A recent series of articles in the Everett Herald (out of Washington) has exposed some of the tactics used by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) in an effort to protect and/or expand its ticket camera installations.
We encourage you to read for yourself here, but we’ve provided a few bullet points below:
- In an effort to block citizens from voting on ticket cameras in the city of Mukilteo, Washington, an ATS employee emailed the mayor (Joe Marine) and asked for help finding someone to use in a lawsuit — a lawsuit against his own city. The mayor claims to have ignored the email.
- The same (no longer employed) ATS employee was exposed by the Everett Herald earlier this year when he was caught anonymously posting dozens of online comments under newspaper stories about cameras. Using the screen name “W Howard,” the ATS employee attacked camera detractors. In his posts, “W Howard” repeatedly claimed to live in Snohomish County. Instead, the Internet trail led back to ATS headquarters.
- ATS eventually hired a law firm to represent the interests of a shell organization (Mukilteo Citizens for Simple Government) in the lawsuit (although they deny this is the case.) The “organization” only has one acknowledged member who has repeatedly refused to comment on the situation.
- Defending the city’s decision to vote on cameras (necessary only because of the efforts of ATS) has cost Mukilteo taxpayers nearly $24,000 in legal fees.
- In an April 2010 email, the city public work director Larry Waters wrote that state and city reviews of actual accidents “did not reveal anything to provide that installing the (cameras) would improve safety.” That email went to ATS, city leaders and state transportation officials. An ATS employee forwarded the email to colleagues. “I cannot believe this idiot sent this to WSDOT. (It) may have torpedoed the project,” he wrote.
It’s clear that the camera companies will do anything to protect their revenue-generating machines, but it’s also becoming clear that they’re fighting a losing battle.