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TRAFFIC CAMERA BAN

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 1:06pm
Posted: 12:00 p.m. Sunday, July 28, 2013

Traffic camera ban would cost Ohio cities millions

By Michael D. PitmanEric Schwartzberg and Andrew J. Tobias

Columbus Bureau

Some Ohio cities and villages, already hurting from recent state changes that reduce their funding, will lose millions more if a proposed ban on automated traffic cameras goes through.

In September, the Ohio Senate will take up House Bill 69, which would effectively ban automated red-light and speed cameras in Ohio. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by a pair of southwest Ohio representatives, cleared the Ohio House by a 61-32 vote in June.

Ohio cities and villages primarily oppose the ban on public safety grounds, arguing the cameras help reduce crashes and free up police to focus on more serious crimes.

But there is also an economic reality to the ban, said Kent Scarrett, a lobbyist for the Ohio Municipal League, which represents Ohio villages and cities in the Statehouse. The camera ban would amount to yet another funding cut for some communities, he said.

“The revenue component cannot be denied,” Scarrett said. “Our folks always considered this more of a safety issue… But you know, our demands are not going away for the need to generate revenue. Yet, the state seems to be not quite as supportive of a partner as they’ve been in the past.”

Traffic cameras netted around $16.5 million for eight Ohio cities and villages that had them in 2012, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the state legislature’s research arm. That doesn’t count camera revenues in six other communities — including Elmwood Place, the Hamilton County village that inspired the ban after raking in $1.5 million in just six months before a judge shut ordered its cameras shut down — for which the LSC couldn’t obtain 2012 full-year data.

“If we pass this bill as is, this is going to be a tax increase, because communities are going to have to make up that (loss of revenue) somehow,” Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) said last month before voting against the ban.

Recent changes in state law have negatively impacted local governments’ bottom lines, Scarrett said.

In 2011, the state legislature repealed the estate tax, which meant local governments across Ohio lost an average of about $370 million a year. And local government funding in the most recently-passed two-year state budget is about $330 million less compared to what it was in 2011.

“In this era we’re in right now … it’s just chipping away the opportunities for us to raise revenue on the local level,” Scarrett said.

But Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon), one of the bill’s two sponsors, said he’s not worried about the potential loss of revenue to cities.

“When we pass laws and have punishments for things, it’s to alter behavior, not to make money,” Maag said. “Case in point, when we put people in prison for a felony, we don’t look to make money from them by making license plates. I have to reject that argument. Certainly it might have some (fiscal) impact, but it shouldn’t be part of the equation.”

Seven communities in the region — Hamilton, New Miami, Middletown, Dayton, Springfield, Trotwood and West Carrollton — have automated traffic cameras, which in total raise around $4 million a year for the cities’ operations.

Supporters of the automated traffic camera ban say the cameras violate due process and are just a way for cities to make money. They also question the cameras’ impacts on public safety.

But opponents of the ban, including police groups, say cameras should be regulated to weed out bad actors, but not shut off entirely.

LOCAL COMMUNITIES IMPACTED

If the revenues drop in Middletown, that means citations are dropping and the program is working, said police Maj. Mark Hoffman.

Middletown only uses red light cameras, which Hoffman said could generate revenues to cover the cost to pay the salary and benefits, and equip, two new police officers for the department. Losing the money from the violator-funded program, which goes to the general fund and isn’t earmarked for anything specific, will impact a police department budget that’s already tight, he said.

“It won’t automatically equate to cutting a police officer, or anything like that,” said Hoffman. “But it’s going to have to come from somewhere.”

The city does not hide the fact it has camera-enforced traffic control intersections. Signs are posted at the entrance to the city, and at the approach for each location, which there are 14 cameras at 8 intersections.

The contract with Redflex, which owns and operates the red light cameras in Middletown, gives a contractual out for both sides if the law changes as proposed by House Bill 69.

Hoffman said the red light cameras have benefited Middletown in more ways than just putting money in the city’s coffers.

“When we put a camera up in a new location, we’ll see a spike in violations. Then we’ll see fewer and fewer violations as time goes on,” he said.

Hoffman feels the city runs the program “the right way,” where they research intersections with a significant number of accidents to determine if it’s because of red light violators.

