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It's Time to STOP the Red Light Cameras

You are spending $3.6 million of the citizens' money, getting no significant safety improvement and netting just over $700K in return. If there ever were a bad deal, this is it.

If there were ever an indication of the nature of the St. Pete Red Light Camera program – and the ends to which the people driving it will go to keep this turkey flying – you saw it this past week.

There appeared to be a deliberate attempt to withhold information from the City Council when the fine folks over at Traffic Engineering did not include the intersection crash data in the Council Report.

This latest move follows an unannounced attempt to slip in more red light cameras past City Council.

The whole program just smells. As I have mentioned before, I sat in on some of the early planning meetings with ATS, the Red Light Camera company, and I felt like I needed a shower after they were over.

Joe Kubicki  said: "We had no intention to mislead the public." It wasn't the public he was trying to mislead but the eight decision makers he bamboozled.

Kubicki, who has wrapped himself and his department in a warm coat of generating revenue for the City,  is the third guy Bill Foster should have fired on his second day in office. 

Kubicki smiles, promises more money and the Mayor fawns, City Council drools and away we go.

There is no evidence that red light cameras have made the "streets" safer.  They haven't even made the intersections where they are located safer.

A study from USF Public Health Researchers, Take a Closer Look at Red-Light Cameras, indicates red light cameras have little safety value.

They are all about money. Kubicki figured out a long time ago that if you generate enough money in this government you can get the leaders to do just about anything.

And he is right.

Put a guy like him with a company like ATS and you get a woeful attempt to mislead the City Council. A program where the big losers are the citizens and the City is on the very short end of the revenue stick.

If I were a Council member what would anger me even more than the red light lies is the fact that they think the Council is dumb enough to pull these tricks and get away with it.

It is time to end this thing right now.

It is time to face the facts, City Council: You are not making this City any safer, and you are costing this City money and jobs, making it less pleasant and less friendly by supporting people who mislead to get your vote.

This year, the program took $3.6 million dollars of discretionary income out of this City, and we got $707,000 back and lost the velocity of money gains on the whole $3.6 million. How many jobs did that cost and what was the real benefit?

You are spending $3.6 million of the citizens' money, getting no significant safety improvement and netting just over $700K in return. If there ever were a bad deal this is it.

Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

StPete Polls December 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Thank you for writing this article, but what you have mentioned is just the tip of the iceburg of things that are wrong with the red light camera program in St. Petersburg. More will come to light over the next few days as this issue comes before council on Thursday.
Doc Webb's Bay Post December 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Thanks for the comment. Please Post any pertinent information here or send me a e-mail at dr.webb@verizon.net
Jerry Kendall December 17, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Many cities have already been down this path and have removed red-light cameras for just such reasons. There is no statistical support for any safety gains. It is strictly about the money, to the point that many times the yellows are shortened to help generate tickets. Has anyone checked to see if that has been done here?
Ian G December 18, 2012 at 03:02 PM
If the city council really, truly, wanted to improve safety -- the only thing that has been demonstrated to work is to increase the time that the yellow lights are active. What happens in most places when there is a red light camera? The yellow light gets shorter.
StPete Polls December 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Here were my comments to City Council at the meeting last week: There are a lot of issues with the red light camera update report, not just that so many things were missing from it, but what is there is done in yet another different methodology, and it is not as accurate as it should be. One of the things that is missing that hasn't gotten a lot of coverage is an analysis of right turns on red. This is just one part of the red light camera program, but it accounts for over 37% of the citations issued, and it has a very specific measurement of success, the right turn on red crash rate. Now to begin with, these crashes are incredibly infrequent, they account for just over one third of one percent of crashes in the city. The effects of one year of camera enforcement and over 13,000 citations issued is, a completely unchanged rate of right turn on red crashes at red light camera intersections, while at the same time, non-camera intersections saw a decrease in right turn on red crashes. What this shows us is the same thing several other municipalities have learned. Right turn on red enforcement shows no safety benefit, and it should be discontinued. I urge you to pass a resolution that would prevent photo-enforcement of right-turn-on-red violations. If you do that, then you take one large anti-camera argument away from me, and you won't affect safety one bit. (The Mayor and staff never responded to this)
StPete Polls December 23, 2012 at 01:00 PM
More comments: As for the red light camera program as a whole, we've heard from city staff that we need 3 years of data before we can properly analyze the effects of the red light cameras. Well, if we just look a little to our South, we can see what the effects of more than 3 years of red light cameras are. Collier County has had American Traffic Solutions red light cameras operating for over three and a half years, and last week they voted to terminate their contract with ATS because there was no evidence that the cameras improved safety. While looking into Collier County's program I was also startled to find out how much we are overpaying for the same service. Collier County is paying $1500 per camera per month, we are paying almost triple that amount. That resulted in us paying over $600,000 more for the same service in the first year of our camera program alone. For this reason alone you should look at terminating the contract and looking for a better vendor. But also, choosing one which doesn't forget to process thousands of citations, and also one that doesn't have dozens of active lawsuits would be a good idea too. (Legal staff said they would look into other contracts, but insisted we got a "good deal")

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