Red light cameras deny due process

This is the latest example of political elitists that believe they know better than the common man. They have forgotten that they work for us.

 

Florida allows local governments to stomp on citizens’ rights

By Alex Snitker

The Clearwater City Council approved the installation of red light cameras by a vote of three to two last week.  The three council members who voted in favor of the Orwellian surveillance system seemed to be unimpressed with the overwhelming public outcry against them, and the evidence their constituents gave regarding their ineffectiveness and risk. Nor were they impressed with the civil liberties arguments the citizens in attendance presented.

Caption: Red light cameras deny due process.

This is the latest example of political elitists that believe they know better than the common man.  They have forgotten that they work for us.

Most of the citizens at the council meeting made outstanding points.  Their arguments were factual and issue based.  Studies were presented that showed an increase of rear-end collisions when red light cameras are placed at intersections.  Citizens talked about the infringement on our civil liberties shared by some on the board.  I am convinced now more than ever that red light cameras have nothing to do with safety. This effort is about control, power and money.

Council members John Doran, Bill Johnson and Frank Hibbard showed that they are not only out-of-touch with the citizens of Clearwater, but also with the concept of liberty and Constitutional values. They should be voted out of office at the next election.

During the meeting Doran sounded more like a banana-republic dictator than a public servant when opined that government needs a bigger stick to make sure we the people do as we are told.  Doran relayed his personal experience of having run a red light and causing an accident.  He cited that as an example of why we need red light cameras, even though he stated that his inattentiveness caused the accident.   How exactly would red light cameras cause him not to be distracted and run a red light?  They wouldn’t have.

However, red light cameras will increase the amount of rear-end collisions, as people are so concerned about being ticketed they will lock up their brakes to avoid running a light and getting an automatic government revenue generation certificate (AKA, a ticket).

In short, red light cameras will cause more accidents and lead to higher insurance rates.  The police will have to respond more often and waste time they could be using preventing actual crimes.  Perhaps the roads would be safer if Doran would just quit driving.  Johnson wants to influence behavior using the force of law.  I personally think he enjoyed the fact that 100 percent of the citizens spoke out against the red light cameras. He was quite demeaning to the citizens in attendance. He seemed to be agitated that we, the lowly citizens, would dare question his decision.  He would ask leading questions to the “experts” in attendance.  These experts, of course, work directly for the government. But even they had to admit that the data is mixed on the safety benefits of the red light cameras. However, there is no doubt about the revenue they generate by skipping that troublesome due process thing, and heading right to the penalty part.

Mayor Hibbard did express some concern about the civil liberty impact, but at the end of the day he didn’t care. He was not swayed by the overwhelming opposition conveyed by the people in attendance.  I think the Mayor knew his decision was wrong, but he treated the end result as a foregone conclusion.  Hibbard knows the revenue this will create for the city.  During the economic disaster this country is facing, the city must increase revenue by finding new and creative ways to transfer more of the hard-earned dollars from individuals to our bloated government.

None of this would be possible if the Florida legislature passed Republican state Rep. Robert Schenck’s bill outlawing red light cameras throughout Florida. Instead the Florida lawmakers approved a bill that provides standards for municipalities and counties to allow the use of cameras to enforce traffic violations at intersections. Good ‘ol Charlie Crist signed the red-light camera legislation into law, ensuring that the owner of a vehicle that runs a red light (not necessarily the driver) has the privilege of adding $158 to the government’s coffers.

Clearwater Councilman Paul Gibson understood that the red light cameras would not make it safer at intersections. He stood against it and made his argument.  It fell on deaf ears.

Councilman George Cretekos, who was initially a supporter of red light cameras, changed his mind after researching the subject.  He offered an alternative solution of extending the yellow light by one second and extending the delay of the opposite green light by one second.  That method has been proven to reduce accidents at dangerous intersections by a significant amount.

His rational and fact-based arguments were no match for the council members who lust for more revenue. It was obvious to me that Doran, Jonson and Hibbard have already made up their minds.  These cameras were going to be implemented, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

I personally spoke at this meeting and informed the council that the founders of this country would vote against it. I warned them that this vote may well be the deciding factor in their re-election.  They were not swayed.

We can no longer stand by while our civil liberties continue to be eroded. We must fight for every inch of ground, from the White House lawn to the town square.

Alex Snitker was the 2010 Libertarian Party candidate for the U.S. Senate. He is the co-host of The Liberty Underground radio show with Alex Snitker and Adrian Wyllie which airs every Friday from 9 am to 11 am on tan talk AM 1340 and AM 1350 in Tampa. E-mail him at: alex.snitker@gmail.com.

9 thoughts on “Red light cameras deny due process”

  1. I believe that those who run red lights and involve innocents in accidents are more guilty of infringing on someone’s civil liberties, more so then the municipality using the cameras.

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  2. The good news is the people are motivated. The more each of our own oxes are gored the more folks will stand up & fight. The government is not slowly choking freedom & liberty, they are steamrolling it. You haven’t seen anything yet until the elected officials can no longer cover up the catastrophe that is upon us.
    Red light cameras, big brother, TSA, net-neutrality, the patriot act, etc. etc. When will people stand up & not take it any more? My guess is the recently elected officials are the next to last group that folks will put up with if they don’t do EXACTLY what they said they would do. I’d say the next election in 2012 will be the last time folks put up with the overbearance of government no longer of the people.

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  3. This is an example of local officials making a decision to generate additional revenue for the City of Clearwater but still able to run on the notion that they did not raise taxes. These type of camera systems are not an expense to the city. A third party company pays for the equipment, installation and monitoring and then takes a percentage of the so called “profits from the issued tickets”. How could the motivation of these type of systems be anything other than revenue? The third party company has to make a return on the investment.
    We will never know for sure but I bet the decision by our elected officials to install these cameras was based purely on the financial revenue projected by the company who wants to install the cameras and monitor the activities for a specified period of time more than the infringement of our civil liberties. This subject of financial gain over constitutional rights is the basis for the majority of the debates at every level of government. Do you think these cameras would have been approved if the contract to manage these stated that the company and the city had to operate at a net neutral? I think not.

    Our civil liberties are being compromised for someones (City of Clearwater and Red Light monitoring Company) financial gain.

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  4. I see people running red lights every day when they aren’t even moving forward to begin with. So, if people would follow the rules of the road and drive the speed limit I don’t believe there would be an issue. I’m not quit sure what the colors orange and red mean to you. But to me, they don’t mean step on the gas and get through that light.

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  5. The title of the article states that the cameras “deny due process,” but there is no support or discussion in the artcle on this issue. Poor.

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  6. Red light cameras are not the answer to accident prevention. If the council members were actually interested in enhancing safety, extending the yellow light by 1 second and delaying the opposing green by 1 more second was a much better choice. My son was ticketed twice while turning right on red. The first time, he said he may not have come to a full stop, but the second tiome he definitely did. When he went to pay the ticket, he was told to stop for three full seconds at the light before turning to avoid this in the future. He still had to pay the fine though. They are looking at dollar signs, period.

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  7. my massah told me to not be runnin them lights lik dat..he say my daz be numbered and me pockets be epty if Is dont be stoppin for demms lites. Is so be so sorree forz allz thos tings I duz rongs butz overs these here years Is dons gone color blind. Juts utz to bees thees poleece nowe its de kamara poleece. Thesu juts bout took mys liesense to gits to de docktor. Its mys been better when Is hads less freeedoms

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