Leader editorial writer Pat Martin has weighed in on the rejection of a state checkpoint grant by the county council. As expected, he lines up with the sheriff and against the council. His arguments are bogus.
First, he begins with the same canard that the execrable Post-Dispatch editorial board used to argue for a state Medicaid expansion – free money:
The six Republican council members who voted to reject that grant took it upon themselves to not bring back into this county some of the tax dollars its residents had paid for state government. Send it to Buchanan County, they said. Send it wherever you want. We don’t care – we don’t want it here.
To extend this argument, cities, counties, or states should never turn down funding from a higher level of government – no matter what the strings. Medicaid is a broken, dysfunctional program that severely underpays doctors? So what, free money. These checkpoints are a waste of time, abusive, and of questionable constitutionality? So what, free money. What if the feds want to build a nuclear waste dump in Arnold, can we turn down that money? Actually, I would support such a project.
Then, Martin advances the Imperial Sheriff argument, that nobody has the right to tell Glenn Boyer what to do or provide any oversight. Never mind that it is the council’s job to set budgets. In fact, the reason the council could reject this grant is because it can only be accepted with the council’s consent. The council could probably pass an ordinance banning checkpoints. Maybe the sheriff should stop telling the council how to do their jobs. Better yet, to turn around Martin’s argument, maybe the sheriff, who has no legislative experience, should run for county council if he doesn’t like what they do.
Martin also presumes that these checkpoints will have a positive effect on seat belt rates. He says we should accept the grant because Jefferson County has low seat-belt usage rates. How many people are going to start wearing seat belts because of these checkpoints? I suspect few. Maybe Martin should write an editorial promoting seat belts.
In an important contradiction, proponents like Martin say, “Good, we should monitor driver compliance and safety.” But then people like County Executive Ken Waller, who has come late to the game and is now backing the sheriff, says “The sheriff’s checkpoints have never been for the sole purpose of seat belt compliance.” He argues they are about impairment first, and whatever other citations are issued are a mere bonus. But Martin says:
No matter where the statistics are gathered, young drivers are more likely to not use seat belts than older drivers. Boyer said the most recent traffic checkpoints were designed to address this. They were scheduled early in the day near schools. This was done, he said, in the name of safety and to uphold Missouri’s seat-belt law. Seems reasonable.
That’s why one of these checkpoints was held at 7 am on a Monday morning. I’m sure there are precisely zero drunks on the road at this time. The Sheriff’s proponents need to get their stories straight.
Thanks to Waller, this grant will be back on the county council’s agenda tonight. I suspect that the vote will be closer than the 6-1 tally at the last meeting. Sheriff Boyer has been putting on the full court press, and there will probably be lots of uniforms at the council meeting. Maybe even the Imperial Sheriff will grace the council with his presence.