Wednesday, October 15, 2014

St. Pete Red Light Cameras - A fitting Ending



It seemed so appropriate, so telling, so accurate.

There at the corner of 66th Street and 22nd Avenue was a red light camera warning sign appropriately garbed in a black trash bag.

The whole program should have been put in the trash ages ago.  The thing I remember most about the startup of the St. Pete red-light Camera program was how the only thing I wanted after the meetings with the vendor was a shower.

Then Police Chief and my boss, Chuck Harmon, wanted nothing to do with the program.

Left to the City Parking and Transportation group with dollar signs dancing in their heads, the program was mismanaged, and manipulated to be an income producer.

Thanks to folks like Matt Florell and others who held the City's feet to the fire the truth about the program and its real goals finally came out.

The City bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public and has refused to refund any money even where they have admitted wrong doing in applying the red light cameras.

What was most maddening was the blind following of the red light camera mantra by City Council members during this whole process. Championing safety while the Administration lied to them about statistics and manipulated yellow times to increase tickets, City Council could just not get a grip on the problems.

After a withering amount of information came to light about lies and mismanagement of the program, even factoring some campaign contributions by the vendor, City Council agreed to shut the program down. The manager responsible has left the City the cameras are coming down and the signs are in the trash.  

The new Kriseman administration was a bit hesitant to dump the program early on but apparently after a review of the facts and some public input somewhat reluctantly agreed to shut the program down.

Seems everyone hates to give up a revenue source.

We have probably not seen the last of red light cameras. You can rest assured that the vendor and the City Council red light supporters will be reminding the City and the public every time there is an intersection crash that even remotely hints at a red light run.

For now check out the trash bags and smile. No one is taking a picture.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
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