“We’ve found some intersections have a lot of accidents, but they don’t have the violations,” said Hoffman. “We always figure it’s something else. It’s given us a chance at some of these places to correct some engineering deficiencies there.”

Without the red light cameras, noticing those deficiencies “won’t be as apparent,” he said.

Life without the red light cameras for the department of 76 sworn officers, Hoffman said, will be an obvious decrease in red light traffic violations, and likely an increase in seeking grants for traffic patrols.

“We’re pretty limited,” he said. “We’re taking technology and we’re using it in a smart way to enforce traffic regulations and to make the streets safer. The people that are arguing against a well-run program like ours are really arguing for less safe streets.”

The Hamilton Police Department, which has 104 sworn officers, started employing a speed-enforcement van in April 2010. Like in Middletown, revenues from the speed camera goes into the city’s general fund.

“Public safety receives approximately 70 percent of our general fund revenue, so ostensibly it goes to public safety,” said City Manager Joshua Smith.

Hamilton has lost “a tremendous amount” of state revenues in the past few years which were general fund in nature, he said.

“As we struggle with a general fund deficit, losing another $338,000 annually would present a significant challenge in funding general funded-related departments, which are police, fire, municipal courts, parks” and other areas, Smith said.

Speed complaints in neighborhoods, around schools and parks come in daily, according to Sgt. Ed Buns, who is the department’s traffic section supervisor. “Given our volume of calls for service for all types of police calls, speed enforcement has suffered the most by less officers on the street.”

The speed van is parked in areas identified based on a fixed criteria narrowly focused on pedestrian and motorist safety, Buns said.

“The speed van, as proven by statistics, is slowing down drivers in areas of parks, schools and high accident areas,” he said.

The mobile speed van program is not intended to be used to raise money for the city, but to increase safety, Buns said.

“The relatively small amount of revenue that is derived from the speed van program has assisted in the purchase of new police cruisers, and other needed items, which allows us to use the money that would be used for purchases to be used to retain police officer positions,” he said.

New Miami police Chief Kenneth Cheek could not be reached for comment for this story. However, in October 2012 the village of New Miami debuted three unmanned portable speed cameras. Cheek said in October 2012 they were “an additional safety program” in hopes to “slow people down.

The cameras first were positioned along a one-mile stretch of U.S. 127 that has a 35 mile per hour speed limit. Any vehicle that travels 11 miles per hour or more over the speed limit will be photographed and the registered owner is fined.

Earlier this month, four village residents and businesses filed a lawsuit claiming the speed cameras are unconstitutional. The suit alleges they cameras “fail to provide adequate due process to vehicle owners as guaranteed by the Ohio Constitution.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Lebanon attorney Charles Rittgers and Mason attorney Michael Allen.

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LMAO View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LMAO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 3:03pm
Middletucky will be in deep Sh*t if they have to take camera's down.LOL They won't have money for are "SPINELESS Ones" pet projects.LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 4:23pm
HOFFMAN: “We’ve found some intersections have a lot of accidents, but they don’t have the violations,” said Hoffman. “We always figure it’s something else. It’s given us a chance at some of these places to correct some engineering deficiencies there.”

ANYONE SEEN ANY ENGINEERING CHANGES TO ANY OF THE INTERSECTIONS OCCUPIED BY THESE CAMERAS?

HOFFMAN: Hoffman said the red light cameras have benefited Middletown in more ways than just putting money in the city’s coffers.

“When we put a camera up in a new location, we’ll see a spike in violations. Then we’ll see fewer and fewer violations as time goes on,” he said.:

BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MOVE THE LOCATIONS OF THE CAMERAS AND PEOPLE NOW KNOW THAT THEY HAVE BEEN DEACTIVATED AT A PARTICULAR INTERSECTION? THINK THE RED LIGHT RUNNING AND SPEEDING THROUGH THE RED LIGHT PICKS BACK UP? PEOPLE WILL PLAY THE GAME WHEN THEY KNOW THE CAMERAS ARE WATCHING. BUT WHEN YOU REMOVE THE CAMERAS, AND ANNOUNCE THE NEW LOCATION, IT'S BACK TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE. IF THIS IS TRUE, WHAT'S THE PURPOSE....ONLY TEMPORARILY SOLVED THE PROBLEM AT THE PREVIOUS LOCATION, RIGHT?

