Stop and Go Politics
Hitting another red light: Turning off Houston's red light cameras hinges onweekend mediation
You might think, based on the murmuring in the hallways of City Hall, that the City Council special meeting on Friday morning might get a little more heated. Sure, there were a few impassioned speakers, a couple of eye rolls, and a bit of thinly veiled animosity between council members, but ultimately it was all for naught. The red light camera issue has been put off (again) until next week's regular council meeting, thanks to a "tag" from Councilwoman Sue Lovell.
A hearing will be held on Saturday between the City of Houston and American Traffic Solutions, the vendor who supplies and operates the 70 red light cameras, to mediate the amount of damage that the City will endure if it breaks the contract. The City Council will vote next Wednesday on whether it's worth it to follow the will of the voters who voted down the cameras in a November referendum, in light of the negotiated price tag.
The renege may cost Houston up to $25 million according to American Traffic Solutions claims. Since the cameras began snapping plates in September 2006, and until November's resolution, the city collected $44 million in revenue from tickets issued (as of November, about $25 million in fines remained outstanding).
Between July 24, when the cameras started rolling again, and this week, the City has sent out more than 3,400 red light violation citations. The referendum last November has essentially been ruled null and void. No wonder the public is enraged, with ACLU members, community activists, and tea partiers standing together against the indecision, imploring the Council to turn the cameras off for good.