Cameras Turned Off
by: Pat Hernandez, November 15, 2010 9:11:00 pm
The cameras went dark after the votes were canvassed from the November 2nd election. City attorney David Feldman told the mayor and council that two things happened after the votes from the election were confirmed:
"I sent formal notice to A-T-S, advising that the cameras were to be turned off. In addition, at the very same time, the city filed in federal district court against American Traffic Solutions, seeking a declaratory judgment as to the rights and obligations of the parties under the contract."
The city is seeking judgment on how much damages it needs to pay under the contract, which is set to expire in 2014. Feldman says by taking it to federal court, it took the politics out of the issue.
"So were are confident that a federal judge will determine the rights and obligations of the parties under the contract, and that at the end of the day the city will be in the best legal position."
Arizona based ATS issued a statement that said quote, "AS DISAPPOINTED AS WE ARE WITH THE RESULTS, WE RESPECT THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION AND WILL NOW WORK WITH THE CITY TO FIND A FAIR AND REASONABLE SOLUTION TO RESOLVING OUSTANDING ISSUES," unquote.
Attorney Michael Kubosh attended the special council council meeting. He helped organize a petition to put the question on the ballot.
"I ran the red light to challenge the constitutionality of it in court. I realized that day that to run that light in front of the police that were there, I felt like I was a patriot. I was doing something that needed to be done. And then when we got to this point, where the citizens actually stood with us and they voted the cameras out. They believed it wasn't about safety. They believed it was about money and they stood with us and they voted it."
Mayor Annise Parker agrees with Kubosh that the people have spoken but said the loss of revenue generated by the cameras will hamper police officers' ability to enforce safety in some of the city's most dangerous intersections.
"I absolutely believe today, as I did before the election, that red light cameras save live. And I know for a fact that we have an epidemic of red light runners here in Houston, and everyone understands that running a red light can cause extreme risks to people proceeding through an intersection."
It's estimated that 25-million dollars remain uncollected in fines from citations that were issued before the cameras were turned off. Mayor Parker says the city plans to to aggressively go after those violators.