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Greed surpasses residents' safety, desire

Nov. 9, 2011 at 5:09 a.m.


Since the installation of the red light cameras in 2009, the citizens in Port Lavaca have been misled and flat-out lied to by our city officials.

The biggest lie is that the cameras that were installed were for our safety. Recently released police documents (warondriving.com) from the city of Port Lavaca show that not only was there no accident data to justify the implementation of the cameras, but that these intersections are actually less safe now than before the cameras were installed.

There were no traffic fatalities at any of the intersections selected for cameras in the 18 months before installation. Two of the camera locations didn't even have one single red light-related traffic accident. That changed after the cameras were installed. The most recent police data shows red light related accidents went up 203 percent and red light-related right angle accidents went up 355 percent at these intersections.

Clearly, this program isn't improving red light accidents and right angle accidents as they claimed they would. Why would our city officials knowingly put our citizens at risk for increasing accidents? The only simple answer is greed.

The city, which collaborates with the camera corporation, is extorting money from its own citizens at the expense of their safety. Specifically, several drivers have been falsely accused of running a red light when the video clearly shows the light being green. Clearly, the city employee who swore under penalty of perjury there was a violation falsely accused innocent people.

This action is so serious, the Calhoun County District Attorney's office is investigating a complaint of fraud and perjury. This is all after the city refused to place a legal petition with 1,500 signatures and validated by the city secretary on the ballot despite the city charter requiring them to do so.

We have started a new petition to remove the red light cameras by a direct referendum, which requires us to have only 200 signatures to place the issue on the ballot and we have received an even greater response this time around. We will soon have far more signatures than the minimum required, and if the city accepts this petition, we should have a vote next May. We will require that the city place both referendums of the city charter and city ordinance up for a vote if the city officials don't suppress the will of the people this time around.

The whole time we have been fighting to have this issue brought before the people, we also have been fighting the foreign camera corporation. Redflex, who keeps most of the money collected, created a fake citizens front group run from Chicago and filed a lawsuit to stop the vote on our first petition.

The city decided to side with the camera company and the money they bring in instead of the voters of Port Lavaca.

Why is the city and the camera company fighting so hard to keep us from voting on the cameras? Why did they both try to fight releasing public information documents that proved they were issuing camera tickets to drivers going through green lights? Because nowhere, not even once anywhere in the country have red light cameras survived a public vote. They know that letting the people vote means the cameras come down, and they are afraid to let the revenue go.

Misinformation and stall tactics by the city officials and voter suppression and lawsuits by the camera company are clear evidence that they both want to keep the money rolling in.

We hope you will join us in making the streets safer and protecting our most sacred constitutional rights by stopping by Colonial Arms Apartments Office or Action Lumber to sign our petition and to show up to vote to tell the city and the camera company we won't tolerate their illegal activities any longer.

Carl Baugh is the founder of Port Lavaca Citizens Against Red Light Cameras. On Facebook, he has been fighting for the citizens in Port Lavaca to have a referendum placed on the ballot to remove the red light cameras from their town for good.

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