11/2/2010Houston, Texas Attempts to Hide Red Light Camera Safety Data
Lawsuit filed against Houston, Texas for concealing red light camera accident reports.
The city of Houston, Texas sought to keep secret all detailed information about the performance of its red light camera program on the eve of an election that will decide their fate. Yesterday, Paul Kubosh, co-founder of Citizens Against Red Light Cameras, filed suit in Harris County District Court seeking a court order compelling the release of accident data at intersections equipped with automated ticketing machines. Voters head to the polls today to decide whether or not the city will be allowed to continue using the devices.
"The city of Houston is not in compliance with the Texas Public Information Act by reason of failing to release requested public information," attorney Randall Kallinen wrote in his brief to the court. "The monthly Location Performance Summary Reports from Houston red light camera contractor American Traffic Solutions, Inc., from September 30, 2008, to September 30, 2010, are public records under the Texas Public Information Act and not subject to any exception to release."
Kubosh had sent his request for these reports on October 5. Under state law, the city had until October 19 to either supply the information or petition the state attorney general for a ruling on why the material should be considered exempt. The city has done neither. The city's contractor, on the other hand, has been busy undermining the citizen initiative. As of October 25, American Traffic Solutions had spent $1.5 million in legal expenses for its failed effort to block the referendum in addition to an advertising blitz designed to rescue the program.
"Suppression has been the modus operandi by the pro camera advocates during entirety of the campaign -- from trying to deny the people the right vote to suppressing data that would expose the lie that is the red light camera," the anti-camera group's spokesman, Philip Owens, told TheNewspaper. "Sadly this is nothing new, but we are engaged in the fight and plan on finishing"
The documents are of particular interest because research in the nearby city of Baytown revealed that accidents increased 40 percent at red light camera locations. Baytown is also holding a citizen initiative to ban photo ticketing today.
In addition to release of the documents, Kubosh seeks reimbursement for his costs in filing the suit.