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Old August 24th, 2011
Jerry Lee Jerry Lee is offline
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Default About Face in Houston

Council votes to turn off cameras


The City Council passed a resolution today to turn off the city’s red-light cameras immediately. It also repealed the city ordinance that authorizes use of cameras in general.

Only Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who has repeatedly warned that such a vote shouldn’t be taken without knowing how much it could cost the city in potential legal damages, cast the only vote against the resolution.

The resolution is non-binding. The mayor has the authority to turn the cameras off herself. However, City Attorney David Feldman said it will help him in federal court to have a united City Council behind him. He said he expects that the red-light camera vendor, American Traffic Solutions, will ask a judge to enjoin the city from turning off the cameras.

Feldman said he and Police Chief Charles McClelland had already prepared an order to ATS asking the company to shut off the cameras at 12:01 p.m. ATS attorney Andy Taylor said that could take several days.

“It’s time now that the people rejoice. The City Council has finally voted and this mayor has voted to do what we had asked them to do last November and that was to honor the will of the people and to take down these cameras,” said Michael Kubosh, an organizer of the ballot initiative through which voters citywide rejected the cameras.

The repeal ordinance essentially outlaws the use of red-light cameras in Houston.

Taylor confirmed that the company will seek to block the turn-off in federal court. ATS will argue that the Council’s action is invalid and void.

“If this is held to be invalid, then the cameras stay up,” Taylor said.

ATS has said that if the city shuts off the cameras, it could cost the city $25 million in damages. Yesterday, Feldman called that estimate ”a pure fantasy.”
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Old August 25th, 2011
flylow7f39 flylow7f39 is offline
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Article from: www.thenewspaper.com/news/35/3568.asp

8/25/2011
Houston, Texas Pulls Plug on Red Light Camera Program
City council in Houston, Texas votes to repeal red light camera program permanently.

Mayor Annise D. ParkerThe long battle over the red light camera program in Houston, Texas ended Wednesday. The city council voted 14-1 to repeal the ordinance that granted American Traffic Solutions (ATS) the right to issue automated tickets at fifty intersections throughout the country's fourth largest city.

"This is a total victory for the voters of Houston," Citizens Against Red Light Cameras spokesman Philip Owens told TheNewspaper. "The only shame is it took too long to get where we are. Today was more of an exercise in political theater but a win is a win."

The anti-camera group successfully brought a charter amendment on the red light camera issue before voters in November, and a solid majority rejected photo ticketing. ATS refused to accept the public's verdict, which meant the loss of $3 million a year in revenue. The company found a federal judge willing to overturn the ballot choice (view ruling), giving Mayor Annise D. Parker an excuse to turn the cameras back on. Feeling heat from the public, Parker backed off and decided it would be best to buy their way out of the contract with ATS, which does not expire until 2014. ATS has claimed the city will owe $25 million if the cameras are shut off.

"We are prepared to pay a reasonable settlement, but what that settlement is is undetermined," Parker said. "We think they're on the lower end. ATS -- their number keeps growing... If we are in fact told by a judge to pay it, we will figure a way to pay it."

The council adopted a measure insisting the cameras not only be shut off, but permanently removed as soon as possible in accordance with the law. Judge Lynn N. Hughes issued a management order last year at the request of ATS forcing the cameras to remain up until the case is finally resolved. Houston had agreed to the ATS request.

"I'm going to go back into federal court and ask the judge to rescind his management order so that the cameras can come down in accordance with the contract," City Attorney David Feldman said. "I have no reason to believe the judge would refuse my request to rescind the order."

Under the contract, ATS would be required to take down the cameras within 45 days at their expense if Judge Hughes lifts his order.

"There's ample precedent for cities taking down the cameras," Feldman said. "For every contract ATS seems to enter into -- just following it on the Net -- there's a city taking the cameras down and getting out of the contract."
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Old August 25th, 2011
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It's about time they turned them off and took them down !!!
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Old August 26th, 2011
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Yes,take them down!!!!
The will of the people should out weigh city contracts with companies that are paid for with citizens money. that doesn't even count fraudulent tickets costing tax payers more than the contract itself.
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Old August 27th, 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerpickle View Post
Yes,take them down!!!!
The will of the people should out weigh city contracts with companies that are paid for with citizens money. that doesn't even count fraudulent tickets costing tax payers more than the contract itself.
The City of Los Angeles CA did the same thing. They found out that the courts determined that paying the fine was was not Mandatory. Something to do with faceing your accuser. They were also loseing a bundle. It seems that the contractor was taking alot more fees from those who payed the fine than the City was getting.
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