Missouri Groups Fight Back Against Traffic Camera Astroturf Campaign

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
missouri groups fight back against traffic camera astroturf campaign

Grassroots anti-camera activists in Missouri yesterday charged that a photo enforcement firm was creating fake advocacy groups to promote the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. Wrong on Red and the Jefferson County Tea Party blasted American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for hiding its involvement in a slick advertising effort designed to persuade the legislature to allow photo ticketing to continue uninterrupted in the state.

“I think it’s clear that ATS is afraid of us,” John Burns of the Jefferson County Tea Party said in a statement. “ATS has good reason to fear us. We’ve been building a statewide grassroots effort to ban the cameras. People are mad as hell. We’re in the middle of an economic recession, and these traffic cameras constitute a regressive tax, hurting the poorest among us, the most.”

In March last year, the photo ticketing industry turned to the Washington, DC-based Storm King Strategies LLC, a lobbying firm that focuses on the transportation sector, for help. Storm King is headed by David Kelly, who was chief of staff of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during the latter half of the Bush administration. Kelly used funding from traffic camera firms to set up the Partnership for Advancing Road Safety (PARS) as a platform to gain media attention on the photo ticketing issue without disclosing that he was speaking on behalf of his clients.

The strategy backfired when Kelly testified June 30 before a meeting of the US House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The chairman at the time, Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), and the ranking member, John J. Duncan (R-Tennessee), both dismissed his testimony as that of a hired gun, questioning why Redflex and ATS refused to appear before the committee openly. The PARS website, which was set up by the public relations firm APCO Worldwide, has been disabled.

ATS has replaced PARS with the National Coalition for Safer Roads, through which Storm King has conducted media interviews and created an advertising campaign to promote camera use in Missouri without identifying the group as a creation funded by the camera industry. Kelly’s other current clients include the Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers which wants Congress to require installation of expensive breathalyzer devices installed in all cars, the National Safety Council which wants more ticketing through distracted driving laws, and Jaguar-Land Rover which wants lower CAFE standards. According to congressional lobbyist disclosure records, these clients have paid about $380,000 for Kelly’s services. WrongOnRed founder Matt Hay doesn’t think Kelly’s effort will work.

“This is ATS’ last frivolous attempt to fool the Missouri public,” Hay said in a statement. “To fool residents just like they do thousands of times a day with the unauthorized systems they use to generate millions of dollars off Missouri taxpayers, while encouraging cities to help them profit off poorly engineered intersections and shortened yellows.”

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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  • CarPerson CarPerson on Mar 18, 2011

    Taxation by citation is the most regressive tax on the planet. Money taken from people sent to Arizona with nothing given in return. Ask a family trying to live on a part-time $9.75/hr job where they can come up with the $125-$500 for the ticket, inevitable late penalty, and sharp increase in their car insurance. Sadly, far too often the answer is the medication keeping the family wage earner healthy enough to work will have to be skipped. They lost that money being 0.1 second late into an intersection with a short green and yellow. (The bulk of all citations are less than one second.) The bottom of this family’s slide is the breadwinner is in the hospital, the kids are in foster homes, and the state is picking up the tab. This is an all-too-frequent outcome when cities get carried away issuing citations for minor technical violations having zero safety impact. The incredibly abusive enforcement of legal turns on red is another example. The result of one city being forced to re-set the traffic lights was the MANUFACTURED red light running stopped. Violations went from 107 per day to 4. Information available in minutes removes all doubt the cameras are detrimental to intersection safety, pro-camera studies are purposefully flawed to produce a positive result, the “red light runner crisis” is 97% MANUFACTURED by intentional light mis-timing and known intersection defects, and those worshiping the revenue have zero moral turpitude.

  • Zeus01 Zeus01 on Mar 18, 2011

    Excellent that you posted David kelly's picture. Any hope of you also posting his address?

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