1/5/2009Missouri: Anti-Red Light Camera Referendum Gains Momentum
Voters in Arnold, Missouri will likely vote in April on whether to ban red light cameras.
Activists in the city of Arnold as early as this week expect to secure the number of signatures required to hold a referendum that would outlaw Missouri's first red light camera program. Organizers for the political action committee calling itself "Don't Tread on Me" need a total of 835 signatures to give voters a say on the April 7, 2009 ballot on whether photo enforcement should continue in the city.
"These cameras were never about safety," Arnold City Councilman Matthew Hay said. "They are about revenue generation plain and simple. With all of the new developments and related sales taxes flowing into the city, it is more than time to end the 'red light shakedown' in order to attempt to compensate for budget shortfalls."
Hay told TheNewspaper that it took the group took just two weeks to gather the first 500 signatures and that he now has more support than ever. Late last year, Hay had joined with fomer councilman Paul Vinson to found the group in response to constitutional concerns and what they saw as the lack of public consultation in the adoption of the original red light camera ordinance. An investigative report by the Riverfront Times suggests American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the private Arizona company that currently runs Arnold's automated ticketing program, used heavy-hitting political lobbyists to help ram the ordinance through the system.
"The red light camera ordinance was introduced and passed into law in a single evening back in June of 2005, by a very crafty and cunning city council," Vinson said. "The residents had no opportunity to consider the matter and express opinions."
Jay Morris Specter, 53, was one of the key ATS contract employees responsible for bringing photo enforcement to Arnold and the state of Missouri. ATS fired Specter, who later went to rival firm Redflex Traffic Systems. After having been convicted of fraud, Specter is now serving time at Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution in South Carolina with an expected release date of September 16, 2010. The system that Specter helped put in place has been set with timing so short that in July 2007 a man received a ticket for "running" a light that was simultaneously yellow and red.
No photo enforcement program has ever survived a vote by the public. Cincinnati and Steubenville, Ohio recently voted to ban photo ticketing. Between 1991 and 1997, voters also turned out in Batavia, Illinois; Peoria, Arizona and Anchorage, Alaska to reject photo radar.
Arnold's red light camera petition can be signed at Best Auto, Inc, an automotive garage located on Michigan Avenue by the Arnold Water Tower. A sample copy is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below.