Last November, citizens of Garfield Heights, OH, banned the use of red light cameras in the city. The vote was close, 4,827 to throw the cameras out against 4,735 for keeping them. But presidencies were decided on a slimmer margin. The keeps the cams side had powerful support: A PAC called “Safe Road Ohio” lobbied for the cameras, with the requisite pictures of little children.
According to the Plain Dealer, the primary donor of this PAC is “Redflex Traffic Systems — the company that operates the city’s camera program and pockets $35 from every speeding ticket issued.” The Garfield Heights Council doesn’t seem to hold democracy in high esteem. Last week, the Council moved to bring the cameras back into the city.
According to The Neighborhood News, the city will ask voters to approve an amendment that would allow cameras within 300 feet radius of school zones and city-owned parks and rec areas. This is the oldest trick in the book. I bet if you draw boundaries 300 feet from school zones, parks and rec areas, most places where cameras will bring in the desired revenue will fall within those lines. The city does not even hide that it is after money. “Safety and fiscal constraints” were cited as reasons to ask citizens to let the cameras back in.
One of the highest profile perpetrator of the school zone ploy was New York City’s then Mayor Giuliani, who drove strip clubs and porn shops out of most of the city by making the illegal “within 500 feet of churches, schools, day care centers and each other.” According to the Daily News, this “effectively banishes such businesses to the city’s industrial edges.” What’s good against red lights seems to work just as well for red lights.