Monthly Archives: June 2014

Steps You Can Take Now

While I continue to demand accountability from our local representatives, here are steps you can take now to fight red light camera fraud:

Sign the statewide petition: http://www.campaignforliberty.org/petitions/ban-the-red-light-cameras-in-texas/

Let your state legislator know that you support HB3304 to make it illegal for counties to refuse to register vehicles based on these tickets. Find out who to contact here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

Let your voice be heard!

Traffic Safety “Yes” Men

Yes, I’m still plugging away trying to get to the bottom of this colossal fraud perpetrated not only on the citizens of Denton but across the United States. Redflex continues to make news across the country where a New Jersey class action suit saw them settling on millions of dollars of fines which were pulled in through shortened yellow lights.

In California, officials have wised up and across that state, they have cut cameras from over a hundred municipalities operating these scams to now just 43. Most recently, the City Manager of Laguna Woods, one of the latest to dump the program, found that the cameras had no significant effect on collisions.

So, when will we wise up?

For the community to get wise requires transmission of truthful information. What the city has done is keep everyone as much in the dark as possible while spreading misinformation to support their money making scheme.

I have requested hundreds of documents through the Texas Open Government Act from the City of Denton. The entire history of the red light enforcement program is one of closed door and “special” meetings. Ordinances to be voted on are then buried in a sea of “business as usual” considerations on the public meeting floor before being given unanimous approval.

The closest thing Denton has had to public oversight of this program can be found in the Traffic Safety Commission, which has had a checkered history at best.

In August 2007, in response to state legislation, the city placed the Traffic Safety Commission in charge of advising the city on the installation and operation of the Red Light Camera program.

As previously documented and reported, this body was then completely stripped down and reformed a year prior to the first expansion of the red light program since the ’07 state law. Several members have resigned or repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of the commission which, at this point, serves simply as a rubber stamp for city policy.

However, the blame can’t be laid entirely at their feet. In the ten years the Red Light program has been operating, I have only found two recorded instances of the Commission being involved in the decision making process between 2004 to 2013.

In January of ’08 (Possibly February of ’08 – Draft Minutes seem to indicate a different date), the meeting minutes are limited and the addition of three more cameras is discussed. Questions were asked regarding grace periods, revenues and when the new cameras (at University, Carroll, Fort Worth Drive) would be installed. No additional information could be provided regarding this meeting.

The next time this “advisory” committee was consulted on the program was five years later in April of 2013.

I have discussed this meeting at length and even mention it in speech. Further documentation I have gathered shows the extent of the misinformation campaign.

There are no outright lies, but there are constant omissions of truth and fact when any information about the Red Light Camera program is presented to the public. As shown, there was a complete failure to mention the scandal Redflex was embroiled in which has now become the subject of a far-reaching federal probe.

Locally, there has also been a consistent attempt to misrepresent facts of the effectiveness of these cameras. At that April meeting, city staff presented the following information (emphasis added):

As depicted in the chart below, crash data from our two most recent camera system expansion intersections indicates a significant decrease in overall crashes and red-light related crashes, but no increase in rear end red-light related crashes. The chart compares crash information and percentage changes from the pre-activation report for the intersection (Pre) versus crash information from the first full year of camera operation at the intersection (Post).

april_2013_meeting-1

Note the careful wording: “first full year” when presenting post camera installation data and no mention of the time span represented by the pre installation data.

What they fail to mention to the committee is that they are comparing 18 months of pre-activation data to one year of post-activation. Once you annualize the data, you find the accident trend unconvincing. Annualizing the 18 month data makes the Fort Worth and I35E accident totals for pre and post exactly equal. The 380 and Mayhill data shows a savings of 3 accidents and not a difference of seven as is reported.

Had these trends been properly evaluated, it might have been possible to predicted the complete lack of effect on accidents as has been reported by presumably more astute cities such as the previously mentioned Laguna Woods, California.

Further, we might have been able to remove the cameras and avoid the current disaster at these two intersections which is now this:

11 total accidents at 380 and Mayhill
and 17 total accidents at 377 and southbound I35e

(Information for July 2012 to June 2013 as provided by TXDoT.)

Which, when compared to the annualized 18 month data shows an INCREASE in accidents of over 150% and 200% respectively.

Instead, the city extended the contract and has plans for MORE cameras.

Currently I am involved in a back and forth with the City District Attorney regarding the refusal to respond to another request for public information which I made on May first. So far, they have inflated costs (and doubled them again), missed state law required deadlines for providing this information and, most telling perhaps, completely ignored a request for data involving the business travel of our city staff and elected officials.

When I have that information, you, the citizens of Denton, will be the first to know. Maybe we can wise up a bit and call for change.

Sources:

The following are meetings minutes I requested based on a list of Red Light Camera related meetings provided in other documentation I uncovered:
Red_Light_Related_Council_Meetings_1.pdf

Red_Light_Related_Council_Meetings_2

Traffic Safety Minutes
 – From 2004 to April 2013 the rest are located here.

LARGE FILE: This one contains all the available “Packets” handed out at the Traffic Safety Commission Meetings since 2004:
Traffic Safety Minutes