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Cincinnati, Ohio Officials Working To Overturn Voter Will On Speed Cameras
Cincinnati, Ohio politicians are using taxpayer resources to overturn the public vote banning red light and speed cameras.

Greg Landsman
Members of the city council in Cincinnati, Ohio, have been trying to install speed cameras for more than a decade. Their plans were thwarted eleven years ago when residents learned of the council's plan and circulated a petition eleven years ago that stripped the city council of the power to deploy automated ticketing machines. Voters endorsed that plan at the ballot box, adding the photo enforcement prohibition to the city charter. Now members of the city council are once again expending public resources to bypass the voters.

As reported by WCPO television, Cincinnati's city manager in July put out a call to speed camera vendors to submit proposals for bringing photo radar back to the city of 300,000 residents.

"Responders should present information based on the parameters established in the RFI [request for information] rather than any current traffic enforcement authorization/description in the Cincinnati Charter," the notice explained. "The primary objective of this Request for Information (RFI) is to obtain market information, feasibility, costs to the city, models and proposed options for revenue sharing, and interest from potential firms/vendors with the appropriate expertise to provide the city with services described herein."

The city asked for information that would be needed to hit the ground running and set up the speed traps promptly, if the legal situation were to change.

"All responses to this RFI should contain, at a minimum, the following," the city manager's request stated. "Estimated revenue generation information (i.e. tools for estimating potential revenue generation) but also any costs the city should consider or may potentially incur; and, an estimated timeline needed to fully execute services."

The last time that a photo ticketing company worked with Cincinnati politicians, there was bribery involved. John P. Raphael, the Ohio lobbyist for Redflex Traffic Systems, was convicted and imprisoned for his role in the Australian red light camera company's corruption scheme. He admitted that he solicited bribes to entice city councilmen in Columbus and Cincinnati to endorse automated ticketing, but he refused to turn against the politicians he had influenced with campaign donations that were laundered through Raphael's friends, family members and business contacts.

City councilman Greg Landsman, who was elected after the scandal, held a "pedestrian safety" townhall earlier this month that was designed to promote an effort to overturn the photo ticketing ban. The request for information from photo ticketing companies acknowledged that the city charter must be changed before cameras could be installed.

A diverse coalition of interest groups came together to ban speed cameras in Cincinnati in 2008, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Republican Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and others. The residents of Ashtabula, Cleveland, Chillicothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, South Euclid and Steubenville also took matters into their own hands and forced the removal of automated ticketing machines through ballot initiatives.

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