The Statewide Court Funding Task Force last Thursday restored funding for Traffic Hearing Officers, for 2009 and beyond. The Task Force was comprised of representatives from the court, the clerk, the county, the cities, law enforcement, the Broward Crime Commission, chairs of the Broward Legislative Delegation, and some Tru-TV producers fighting for Brenda Di Ioia’s show ‘Speeders Fight Back,’ though one was run over in a season ending cliff hanger.
“It’s like who shot J.R.,” one observer noted. “We will find out who the culprit is in the Fall debut.” The show has been renewed for a second season.
As the County had only provided interim funding through June, the new allocation was necessary for the traffic hearing officer mandate to continue after that date. It has been on life support. County Commissioners had previously indicated they might refuse to continue the program, so they could run red lights endlessly. Even though the program generated significant revenues, was very profitable, and enhanced community safety, it was on the financial cutting block.
The county commissioners did not want the burden of funding a project they deemed was the state’s responsibility. Besides, as a rule, our county does it best to try to fund only those programs where they know they are going to lose money. You know, like that deal with the Florida Panthers where they only pay rent after the team makes a profit of fourteen hundred million a year. Oh, we have collected big on that one!
The legislature also created a "Court Trust Fund” which is to provide designated funds for the court system. The Court Trust fund’s source of revenue is traffic fines. Right now it is like an empty bank account. Fines fill it up, BUT the trust is susceptible to being raided by the legislature for other needed expenses, such as helicopter flights to Disney World. Not to worry, the trust will be managed by Bernie Madoff as a condition of his bond.
To their credit, Representatives Ari Porth and State Senator Jeremy Ring were persuasive influences in getting this needed bill passed. You may not know this, but each representative is limited in the number of bills they can introduce in a specific session, so they had to use some limited capital to advance this project. But it is worthwhile, raises money, and serves the community will. Thanks, guys.
In full disclosure, I do sit as a traffic hearing officer, but it a responsible program, with a thoughtful training model, superbly managed by Brenda DiIoia, now a county court judicial candidate. The community would be well served by her ascension to the bench. Anyone who can handle traffic court for ten years has cultivated the patience of Job.