2/19/2005Using Influence to Buy the Houston Camera Contract
Camera contractors Nestor and ACS use insiders and monetary influence to land the Houston, Texas red light camera contract.
Despite the increasing likelihood of a statewide ban on cameras, camera contractors are fighting to land the million dollar Houston contract.
Nestor Traffic Systems' weapon of choice is former Houston City Councilman Bert Keller. Nestor pays him to land contracts in the region. Keller's former father-in-law, Don Sanders, has close ties to the Houston police. Nestor is a client of Sanders' financial firm. Nestor also hired Allen Blakemore as a lobbyist. Blakemore has said he plans to pay an active duty police officer, Mark Clark, to become an "advisory consultant." Clark sees no conflict-of-interest in this relationship.
Nestor faces off against ACS, which has worked with Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt in his last two posts as chief. ACS is the camera contractor in Oxnard, California and Phoenix. The ACS lobbyist on the issue is Daryl Carter with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, a firm with several city contracts.
He sees no conflict as a city employee doing work that could benefit a potential city contractor and said he is pushing for the red-light ordinance because the HPOU supports it. "It is what it is," Clark said. "No one is trying to play games about it. I wouldn't do it if it was a conflict of interest. I'm not trying to give an advantage to anybody."Source: Politicos see green in red-light contract (Houston Chronicle, 2/19/2005)
"ACS is wired in more than an ex-councilman ever was," [Nestor lobbyist] Keller said. "There's no sure thing in our spending the money we are to lobby the Legislature. We could be the ones investing a lot of time and may not get the business."
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