from the perverts-and-their-incentives dept
The market for red light cameras obviously can't sustain itself, even with certain legislators drooling over the prospect of installing these revenue generators at every intersection.
Part of the problem is the technology is still incredibly fallible. Cameras have issued tickets to walls, parked vehicles, and many, many drivers obeying all traffic laws. Millions of dollars of refunds have been paid out by municipalities who once thought they'd have to do nothing more than sit back and let the cash roll in.
Citizens aren't fans, so legislators have often pushed these through with a minimum of discussion. Major players in the traffic cam industry lobby hard for placement of their products -- sometimes going as far as to engage in good old analog bribery and corruption.
Officials, both public and private, have been indicted (and convicted) for their participation in the proliferation of traffic cams. Not that the cameras themselves were necessarily illegal, but because the only thing better than an uptick in public funds is an uptick in private funds.
Out in Texas, a judge is facing charges for sneaking ATS (American Traffic Solutions) in through the back door.
A Texas judge arrested for making a secret deal committing his county to a 10-year contract with a red-light camera company was suspended Tuesday for allegedly blowing right past the state's Sunshine Laws.
Judge Joel Patrick Baker of Smith County was arrested last week, after an activist group complained his 2014 meeting with American Traffic Solutions officials violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. Baker was charged with three misdemeanor counts of violating the act.
Baker allegedly hooked ATS with an exclusive 10-year deal to install its cameras in Smith County -- despite the technology being banned in Texas municipalities, despite county residents being deeply opposed to the cameras, and despite never consulting with county commissioners.
Now, Baker is suspended and facing three counts of violating the state's open records law. ATS did not comment so presumably its illegally-approved cameras are still in use -- even if it's now apparent that the tickets issued by the company will have approximately zero legal weight.
When an industry's market starts drying up, it will often turn to legislators in hopes of propping its business model up. In this case, ATS skipped most of the legislative process and found a judge willing to bypass local statutes on its behalf. If an industry can't support itself, it needs to stagger off in the direction of the graveyard, not seek assistance in screwing taxpayers in increasingly creative ways.