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June 8, 2009

Leading camera foe is repeat speed offender

In the lost cause of reversing Maryland's recently adopted speed camera law, few soldiers stormed the barricades with more gusto than Annapolis super-lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Bereano claimed to have collected more than 1,500 signatures in the failed effort by hauling petitions to political fundraisers and other events.

"I just feel personally very strongly about this," Bereano told The Sun. "The state presumes guilt, which is contrary to American tenets of law; ... it's making a mockery of justice."

There may be another explanation for Bereano's vehemence than a passion for justice. The felonious lobbyist - he was convicted on federal mail fraud charges in 1994 - is a chronic speeder who has collected traffic tickets at the rate of almost two a year since 1996.

Since 1996, the earliest year for which the District Court of Maryland keeps electronic records, Bereano has been ticketed 22 times in the state. Eighteen of those citations have been for speeding. In nine of those cases, court records show, the officer who issued the ticket clocked Bereano at speeds of 80 mph and above - the highest a whopping 90 mph in Caroline County in 2007.

Though he was disbarred after his conviction, Bereano has a pretty good record as an advocate for himself. On his 22 moving violation citations in Maryland, he's been found not guilty seven times - three times in speeding cases, including that one in Caroline.

Bereano was also the beneficiary of multiple acts of mercy by tender-hearted Maryland judges - many of whom have an abiding faith in the power of the break known as probation before judgment to nudge a sinner toward redemption. The lobbyist received two PBJs in his home county of Anne Arundel - in 1997 and 1999 - even though he had several speeding convictions over the previous years.

Most of Bereano's citations and convictions took place on the Eastern Shore, the personal NASCAR track where he's racked up 14 tickets over the past 13 years - including nine for which he has had to pay fines. Just last week in Dorchester County, he was found guilty of going 73 in a 55-mph zone in January. He received that speeding ticket six days after getting another one in Queen Anne's County, for which he got a PBJ. Isn't it about time the Eastern Shore delegation to the General Assembly staged an intervention? It's their constituents whose lives he's putting at risk.

Bereano is due back in court this week to face a charge of going 85 mph in a 55-mph-zone - worth $290 and 5 points - in Montgomery County. That doesn't mean he'll show up. He failed to appear for trial on that charge on Jan. 22 - the seventh time he's been a no-show since 1997. If past is prologue, he'll probably get a break. After his previous convictions, he has seldom been hit with a maximum fine.

Given this history, it seems pretty clear by now why Bereano is such a dedicated opponent of speed cameras.

(Disclosure: Bereano stopped talking to me long ago. Our history goes back to my days covering Annapolis, when he was unhappy with my reporting on his lobbying activities. He did not change his policy for this column: "I have no comment for you whatsoever.")

The real point here is not Bereano and the way he tools around the state in his Mercedes-Benz. He's just one scofflaw among many on our roads. What's more worrisome is his legion of enablers: the judges who have given him break after unwarranted break, the lawmakers who have given him the time of day when he blathered to them on issues of highway safety, and the General Assembly that has long tolerated a body of law too weak to get chronic speeders off the road.

But public opinion may be getting ahead of them.

When the opponents of speed cameras failed in their petition drive, they were quick to whine about how Maryland's referendum laws were stacked against them. But here's another theory: The reason the petition effort failed was that a sufficient number of Marylanders, when asked to sign, said "hell, no" because they realized that speeding is a menace and that their families need to be protected near schools and in work zones from drivers like Bruce C. Bereano.

The upshot? Smile, Bruce, you're on candid camera.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:29 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: On the roads
        

Comments

Other than the presumed guilty part, and the implication that that might be a bad thing, everything in the above is wrong. MD's nanny state obsession (speed cameras being the most recent and agregious example) is completely out of hand.
The "free state"? In what possible remaining manner? Please don't answer that. Whatever remains free, once id'd, will be legislated away "for the children."

You are so pompous about this. Did you ever thing he might have been going 80 mph on Route 50 on the Eastern Shore in the midst of a bunch of corn fields? That road has a speed limit 55 mph, which is ridiculously low for a straight highway in the middle of nowhere.

The 90 mph case in Caroline County is pushing the limits, but his other speeds didn't seem absurd. I like how you say he is a menace to children when it's quite obvious all of his "speeding" occurred on highways and not in front of the local elementary school.

You are definitely the biggest dweeb around.

How can anyone not be against anything Bereano is for?

The problem isn't with enforcing traffic laws (excluding DUI/DWI) so much as the reality/perception that they are only enforced as a means to generate more revenue not to enforce safety.

How else can you explain the local police officers, Transit Police and State Troopers who seemingly regularly cruise over the speed limits even when they are not pursuing another car or en route to a call? The agencies set up targeted traffic enforcement and it frequency seems to increase as budgets require it.

The problem with automated enforcement (speed/red light) is that it is also about revenue generation. Why else have a violation that would generate points on your license not in order for you to accept the fine just pay it because it is less hassle.


Great story! I’m glad someone finally pointed out the real motive in that blowhard’s speed camera opposition. Don’t want to give money to the state, don’t speed. It’s really pretty simple, even for the Neanderthals who oppose speed cameras.

