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Red Light Cameras Done

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    Posted: Mar 23 2015 at 7:44pm
MJ:
Middletown deactivates 14 red light cameras
By Vivienne Machi and Ed Richter

Staff Writer
MIDDLETOWN —
The city of Middletown on Monday deactivated and placed bags over 14 red light cameras located at eight intersections throughout the city to comply with a new state law.

That law, passed last year, bars municipalities, villages and townships from issuing traffic tickets to motorists caught by red light or speed cameras unless a police officer is also on the scene. Cities have argued that the new law makes traffic camera use impractical.

The Butler County communities of Middletown, Hamilton and New Miami all use some form of the devices.

“We’re done with them,” Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said Monday morning. “We actually suspended the program last night (Sunday), while the appeals (of other cities) are going on.”

Several cities, including Dayton, Springfield, Columbus, Akron and Toledo, have challenged the law in court, claiming it infringes on their home rule charters which give them the authority to self-govern themselves and to decide if they want to use the traffic cameras.

The city of Dayton reactivated its red light and speed traffic cameras just hours after turning them off to comply with the new law. The cameras remain legal in Dayton, according to the city’s interpretation of an injunction issued over the weekend by a Lucas County judge in response to a city of Toledo lawsuit to keep the cameras active.

“The injunction applies statewide,” Lynn Donaldson, Dayton’s Interim City Attorney, said. “That is the history of injunctive relief. When a law is enjoined the law is enjoined. It’s the general legal principal - it cannot be enforced and put into effect.”

Still, Middletown has temporarily put the brakes on its 10-year-old red light camera system, even going so far as to delete the Safe Streets program information from the police page on the city’s website. Muterspaw said that Redflex Traffic Systems of Arizona, which provides the cameras, was in the process of placing bags over the devices Monday.

“But we’ll continue to monitor red light violations for data purposes to see if these violations go up or down (without the cameras working),” Muterspaw said, adding there are no plans to assign an officer to those intersections but there would be regular traffic enforcement patrols.

“As long as people slow down and stop, that is what really matters,” he said. “We’ll adapt to the changes, and we’re not changing how we police the city.”

Hamilton police Chief Craig Bucheit said all the new law will do is make it more labor intensive for the city to run its speed enforcement program by requiring officers to standby with a system that was built and designed to run independently. Hamilton police use a sports utility vehicle with radar and cameras mounted forward and backward to monitor speed of vehicles.

“I think it’s important to note that not all photo enforcement programs are run the same, and I applaud critics like Mike Allen for taking the time to come in and see how we operate our program,” Bucheit said. “I think it speaks volumes when someone suing and shutting down other local programs speaks out and says that the way we run our program is fair and reasonable.”

Bucheit said the city’s photo enforcement program is just one of many tools used to slow drivers down, reduce accidents and keep people safe.

“You can look at the number and ratio of citations issued, as well as the threshold for violations, and see we are not out to generate revenue,” Bucheit said. “Since Jan. 1, 2014 through February 2015, we have checked 767,804 cars and sent notice of violations to just 4,374. That is a ratio of 5 out of every 1,000 cars.

“Additionally, our violation thresholds of 10 mph over in a school zone, 12 mph over in a 25-35 mph zone, and 14 over in a less than 40 mph zones is intended to target only the most egregious violations,” he said, noting revenue generated from the cameras in 2014 was $82,067 and the most recent figure for 2015 is $15,034.

Critics of traffic enforcement cameras say cities, first and foremost, use the devices as “cash grabs” to fill their coffers, and not to improve safety.

The village of New Miami collected about $1.8 million from 44,993 citations issued during the first 15 months of its mobile speed camera program installed in 2012. The village’s program was eventually declared unconstitutional and shut down by a Butler County judge. The case has since been appealed by the village’s attorneys and has gone back and forth between the common pleas court and the 12th District Court of Appeals.

In Middletown, red light cameras have generated $18,074 from Jan. 1 to Monday. In 2014, the city collected$169,636 in revenues, which was down from $202,168 in 2013 and $200,796 in 2013. Since the program began in 2005, about $1.39 million in revenues have been generated by the cameras for the city’s general fund.

Middletown officials said the city has one year remaining on its contract with Redflex.

Les Landen, Middletown’s law director, said the city was in some earlier conversations with other Ohio cities that use speed or red light cameras, but was not a party to the recent litigation that was filed to challenge the new law. He said the other cities did not contact Middletown to find out if the city was interested in joining the lawsuit.

“We have no immediate plans, and we have not had a discussion on the matter,” Landen said of joining or filing a lawsuit. “But that doesn’t mean were not paying attention to what is going on. We’re going to keep an eye on this.”

