Garfield Heights Mayor Wants City To Become Red Light District, Again

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
garfield heights mayor wants city to become red light district again

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.

Garfield Heights Mayor Vic Collova is listed as a co-chair of the pro-camera PAC. He had been warned not to “intermingle funds between his election campaign funds and the camera efforts.”

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  • Hreardon Hreardon on Jul 19, 2011

    The corruption in NE Ohio politics is legendary, and this just continues that theme. Hopefully voters will become so incensed that they'll push back.

  • Redav Redav on Jul 19, 2011

    Hopefully, they keep the cameras and the protesters learn how to not run red lights. Yes, it's a tax, but not one without representation. (They can elect people who won't renew the contract.) What's awesome about these taxes is that they are voluntary. Don't want to pay the lottery tax? Don't buy tickets. Don't want to pay the red light camera tax? Don't run red lights. Effectively, this is a tax on stupid, and I'm in favor of stupid people being taxed instead of me.

    • Kendahl Kendahl on Jul 19, 2011

      I wish it were that simple. Just drive somewhere near the speed limit and, when you see a yellow light, stop if it doesn't take more than moderate braking. In practice, governments rig the camera systems to turn reasonable behavior into lucrative violations. Yellows are so short (often illegally short) that you have to nail the brakes. Stop lines are placed far from the intersection to trick people into going past them. If you come to a complete stop before turning right on red, but don't wait long enough, it's still a violation. In principle, it's simliar to the days before yellow lights. Corrupt local cops would wait until an out-of-state car was ten feet from the intersection and then manually switch the light from green to red. Instant violation that the visitor would be unlikely to challenge in court.

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