific sex crimes perpetrated against children by his church.

Surprise! Pope Ben has singled out America's favorite whipping boy, the Homosexual Male, to pin these hideous crimes on.

The five-page Vatican report, called an "Instruction," rejects seminary candidates who are "actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture." It goes on to say that "One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies.'' (The Bird presumes that "negative consequences" is papal code for "diddling altar boys when no one is watching.")

The report suggests a solution to the church's rampant pedophilia: Admit only homosexual seminarians who've been celibate for three years -- a notion championed in a brief written statement from Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted last month.

Of course, there are no similar rules for heteros. It's just the swishier seminarians who must dodge sex and "gay culture," meaning books or movies detailing homosexual activity.

To which The Bird must cry to His Holiness: Your doctrine also denounces heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage, but The Bird doesn't see any rules barring straight seminarians from buying books or tickets to films that depict that particular sin (which, of course, would be the majority of books and films created in the past 50 years).

And, okay, most of the molestation cases in the Roman Catholic Church have involved male victims. But even a pretend pigeon knows that this doesn't mean all gay priests are potential molesters.

Touché, says the very Reverend Chris Carpenter, pastor of Christ the King church in Mesa. "Sex abuse in the church is not a homosexual problem," Carpenter insists. "It's more about the abuse of power."

Carpenter cites a study on the church's sex abuse woes from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice that found no clinical evidence suggesting homosexual priests are more likely to have sex with minors than heterosexual ones.

"The Vatican's Instruction takes aim at gay seminarians to distract Catholics from the real issue," says Mark Elliott Newman, president of the Phoenix chapter of Dignity/Integrity, a gay Catholic group. "That issue is a church hierarchy that protects abusers but fails to protect abuse victims.

"There may be some gay priests who are pedophiles," Newman told The Bird. "But moving them from church to church, as the Catholic hierarchy tends to do, is not the answer. Nor is scapegoating gay priests."

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