As a resident of Pot Spring Road where it ends at a gated community, I have had traffic inquiries that have proven excessive rates of speed in a 25 mph neighborhood. Speed humps were recommended but not enough residents,75%, would approve them, especially from the people in the gated community with speed bumps of their own. They would respond with comments like, "I'd rather have a ticket than speed humps to slow me down."
Even officers with radar have caught a mother and daughter less than 3 minutes apart.
I have witnessed walkers scream at speeding cars as they dangerously whiz by, as pedestrians try to walk across the road. One morning, a fella slung a bag of dog poop at a speeding car that almost hit him.
Well, if there's justice in patience and a higher being, those speed cameras could be installed on Pot Spring as we are that perfect 1/2 mile distance from a school. Who knows?
Heck, they can place the camera right in my front yard.
Finally, I loved your article today about the gentleman who opposes the cameras. More poetic justice. ha!

I am no fan of Bereano or any other lobbyist as I firmly believe these people have ruined our political system. Having said that, your attack on Bereano reminds me of a juilted school girl whose boyfriend took someone else to the prom. That story was without a doubt, one of the more childish stories I have ever seen in the Sun. I know you won't print this response, but I bet a lot of folks feel the same way. Gee, maybe to be objective you should have looked at the records of other signature gatherers.

I would like you to answer one question, why is it that the police are excused from all traffic law legislation. Texting, cell phones, red light cameras, speed cameras, speed limit laws, etc, etc..on and on. Do you know that the number one group for violating existing speed cameras in Montgomery County are off duty police officers in their police cars. Look it up! It;s funny how the only people I notice breaking the road laws are the police. And they kill to, often while driving their police cars recklessly in their "off time" (see recent examples in Carroll, Harford and cecil Counties published in the Sun).

You wonder why law abiding people have no respect for the law, oh yea, by the way, I have never been arrested and have no traffic tickets, not even a parking ticket. Unlike you, I have no ax to grind. I just want the laws to apply to EVERYONE!

Great column! I am sick of all of the wannabe NASCAR drivers on the road. Put a camera on every corner!

Great article, thanks for keeping us informed. That is embarrassing that Maryland hasn’t taken away his license yet. I’m not looking forward to speed cameras in Howard County because I know I end up 12-15 over sometimes when I am daydreaming or whatever I am doing, but I’m already making the extra effort to “take my time”, and hope that it will in the long run save lives.

Your column today about Bruce Bereano made me angry and more eager than ever to see speed cameras put in place. This whole issue is an emotional one, and people don't always respond to the facts, but here are some especially eye opening facts about death as it pertains to Americans:


The lifetime odds of being killed by lightning are 1 in 60,000.

The lifetime odds of being killed by a shark are 1 in 15,000,000.

The lifetime odds of being killed in a motor vehicle accident are 1 in 81.

More Americans have been killed by automobiles than in all American wars combined.

These amazing statistics vary somewhat depending upon the source. I hope you might use this information in the most effective way possible in one of your columns.

How do you print such BS?

I personally collected over 300 signatures and only had 3 people tell me they were for the cameras.
I had at least 5 Baltimore County Police Officers sign my petition and all said the thing that these cameras had nothing to do
with safety, just revenue.

The reason the petition failed is because of the BS referendum process in one of the most politically corrupt states in the nation.

I agree about the police being hypocrites. I constantly see police race up and down 95 without their lights on and tailgate right up on other drivers all the time. I'm sure that helps make the roads really safe. People drive so well when someone is two feet off of their bumper at 65 MPH, especially someone enforcing the law.

eh, ok, so lifetime odds of being killed in an auto collision are 1 in 81. Let's accept that on it's face.

However, let's do question how many of those deaths will be attributable to speeding, versus how many collisions attributed due to unsafe road conditions (fog, snow/ice, downpours), or many will be attributed to medical emergencies, (e.g., heart attack/stroke while driving), or to drunk/drugged driving, or to a stark decline in driver skill (e.g., diminished reaction times, misjudged turns, etc. by elderly drivers).

1 in 81 covers a wide swath, and in itself, it reflects scarcely more than 1 percent of the population. Let's tip our caps to the "even one life lost is too many" crowd, but also accept these stats for what they are and what they are not - and what they are not is a policy justification for speed cameras.

The justification for speed cameras is the revenue generation. Hey folks, in case you haven't heard, your county and state governments have been slashing positions, furloughing employees, and gutting services in a vain attempt to break even. And you're gonna tell me that the revenue attraction doesn't appeal to your governments as a way to make up lost ground? Can I deal with speed cameras in front of schools and in road work / road construction zones, yes. But any further expansion is highly suspect.

Other jurisdictions have their own ways of dealing with speeding, especially in highway work zones. These include a strong police presence to nab offenders. For example, fewer than 10 MPH over in a work zone in Michigan will get you 3 points on your license. Maryland will only fine you if you were busted by a speed camera.- I think points may have a more compelling effect.

