There’s few feelings more stomach-churning than looking up from your mirror (or radio) and seeing an amber light looming ahead. Do you go for it, or hit the brakes? If the intersection boats red light cameras, the potential fines make a good argument for mashing the pedal on the left.
Chicago wants $300 million from the company it hired to photograph, ticket and follow drivers after it was revealed that executives bribed city officials for the contract, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.
Executives for Redflex paid over $2 million to city officials through a bag man for the $124 million contract from the city, which started in 2003. City officials are suing for roughly triple that amount, including penalties.
It’s the kind of disgraceful corruption that would have seen its perpetrators swinging from a tree in a more forthright age: an alleged $2 million bribery program that has already seen a Redflex consultant plead guilty to charges of delivering over $570,000 in cash and other bribes to Chicago’s former managing deputy commissioner of transportation. (Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who was long, ahem, a tireless ally of Redflex before reluctantly ending the city contract with the firm when all the evidence on the issue because too obvious to be ignored any further, was re-elected in a runoff election recently.)
There is more wacky traffic enforcement news coming out of Missouri this month than any other state. Last week, the Missouri attorney general began proceedings to shut down the ability of thirteen speed-trap-infested towns to generate excessive revenue from traffic tickets. Also last week, the cities of O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and St. Peters filed suit against St. Charles County saying its residents illegally voted for a ban on red light cameras. The suit actually admitted that the rationale was the potential loss of revenue rather than due to any safety concerns. Even better, the former mayor of St. Peters was convicted in 2006 of accepting cash kickbacks from a red light camera company. (For a truly astounding list of government officials who have been caught taking bribes from photo enforcement companies, go here.)
After performing a thorough performance audit, Denver, Colorado’s city auditor is no longer convinced of the value of red light cameras and speed cameras. The Denver Police Department (DPD) deputized the Dallas-based firm Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, a division of Xerox) to issue red light tickets at four intersections and speeding tickets throughout the city with five roaming vans. The program has little more to show for itself than a profitable bottom line.
“Unfortunately, DPD has not demonstrated that the photo radar program has a positive impact on public safety,” City Auditor Dennis J. Gallagher wrote. “Because these programs were sold as public safety enhancements but are widely viewed as a cash grab, it undermines public trust to maintain photo enforcement programs that are profitable but whose safety impact has not been conclusively shown. If this situation persists, then the photo enforcement programs should be shut down.” (Read More…)
The Florida legislature’s authorization of red light cameras last year was superfluous, a divided state Court of Appeals panel ruled yesterday. The majority sided with the city of Aventura in overturning a Miami-Dade County Circuit Court decision from last year that found Aventura had jumped the gun by giving American Traffic Solutions (ATS) a green light to mail out automated tickets without waiting for the state’s permission.
Florida law does not allow a city to adopt an ordinance in conflict with a state statute. The majority argued a provision requiring traffic officers only to issue traffic tickets for violations they personally observed is not in conflict because the same officers can “observe” the infraction on video under the Aventura photo ticketing ordinance.
Maryland state law prohibits municipalities from paying contractors to operate speed camera and red light cameras on a per-ticket basis. In an October 27 ruling, the Court of Special Appeals found that localities are free to ignore this legal requirement.
A group of motorists in 2008 filed a class action lawsuit against Montgomery County, the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg, and Chevy Chase Village because each paid Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) $16.25 for each ticket the company issued, in violation of the statute.
“If a contractor operates a speed monitoring system on behalf of Montgomery County, the contractor’s fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid,” state code section 21-809 states.