NMA’s Weekly ATE Racket Report for July 24, 2018

Compiled by NMA Foundation Director James C. Walker and NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn 

The ATE Racket Report is a weekly feature of the NMA blog. We want to bring the issues of automated traffic enforcement to our supporters in a more coherent up-to-date fashion.  

This Week…

Case Western University issued an analysis last week of red-light cameras in Texas. Researchers found that RLCs did not reduce accidents nor improve safety. Hopefully, this report can be used to sway lawmakers to ban RLCs in the 2019 Legislative Session. The Texas legislature only meets every two years.

Check out a Special Report from Helwig F. Van Der Grinten, founder of the Houston Coalition against Red Light Cameras down below.  Editor’s Note: If you are fighting automated traffic enforcement locally, please send us a report to include.

Wait and See…

The Newspaper.com has more details on the Aurora, Colorado November ballot measure that will allow voters to decide the fate of the city’s red-light camera program.

A DC study finds racial bias in the city’s issuance of speed camera tickets. If racial profiling is prevalent in actual traffic stops, it makes sense right that this would be the same M.O. for automated traffic cameras? We wonder if this automated type of heinous racial profiling pertains to other cities?

One more day until speed cameras are gone for good in New York City. Governor Cuomo called on state lawmakers last week to hold a special session to keep the cams going. Even though he could have, the Governor did not call his own special session. NYC State Senator Marty Goldin has also been called on the carpet for his evolving views on the matter from both sides of the aisle.

Texas Attorney Russell J. Bowman has asked his state’s high court to overturn last month’s Court of Appeals decision that allowed the city of Richardson a free pass in its failure to conduct a formal engineering study before handing Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia the right to issue Red-Light Cameras tickets for $75 a pop. The Court of Appeals decided against Bowman due to jurisdictional technicalities. The high court has not yet said they will hear the case. The Dallas news recently did a profile on Bowman.

Bad News…

Holmes Beach, Florida City Council approves use of Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs).

Florida’s St. John’s County Police are using their ALPRs in pursuit of crime (too bad they think they need them).

NY Governor Cuomo unveiled facial recognition scanning at all NY Toll Plazas. Big Brother continues his march unabated in NY.

Automated traffic enforcement game playing by Ohio cities—who would have thought such a thing? (We are being factitious because it is prevalent and heinous.)

Speaking of Ohio, New Richmond plans to bring new speed cameras to US52 and Kent plans to add two more school traffic cameras to its program.

NMA’s City and State Lists of RLCs and speed cameras

The NMA has compiled a list of which states and cities are using red-light and speed cameras. This may not be a complete list and please send any additions or subtractions to the nma@motorists.org for updating the list.

Jim Walker’s ATE Commentary of the Week

The Case Western University study showing no safety benefits for RLCs mirrors other studies done by unbiased researchers that are not in the revenue stream from tickets.  Most “studies” done by those in the revenue stream from tickets show positive results from the cameras. Hmm, I wonder why the two study origins differ? Could it possibly be the ways the data are analyzed by those making money are not statistically valid?

It is likely Aurora voters will say no to ticket cameras as 90% of the votes have been NO so far.

Racial bias happens in many ways. With traffic stops, it can be where the officers patrol the most or it can be a group of biased officers on patrol. With ticket cameras, it can be where the cameras are located – areas with more minority traffic. The DC study is not the first to show such a bias, several other areas revealed similar results. With cameras, it can be the political power of wealthier residents to influence officials to keep cameras out of their neighborhoods – special power many other residents don’t have.

There are many anti-camera state legislators in Albany. Keep your fingers crossed that they continue to prevail for a couple more days to end the speed camera racket in New York City.

The Texas case pursued by Attorney Bowman could have far reaching effects. MOST Texas cities using red-light cameras failed to do the legally-required engineering studies before installing the cameras. If the state Supreme Court finds the program in Richardson was not valid when established, they could order all such programs to shut down statewide. In Texas, like many states, bills to ban the cameras have remained bottled up in committees where the for-profit camera companies have “influenced” a few legislators to prevent the bills from getting votes on the floor of the state legislatures where they would almost certainly pass.

James C. Walker is a life member of the National Motorists Association. He is also a board member and executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation.

 

Special Report from Helwig F. Van Der Grinten, founder of the Houston Coalition against Red-Light Cameras

We have nothing new to report about our suit against the City of Sugar Land.  We are still awaiting action by the 1st Court of Appeals.

The action by the 5th Court of Appeals unfortunately declared that the red-light camera enforcement system by the City of Richardson is not unconstitutional.  This decision is not supposed to influence any other court of appeal, so we are still confident that the 1st Court will rule in our favor.

A Petition for Review of the 5th Court’s ruling has been submitted to the Texas Supreme Court and is available here.

THE MAIN ISSUES PRESENTED IN THAT PETITION ARE:

  1. The constitution gives exclusive jurisdiction of all civil matters $200 of less solely to the justice of the peace courts.  The administrative non-judicial hearing and the municipal courts are wholly lacking in jurisdiction.
  2. The enabling legislation prohibits the City of Richardson from collecting RLC revenue since their contractor is paid a percentage of the revenue. That city also has failed to conduct the mandatory engineering study.
  3. Richardson’s RLC ordinance is in violation of the constitutional right to a trial by jury.
  4. The RLC laws presume that the owner of the vehicle was driving at the time of the infraction which is a clear violation of due process.

Another discussion of the 5th Court ruling can be found here.

Because a very large number of local jurisdictions are litigating this issue and a very large amount of revenue is at stake it is very likely that the Supreme Court is going to have to provide a ruling.

The 1st Court may soon require a hearing of oral arguments on our case or it may render a decision based on the briefs already submitted.  I will let you know what develops.

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