In MI, if you injure or kill a worker on the highway, you get not only a hefty fine, but a 15 year jail sentence (not to mention the lawsuits). And, the post signs to this effect in every work zone. http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-9615_11261_45351-92183--,00.html

Could the same be implemented in Maryland - not just on highways but in school zones and even near widely attended public events, without the widespread use of cameras? Why in the world not? Oh yeah, because it's really about revenue generation rather than targeted enforcement.

Baltimoresun.com Breaking News Headline for 6/9/09: Calvert Co. man, 81, dies after crash in Lothian

A Calvert County man died Monday after his car struck a guardrail in southern Anne Arundel County, according to police.

Horace M. Adams, 81, of the 2100 block of Regent Court in Dunkirk was driving southbound about 11:40 a.m. on Southern Maryland Boulevard near Plummer Lane in Lothian, police said. For unknown reasons, his 2009 Mercury Grand Marquis left the roadway and struck a guardrail, according to police, before the car re-entered the roadway. Adams was ejected from the passenger side, and the car drifted through the median and across the southbound lanes of Southern Maryland Boulevard before crashing into trees off the roadway, police said.

Adams was taken to Calvert Memorial Hospital, where he later died. Investigators determined that driver error caused the crash, police said.
*****************************

What might have saved him? I know, a speed camera!

Baltimoresun.com Breaking News Headline for 6/9/09: Aberdeen man fatally struck by car on Route 40

Aberdeen police are investigating a traffic accident that killed an Aberdeen man Monday night.

Harry McNeil, 56, was walking in the westbound lane of state Route 40 at Carol Avenue about 9:30 p.m. when he was struck by a 2006 Saturn driven by a woman police identified only as a resident of North East.

Paramedics treated McNeil at the scene. He was later transported to Harford Memorial Hospital in Bel Air, where he was pronounced dead.
*****************************

What might have saved him? I know, a speed camera!

Thanks for outing Bruce Bereano. It's about time someone posted the driving record of someone who obviously thinks he is above the law. How many times did he fail to appear in court? I guess he is too darn important to abide by the rules of the road. But then again, the judicial system is a joke anyway.

I think personal attacks on Mr. Bereano are inappropriate. I believe that it is also unfair to criticize the courts. The number of speeding (and like) cases would swamp the judicial system if all were heard. Accordingly, the courts use PBJ to clear their calendars, so they can provide criminal defendants with speedy trials as the constitution requires and reasonable timeliness for civil litigants. The courts are not the source of a remedy for rampant speeding. Check out the Maryland Traffic Safety Foundation for how you can help stop the speeding epidemic on our highways.

From the Sun yesterday. names were removed out of respect for the dead and injured............

A Mount Airy man died and an Odenton man was seriously injured Thursday night in a collision involving two sport-utility vehicles in Clarksville, according to Howard County police.

xxxxxxxx, 26, of the xxx block of xxxxxxx Road was driving a Ford xxxx northbound on Route 32 just south of Linden Church Road, police said. Investigators believe xxxx crossed the yellow line about 10:20 p.m. and struck a Chevrolet xxxxxx head-on. xxxxxx was pronounced dead at the scene, and the xxxxx driver, xxxxx, 43, of the 2800 block of xxxxxxx Circle was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore in critical condition, according to police.

Four other passengers in the xxxxxxx -- xxxx, 44, of the xx block of xxxx xxxx Road in xxxx and three children, ages 13, 12 and 11 -- were taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in stable condition, police said.


Those speed cameras would have definitely stopped the vehicle from crossing the center line! Maybe we need a Jersey Wall down the middle of every road in MD.

from the Sun today:

Anne Arundel County police are investigating a fatal traffic accident that occurred early Friday in Edgewater.

The single-car crash, which left a 1999 xxxx on fire, happened about 3 a.m. at Central Avenue and Fern Hill Road, police said.

A preliminary investigation suggests that the driver, xxxxxx, 34, of College Park, crossed the center line, hit a guardrail and overturned in a ravine, catching fire, police said.

xxxxx was pronounced dead at the scene.


SURELY, the speed cameras would have prevented this accident! Oh, gee, that's right, he wasn't speeding, just not paying attention! You know, i still submit that speed cameras are not the answer, but bulding Jersey Walls down the middle of every road is defintely the answer.

Wow...all of these people dying on the roads from NON SPEED related auto deaths. Maybe those cameras are needed to generate revenue, afterall, because they sure are not going to stop all of these deaths as they are ALL UNRELATED to speed.


From the Sun today....

A 31-year-old East Baltimore man who might have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol was run over by a vehicle and killed Tuesday while lying face down in an East Baltimore alley.

Police identified the man as xxxxxxxx of South Potomac Street. Detective Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman, said a woman was driving a xxx down a darkened alley in the 500 block of N. Highland Ave. on her way home about 9 p.m. when she felt a thump and stopped near her home.

Monroe said when the woman got out of her vehicle to investigate, she noticed a man's arm protruding from the under the vehicle. About 20 minutes later, Fire Department medics pronounced the man dead at the scene. Monroe said the incident remains under investigation.

I know those speed cameras could have prevented this death too.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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