This weekly post features recent news stories that highlight and update themes previously covered throughout NMA E-Newsletters and Alerts.
Editor’s Note: The red-light camera companies will do almost anything to protect their interests. When community opposition develops against red-light camera programs, usually in the form of ballot initiatives, the camera companies set up their own “grassroots” groups to fight back. In reality these are nothing more than front groups created to give the impression of strong community support for the cameras. Often these groups may have only one member who acts as a figurehead. WTSP in Tampa recently profiled one such shady group organized to fight a camera vote in Brooksville, Florida. It should be noted that a judge just struck down the Brooksville ballot initiative before it even took place.
NMA Founder Jim Baxter warned about the true nature of these pro-camera front groups in this blog from 2010.
The Rise of the Ticket Camera “Front Group”
Recently, groups opposed to the use of ticket cameras have discovered that companies that promote and profit from the installation of ticket camera systems have been setting up fake organizations, or “front groups” to convey the illusion that there are local citizen groups who favor automated ticketing of motorists.
There is also the attempt to imply that these citizen based organizations are solely concerned about improving traffic safety.
Despite a seemingly blind mainstream media, it has been obvious to even casual observers that organizations like “Stop Red Light Running” were just shills for the ticket camera industry.
Until recently, the formation of local pro-camera ticket groups, was not recognized as a centrally orchestrated campaign to sell or protect ticket camera installations. However, recent discoveries and comparisons show that 15 or more websites for a like number of different communities are the creation of one company with ties to Automated Traffic Solutions (ATS), a leading purveyor of ticket camera systems.
Of late these front groups have been used to oppose local referendums where residents are given the opportunity to vote for the removal of ticket cameras. This opposition includes the funding of legal challenges and P.R. campaigns.
It is not illegal or unethical for a private company to attempt to protect its financial interest.
Where the line is crossed, in this instance, is the creation of the pretense that there is organized community support for ticket cameras and that support is based on safety concerns.
There’s no doubt that there are individuals who have been duped into believing that ticket cameras can reduce accidents.
After all, hasn’t that been what elected officials, police chiefs and government “experts” have told them. ”It’s just the ‘rabble rousers’ who are mad because they got a ticket that are objecting to the cameras.”
But, whenever community organizations have evolved, they have consisted of local people who know a “public-private” snow job when they hear it and also know ticket cameras are about raising revenue and safety be damned.
These real community organizations are the ones that speak the truth and they want ticket cameras gone.