3/17/2007New Mexico: Illegal Tickets and Illegal Lobbying Alleged
Accuracy, legality and lobbying problems mount in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The bipartisan leaders of the New Mexico state Senate on Monday urged state Attorney General Gary King to investigate potentially illegal lobbying efforts on the behalf of photo enforcement in Albuquerque. Other reports show that the city issues speed camera tickets in school zones outside of school hours and in violation of the city's own ordinance.
Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-Belen) and Minority Leader Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) wrote the attorney general to ask whether an automated dialing campaign that involved city council members and possibly the Australian camera vendor Redflex violated either the Campaign Reporting Act or the Lobbyist Regulation Act. State law imposes reporting requirements on political campaigns that make more than 500 calls.
One automated call was arranged by a campaign worker for Mayor Martin Chavez and used the voice of City Councilman Craig Loy to round up support for camera ticketing. Another anonymous automated call gave out the mobile phone number of Councilman Brad Winter, a camera opponent. One more attempted to generate calls against Senator William Payne (R-Albuquerque), who introduced legislation to provide warnings ahead of camera traps.
Meanwhile, Albuquerque continues to hold administrative hearings on red light camera and speed camera tickets outside of the 90-day deadline allowed by the city's own ordinance. One hearing officer, Richard Zanotti, dismissed seventy citations in one day because of this failure, while another, Roberto Albertorio, refused to drop the illegal citations. Ron Reich filed a District Court challenge to the ruling. Other motorists found that they had been mailed speed camera tickets that were issued in school zones at times when school zone speed limits and restrictions did not apply.
So far, Redflex has generated 89,000 tickets worth at least $13 million.