red light cameras

Red Lights Stopped

Here is my recap of tonight's Council meeting. There were jillions of people speaking on Red Light Cameras (RLCs), mostly in favor, including the paid and volunteer lobbyists from the ACS family. Many Council members made a point of saying how glad they were to be able to discuss this heated issue in a reasonable way in the past few weeks. Then after about two hours of hearing citizens and making speeches, they voted in favor of Mark Kleinschmidt's petition to terminate the RLC contract!

I would like to present the following awards:

Most righteous indignation: Edith Wiggins (Red Light Cameras, agenda item # 7)
Runners-up: Dorothy Verkerk, Mark Kleinschmidt, Jim Ward (in that order) .

Why does Edith seem to feel that this issue is such a personal affront to her? She & Cam Hill didn't impress by reading from prepared statements. This let the citizens who took the time to contact them or to come to the meeting in the snow know that their input was not a part of their decision-making process. (Although that was actually the case for the entire Council anyway.)

Red Means Stop

The Town Council will take up the Red Light Camera issue on Monday. Half of the Council seems squarely and enthusiastically in the pocket of the company that runs the system, in fact they recently held a "forum" in which several of this company's lobbyists were given the Town's bully pulpit to advocate for their client/sponsor, ACS.

Fortunately, Council Member Mark Kleinschmidt has petitioned the Council to return to due process for red-light runners. And the Chapel Hill News weighs in with an editorial in favor of eliminating the program:

There are numerous problems with the concept — technological flaws, incursions on privacy, conflict with state public records law — but the basic issue stems from introducing commercial, for-profit enterprise into a basic governmental law-enforcement responsibility.

Red Light Camera Petition

It's not up on the Town website yet, but here's the press coverage: Chapel Hill Herald, News & Observer, and Daily Tarheel.

And here's the text of my petition on red-light cameras that is on the Town Council agenda for Monday:

To: Town Council Members
From: Council Member Kleinschmidt
Re: Petition to terminate the Town of Chapel Hill contract with ACS, Inc.
Date: January 12, 2004

More Cameras Coming

Smile next time you drive on 15-501. According to the Chapel Hill Herald they'll soon be taking your picture at the intersection with Europa Drive/Erwin Road as well as at Sage Road/Old Durham-Chapel Hill Road.

If you think this is as silly as I do, please join Will Raymond to support his petition at The Chapel Hill Town Council meeting Monday night at 7 pm. (It's early on the agenda!) If you can't make it, drop them an e-mail instead.

For the month of October, a total of 32 citations were issued for red-light violations that the cameras caught at the Airport Road/Estes Drive intersection, and 121 citations were issued for the U.S. 15-501/Sage Road intersection, according to a report from the town.

Are we safe yet?

The Chapel Hill Herald reports that the Town's red light camera program, instituted almost a month ago, has brought in $2 to the Town and $48 to Affiliated Computer Systems, the company that runs the program. That is to say one person has been caught running a light and paid the $50. There was no community outcry about the scourge of red-light-runners before this program was instituted. It was sold as a revenue producer for the town.

This 12-page letter from Chapel Hill resident Will Raymond (PDF) highlights many of the problems with red light cameras. The Town has requested a response from ACS.


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