Tag Archives: red light camera

The Time for Action – Ending Red Light Camera Scams in Texas

The folks over at Trash Your Ticket on Facebook have posted the following call to action:

The time for the statewide camera ban bill is getting close. Please call EVERYONE on the transportation committee and tell them to vote to pass the bill out of committee. It is SB340 that you should ask them to pass.http://www.senate.state.tx.us/7…/Senate/commit/c640/c640.htm

We’ve been quietly awaiting this legislation – a statewide ban is the most efficient solution to end the corporate greed that has infiltrated our local law enforcement and communities. If this fails, we’ll have no choice but to petition in each and every community across Texas. Red Light corporations and local governments have been showing resistance through legal action and denying legal petitions so they can hang on to their ill-gotten gains, but if it comes to that, we’ll be there. If this law passes however, we’ll have cut the problem off at the source.

For all of you that have contacted Free Denton and asked how you can help – this is your moment.

Interested in SB340? Read about it here. The bill does not harm or injure any local, home rule authority. The ONLY thing this bill does is change the wording of the EXISTING state law which allowed this scam to proliferate in the first place.

List of the members of the Transportation Committee and their contact info at the capitol:

The Honorable Robert Nichols
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0103
1-800-959-8633 (toll-free)

The Honorable Don Huffines
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0116

The Honorable Rodney G. Ellis
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0113
(512) 463-0006 (fax)

The Honorable Sylvia R. Garcia
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0106

The Honorable Troy Fraser
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0124

The Honorable Bob Hall
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0102
(512) 463-7202 (fax)

The Honorable Kelly Hancock
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0109

The Honorable Lois Kolkhorst
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0118

The Honorable Van Taylor
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0108

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History of Corruption in Texas

Still waiting on clarification from the city on their rules for filing a petition. Until then, how about a bit of clarity on this issue?

The red light camera scam in Texas has a long and sordid history. Texas legislators actually fought for years to keep these types of laws off the books. In 2003, the house voted 103 to 34 against letting red light cameras into the state. Then Representative Harper Brown and her friends at Paradigm Traffic Systems arrived in a shiny new SUV.

Using an amendment supplied by the camera companies, she quietly inserted it into an unrelated transportation bill and in the typical chaos that is our government, it was not discovered until after the legislative session.

House leadership was presumably furious and they tried several times, unsuccessfully, to remove the law and alter, to sunset the use of red light cameras in the state altogether. Their challenges always seemed to die in the senate.

In 2010, the Texas Values in Action Coalition filed a complaint which indicated that both Harper’s 2004 Chevy Tahoe and a 2010 Mercedes SUV were provided by Durable Enterprises Equipment which sold red light camera equipment through Paradigm Traffic Systems. She received a slap on the wrist from the ethics committee and the law remained on the books.

Remember how these efforts kept dying in the Senate?

With the way paved for for-profit surveillance of Texas residents, Senator John Carona sealed the deal in 2007 by adding a law to divert camera funds to a State Trauma fund, thus creating a vested interest for the state to support the program. So far, the $46 million dollars has been used not for trauma centers but for questionable accounting tricks. Carona then went on to thwart further efforts to ban the cameras in 2009. It has been revealed that Senator Carona accepted significant campaign donations from a photo ticketing collection firm over the years.

These laws aren’t about safety. They are paving a way for a private, for-profit corporation to reach in your pocket and share the ill-gotten gains with corrupt politicians.

Please join me in reclaiming our rights. Follow our blog. Join the fight.

Sources:

http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2013-07-19/red-light-firm-red-in-the-face/

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/20100705-Red-light-camera-companies-a-lobbying-9768.ece

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/20100617-Questions-raised-about-Rep-Linda-4114.ece

http://watchdogwire.com/texas/2014/03/25/scandal-ridden-red-light-cameras-offer-potential-corruption/

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/43/4353.asp

Next Step?

While several Council Members requested “staff to comment on my speech” this very likely amounts to politics as usual. They are on track to steal well over a million dollars from our local community this year, so it’s extremely doubtful they will choose to do the right thing.

Lobbyists have bought and sold this country ten times over. It may seem hopeless, and I know many people have simply accepted this as a reality, but if we mobilize against them, we will be unstoppable.

The next step is to start a petition. I’m exploring the process right now. According to city ordinances we need five “electors” to form the committee of petitioners. I have some ideas, but I want to hear from YOU.

An elector would need to be able to devote time to fighting to restore our rights. Collecting signatures from not only their own social circles but at public events.

