5/1/2014Missouri County Considers Public Vote On Red Light Cameras
St. Charles County, Missouri introduces proposal to allow voters to decide whether red light cameras can be used.
The county council in St. Charles, Missouri may allow residents to decide whether to ban the use of red light cameras or not. The prospect for such a vote has municipal politicians -- who have been insisting that the decision of whether to use red light cameras is a matter of "local control" -- up in arms. They do not want citizens to have any say in the matter.
In a letter Monday to County Councilman Joe Brazil, St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano blasted the referendum proposal. The county itself does not use automated ticketing machines, but the measure would allow the public to shut down the cameras operating in St. Peters. Pagano says the public has no business getting involved.
"Municipalities now have to go to a vote of the people for decisions like new fees for sewer lateral or water line insurance programs," Pagano wrote. "This is a legitimate way to make these kinds of decisions. This is a legitimate way to make these kinds of decisions. These kinds of services and fees impact nearly every household in a city -- voters should have a say in this. But for other kinds of decisions, that's why we were elected."
Pagano went on to attack Brazil personally and threaten "millions of tax dollars" would be spent on a lawsuit to keep the cameras operational. That may not dissuade five of the seven county councilmen who signed on as sponsors of the idea of asking voters to approve a charter amendment banning red light cameras and speed cameras. Once given final approval, the amendment would be presented to voters on August 5 for their approval or rejection.
"Notwithstanding any other provision of this St. Charles County charter," the proposed amendment states, "red light cameras or similar photograph devices or automated traffic enforcement systems may not be used in enforcing traffic regulations adopted by St. Charles County or by any municipality within St. Charles County that prohibit drivers from entering intersections when controlled by red traffic lights, and no such municipality may exercise the legislative power to use such cameras or devices or systems."
In an open letter, Tony Lovasco, a candidate for a St. Charles County council seat, fired back at Pagano.
"A larger government entity prohibiting a smaller one from acting unethically is not government interference," Lovasco wrote. "It's a proper role of government... The mayor's recent comments reinforce what opponents of these systems have long stated: red-light cameras aren't in place for public safety, but simply as a revenue-generating apparatus."
Pagano's predecessor, Shawn Brown, was caught in 2006 soliciting bribes from Redflex, the red light camera contractor. Brown was released from prison in 2008, but now Redflex finds itself under federal investigation for bribery.