Houston voters decided they don’t want red light cameras in the city capturing their inglorious rush to wherever.
But don’t be in such a hurry to blow through that light. It's likely that until the election is canvassed -- that's when the vote is certified by Harris County on Nov. 15, according to county elections officials -- there's no free pass from the cameras. It's the question we are all asking, of course. The Houston Press says "probably not." The mayor's office declined to answer when they would stop collecting red light camera fines.
One thing is certain, says one of the chief red light camera naysayers: There will be tickets today.
“And I’d imagine they’ll be handing out tickets right up until the canvassing,” said Randall Kallinen, a local attorney who with fellow lawyer Paul Kubosh led No Cameras Houston, a campaign to get rid of the cameras.
Kubosh added that any additional tickets will bolster their claim that the red light cameras were installed more as a way to produce income for the city rather than out of a concern for safety.
“I hope they issue 4,000 more tickets because it would show the hypocrisy of the whole thing,” Kubosh said. “I dare them to issue tickets today.”
Kubosh has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that it failed to produce documents showing camera clicks that he says are generated monthly in nearby Baytown, which uses the same Arizona-based company, American Traffic Solutions, to run its red light camera program. Kubosh asked for the reports on October 5 and received instead a collective report on clicks that he could not use.
“They responded, but I want those monthly reports,” Kubosh said yesterday before the polls closed. He is still seeking those reports.
“So he wants reports that we don’t even generate or have,” Feldman said. “But we did give him what we had that gives the same information for the time period he request, from September 2008 to September 2010.”
Red light cameras have become a favorite tool of municipalities for a number of reasons. It allows them to make money and at the same time claim - accurately or not - that the cameras are saving lives.
It is a little dated, but this 2006 report on red light cameras in Texas sheds some light on where the state has been regarding the issue. Litigants in Arlington, Texas, were unsuccessful in fighting the authority of American Traffic Solutions, claiming the company needed an private investigators' license to operate intersection cameras in the state.
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Photo of A couple of red traffic lights against a blue sky by flickr user Horia Varlan, used via a Creative Commons license.