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Ohio, Arizona Special Interests Battle Anti-Camera Initiatives

September 10, 2009

Ohio, Arizona Special Interests Battle Anti-Camera Initiatives
Toledo succeeds and Chillicothe, Ohio fails in sabotaging anti-camera referendum. Arizona front group prepares for battle.  

Red Means Stop billboardSpecial interest groups continue to battle a pair of anti-photo enforcement ballot initiatives in Ohio and one in Arizona. In Chillicothe, Ohio, officials are so desperate to prevent the public from deciding whether or not to keep the cameras that the city’s legal department moved to block a citizen-led ballot petition before the Ross County Board of Elections. Last week, the board rejected the city’s demand outright.

Representatives from Citizens Against Photo Enforcement (CAPE), which collected the signatures, were thrilled at the outcome. Voters will now decide for themselves whether or not to kick out Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that runs the cameras.

“We believe that this protest was a Redflex move,” Rebekah Valentich told TheNewspaper. “The assistant law director did not even know how many cameras we had… Just the comments he used during his back to the people speech seemed very rehearsed and reeked of Redflex.”

In Toledo, Redflex and city officials were successful in thwarting the desire of 8500 city residents who signed a petition seeking a referendum on cameras. The initiative’s sponsors, the We Demand a Vote coalition, did not realize that Toledo’s city code included a special requirement that each page of a petition have the circulator’s signature notarized. That was enough for the city to block the referendum. The coalition insists that it will be back next year.

“Our legal team feels horrible they missed this extraneous and unnecessary step that most cities in Ohio do not require,” We Demand a Vote said in a statement. “This has only served to strengthen our resolve, and we hope next year when we issue a clarion call for patriots to retake civil liberty, you will respond.”

In Arizona, the entities that profit from photo ticketing are turning to a self-branded “grassroots” victim advocacy organization to promote photo enforcement. Ten years ago, the Red Means Stop Coalition appeared as the city of Chandler began to prepare for the installation of red light cameras. Earlier this year, the group rebranded itself as the Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance as a statewide petition drive to give voters a chance to outlaw all forms of automated ticketing machine gathered steam.

“The program on our state highways does have its flaws, but should not been ended only amended,” the group’s executive director, Frank Hinds, wrote on the Red Means Stop Facebook page.

A total of 94 members have joined as “fans” of the ticketing effort on the popular social networking website. Using groups headed by victims is a favorite tactic of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running, a public relations front created by Australia’s Redflex Traffic Systems, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) and other photo ticketing companies. The campaign’s website specifically recruits victims to be used as lobbying tools for the industry.

Once formed, the groups are funded by other entities that receive money directly and indirectly from automated ticketing programs. For example, the Red Means Stop group receives support from:

  • Arizona traffic schools, which receive money from photo ticket recipients seeking to escape license points
  • The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, which is a state organization funded by traffic tickets
  • Redflex (via the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running front group)
  • The Arizona Department of Transportation, another state organization which receives some funding from tickets
  • AAA of Arizona, which sells insurance and collects additional premium revenue from photo ticket recipients (statewide tickets excepted)
  • State Farm Insurance, which also collects revenue from ticket points

Representatives from the group CameraFraud.com, which has received no funding from any corporate interest, vowed to fight back against the well-funded front groups with a true grassroots effort. CameraFraud has 1611 members in Arizona.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. enigmaforever permalink
    September 11, 2009 10:57 am

    How much is your elected official, and or legislator getting. (Just from a few of my files) From camerafraud.com This is Arizona=”Money from each photo enforcement ticket breaks down as follows: $16.50 to statewide public campaign financing, $13.48 to the Department of Public Safety, $25.17 to the Supreme Court of Arizona’s Administrative Office of the Courts, $29.70 to Redflex (the private photo enforcement company) and $96.65 to the State of Arizona’s general fund”. http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/27/2712.asp , Arizona “a ten percent surcharge was imposed on all traffic tickets to create the “Citizens Clean Election Fund.” The fund allows politicians to avoid tedious fund raising efforts.
    After raising just $5 each from 220 people in a district, candidates for public office qualify for public financing money to match private expenditures. In effect, these lawmakers collect $16.50 for their campaigns each time a photo radar ticket is issued on an Arizona freeway.
    This adds up to big money. In 2008, traffic tickets generated $10,095,771 in revenue for the clean elections fund. Out of this amount, $7,710,739 million was disbursed to lawmakers and candidates during the primary and general elections — an average of $72,063 each. In just the past four months, the new freeway speed camera program has already added another $3.3 million to the total amount collected for lawmakers. Over the past four election cycles, Arizona politicians collected a total of $36,265,795 in campaign cash from the tax on speeding tickets.
    By Robert Vitale
    THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH “A Columbus City Council member whose committees oversee legislation dealing with road construction, red-light cameras and environmental issues borrowed money from a lobbyist whose clients are interested in the same topics” “refused to disclose the amount of the loan “.
    Akron Becon Journal–“City Council president criticizes William Healy II for contracts involving campaign contributors” “Schulman pointed to two contributions of $125 each on July 8 from individuals associated with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. of Phoenix”
    By Gerry Smith Chicago Tribune ReporterJuly 15, 2009

    After Carol Stream Police Chief Rick Willing recommended his town hire Redflex Traffic Systems, village officials approved a contract with the Arizona-based red-light camera vendor in December 2007.
    Less than a year later, Willing retired from the force and began working for Redflex.
    September 11, 2009 9:47 AM

    Enigmaforever

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