Friday, May 16, 2008

FOIA Friday - May 16, 2008

We've been following the efforts of Graphics Guy to get some public records relating to red light/speed cameras and aerial speed enforcement as part of the FOIA Friday posts.

He has gotten some of the information requested, but the majority of the data either isn't recorded or just hasn't been provided, and he is still considering a mandamus action to compel the city of Toledo to provide the data.

It appears that the city may be in violation of it's own public records policy which states: "Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority." So far, he hasn't gotten any explanation of why the other requested information hasn't been provided.

But it is surprising what you find when you ask. As Graphics Guy was interested in the calibration of the various traffic control cameras, he asked for the records regarding maintenance and calibration. The information, below, shows that the city had been calibrating their cameras between two and four times a year, but hasn't done so in over a year for most of them.

When I interviewed the appeals hearing officer about the red light/speed camera violations on Eye On Toledo (NewsTalk 1370 WSPD), he said that individuals appearing at the hearing often question the calibration of the cameras, but most don't know they need to subpoena such records ahead of time. He also said the Toledo Police Officer present at such hearings always indicates the cameras pass their calibration tests.

But if they haven't been checked in over a year, how can they be sure?

If you've gotten one of these tickets and want to appeal the violation, you can use these dates as part of your discussion. And since this information is current as of this week, if they claim they've suddenly managed to calibrate the cameras between now and your hearing, you should ask them to prove it.

Next Friday, I'll share with you some additional information I got through a public records request about the financing of the Lucas County Arena.


Calibration Dates and Camera Locations:

W. ALEXIS & JACKMAN
06/06/07
01/25/07
11/03/06
07/31/06
11/21/05
07/20/05
05/24/05
02/28/05
11/23/04
08/26/04
06/17/04

DOUGLAS & UNIVERSITY HILLS
05/18/07
01/25/07
11/03/06
07/31/06
04/13/06
03/17/06
03/17/06

TALMADGE & SYLVANIA
06/06/07
01/25/07
11/03/06
07/31/06
11/21/05
07/15/05
05/24/05
02/28/05
11/23/04
08/26/04
06/17/04

ANTHONY WAYNE TRAIL & SOUTH
08/29/07
07/12/07
05/18/07
01/25/07
11/03/06
07/16/06
03/17/06
11/21/05
07/15/05
05/24/05
02/28/05
11/23/04
08/26/04

ANTHONY WAYNE TRAIL & WESTERN
05/18/07
03/07/07
01/25/07
11/03/06
07/31/06
03/17/06
11/21/05
07/15/05
05/24/05
02/28/05
11/23/04
08/26/04
06/17/04

MAIN & FRONT
05/18/07
07/31/06
04/13/06
11/21/05
07/15/05
05/24/05
02/28/05
11/23/04
08/26/04

S. REYNOLDS & HEATHERDOWNS
06/06/07
01/25/07
11/03/06
07/31/06
12/08/05
07/20/05
05/24/05
11/23/04
08/26/04

6 comments:

Carol said...

Well, well, well. So the city has not been totally forthcoming with information, and apparently very lax in their maintenance of these cameras. Now ... why doesn't that surprise me?

Is it any wonder that the citizens get frustrated with the lack of cooperation they get from the city?

It amazes me that the city has the nerve to thumb their nose at their own laws/rules, but demand that the citizens adhere to it. It's a true double standard and proves that we, the tax paying citizens, are getting the short end of the stick.

Disturbing. Very disturbing.

navyvet said...

Hi Maggie,

Your timing is fantabulous...as usual....thank you.

I know what I know when I see it!

South bound Talmadge to left turn lane at Sylvania. Often have to wait for left turn arrow.

In recent months, I was happy to arrive in the left turn lane...having zig-zagged potholes
to get there.

Back in the day, it was normal for 4 cars to make the turn..w/ the arrow with no problem.

Recently, I have noticed that 2 cars can make it via the arrow...but the 3rd+ would be at risk for stepping on the gas to make the arrow without the white light flashing...

In view of the new directive to increase ticket income for Carty, I thought this change on Talmadge was intentional.

Not taking into account...calibration laxity...I still feel the change was "intentional."

Inquiring minds.....

Thanx. :)

Maggie Thurber said...

Rumor has it that yellow light times were decreased in order to generate more tickets.

The problem is that, without having measured them ahead of time, there's nothing to compare current times against.

In fact, many 'experts' say that the way to truly reduce accidents at intersections is to INCREASE the yellow light times... But that doesn't generate income...

Buffoon said...

Awesome! I had a soldier who avoided a drunk on duty AR15 when his lawyer asked when the last time the breath thingy was calibrated.

GraphicsGuy said...

First, I want to thank you for helping to bring to light the information available to the citizens of Toledo via FOIA (Free Of Information Act).

As you’ve mentioned before, in your ‘blog’ and on your radio show, the State of Ohio and the City of Toledo have laws on the books concerning FOIA, but, as demonstrated in my case, getting cooperation in securing information to which I have legally sought is not always that easy. Whether thru ignorance of their own laws AND state laws or sheer negligence, I don’t know, but as ‘Carol’ pointed out, it sure appears they expect the citizens of Toledo to follow the letter of the law, but choose to ignore it when it involves the city.

What I had been asking the City of Toledo for (since April 07th) was
(1) any and all documents pertaining to the maintenance, certification and testing of all installed RED LIGHT cameras installed within the City of Toledo
(2) costs incurred regarding the City of Toledo’s aerial traffic enforcement that was conducted over a 3 day period in April.
(To Mr. Schwartz’s credit, another request was additional to these previously mentioned requests and was delivered in a ‘timely manner’)

What I received in response to request #1 were 74 pages of ‘Certification’ documents relating to the SPEED cameras. Handy, yes, but NOT what was requested from the city. There were NO documents received pertaining to request #2 - the aerial enforcement. By law, I should have at the very least, received a written explanation of why these documents or information were not provided.

Again, Ignorance or Negligence?

Regarding a Mandamus, on May 5th, I contacted - via email - a local firm that is no ‘stranger’ to dealing with the City of Toledo, but never heard back from them. Perhaps my expectations of 'common courtesy' are too high, but I would have at least expected a ‘Sorry, but not interested’ reply! (I will remember not to use or recommend them in the future though!)

Since I do have the speed camera certification documents in my possession, I would be more than happy to scan them and email them to whom ever may have a use for them. Surely, if someone out there has received a ticket from one of the speed cameras, I would think the ‘spotty’ calibration times would surely bring cause to doubt the validity of information contained within the ticket! Just send me an email to GraphicsGuy@bex.net stating which intersection records are desired.

Again, thank you Maggie and keep up the GREAT work!

navyvet said...

Hi Maggie,

Talmadge/Sylvania red light camera..follow-up.

My "impression" is that the timing of the green left turn arrow AND the yellow light has been cut in half.

Not admissable in court...but I know what I know when I see it...

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