HOFFMAN: We’re pretty limited,” he said. “We’re taking technology and we’re using it in a smart way to enforce traffic regulations and to make the streets safer.(AND TO GENERATE MONEY..DON'T FORGET THAT) The people that are arguing against a well-run program like ours are really arguing for less safe streets.”

"ARGUING FOR LESS SAFE STREETS"? DID HE JUST SAY THAT? AND WHO WOULD WANT THAT MAJOR?

MAKE THE YELLOW LIGHT LONGER AND THERE WON'T BE THE NEED FOR YOUR RED LIGHT CAMERAS. IT WILL ACTUALLY ALLOW THE CAR TO CLEAR THE INTERSECTION BEFORE THE OPPOSING TRAFFIC STARTS.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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spiderjohn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 4:34pm
hey vet--u r talking out of both sides of yer mouth maybe
 
b4, u always said that the cameras caused more accidents than they prevented, and that they did not deter bad driving
 
now u say that if they r removed from dangerous intersections, bad driving habits will resume
which is it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 4:47pm
Originally posted by spiderjohn spiderjohn wrote:



hey vet--u r talking out of both sides of yer mouth maybe
 
b4, u always said that the cameras caused more accidents than they prevented, and that they did not deter bad driving
 
now u say that if they r removed from dangerous intersections, bad driving habits will resume
which is it?


CAMERAS MAY CAUSE MORE ACCIDENTS AS DRIVERS MAY SPEED UP TO MAKE IT THROUGH TO BEAT THE CAMERA FROM CLICKING. SEVERAL POSTERS HAVE SAID THAT.

I SAID IN MY POST, IF THE CAMERAS ARE REMOVED, AND THE PEOPLE KNOW THEY ARE NO LONGER THERE, WILL IT GO BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE THE CAMERAS WERE INSTALLED, AND,IF SO, WHAT HAVE THEY ACCOMPLISHED.

ARE THESE TWO STATEMENTS TALKING OUT BOTH SIDES OF MY MOUTH OR ARE THEY TOTALLY SEPARATE IN NATURE? THE ONE STATEMENT INVOLVES CAMERAS AND BAD DRIVING BY AVOIDANCE IN A TICKET BY SPEEDING UP. THE OTHER STATEMENT INVOLVES NO CAMERAS AND ASKING WILL THE BAD DRIVING CONTINUE AFTER THEY ARE REMOVED. DUNNO SPIDER
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 4:59pm
One thing for sure Spider. Never have been a fan of red light cameras. That's been a constant. Too much Big Brother (and I know I've said that several times). Same with seat belts. None of their business what I do in my personal car as related to my safety. My life/my car, not theirs. Cameras monitoring your activity? Can't say as I like it. Again, don't need government hacks looking over my shoulder. We've all seen what too much government intrusion in one's life does to society. Little things like seat belts and red light cameras are just the beginning if we let it stand. JMO
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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spiderjohn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 28 2013 at 5:25pm
I am with u on the big btother aspect, and the LAST thing to worry about is their alleged reason for use.
We are finding out every day how everyone is watching everything that we do, say, own, where we go, how we spend etc.....

cameras make most people stop correctly at intersections
bad drivers will be bad drivers regardless
might as well cost them $$ instead of us
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Historic House Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 04 2013 at 3:04pm
I'm sort of split on this camera thing. On one hand it shows who's at fault in an accident. That's a good thing for the person not at fault. On the other, it is big brother / Orwellian style (something to be concerned about). 

The revenue the city will lose is a pretty big deal and let's face it, if you blow a red light it's not a very safe proposition.

I'm pretty sure ticketing from these red light camera's will be unlawful in the state of Ohio but don't expect them to come down and don't expect them to not be used. Big brother is here to stay (or at least they intend to)  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LMAO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 05 2013 at 1:17pm
I hope they get rid of everyone of them.It just gives are "Spineless Ones" another way to screw us taxpayers.I know if I ever get a ticket I would fight it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 26 2014 at 10:40am
Today's Journal....

Judge orders New Miami to stop using speed cameras

HAMILTON —
Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage ruled Tuesday that the village of New Miami must stop using its speed cameras, effective immediately.

