5/3/2007Missouri: Ethics Law Stops Traffic Camera Company
A former Kansas City, Missouri official is caught in the revolving door with the speed camera industry.
City employees who promote the acceptance of lucrative photo enforcement contracts are often rewarded with high-paying jobs at the firms that land the rights to issue automated tickets. In Kansas City, Missouri this revolving door has triggered ethics questions regarding a contract to issue up to $60 million in tickets.
City Traffic Engineer Steve Worley helped convince Kansas City officials that it was in their best interests to embrace speed cameras and red light cameras. These officials, desperate to fill a multimillion dollar budget gap, eventually agreed with the plan.
"The implementation of photo-radar would also have positive benefits from additional revenues generated by traffic fines," City Manager Wayne A. Cauthen wrote in the city budget submission in February 2006.
A few months later, a joint venture between German speed camera vendor Traffipax and Canada's Delcan Corporation hired Worley. The companies then sought to use Worley to ensure that his former employers would select them to operate the ticket program. On January 11, as reported by The Kansas City Star newspaper, Worley sent an email to city officials.
"As Kansas City continues to evaluate proposals, we hope that you will consider this important additional information," the email stated. "Ask [Gladstone city officials] why they feel our team stands above the rest."
The email violated a city ordinance banning employees who have left within a year from influencing any decisions that might personally enrich the former employee. Worley told the Star he had been unaware of that law when he sent the note.
On March 9, the city selected Worley's firm to manage the red light camera and speed camera contract. A lobbyist for rival camera vendor ATS is crying foul and wants the decision reconsidered. At least one city councilman agrees.