Lucas County Judge Dean Mandros on Sunday granted the city of Toledo’s request for a temporary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the state law. Mandros says his ruling means the status quo remains for now after he found that the city has “a high likelihood of success for prevailing on the constitutionality of its system,” according to a report in the Toledo Blade.

Staff Writer Steve Bennish contributed to this report.



REVENUES GENERATED

Middletown:

$169,482 in 2014

$18,074 in 2015*

Hamilton:

$82,067 in 2014

$15,034 in 2015*
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 23 2015 at 8:32pm
"The city of Middletown on Monday deactivated and placed bags over 14 red light cameras located at eight intersections throughout the city to comply with a new state law."

If the law was passed last year, why did they wait until Monday to deactivate them? Shouldn't the city refund the traffic fine to violators from the time the law was passed until deactivation time?

“We’re done with them,” Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said Monday morning. “We actually suspended the program last night (Sunday), while the appeals (of other cities) are going on.”

We will hold you to that Chief. We will also remind you of this statement if and when the city decides to take the covers off the cameras again. The way this city operates pertaining to trust, it wouldn't surprise me if the cameras are resurrected.

Middletown:

$169,482 in 2014

Hamilton:

$82,067 in 2014

Quite a revenue discrepancy between the two cities.

"That law, passed last year, bars municipalities, villages and townships from issuing traffic tickets to motorists caught by red light or speed cameras unless a police officer is also on the scene."

Then, if the red light cameras weren't manned by a cop, as in Middletown, and the red light violation happened after the law was passed, how can they collect the 100 bucks for the violation? Isn't the city in violation of the law by enforcing this after the fact?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote middletownscouter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 24 2015 at 9:16am
Date of passage and date of implementation are two different things. Not every law goes into effect the day it is signed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Beagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 24 2015 at 11:58am
Did the red light cameras reduce accidents? It will be interesting to see if accidents go up or stay the same. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chmoore1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 25 2015 at 9:25am
As of last night (Tuesday, March 24) no "bags" had been placed over the cameras at Breiel and Central. I don't know if their comment was literal or figurative. If literal, it hasn't happened. just 1 chmoore
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 25 2015 at 11:15am
Originally posted by chmoore1 chmoore1 wrote:

As of last night (Tuesday, March 24) no "bags" had been placed over the cameras at Breiel and Central. I don't know if their comment was literal or figurative. If literal, it hasn't happened. just 1 chmoore


Could be wrong here ch but wasn't this camera removed some time ago and placed at another location announced by the city? Thought it was just a camera stand with no guts inside. Anyone?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chmoore1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 25 2015 at 1:00pm
VV: perhaps they disabled it some other way, but it was working about a month ago. I was waiting on the light to change and it went off for another vehicle. I suppose that if it is still active, it won't go any further. just 1chmoore.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Beagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 26 2015 at 12:20pm
The city of Middletown on Monday deactivated and placed bags over 14 red light cameras located at eight intersections throughout the city to comply with a new state law.

No bags over Oxford and Cinday yet.

Why say bags will be put if they are deactivating them otherwise?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 409 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 19 2015 at 2:45pm
MJ:
Red light camera vendor pleads guilty to bribery scheme

By Breaking News Staff
A former chief executive officer for red light ticket camera company RedFlex, the vendor for red light cameras in the Dayton and Middletown areas, pleaded guilty today to participating in an eight-year bribery and fraud scheme, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced.

There was no mention in the announcement of any links to the region, but officials in Columbus and Cincinnati were said to be involved in the scheme.

The announcement came from Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office.

The executive, Karen L. Finley, 55, of Cave Creek, Arizona, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp of the Southern District of Ohio to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and honest services wire and mail fraud.

Finley’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date, the FBI said.

According to the announcement, from December 2005 to February 2013, Finley, who served as CEO of the red light camera enforcement company. admitted that, between 2005 and 2013, she participated in a scheme in which the company made campaign contributions to elected public officials in the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati through a consultant retained by the company. No dollar figures were provided.

“According to admissions made in connection with her plea, Finley and others, including another executive of the company, agreed to provide the conduit campaign contributions with the understanding that the elected public officials would assist the company in obtaining or retaining municipal contracts, including a photo red light enforcement contract with the City of Columbus. Finley also admitted she and her co-conspirators concealed the true nature and source of the payments by the consultant’s submission and the company’s payment of false invoices for “consulting services,” which funds the consultant then provided to the campaigns of the elected public officials,” the release said.

The FBI said the case was investigated by the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office, Columbus Resident Agency, with the assistance of IRS-Criminal Investigations and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous of the Southern District of Ohio.

