Yesterday I posted a news item from a group that is trying to ban red light cameras in the city of Houston. The group has collected enough signatures to get the issue on the November ballot and let Houston residents decide if the city should have red light cameras.
Today, I received a statement from a group of supporters working to keep the cameras operating at several dangerous intersections around town.
August 10, 2010
To: Houston Media
From: Keep Houston Safe PAC
Subj: Why the Citizens Against Red Light Camera (CARLC) Petition is “Dead on Arrival”
Now that the Citizens Against Red Light Cameras have submitted their signatures to the City Secretary, the question is: what happens next?
The answer is simple. This matter already is, and should be so declared, dead on arrival. A little history will help put this in perspective.
- On December 21, 2004, 68 months ago, the Houston City Council passed an ordinance allowing the city to implement an intersection safety camera program.
- On May 31, 2006, the City chose a vendor, American Traffic Solutions, to provide the intersection monitoring services following a lengthy RFP process.
- On September 1, 2006, the first cameras were installed and became operational.
- In 2007, the Kubosh brothers sued the City of Houston unsuccessfully over the program’s administrative-hearing process for motorists who fight their tickets. NOTE: The Kuboshes first foray into this battle was directly related to Mr. Kubosh’s livelihood as a traffic court attorney. The judge in that case upheld the constitutionality of the camera program, and Michael Kubosh abandoned his appeal of this decision in 2008.
- Flash forward to 2010. As CARLC has said time and again this year, their goal is to “ban” the camera program. The problem here is that Houston’s city charter clearly states that in order to repeal a vote of council, the signatures need to be submitted within 30 days of the passage of the original ordinance.
The City Charter amendment that CARLC is proposing is nothing more than a “camouflaged referendum”. Normally, a City Charter amendment is a change of governing policies/procedures that hasn’t already been in place such as changing term limits, drainage fund improvements, etc. Here, CARLC is proposing to use the City Charter as a vehicle to undo a program that was already put into place via ordinance — something which (to our knowledge) has never occurred.
So, because Houston’s intersection safety camera ordinance was passed on December 21, 2004, some 68 months ago, CARLC is roughly 2,027 days late in filing their signatures. This issue, in our view, is moot regardless of whether the signatures that CARLC brought to City Hall yesterday can be counted and verified before the August 24th deadline mandated in the Texas Election Code.
In the final analysis, this is really little more than a four-year old business development/PR stunt by a traffic ticket lawyer whose business is negatively affected by the intersection safety cameras. Why else would Mr. Kubosh personally donate $68,000 of the $68,500 his PAC raised in the first half of 2010? The longer this fight goes, the more he personally benefits through media exposure and new clients.