Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Red light camera charter initiative gets under way

This press release was issued by COAST:

For immediate release: January 6, 2009

COAST, Americans for Prosperity take red light camera ban to Toledo

Organizing meeting is Monday, January 12 at 7 PM at Point Place Branch Library


COAST and Americans for Prosperity-Ohio, two partners in the coalition that enacted a ban on red light and speeding cameras in Cincinnati in 2008, are taking their campaign to Toledo this year. Their goal is to place on the November 2009 ballot a Charter Amendment banning red light and speeding cameras in that city.

The groups will be hosting an organizing meeting for the 2009 campaign on Monday, January 12, 2009 at the Point Place Branch Library, 2727 117th St. Toledo 43611 at 7:00 PM. Members of the public are invited to join the assemblage to help place the initiative on the ballot.

Throughout the spring and summer, volunteers in Toledo will be collecting the 7,000 valid signatures to place the issue before the voters. The total number of signatures needed, to account for bad and invalid signatures, will be approximately 14,000.

In 2008, volunteers from a broad-based coalition in Cincinnati collected more than 14,000 signatures to place the ban in the Cincinnati City Charter, and in November that ban was enacted into the Cincinnati City Charter. The Cincinnati coalition included representatives from the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, the Southwest Ohio Green Party and the Ohio Libertarian Party. The group later was joined by the Hamilton County Republican Party, civic clubs and candidates from both political parties. The same groups will be invited to join the Toledo effort.

"COAST hopes to help start brushfires for liberty throughout Ohio," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "Our experience is that, when given the chance to limit the encroachment of government interference in our lives, people grasp for liberty every time. The Toledo initiative brings hope for freedom to the oppressed citizens of northwest Ohio."

All Toledo-area residents are invited to join COAST and AFP-Ohio at the organizing meeting.

I plan to be at the meeting and look forward to seeing you there!

11 comments:

Publius said...

Excellent.

wbt123 said...

I have no problem with the cameras.

More & more, I see people running right through red lights and more than once, they would have run into me if I hadn't noticed them.

In my opinion, the cameras are not an encroachment on our liberty, they hopefully will cause more drivers to do as they should be doing anyway, which is to obey the law.

Maggie Thurber said...

wbt123 - I have no problem with the cameras themselves. I do have a problem with the lack of due process that the civil approach to law enforcement eliminates.

Under Toledo's law for the cameras, the owner of the vehicle, as identified in the state's BMV database, is assumed to be the guilty party. If you appeal your ticket and prove you were elsewhere at the time the vehicle got the ticket, you are not 'innocent.' In fact, the only way to get out of the ticket is for you to provide them with whomever the guilty person is - namely, the driver of the vehicle.

In no other instance is the accused made to provide the guilty party in order to be 'found innocent' of a charge.

Then there is the hearing itself. It's not open to the public - they are conducted outside the purview of anyone else. How do you ensure 'justice' when you are conducting secret appeal hearings?

Finally, there is the multitude of proof from cities across the world that shows the cameras do NOT increase safety. While there may (repeat MAY) be some reduction in crashes caused by red-light running, the number of crashes at red-light camera intersections actually increased in the studies done.

If the city were more interested in safety than they were in revenue, they could increase the yellow light times - as the NTSB recommends in their traffic guidelines. They could also do 'all red' for a short period of time - wherein the lights in all directions are red before the opposing lights turn green. Another option would be to put the count-down timers on the crosswalk signs - this gives you a timer for when the light will be turning so you can plan your approach to the intersection better.

People shouldn't run red lights and they shouldn't speed through intersections. But the process the city implemented for the cameras removes all the due processes we've been guaranteed by our Constitution and courts since the country was founded.

I'm not willing to trade those rights so the city can get more money which it spends contrary to the best interests of the city anyway.

So my question to you would be this: why isn't this an encroachment on liberty? You'd never put up with the same processes of assumed guilt if it was a police officer giving you a ticket, so why do you make an exception for a machine?

If a camera took a photo of your car outside a back robbery, would you accept it as proof of your guilt and go meekly to jail without a public trial, an assumption of innocence, etc.? It's the same thing - both are violations of the law so if cameras are okay for traffic violations, let's just eliminate courts and put cameras up everywhere and let them be our law enforcement?

sarah said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Sarah

http://www.thetreadmillguide.com

Maggie Thurber said...

Sarah - thanks and welcome!

ronkorsog said...

Maggie: You are forgetting the other money maker by which the registered owner of an auto is considered prima facie evidence that he or she is the person alleged to have done the dirty deed. And that is parking tickets. The city of Toledo allows a private contractor to write citations which can end up in a courtroom. Since Toledo subs out this work, it only gets a portion of the proceeds while the contractor gets the lion's share.

