Sunday, March 26, 2017

Thank you, State Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, for helping end red light cameras. No thanks to SABPD Chief ROBERT HARDWICK, who tried to inflict these robotic bandits on St. Augustine Beach (we stopped him, for good), inviting salesmen to make presentations on behalf of a company half-owned by GOLDMAN SACHS. Happy ending: red light cameras will soon be banned.

Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (Primary Election Night, 2015)(SAR)

Stevenson supports end of red light cameras in state

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A bill co-sponsored by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson that just passed the Florida House of Representatives would put a stop to the use of red light cameras in the state.

It’s a bill Stevenson told The Record on Friday that she was willing to get behind even though municipalities in her district are not using the devices.

“There’s a number of people in the House that feel like it is no longer in the best interest of the people of Florida,” she said.

Stevenson said she was happy to see the bill make it out of the House, just as she was last year when she put her name behind a similar bill.

This year’s bill was filed by Republican representatives Bryan Avila, of Hialeah, and Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, of Spring Hill.

Avila said red-light cameras might have been well-intentioned initially but have been used by local governments as a way to generate money.

“It has become less about public safety and more about revenue,” Avila said in a News Service of Florida story.

Opponents of the bill argued that local governments should be able to decide whether to use the cameras to ticket motorists who run red lights and that the cameras have changed drivers’ behavior.

Stevenson said she was aware of those concerns.

“I will say … there probably are some places where it is administered [carefully] and some intersections where it is helpful,” she said. “So I know there is push back on the other side.”

“Personally I can imagine there are ways to do it appropriately,” she added. “But that’s not what I hear about.”

What she does hear about, Stevenson said, are concerns that a private company, which often installs and manages the cameras, as well as issues the violation notices, are profiting from having assumed the responsibility of local government.

And the hefty fines on the tickets, which are sometimes north of $150 dollars, aren’t justified by a noted reduction in accidents.

“The thing that we see most frequently is a … very high ticket cost [and] little latitude for the local governments to administer it and the judiciary to administer it more thoughtfully,” she said. “And we don’t see a safety record to support that heavy burden on individuals.”

That lack of local control was also of concern to her.

“You allow a company to step in the shoes of authority or our law enforcement and the judiciary,” Stevenson said. “And that’s a problem.”

Those concerns have also been noted by Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal, which according to an April Daytona News-Journal story, ruled in October 2014 that municipalities don’t have the legal authority to delegate traffic citation responsibility to private companies.

Locally, that prompted the city of Palm Coast to reduce the number of traffic cameras in the city from 43 to 5 and shorten its contract with American Traffic Solutions by two years.

While House Bill 6007 passed overwhelmingly, with a 91-22 vote, it remains uncertain what will happen in the Senate.

If it makes it through and is eventually signed into law it wouldn’t go into effect until 2020.

A companion Senate bill (SB 178) has already failed to make it out of the Senate Transportation Committee, according to the News Service.

The Senate now has the option to put the House bill to the committee process or take up a similar repeal bill (SB 630) filed by Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell of Miami.

Stevenson didn’t offer a prediction as to what would happen in the Senate but did say she was glad the cameras never caught on here.

“I can tell you what I am grateful for,” she said. “I am grateful we don’t have any.”


Jack (sponger) Harvell
For once I agree with her. Heaven sends us small favors occasionally.

Wayne (mach) Hoyle
Yea, about time someone got rid of that fundraiser for the state or local governments. Unless they have MY PICTURE driving the car, there is no due process.

David Cash
This was always a revenue stream for the municipalities. Has very little to do with safety. In some cases it has actually increased accidents.

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