Big Brother's Little Problem
The City of Tempe will soon follow Paradise Valley's lead and install photo radar systems to catch speeders and red-light runners. The devices photograph the vehicle and license plate of an offender, and a ticket is mailed to the auto's owner.

Tempe police expect the I-Spy systems to generate up to $200,000 a year in fines.

"So far, the feedback we have gotten is very positive," Tempe police commander Kevin Kotsur says.

If that's the case, why are creative cop busters marketing equipment to beat Big Brother?

Tim Dordahl, owner of a Tempe personal-security store called Defense Depot, is selling a Plexiglas cover that distorts the license plate when viewed from curbside, where the police cameras are set up.

While a glass-encased license plate can be viewed from directly behind a vehicle, a camera taking pictures at an angle won't be able to detect letters and numbers on the plate, Dordahl claims.

"They can't read it. It just comes up blank," he says.
Kotsur hadn't heard of the photo-thwarting plate holders, but said that, as far as he knew, they would be legal.

"I don't know of any clause that would prevent anybody from using that," Kotsur says.

Mary Rose's Midas Touch
When Phoenix City Manager Frank Fairbanks lost his bid for County Charter Drafting Committee to write-in candidate Andy Kunasek, son of corporation commissioner Carl Kunasek, he didn't go down alone.

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox was behind the Fairbanks campaign, making him the second Wilcox-backed candidate to take a fall recently. Political newcomer Doug Lingner ousted Salomon Leija from Phoenix City Council. Leija is a former campaign manager for Wilcox.

Unnamed Source Unmasked
Now that the Phoenix Gazette is delivering yesterday's news tomorrow, its political columnist, John Kolbe, RGazette, has been relegated to even greater obscurity. Since the merger of Republic and Gazette news staffs, the "news" in the morning and afternoon papers is virtually identical. So who's buying the afternoon paper for the privilege of reading Kolbe, Joe Gilmartin and that Hart guy?

Yet Kolbe, the Hoary Headmaster of Harrumph, maintains his seat on Horizon, KAET Channel 8's weekly round table, which invites Very Important Journalists to mangle syntax while providing tepid commentary on sanitized scoops. (The Flash recommends that Horizon host Michael Grant enliven the proceedings by periodically leaning over to bitch-slap Howie Fischer. Or vice versa.)

Anyway, during the January 12 Horizon, Kolbe nearly wet himself while relating a witticism emanating from "amember of the congressional delegation." The brilliant congressman, Kolbe explained, had suggested that Governor J. Fife Symington III's attempt to take over the Grand Canyon was akin to having Marion Barry run the Smithsonian.

A real knee-slapper.
Conspicuously absent in his reportage was Kolbe's disclosure that the quote was uttered by his own brother, Jim, R-Congress.

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