By on January 18, 2010

Trouble brewing? (

In a surprise move, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) took a step to save the freeway speed camera program imposed by her predecessor, Janet Napolitano (D), the current US Secretary of Homeland Security. On Friday, Brewer proposed a Fiscal Year 2011 budget that cut spending by $1.1 billion, reduced the state’s workforce by ten percent and raised taxes by $1 billion to address massive deficits brought on by overspending during the economic downturn. Also tucked into the budget were assumptions that automated ticketing would continue beyond 2011, based on expected results from a new referendum proposal.

“The executive proposes referring the continuation of photo enforcement to the voters in November 2010,” Brewer’s budget stated.

The contract to operate the freeway speed cameras expires in July, something Brewer has suggested she might allow to happen. This would be a minor defeat for Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that runs the cameras, but it would not be a fatal blow. Because the public has refused to pay the $181 tickets, Redflex has actually lost money on the program. What the company most fears is the initiative being circulated by the group to place a ban on all forms of photo enforcement before voters this November. Were Brewer simply to refuse to renew the contract, there would be no reason to hold a referendum on a freeway program that would no longer exist.

Brewer would not expect cameras to win a freeway camera ballot measure. The photo ticketing industry understands that no photo enforcement measure has ever survived when put on the ballot. The only such vote to take place in Arizona resulted in two-thirds of voters rejecting speed cameras. Instead, the competing ballot measure would cause confusion and drain support from the proposed CameraFraud ban on the highly lucrative municipal red light cameras and speed cameras. This is what Redflex and its competitor, American Traffic Solutions, truly fear. Brewer’s openness to the plan likely stems from her close ties to Jay Heiler, the top lobbyist for Redflex. When she took office in 2008, Brewer’s first move was to turn to Heiler for advice on staffing her administration.

According to budget documents, the freeway photo radar program has generated $17,297,900 for Redflex, as well as $6,427,000 for the state supreme court and the judiciary. A total of $10,516,800 has gone to the state’s general fund. The state Department of Public Safety (DPS) took $2,173,000. Legislators added $1,471,700 to their personal campaign fund accounts.

For fiscal 2011, Brewer’s budget predicts that freeway cameras will issue 384,864 tickets worth $69,852,816, but because most motorists have simply refused to acknowledge these citations — the current payment rate is just 26.8 percent — a mere $18,720,636 in revenue will be generated.

Brewer did accede to one of the demands of photo enforcement opponents. On Wednesday she deposed Napolitano’s personal choice for state police chief, Roger Vanderpool. Vanderpool has been the primary spokesman for photo enforcement, using Department of Public Safety resources to conduct staged events to promote the continued use of automated ticketing machines. In Vanderpool’s place, Brewer named Robert Halliday, a 35-year DPS veteran who focused on criminal investigations and counter-terrorism.

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13 Comments on “Arizona Governor Proposes Ballot Measure To Save Speed Cameras...”

  • avatar

    These speed cam companies must have one hell of a lobbying force. Of course money talks, and etc.

    Nice to see people are not paying the invoices.

    And wow, maybe she should use a little sunblock, that AZ sun and wind is brutal on the skin.

    • 0 avatar

      The picture above is the governor in winter time.  She has more than a passing resemblance to Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal during the hotter months of the year.  Check it out:

  • avatar

    Won’t refusing to pay the ticket result in a bigger fine?  and larger revenues for the state?

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC, in Arizona the state constitution requires a citation to be served personally to be valid, so Arizonans can safely ignore these tickets.   (I’m sure Arizonans among the B&B will correct me if I am wrong). One of the things camera opponents have been doing is trying to get the word out on this.  I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the governor’s ballot initiative changes that.

  • avatar

    I live in AZ and got a photo radar ticket.  I know where all the fixed radars are, but got caught asleep at the wheel by a mobile camera van hidden under a bridge.  I guess I got flashed sometime around last June.  A few months later, someone served my wife at my home with my ticket and a court summons.  I guess that counts as serving me.  In any case, I forgot about the court date and still haven’t paid the ticket.  I’m still on the fence about it – I need to look up the consequences.  It’s a civil matter as far as I know, not criminal.  The tickets do not count as points against your license.  I know people who have a handful and have never paid.  The whole photo-cash-register program pisses me off.

  • avatar

      Seriously,  this sounds like the sort of thing a Democratic official would do rather than a Republican.   So much for their supposed get government and taxes out of our lives talking point.

  • avatar

    Once again the real question is:
    Are these photo speed traps for safety?  or revenue enhancement?
    The discussion seems to always center on revenue development.  Do they acually decrease accidents? Where are the statistics beyond “speed kills”?

  • avatar

    The fact that this money lands in the general fund versus some mass transit/driver education/road repair project is yet another data point demonstrating photo radar has nothing to do with driver safety and everything to do with a government that spends like a cocaine addict.

    • 0 avatar

      That plus the fact that the tickets do not count as points against your license like an officer-issued citation would.  For the folks to whom $180 doesn’t mean much, it’s not a deterrent to speeding.
      And don’t even get me started on the red light cameras around here.

  • avatar

    What a shock.  Used to be parties represented something.  Now they all just want your money.
    “F-You, Pay Me” is everyone’s slogan….

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