For a decade, Toledo administrators and elected officials have told us the cameras are there for our safety. On June 22, 2009, as the city was discussing the fact that the camera revenue was not as projected, Police Chief Mike Navarre was on the record emphasizing safety over money.
Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said money is absolutely not the reason for the cameras.
"I believe in the red-light camera[s] and they have been proven just by the very fact there is a drop in violations at the intersections where they are installed," Chief Navarre said. "If less people are going through red lights, there are going to be less accidents."
In 2007, as the city supported an increase in the red light camera fines, safety was, again, the focus:
From Chief Navarre:The additional revenue would make a major dent in the potential $10 million deficit next year, but the chief said that was not the intent.
"The job of the police department is to do enforcement and reduce accidents," Chief Navarre said. "If we increase revenue while we do that, that is a fortunate byproduct. It is certainly not our objective."
From Councilman Rob Ludeman: "What sold me was not so much the revenue source but making the intersections safer."
In 2009, as a group was gathering signatures to put the red light camera issue on the ballot, Chief Navarre again emphasized that revenue was merely a "by-product."
While the cameras do produce revenue for the city, Chief Navarre said that is not their sole purpose.
He said every camera throughout the city has shown a steady decline in violations since they were installed.
"That means less people are running red lights and I think it's logical and sensible to conclude there will be less accidents," he said. "The fact that revenue is generated is a fortunate by-product."
And then there's Councilman Tom Waniewski, who in 2008 said:
Councilman Tom Waniewski asked if the Finkbeiner administration would consider installing flashing yellow lights in advance of red lights to warn motorists.
"I'm concerned that a lot of times now, particularly now with increased air patrol, which is intended to be a revenue generator, that we're becoming a gotcha city," Mr. Waniewski said.
But today, Waniewski has accepted the idea of being a "gotcha city":
“If it will keep accidents down, then fantastic. I think we’ve probably come to accept the cameras as part of our landscape,” councilman Tom Waniewski said.
"...we've come to accept" the cameras? Wow - what a testament to Toledoans and their willingness to have their liberties infringed. And what a comment for a Republican councilman.
I guess we should be grateful that, at least now, they're all admitting it's just for the money. Finally we see their previous claims of safety for the lies they were.
But that's not all, folks - they're actually bragging about that fact and how this is a great solution to their budget problems. Heaven forbid that they actually try to live within their revenue rather than just create new taxes, fees and fines to continue spending beyond their means!
The worst part of this is how they came up with the new locations. According to today's paper, the intersections were selected based upon where red light running is "likely" to occur.
Finance Director Patrick McLean said the city selected the new intersections with the help of the Arizona-based company American Traffic Solutions.
The firm used a computer program to analyze traffic volumes and patterns across Toledo to determine intersections at which red light violations are most likely to occur, he said.
So we're not looking at accidents caused by running a red light. We're not looking at the number of violations of running a red light. We're letting some Arizona company predict where their computer program says it's "most likely" to have revenue. And that's where we're installing them.
Here's the thing that most frustrates me: if we have intersections where red light running is "likely," why haven't we modified those intersections to address that likelihood and thus make our intersections .... wait for it .... SAFER?!?
Here is the list of intersections:
• The southbound and northbound lanes of Secor Road at West Alexis Road, a congested intersection near Whitmer High School
• The northbound and southbound lanes of the Anthony Wayne Trail at Glendale Avenue southwest of the Toledo Zoo
• The eastbound and westbound lanes of West Bancroft Street at North Reynolds Road
• The eastbound and northbound lanes at Heatherdowns Boulevard at South Byrne Road
• Northbound North Detroit Avenue at Dorr Street
• Northbound Talmadge Road at Monroe Street, close to Westfield Franklin Park mall
• Southbound Collingwood Boulevard at Dorr Street
If Toledo city council members vote yes on this plan, it makes them all liars. They cannot stand by prior comments that the cameras are all about safety and then turn around and use them to fund the recreation department.
Call or email your city council members and tell them to vote no on using red light cameras sto fund the recreation department. Here is their contact information:
Toledo City Council phone number: 419-245-1050
D. Michael Collins: email@example.com
Phil Copeland: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Craig: email@example.com
Paula Hicks-Hudson: Paula.Hicks-Hudson@toledo.oh.gov
Rob Ludeman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Martinez: email@example.com
Joe McNamara: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyrone Riley: email@example.com
George Sarantou: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Steel: email@example.com
Tom Waniewski: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsay Webb: email@example.com