The folks over at http://www.frackfreedenton.com have gone the extra mile and founded a non-profit organization to raise funds for their cause.

I’m looking for any local Denton residents to come join the fight. One voice at a council meeting won’t be enough, I need ALL of you. We need to reclaim our democracy from lobbyists and corporate interests. Who’s ready to fight?

Please comment or contact me by email at russ.linton at gmail.com.

Contacted Mayor and Council Members

At the very end of last night’s Council Meeting, Council Member Engelbrecht, followed by Mayor Burroughs and Council Member Roden all motioned to have staff respond to my speech. I sent an email to the Mayor and Council Members earlier today providing them with my sources, all publicly available or through Freedom of Information Act requests, and asked that any response from “staff” be made available to myself and the public. At the very least, I should be able to get a hold of it later via a FOIA request.

Please don’t forget to sign up with your email and follow the blog! I will keep all of this information private and only use it to inform you of events related to dismantling Denton’s Red Light Camera program.

Thanks!

First Volley

I filed a citizens report last night and stood before the Mayor and Council Members to put them on notice that their money-making scam needed to stop. As a result, several members requested a copy, but since this was a citizens report, due to meeting regulations, they were not allowed to discuss or open the floor to public discussion on the matter.

Will they act? Doubtful. On such short notice, I was only able to gather a handful of concerned citizens. They will only act when they see that the greater community is indeed against these for-profit surveillance companies levying “fines” and issuing “citations” without regard for our Constitutional rights.

Video can be found here.

The text of my speech follows:

Mayor, Council Members, Citizens,

I received this in the mail yesterday. Our Annual Citizen Update. According to our demographics, we had a population of 117,000 in 2013. That same year, we handed out over 16 THOUSAND red light camera tickets with NINE cameras.

That seem odd to you?

At first, this was sold as a safety enhancer. Even the city contract, right here in my hand, says “it is a mutual objective of both Redflex and the Customer to reduce the incidence of vehicle collisions…”

Yet, of the two cameras that we have reliable pre-installation data for, accidents at one intersection have doubled according to the TxDoT website. We went from 9 a year prior to the camera install at Fort Worth Drive and I35 to 17 last year. Mayhill and 380 went from 7 accidents to 11.

Since that explanation didn’t pan out, now we’re being sold that this program is about reducing violations or changing driver behavior.

But at a meeting of the Traffic Safety Commission, Captain Scott Fletcher had this to say:

“Over the years, because of the nature of this city, violations do not decrease as they might in other communities. New students arrive and those violations continue.”

As if our students didn’t have enough debt to worry about.

Well, if the red light cameras aren’t about safety or the violations, what are they about? Do we really have to ask?

Last February our camera vendor, Redflex, fired and sued their VP of Sales, Aaron Rosenberg for violating company policy. They alleged he had used bribery and fraud to secure his contracts over his eleven years with the company.

Aaron Rosenberg countersued. He said under the table deals were company policy. Since then, he went on to admit that “policy” extended to thirteen states, Texas included. He’s now co-operating in a federal investigation.

Not only that, his signature is right here in our contract.

Despite this highly public scandal, YOU, the city, decided to extend the contract and even expand the camera program.

A program which violates our rights in the name of profit.

The red light camera program is made possible by city ordinance that circumvents constitutional rights. 5th, 6th and 14th amendment rights are cast aside to discourage citizens from seeking justice. Presumption of your guilt is written into the law. Your true accuser can elect not to face you and instead testify via affidavit.

But to kick off the trampling of our rights, this for profit company gets to play cop.

A Redflex technician makes the first determination whether what is recorded is a violation. Next, another technician pulls your private vehicle registration information and finally, a manager approves what to forward to the police. Only then do our police review this evidence and apply their electronic signature.

That chain of custody alone for the so-called evidence should make it inadmissible.

If the accused does opt to fight, they face the judgment of a Redflex trained “Administration Officer” before being allowed to appeal and seek justice in front of an actual judge.

This foreign, for-profit, corporation with a penchant for scandal is in control of every step of this perversion of justice.

Across the country, these programs are being dismantled. By voters, by embattled legislators and by local politicians facing the ire of their constituents on the eve of elections.

I’m here today to say enough is enough. Stop hiding the purpose of this program. Stop trampling our rights as U.S. citizens and citizens of the Republic of Texas. End your business relationship with the corrupt, overseas company named Redflex and repeal all city ordinances which support such an unjust and invasive program.

I would like everyone here that wants to see their rights restored, and the greedy hands of lobbyists and foreign corporations out of our pockets, to please stand.