Houston's red light cameras are overstaying their welcome, but that's not going to stop activists from opposing the continued issuing of citations after Houstonians voted to oust the robot photographers last week.
"The city signed a bad contract," says anti-red-light-camera campaign manager Philip Owens, who presented his case at a Tuesday morning meeting of City Council. Houston's deal with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions doesn't terminate until May of 2014, and because of a 120-day termination notice contractual clause, the city doesn't want to flick the switch to turn off the cams until March 15, 2011.
In the interim, the city is still dispersing traffic tickets to the speedy drivers who fall under the judgmental cameras' watch and maintaining they must be paid, much to Owens & Co.'s chagrin.
"There were three other speakers, all asking that the cameras be taken down immediately," Owens tells CultureMap. He describes the council's response as largely supportive, with Jolanda Jones, C.O. Bradford, Ed Gonzalez and Melissa Noriega among those echoing his campaign's movement.
"We trust City Council," Owens says, "but the voters are going to hold them accountable."
Randall Kallinen, an activist and civil rights attorney also put in his two cents, expressing willingness to file a class action lawsuit if the city continues to dole out tickets. That stance echoes the cause's original mastermind, Paul Kubosh, who's backing down from his formerly virulent stance and letting the city sort out a potential suit with ATS.
"What it comes down to is, 'How much of Kubosh can you stand?,' " he says. "I think we made our point. This thing's over — they're going to take down the cameras and if they still want to ticket people after this vote, they've go to deal with that at the ballot box."
Why the sudden back down?
"I got real angry, and a lot of the media published that," Kubosh says. "I like to think that a lot of people felt the way I did. It's still very crazy to me." Kubosh was not present at today's council meeting.
Owens, the heir apparent to the Kubosh cause, is awaiting the certification of the Election Day results on Nov. 15 before he moves forward.