Maggie Thurber said...

Ron - yep...parking tickets make the same assumptions and are also contracted out...

Mad Jack said...

I see a few problems with Toledo's law. The law assumes that the vehicle's owner is the guilty party and does so without any proof at all. It's possible to get a photo of the offending driver at the time of violation, and that technology should be in use in Toledo.

As Maggie points out, there is no other case where the accused is required to provide a guilty party in order to prove their own innocence. However, I believe that anyone could be charged with obstruction of justice if the party knew who committed the crime (was driving the car that ran the light) and refused to divulge that information to the court - but this is civil court, not criminal, so the obstruction of justice may not apply here.

The fact that these hearings are held in secret provides even the most liberal supporter with grounds for tarring, feathering and rail riding of the guilty officials as we know them. Seriously, though, I don't see how this Draconian caveat made it into law, but I'd be very interested to know who, exactly, signed and supported the legislation and when they signed it. Secret hearings generally involve rubber hoses, either literally or figuratively, and abuse of authority is guaranteed. Those officials responsible for passing this legislation should be subjected to a secret hearing as to weather or not they will retain their office, and the reprobates enforcing and staffing the secret hearings should be removed from office no later than next Monday.

From the eloquent Ms. Thurber: Finally, there is the multitude of proof from cities across the world that shows the cameras do NOT increase safety. While there may (repeat MAY) be some reduction in crashes caused by red-light running, the number of crashes at red-light camera intersections actually increased in the studies done.

Ignoring the city revenue enhancement arguments, the main purpose of the red light camera is to provide drivers with a clear intersection when their light turns green. This might not be the professed intent, but it certainly is the major benefit.

Crashes involving a motorist running a red light are very unlikely to be reduced by red light cameras because the cause of this accident is poor driving - the motorist failed to see the red light and so didn't stop. The presence of a red light camera is not going to make a poor driver any better or worse than he already is. What you fail to mention is the type of accident that increases at the intersection: rear end collision. Poor drivers follow too closely and can't stop in time to avoid the car six inches in front of them.

The perfect example of the need for red light cameras exists at the intersection of Secor and Monroe streets. Prior to the advent of the red light camera any motorist traveling North on Secor road and wishing to make a left turn onto West bound Monroe street would be forced to wait for between two to five cars to clear the intersection after seeing his own green arrow to Monroe street. These scofflaws know that nothing will happen to them if they run the red light instead of waiting for their turn in line. As a result, they run the light at the expense of other motorists that the violator will never see again or be confronted by.

From Maggie: If the city were more interested in safety than they were in revenue, they could increase the yellow light times - as the NTSB recommends in their traffic guidelines. They could also do 'all red' for a short period of time - wherein the lights in all directions are red before the opposing lights turn green. Another option would be to put the count-down timers on the crosswalk signs - this gives you a timer for when the light will be turning so you can plan your approach to the intersection better.

This supposes that the violators are simply poor drivers and are not deliberately running the red light. While one does not preclude the other, I believe that red lights are being run on purpose. Solve that problem one way or another and we won't need red light cameras. In fact, the vendor will remove the cameras and vow not to return to Toledo, home of the law abiding driver.

Another fact that pertains to this is that in Toledo (and I think in the State of Ohio) it is illegal to enter an intersection when the light is yellow. How many more traffic violations do you suppose would be written if that law were enforced?

Certainly the use of red light cameras and related law need drastic revision, but until someone can come up with an equivalent solution I think the cameras are needed.

Frank said...

Here is a possible answer to those that mioght run a red light---put up a barrier that rises about 8 to 10 inches off the street level in the lanes in which the lights are red. The first time someone attempts to run a light, they will damage their car/truck and learn their lesson! Emergency vechicles would still be able to get around lights with remotes in them to lower the barrier if needed. And it would be easy to spot those cars that do attempt with some damage of the front end of the vechicle.
Then folks might re-think running a light!

Mad Jack said...

Question for Maggie: If I get a moving violation via police officer, am I allowed to demand a jury trial and all that entails?

Maggie Thurber said...

MadJack - yes.

But if you get a red-light ticket, you have no such right. You can request a hearing before a person paid for by the city of Toledo to conduct the hearings. The way the law is written, the photo is 'prima facie' evidence of your guilt, so all the city has to do is produce the photo and show the BMV registration data showing you as the owner. Guilty.

If you claim you weren't driving the vehicle, you then have to give them the name of the person who was so they can send a ticket out to the driver.

In regular court, you don't have to produce the guilty party in order to prove innocence in a charge, but in the red-light ticket process you do...

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