O'SCANLON: RLC COMPANIES - A MODEL FOR BAD BUSINESS
In continuing his assault on the failed red-light camera (“RLC”) program, Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-13) today shined light on the ethical lapses of the camera operators in other jurisdictions and efforts to manipulate data and distort evidence in hopes that no one will notice the products these companies push have failed to improve safety.
“Recent news reports out of Chicago indicate that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has banned Redflex Traffic Systems, one of the largest operators of Red Light Cameras in the New Jersey, from bidding on its new red light camera contract,” said O’Scanlon. “Redflex had been banned because its employees gave improper gifts to the top officials overseeing the program for the City of Chicago.”
“This type of behavior is exactly the reason residents lose their trust in government", explained O'Scanlon. "The data we’ve seen across the country definitively demonstrates that these cameras do not improve safety, but rather serve as a revenue generator for the camera companies and the municipalities who choose to use them to pick the pockets of their residents, the vast majority of them innocent of any wrongdoing. New Jersey should not be getting into bed with companies known for breaking the law, distorting the facts and threatening lawsuits in order to keep the gravy train flowing."
O'Scanlon also pointed to the recent propaganda and public relations campaign by American Traffic Solutions, another RLC company doing business here, under the guise of a "grassroots" organization called the Coalition for Safer Roads.
“According to their 2011 not-for-profit registration, every single board member for The Coalition for Safer Roads was an American Traffic Solutions executive,” O’Scanlon exclaimed. “The Coalition claims it is an ‘independent campaign of first responders, victims, and parents’ but all documents prove otherwise. It is a total sham. Why? Because there never would be such a legitimate coalition because these cameras are proven boondoggles. This is a very thinly veiled attempt to look like a legitimate, local organization, when even the New Jersey chapter can be traced back to a lobbying firm in Chicago.”
Last year, an ATS executive that supposedly was fired in 2011 for being caught attempting to manipulate an election in Washington state was caught trying to do the same in California. Bill Kroske was a vice president at ATS until a local Washington newspaper exposed his efforts to work closely with the mayor to block a citizen ballot initiative to ban the use of red light and speed cameras.
Kroske was also found to have posed as a Mukilteo resident in online posts he made to generate the appearance of public support for the use of automated ticketing machines.
O’Scanlon went on to tell Houston’s story, where the city shut down the controversial cameras after residents rose up against them. ATS responded to this action with a law suit seeking $25 million from the city of Houston for breach of contract. In a proposed legal settlement, the city would agree to pay ATS more than $12 million dollars for the breached red light camera contract, which ends in 2014. “These guys are like drug dealers, they get you hooked on their product, and when you try to quit, you can’t!”
“In a really offensive stretch of jurisprudence, ATS went as far as claiming, via legal papers, that camera referendum questions would be racist,” told O’Scanlon. When two cities in Texas placed camera referendum questions on their general election ballots, American Traffic Solutions attempted to stop those votes by claiming that, “[t]he city has created a scenario whereby voters who oppose the safety cameras program - a group that historically tends to vote in a conservative manner - will vote in greater numbers than would otherwise have turned out for a November 2, 2010 election.”
“Wow, ATS actually tried to argue that people who oppose red-light cameras are also less sympathetic to minority issues,” O’Scanlon proclaimed. “Unbelievable! Here’s a news flash for ya, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, or white, or any other color under the spectrum, Red-light cameras are set up to screw you. Race aside, I do find it troubling that the highest concentrations of these cameras are in economically disadvantaged areas. Many of the people receiving these unjustified tickets are the people who can least afford it and are without recourse. These cameras assume you are guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. To many of these folks the fine represents a full day’s wages, which can make the difference between them paying rent and buying food. It’s unconscionable, but not for the camera companies and the local officials who are in bed with them.”
"This type of nefarious behavior seems to be business as usual for these companies,” said O’Scanlon. “But this all shows just how desperate companies like ATS are - they will do anything to keep their machines up and running. Meanwhile, the facts do not support their product so they are fabricating interest groups to spout nonsensical -and downright false - claims to bolster their cause. In 2012 the program was suspended in New Jersey and American Traffic Solutions forced to pay back millions of dollars to New Jerseyans in a class-action lawsuit. Those millions were but a fraction of the money stolen from New Jersey drivers – the vast majority of them innocent of any wrong doing in the first place. I look forward to seeing my New Years resolution come true when this program is finally disbanded for good."
# # # #
Coalition for Safer Roads: http://thenewspaper.com/news/35/3585.asp
Documentation showing ATS executives on the board: http://thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2011/ncsrmo.pdf
ATS/Racist argument: http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/32/3253.asp
CONTACT: Kevin Israel
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