Monday, October 11, 2010

Challenging red-light cameras at the ballot box

The Dallas News reports on the "public backlash against lucrative red-light cameras," suggesting that plebiscites on the November ballot may be a predictor of the cameras' fate statewide:
Citizens in three Texas cities who are angry about the devices have forced a public vote to ban the cameras.

Last year, College Station voters narrowly passed a proposition that bans the cameras there. In November, voters in Houston and Baytown, a Houston suburb, will decide whether to keep red-light cameras in their cities.

The November outcome could set a precedent for similar revolts in North Texas municipalities.

"There's concern on the part of everybody whether or not that's a trend among cities," said Plano assistant city manager Bruce Glasscock. "I'm monitoring it very closely and talking to the people in Houston. But it's one of those things we just have to wait and see what the voters decide in Houston."
Let's hope red-light camera opponents vote early and often. I've no way to predict if Houston-area voters will follow the lead of those in College Station, but if they do I wouldn't be surprised if other cities begin seeing grassroots opposition to these ill-conceived government cash cows. 

See related Grits posts:

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Assuming the lights are timed properly, and the yellows are long enough, how should red lights be enforced? The cameras aren't the issue, it's how they are used.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I disagree. The cameras' cost makes them reliant on the revenue generated.

Lengthening the yellow light time by all accounts has a far greater impact on reducing collisions than RLCs. But for revenue reasons, there's an incentive (to which some jurisdictions have succumbed) to actually REDUCE yellow-light times.

The economic incentives for local government aren't aligned with public policy goals.

R. Shackleford said...

I agree with Grits. Yet another blatant and possibly dangerous taxation scheme.

Anonymous said...

What does Big Brother look like? Well, I don't know for sure, but I do know he only has one eye. And it's not blue or brown or hazel; it's red. And it's not there to keep you safe, nor for your benefit. No. His eye has no human pity, no intelligent judgment, no common sense. His eye is ever upon you, waiting for the slightest misstep that will force you to cough up his ransom or else you will see his other appendage, the jackboot.

Anonymous said...

Austin American

Court throws out Keller charges

By Chuck Lindell Monday, October 11, 2010, 05:00 PM

Anonymous said...

Aside from dreams of revenue, why do politicians buy cameras?

1. They think we like cameras!
A blogger addressed Astroturf Lobbying by the red light cam Industry. (To read the blog, Google Rynski and Astroturf.) Evidently, Astroturf Lobbying is when a PR firm creates an artificial grassroots movement, often via comments posted on newspaper articles like this one.

The politicians, sensing strong community support (they read these comment columns too), gives the OK for cameras. Isn't it plausible that the Industry would resort to a little clever PR, to show community support?

2. They're immune to the tickets.
In California a million private cars have plate numbers protected from easy look up, effectively invisible to agencies trying to process red light camera violations. Such "protected plate" lists exist in other states. (In CA the list includes local politicians, bureaucrats, retired cops, other govt. employees, and their families and adult children!) Someone should check to see how many, and who, are on the list in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this a trick? There was never a law for red-light cameras, and the TX AG refused to speak against them, whereas years ago they blocked cameras for speeding tickets since there was a law about "drivers," but not license plates.
But arrogant courts collude against the citizens, as on everything these days. The dirty-chicken Legislature covers for the rich cities--all the better to get advertising money for re-election.
So by having it on the ballot for Harris County, from our new/newly-programmed electronic voting machines (since ours were burned away by most-mysterious liberals, neo-con radio RINOs, or whoever killed Kennedy, et al.); won't that APPEAR to legitimize it?
It should NEVER have been in place, is not a law, should not need to be voted on, and everyone in power has always made money and covered it up. Not to mention how non-injury, non-damage traffic "crimes" are deemed such with no available defense but citation technicalities. The foxes eating the chicken house are watching us with cameras. It's not just mixed metaphor, it's tyranny.
We DO have debtors' prison (where they will drug you and make you sign forms), and it's for things like non-jailable offenses of Class C Misdemeanors as if waiting for a Magistrate to show, who is too busy laughing all the way to the bankers.

Anonymous said...

Look, I understand the libertarian reaction against these cameras. I'm largely sympathetic to it myself. But the electorate has to realize that public good doesn't come for free.

Yes, these cameras are a cash cow. I think that's the best argument for them. I like having municipal water service, a functioning fire department, a public education system, and sanitation and waste collection. If we aren't going to pay for those things with camera revenues, fine, but the electorate needs to realize that *something* has to pay for these things. They don't come for free.

Texans are notoriously anti-tax, subscribing largely to either free market fantasies about the private sector's ability to do quality work in the public interest, or believing that citizens can magically get something for nothing by "rightsizing" government.

It may be the case that revenues from cameras are not disbursed properly to the public sector, but cities across the state are cutting off a financial lifeline for themselves if they dismiss out-of-hand the idea that cameras could be part of the solution in a tremendously tax-phobic society.

Or we could just sit back and allow Texas to have some of the worst public services in the nation, ever faithful that redemption by the "invisible hand" is just around the corner...

Memorial Hermann Heathcare System said...

Houston Red Light Cameras and Proposition 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdK-vnDRzFA