By Rikki King and Scott North
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from “W Howard.”
You may remember the once-prolific HeraldNet commenter, whom we unmasked in May 2011 as traffic-cam exec Bill Kroske.
Kroske reportedly was banished by his bosses at Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions Inc. for posing as a resident in various communities in our county.
All of his comments promoted the use of traffic-enforcement cameras. Newspapers around the state and elsewhere discovered Kroske had been trolling traffic-cam stories on their sites, as well.
After we outed him, ATS said they gave Kroske the boot.
We’ve been wondering what happened to him. His LinkedIn profile listing him as a veep hasn’t changed — a fact not lost on the anti-camera crews camped out in the blogosphere.
Word arrived a few days ago.
John Hill, a writer at the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., told us about records he’d uncovered suggesting Kroske was still working on the camera company’s behalf as recently as April.
As happened in Mukilteo in 2010, Kroske in California was up to his elbows in efforts to bring a lawsuit to block a citizen initiative against red-light cameras.
Charles Territo, spokesman for the camera company, told the Press-Enterprise that Kroske was acting on his own and the situation uncovered by the paper was “very disappointing.”
The Kroske news broke a few days after ATS released a study that suggests Lynnwood and other communities using red-light cameras are avoiding millions of dollars in expenses that result from serious accidents. ATS says those expenses include “medical, emergency services, property damage, lost productivity, the monetized value of pain and suffering, lost quality of life, travel delay, insurance administration and legal and court costs.”
There’s even a searchable database that lets you look up 25,000 communities around the U.S. to see calculations of potential red-light camera savings.
OK. We bit. And the results were about as believable as a post from W Howard.
Take Baring, a wide spot along U.S. 2 on the way to Stevens Pass. The unincorporated hamlet in the Cascade Range is home to a whopping 148 people old enough to legally drive, Census figures show.
The study suggests installing a red-light camera in Baring could save people there $708,691 over five years.
But Baring is too tiny to even have a traffic light.
You’ve got to give ATS credit for aggressive marketing. It would be nice, though, if truth traveled down the same highway.
The commission data show that nearly half of fatal car accidents in our state involve drivers who are drinking or using drugs. Cracking down on driving under the influence is a top Target Zero priority. Other leading causes vary by year but may include vehicles leaving roadways, speeding drivers and young drivers.
Not red-light running. That’s a violation of the law, yes, but it’s not known for taking as many lives as the factors listed above.
In fact, in Snohomish County, you’re statistically more likely to die of a drug overdose than from a car accident.
No one has figured out how to legally profit off that, yet.