4/6/2016Arizona Cities Look To Redflex For Photo Radar Direction
New emails show Redflex directed municipal response to attorney general decision and anti-photo radar legislation.
Arizona cities have remained silent about their response to Attorney General Mark Brnovich's ruling requiring red light camera and speed camera vendors to obtain private investigator licenses (read opinion). Behind closed doors, however, the cities have closely coordinated their response with Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, intending to preserve their lucrative automated ticketing programs.
Just two days after the ruling came down, Redflex official Edward Tiedje assured the cities that the ruling's effect would only be temporary.
"We are starting the process to be licensed as a PI firm, but this can take a few months," Tiedje wrote on March 18. "Once we have an agency license, then we can license our employees."
The emails, obtained by Arizona Campaign for Liberty, show how every move was carefully planned in advance. On March 23, Phoenix sent a formal notice to Redflex asking for a suspension in its red light camera and speed camera program.
"Upon information and belief, Redflex does not possess the license as required by the Arizona attorney general," Assistant Phoenix City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr wrote to Redflex. "Effective immediately, Phoenix suspends Redflex's work under the agreement until Phoenix receives written confirmation that Redflex possesses all licenses and permits required by federal, state and local law to fully perform all services under the parties' agreement."
Dohoney cited the contract sections requiring Redflex to keep all applicable licenses and permits current (II 3.5) and the more general sections requiring Redflex to comply with the law (II 3.10, IV 5.2, V 5.2). El Mirage on April 1 sent a letter containing the same language, along with a second letter permanently unplugging the photo radar units on Grand Avenue and Primrose in light of the new statewide law prohibiting the use of cameras on state highways.
Redflex did its best to use city employees to lobby against this legislation. Redflex Communications Director Michael Cavaiola directed the localities with detailed lists of state representatives to call with recommended language and talking points. Redflex succeeded in turning state Senator Carlyle Begay (R-Ganado) against his party's platform with a vote in support of cameras, but Cavaiola knew he had only a few days to develop more loyal allies in the legislature.
"Ask [El Mirage Police] Chief [Terry] McDonald to please call Senator [Barbara] McGuire on Monday morning," Cavaiola urged in a March 11 email. "She voted for the bill in committee and was absent during the floor vote. She is very pro-law enforcement and I think would appreciate hearing the chief's perspective... Thank you again for everything -- we are still in this fight, and we have a good chance of winning."
El Mirage assistant city manager Amber Wakeman responded enthusiastically to the call to action.
"Hi Michael," Wakeman wrote in a March 11 email. "Let me know how we can help."
Wakeman followed up by offering to contact a colleague in Tucson to put pressure on state Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford (D-Tucson) to vote with Redflex. While Bedford voted "No" as Redflex requested, Redflex came up just one vote short. The bill passed 16 to 14 on March 17, and Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed it into law on March 21. Redflex and American Traffic Solutions were successful in keeping the legislature from passing an outright ban on automated ticketing machines.