Grassroots Guerrilla Warfare Against Speed Cameras in Arizona
The next national meeting of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating
Committee will be held in Tucson, Arizona from
And you’re invited.
The program will
include a showing of the new film, Death and Taxes,
NWTRCC with Tucson filmmaker Steev Hise and the Pan Left
Collective. Workshops and panels will cover topics about the role of war tax
resistance in seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons, ending the
militarization of the border, and stopping the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan. There will be a beginner’s workshop on war tax resistance, stories
of long time war tax resisters from around the
organizing strategies for peace and justice.
A masked man, a citizens group, a judge and other motorists are behind the fight against photo enforcement.
Arizonans drive long distances on their highways, and they like to do it fast.
But since the Grand Canyon State began enforcing speed limits with roadside
cameras, motorists are raging against the machines: They have blocked out the
lenses with Post-it notes or Silly String. During the Christmas holidays,
they covered the cameras with boxes, complete with wrapping paper.
One dissenting citizen went after a camera with a pick ax.
Arizona is the only state to implement “photo enforcement,” as it’s known, on
major highways and is one of 12 states and 52 communities, plus the District
of Columbia, with speed cameras, according to the nonprofit Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety.
The cameras, paired with radar devices, photograph vehicles exceeding the
speed limit by 11 mph or more. A notice of violation — carrying a fine of
$181.50 — is then sent to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner.
Initially, the cameras were thought of as a revenue generator, expected to
bring in more than $90 million in the first fiscal year of operation.
But , the cameras generated about $19 million for
the state’s cash-strapped general fund, according to a report on photo radar
released by the Arizona Office of the Auditor General last month.
As of , only 38% of issued
violations were paid, the report said.
Dave VonTesmar, or perhaps not — who’s to say?
The program was designed to encourage people to pay the fine and not fight
their violations: No points are added to an offender’s license, and it
doesn’t affect insurance.
But, critics note, that hasn’t stopped people from wanting their day in
court. About half of the total violations issued are still pending because
people have ignored the tickets or have requested hearings to challenge them,
according to the state Department of Public Safety.
The violations put an “inordinate” load on the courts, said Terry Stewart, a
court administrator with Maricopa County. People have flocked to request
hearings at Phoenix courts, and at one point last year, one court branch had
cases set up through .
“You just have irate litigants and irate defendants coming in, just mad at
the entire photo enforcement system in general,” said Steven Sarkis, a
Maricopa County justice of the peace.
The most high-profile protester has been Dave VonTesmar, who has achieved
statewide fame through his efforts to fight the tickets with a monkey mask.
The 47-year-old flight attendant has allegedly sped past the cameras at least
There’s no way to prove that he was the driver wearing the mask, he says.
Lots of people, he adds, drive his car.
VonTesmar, who signed up for the military on his
17th birthday, says he doesn’t fancy himself a
Amid empty soda cans on the floor of his white station wagon are various
rubber disguises, including the famous monkey mask, a Frankenstein, koala,
panda bear and a ghost mask that glows in the dark.
So far, four of VonTesmar’s cases have been dismissed, and he’s been found
responsible for seven. The remaining 29 are pending, said VonTesmar’s
attorney, Michael Kielsky.
Another dissenter is John Keegan, a judge for the Arrowhead Justice Court,
who has called the cameras a constitutional violation. He rejects every photo
radar ticket that comes before him.
So far, Keegan says, he’s dismissed more than 7,000 violations, potentially
worth more than $1 million.
who met about neighborhood problems. The comrades have put floodgates in
front of their homes to stop the water from the floods.
Neighborhood Service: Tax resistance in the Commercial Workers Center neighborhood
Because of lack of service, they won’t pay any more municipal taxes
The critical situation in the streets in which we live in the Commercial
Workers Center of Villa Nueva, after intense stroms, has generated tax
resistance of a sort among the inhabitants of the area.
Following a meeting, arranged by Civic Front councilwoman Olga Vivas, and
attended by a large number from the neighborhood, the attendees decided that
if the neighborhood is “no man’s land” it will not agree to pay for the
services that are not being provided.
In addition to not paying taxes, the comrades warned that they will take
their case to Justice, starting legal actions over the damages and losses
caused by the negligence of the Department of Public Works in charge of
Fla. — Detainees at a
South Florida county jail are being accused of scamming the Internal Revenue
Service by filing for fraudulent refunds and taking in as much as $100,000.
About 50 inmates from the Stock Island Detention Center in Key West were
allegedly involved in the scheme.
The detainees allegedly used a standard
form to claim bogus refunds, filing for about $1 million in all. Most of the
requested refunds were for about $5,000. Many checks were sent directly to
The scheme was discovered after a how-to note was found in an inmate’s cell.
A chief local investigator on the case who recently retired tells The Miami
Herald that evidence was brought before a Miami grand jury
. Indictments could come this week.