Endangered ticket machines: Could red-light cameras fall to the will of thepeople?
Red light cameras in Houston have issued over 800,000 tickets since 2006 — but those days may be short-lived.
Lawyers Paul and Michael Kubosh started Citizens Against Red Light Cameras to mobilize residents to remove the cameras, which they say do nothing to promote safety and are merely revenue generators.
And it looked like they've found 30,000 people who agree with them. That's how many signatures the group turned in at city hall on Monday to force a ballot initiative to have the cameras removed. That's 8,000 more signatures than the 22,000 needed to bring the issue to a vote.
"The effort was able to take advantage of a high rate of voter interest and anger at the city's red light program," CARLC campaign manager Philip Owens told TheNewspaper.com. "In some neighborhoods where we gathered signatures going door to door, we had a success rate of 90 percent — meaning nine out of every 10 contacts signed the petition. That's a staggering rate and shows this is a people-driven campaign."
Once the city secretary validates the signatures, the fate of the cameras will be placed on the ballot and determined by voters in the Nov. 2 election.
Both the Houston Police Department and Mayor Annise Parker support the cameras, though the initiative is not the first time the cameras have stirred up controversy.
Last month it was revealed that mailers from ATN, the Arizona-based company that runs the cameras, appeared to be from HPD and told those who had received a notice that they would not be able to renew their registration until the ticket was paid. However, Harris County officials have declined to deny registration on the basis of oustanding red light camera tickets.
In 2009 the Kuboshes also claimed that city officials pressured Rice University's Robert Stein to manipulate accident data to validate claims that red light cameras decreased accidents, a charge the parties deny.