City Hall Packed for Red-Light Camera Showdown

kubosh.jpg
Photo by Mandy Oaklander
Paul Kubosh addressed city council yesterday.
As far as city hall meetings go, yesterday's was raucous. Members of the National Black United Front, Houston Ministers Against Crime, city council hopefuls, and Citizens Against Red Light Cameras filled the hall to standing-room-only capacity to complain to Mayor Annise Parker about red-light cameras. Thirty-six people signed up to speak their piece.

It only took the first speaker to rouse the constituents to angry whoops and jeers at Parker, who sternly demanded that the audience show support for a speaker only by standing up silently. The rest of the meeting was a continuous cycle of standing.

Many, such as Citizens Against Red Light Cameras, headed by attorney Paul Kubosh, believe that red-light cameras actually make the roads less safe. But safety was hardly mentioned yesterday. The meeting centered on last November's vote -- one in which citizens overwhelmingly voted the cameras off -- that's being ignored. The cameras are now back on because American Traffic Solutions (ATS) claimed that the city would owe it $20 million to get out of the contract early.

At the meeting, the overwhelming sentiment was anger that the will of the people was not being upheld. Several African-American speakers warned that ignoring the results of a vote is the quickest way to discourage voting at all. Some who had voted to keep the cameras even came out to complain, saying that to throw away an election's results is unconscionable.

"This is no longer a legal issue," said Paul Kubosh. "This is a political issue." He and others claimed that the entire red-light camera operation is a moneymaking scheme. "The $20 million figure comes straight from ATS; it does not come from anywhere else," said Kubosh. "The mayor has adopted the threat as being fact. It is fiction."

Kubosh and his brother, Randy Kubosh, asked to hear where each council member stood on the issue. "If the council members are silent and won't say whether they're for or against, I recommend we vote against every elected official who's running next November," said Randy Kubosh, to a loud standing ovation quickly silenced by the mayor.

From the other side of the room, the meeting was mostly a silent one. Only councilmembers Jolanda Jones and C.O. Bradford made their positions known. Both are against turning back on the red-light cameras. "I believe that the will of the people should always prevail," Jones said.

During the meeting, Parker maintained a grim smile, though some called for her impeachment. "Oh, and y'all were so nice when I unilaterally turned them off," she said at one point.

Only three of the 36 speakers were pro-camera. Two worked for ATS, and one was a woman, Yolanda Macias, who lost her son to a red-light runner in a traffic accident.

Though everyone was sympathetic to Macias, the city spoke loudly and clearly. The cameras need to go.

"We have a lot of quiet council members here today. But come fall, you're all in our neighborhoods asking for our vote," said Travis McGee, a local activist in Sunnyside Gardens. "We have traffic lights in our area that don't work."


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17 comments
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ZippyDoDah
ZippyDoDah

Argue all you want about whether the statistic indicate accidents increased or decreased at these intersections, that's irrelevant.  Neither of the interested parties is even bothering with the pretense that this whole scheme was ever about safety.  If the city can't pay for the cameras without writing tickets and ATS wants $20 million for its "losses" if they cameras are turned off, then it was all about substantial revenues to be made by mining persistent red-light runners' pockets. How did the city plan to pay ATS and did ATS intend to make its millions if the cameras were actually the effective deterrent both alleged them to be?

Youssef
Youssef

Everyone needs to remember this sham next time they vote.

BubbaHotepIV
BubbaHotepIV

I just want to make sure the cameras don't get moved "to more effective" intersections.  That would mess up the ability to compare the data and prove that the cameras cause accidents.  My question:  if the cameras are a public safety hazard, can't the City threaten ATS with endangering public safety or misleading product statements or something?

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

There are temporary engineering changes the city could make which would drastically reduce the camera revenue, likely to the point that ATS would ask to end the contract early because they would be taking financially losses with very few citations issued. This would accomplish the will of the people in another way, one that did not risk millions of dollars in a lawsuit. So far, the city flatly refuses to take these temporary measures.  It is likely that the revenue is STILL more important to the city than the will of the people, and the city may continue to defy the will of the people until the "noise" level gets so high they cannot do anything else.  James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI (frequent visitor to Texas for extended stays)

CaptainVan
CaptainVan

I explained to a friend of mine that the only way to be 100% sure of not getting an RLC ticket is to be already stopped, e.g. in heavy traffic, when the light turns yellow.  You would then creep up to the intersection, stop again and wait for the next green light.  Every other situation is simply guess work.  He pointed out that equipping your vehicle with warp drive would provide another 100% way.  I didn’t know he was a Trekky.

Justathought
Justathought

All I know is that the same 180K that voted those cameras away will be the same people voting Mr(s). Parker away...:)

WalkerTexasPatriot
WalkerTexasPatriot

As mayor candidate Fernando Herrera told the mayor over 180,000 voted to remove the cameras, only a little only 80,000 voted for her. Wake up HOUSTON Parker has got to go. Vote Fernando Herrera for Houston city mayor!

Guest
Guest

Mayor Parker is no friend of ours.

BantheCam
BantheCam

Keep fighting ATS. They are owned by Goldman Sachs and will do whatever they can to take your money and your freedom.

Anon
Anon

A friend of mine has an office that overlooks a red-light camera.  He is there pretty much 9 hours for 5 days a week.  He heard and got up from his desk to look at 5-10 accidents a week before cameras.  A few weeks after the cameras, he hardly ever heard an accident.  And that includes the mythical "cameras cause rear end collisions."  Almost right after the cameras went off, the accidents went back to 5-10 per week.

I know people on both sides point to studies that go both ways.  I  don't know about that.  All I know is what my friend says.

The Real Anon
The Real Anon

"I have a friend that sat in a lawn chair and stares at the camera-controlled intersections, where we saw eleventy-billion accidents a day. When they turned off the cameras, there were negative twelve-bazillion accidents."

This is how much stock I put in your "friend's" account.  Statistics of accidents don't lie. Accidents literally doubled when the cameras were put in, and fell precipitously when they were taken out.  Doesn't the camera company have better things to do than to hire anonymous shills to post trash?

CheckmateBrian
CheckmateBrian

Can anyone explain how a camera prevents an accident? I have never seen a camera that has the abilty to change a car's direction or make it stop.

Sm Cervantes03
Sm Cervantes03

It may not change a cars direction, but it can give you a first hand look @ who was responsible!! Until something happens to you or your loved one you will understand why it is important for my loved ones to have cameras.

Sm Cervantes03
Sm Cervantes03

Computer problem.. but meant to say is that until something happens to you or someone close to you and a camera could have made a difference you will understand. My little cousin was killed because a driver ran a red light. We will never get to experience things with him again, and I feel had their been a camera there maybe the driver would have been more careful.

CheckmateBrian
CheckmateBrian

I do not understand why the city pays a for profit company for this 'service'

CMN
CMN

Several African-American speakers warned that ignoring the results of a vote is the quickest way to discourage voting at all.

Uh...what the hell?  What does the fact that the speakers were black have to do with anything?

TheNorthwestReport.com
TheNorthwestReport.com

The state must keep us fighting amongst our selves over petty things like race so we don't notice that we're all cattle living on their farm.

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