Link probed between tickets, pension measure

Traffic citations have dropped citywide since July by nearly 50 percent compared to 2009 levels — a decline that started when a measure about pensions qualified for the ballot.

Ingleside Police District Captain Louis Cassanego said last week that some of his patrol officers were reluctant to pull over and fine motorists because they were afraid the potential voters would support Proposition B, a proposal to have public employees contribute more to their pension and health benefits.

Since July, when supporters of Prop. B submitted their petition to the Department of Elections, traffic citations have decreased by 47 percent compared to the same time last year.

In October, the month before the election, the Police Department traffic patrol issued 2,272 citations, a 62 percent decline from October 2009. In November, in which all but two days followed the election, citations continued to drop, this time by 36 percent.

Through the first six months of the year, traffic citations increased or stayed the same in all but one month. In April, when the proposal for Prop. B was first announced, traffic citations increased by 9 percent.

Assistant Police Chief Jeff Godown said the department is conducting an internal investigation about Cassanego’s claims, but so far no correlation has been found between the drop in traffic citations and any political implications.

“There is no information that would leave me to believe that these two issues are related,” said Godown. “We’re still looking into why he [Cassanego] would say this, and why it wasn’t brought to our attention earlier.”

Susan Shaheen, a researcher with UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, said in national studies motorists have been driving less in 2010, which could account for the drop in traffic citations in The City. She also said the slow economy might make motorists more wary about picking up a ticket.

Proposition B was rejected by nearly 57 percent of voters Nov. 2.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

 

 

 

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