Sage said he had concerns about the administrative hearing process that the village was using to allow motorists who protest or appeal liability tickets.

“I have great concerns about due process in this case,” Sage said, noting at the heart of due process is the right to have a hearing conducted by a neutral administrator, not one appointed by the police.

“They (drivers) are almost presumed guilty before found guilty.”

New Miami’s attorneys argued Sage should issue a stay in the case until after the Ohio Supreme Court disposed of a similar, pending case from the city of Toledo.

Sage asked questions and listened to more than two hours of arguments from both village attorneys and attorneys for the four motorists who filed a lawsuit against New Miami in July. Extensive motions and arguments submitted from both sides were also considered by the judge.

The village had asked Sage to dismiss the lawsuit, but instead the judge granted the case class-action status, meaning thousands of other motorists who have been cited could join on and seek a legal remedy.

New Miami has collected more than $1 million in revenue from 10,000 drivers since deploying the mobile cameras 15 months ago. Sage did not rule today on whether the village would have to repay the money to those cited.

Sage’s decision comes not long after the decision by a Hamilton County judge who pulled the plug on speed cameras in the village of Elmwood Place. Sage referred to the procedure for automated speed enforcement in both the villages as “almost identical.”

Joshua Engel, attorney for one of the plaintiffs, told the judge, “We are not saying they (cameras) are bad; what we are saying is people have to be given the opportunity to defend themselves.”

The attorney also said administrative hearings permit hearsay statements and don’t permit people to request documents to test those statements, such as proof about the calibration of the speed cameras themselves.

While people had the right to appeal the outcome of an administrative hearing, Engel pointed out they had to make a $315 filing in order to get due process for a $95 ticket.

Most will not pay the money or make the effort, which means the village wins, he said.

“They (the village) are counting on that,” Engel said.

Wilson Weisenfelder Jr., one of two attorneys representing New Miami, argued “what is due process in a criminal matter is not necessarily the same in an administrative hearing.”

Additionally, the rules of civil procedures do not apply in an administrative hearing, Weisenfelder said.

While the camera’s are a money-maker for the village, which gets 60 percent of the amount and the company that operates the equipment the remaining 40 percent, Weisenfelder said the cameras are more efficient in maintaining the village’s speed limit while freeing up officers for other duties.

Sage made it clear that he would revisit his decision if New Miami changed the administrative hearing process.

Attorneys for the village told the Journal-News they would be appealing ruling.

FIRST ELMWOOD PLACE AND NOW NEW MIAMI. LOOKS LIKE A PATTERN IS DEVELOPING HERE. THINK WE COULD GET A CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST THE CITY OF MIDDLETOWN AND GET THESE CAMERAS THROWN OUT OF HERE?
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acclaro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 26 2014 at 11:22am
The argument the judges relied, is the lack and denial of due process.

Middletown's system is just as bad on the red light cameras. If one goes through them, you get a ticket. You are sent a regular mailed notice, not constructive notice, with a short period to contest, which I recall is 10 days. After that, you have by Middletown ordinance, lost your right to appeal. What if the mail doesn't deliver it? What if you are on vacation for a week and don't get it and respond in 10 days. What if another is driving without your knowledge? I had a landscaper I do occasionally use my auto to run for Lowe's when doing house work, who denied driving. If you can't identify the culprit, you are guilty. Some due process. More like a kangaroo system of justice.

Here's how you handle Middletown. Don't pay the fine unless it is blatant. In time, a collection group tries to bribe you for paying a bill which they have no proof as to who drove the vehicle, by threatening your credit report.

You call that credit reporting agency and threaten to sue them if they put on a negative notation. They won't put it on your credit report, and that's the end of it.

My son got one on a light he went through where the middle of the intersection was a turn on red. Didn't pay it, told the authorities in the city as to WHY, and told Penn Collection Systems they'd be sued if they put on a credit report notation $ owed. They did not, and it was the end.

These are nothing but revenue makers. I have stated many times, the worst intersections are on Breihel and Rosedale. Kids and others run that light daily, going 60 mph. Constitutionally illegal. Any state representative that votes aginst these should be voted OUT of office. Believe its in the State Senate's hands now, passed state representatives.   
'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.' - Winston Churchill
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