Texas Cities Shut Down Cameras After Public Vote

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
texas cities shut down cameras after public vote

Red light cameras are no longer issuing tickets to motorists in America’s fourth-largest city. The Houston, Texas city council on Monday canvassed the results of the November 2 vote and ordered the cameras unplugged. In the nearby city of Baytown, red light cameras will be disabled at midnight on November 26.

“The voting public has spoken,” Houston City Attorney David M. Feldman wrote Monday in a letter to Jim Tuton, CEO of the camera contractor American Traffic Solutions (ATS). “Houston must follow the mandate of the electorate. Houston hereby terminates its contract with ATS. This termination is effective immediately. ATS is required to turn off all red light cameras installed and/or monitored by reason of the contract and ATS is to do so immediately.”

ATS is upset, and wants financial compensation, because the city terminated the ticketing contract before its 2014 expiration date. Given the massive amount of revenue generated by the program — $17,760,900 worth of tickets were mailed in 2009 — Houston Mayor Annise Parker initially attempted to ignore the results of the vote and to keep issuing tickets for another four months to cover the damages to ATS. It eventually became clear that Parker lacked the votes on the council for this option. On Monday, she filed suit in federal court against ATS.

“Houston… requests this court, after consideration, to declare the rights and obligations of the parties under the express terms of the contract,” Feldman wrote in the brief to the court. “Specifically, a controversy has arisen between Houston and ATS with respect to the interpretation of certain terms and conditions of the contract and parties’ rights and obligations with regard to termination of the contract in light of the results of the election on the Proposition 3 measure.”

For its part, ATS has pledged in public to cooperate fully while vowing to pursue the “difference of opinion” regarding the city’s contract termination payment obligation. US District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn N. Hughes has scheduled a pretrial conference on the matter for February 7, 2011.

After Baytown shuts down its cameras next week, all of the photo enforcement elections for the year will be complete. Officials in Garfield Heights, Ohio shut down cameras immediately after seeing the will of the voters. Anaheim, California; Mukilteo, Washington and Sykesville, Maryland had cameras blocked before they could be installed (Anaheim’s referendum was sponsored by the mayor and city council who wanted to prevent future administrations from installing the devices). The relatively quick resolution of the 2010 elections contrasts sharply the attempt ATS made last year to have a judge cancel the red light camera ban. The victory proved Pyrrhic as the city’s politicians wanted nothing to do with a program soundly rejected at the ballot box.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Nov 17, 2010

    I don't blame ATS as much as I blame elected officials for the shell game they continue to try to play on those that elected them. The only hope here is that the voters that chose to boot ATS would also boot those officials that allowed it in, we can call it progress. Till then, it's just on to the next revenue generating scheme a la Chicago's selling of parking meters. Still, a victory is a victory. If anyone from ATS happens to be reading this, please know that I cheer your defeat. Go play in traffic, preferably traffic near one of your cameras.

  • FleetofWheel FleetofWheel on Nov 17, 2010

    What paper tigers city hall and TSA turn out to be when they get corrected by the ballot box and public outcry. Hopefully, similar ballot initiatives will be used in other localities.

  • Alan I blame COVID, the chip shortage, container shortage and the war in Ukraine. This aggression is evident in normal daily driving of late.
  • Alan $10 000 is a bit rich for a vehicle that most likely been flogged all its life, plus it's a VW. Lots of electrical gremlins live in them.
  • Alan Mitsubishi, Hino and Izuzu trucks are quite common in Australia. Another factor that needs to be taken into account are the cheap Chinese trucks and vans that are entering the market in Australia and becoming more popular as reliability improves, with huge warranties. Businesses want the cheapest logistics. Plumbers, concreters, builders buy many of these in their lightest versions, around 2.5 tonne payload. Hino/Toyota could use the cheaper competitor in Mitsubishi as a competitor against the Chinese. You don't see too many of the Japanese/Asian trucks in the rural areas.
  • 2ACL I think it's a good choice. The E89 didn't get respect due to its all-around focus when new, but it's aged well, and the N52/6HP combo is probably more fun and capable than it's given credit for.
  • Wjtinfwb I can hear the ticking from here...