RedFlex also operates speed cameras, which the city of Hamilton and village of New Miami ha contracts with the company’s services with regards to speed cameras.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote over the hill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 19 2015 at 3:42pm
Has any one asked Miss Judy or Mr. Landon if they have any additional information to add to this inquiry?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 19 2015 at 3:51pm
Of course the program has been all about safety and nothing else since the cameras began to be used. LOLLOLLOL 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 409 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 25 2015 at 8:03pm
MJ:
Officials say Hamilton, Middletown not part of FBI’s RedFlex probe

By Steve Bennish and Ed Richter
Staff Writer
MIDDLETOWN —
A federal investigation that focused on Ohio politicians who allegedly received bribes for helping a traffic-ticket camera company secure contracts hasn’t driven up in Middletown or Hamilton, officials in those cities said.

Some city council members and city administrators said they were surprised to learn over the weekend that a former chief executive officer for RedFlex Traffic Systems pleaded guilty to an eight-year bribery and fraud scheme.

“It’s certainly disappointing that this happened,” Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. said.

The mayor and Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins said they have not received any inquiries from federal investigators related to the RedFlex contract with the city. Middletown, which has 14 red-light cameras installed throughout the city, first contracted with RedFlex in 2005 and there is one year remaining on the current contract.

The former RedFlex executive, Karen L. Finley, 55, of Cave Creek, Arizona, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and honest services wire and mail fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigation probe also involved unnamed individuals in Cincinnati and Columbus, the FBI said.

Hamilton Law Director Heather Sanderson Lewis said in an email Thursday “I am not aware of any subpoenas to the city of Hamilton or discussion with any investigators in connection with RedFlex.”

Hamilton, which used a sports utility vehicle with a radar and mounted cameras to monitor the speed of drivers, collected about $82,000 from the RedFlex cameras last year.

The investigation is ongoing, said Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole A. Navas. She declined to provide details.

Asked whether the investigation involved other southwest Ohio communities that use the cameras, Navas declined comment.

“We wouldn’t comment on specifics of an ongoing investigation,” she said.

The ticket cameras began to appear in area cities in 2005. The cameras are still issuing tickets in Akron, Dayton and Toledo as those cities have challenged a state law requiring a police officer be present when cameras are operational. The case is scheduled for oral arguments in the Second District Court of Appeals in Dayton on July 28.

The cameras are still recording violations in Trotwood, Springfield, West Carrollton, Hamilton and Middletown, but motorists in those cities are not being fined for infractions caught on camera.

In 2014, the cameras brought in $169,636 for the city of Middletown.

According to Finley’s plea agreement, various unnamed elected officials in both Cincinnati and Columbus received disbursements from a consultant hired by RedFlex. The payments were in the form of campaign contributions. The Columbus Dispatch reported that one of the officials implicated is Columbus City Council president Andrew Ginther.

“The initial stories linking me to these acts were flat-out wrong,” Ginther said earlier this week. “This is not about me. It never has been about me and never will be about me.

“What is true is that, like others, I have been asked by the U.S. Attorney’s office to assist by gathering information that may be relevant and helpful to the investigation of RedFlex.”

Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman said in a statement that he is “confident that the Department complied with the appropriate laws, rules, regulations, and city policies.”

The roots of the RedFlex investigation appear to start in Chicago, where an October 2012 story in the Chicago Tribune disclosed what the newspaper called “a 2-year-old internal whistleblower memo written by an ousted RedFlex vice president that detailed the alleged bribery scheme.”

The Tribune said that when the story was published, RedFlex was the favorite to win the contract for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s speed camera program. Emanuel then banned RedFlex from holding the contract.

Finley has pleaded not guilty in the Chicago federal case, where she is accused as part of a $2 million bribery scheme, funneling cash, lavish trips and an Arizona condominium to now-retired city transportation manager John Bills, according to the Tribune.

RedFlex said it has ousted top executives in response to the federal investigation.

In a lawsuit, one former executive alleged that the company had a long practice of offering gifts and bribes in dozens of municipalities in 13 states. Those include California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 26 2015 at 6:05am
From the post above from John Beagle:

"The city of Middletown on Monday deactivated and placed bags over 14 red light cameras located at eight intersections throughout the city to comply with a new state law"

From 409's current post:

"The cameras are still recording violations in Trotwood, Springfield, West Carrollton, Hamilton and Middletown, but motorists in those cities are not being fined for infractions caught on camera"

Are they recording or are the cameras covered?

"In 2014, the cameras brought in $169,636 for the city of Middletown"

I thought it was all about safety.
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 FmrMide81 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 26 2015 at 8:39am
Mayor Mulligan is "disappointed"?? I'll bet. When your screwed up city isn't even worth a nominal bribe from a red light camera company you SHOULD be disappointed!!
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