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Sanity Prevails: Traffic Cams Come Down; Judge Holds Ohio Town In Contempt

July 1, 2013 by  

Sanity Prevails: Traffic Cams Come Down; Judge Holds Ohio Town In Contempt
PHOTOS.COM

An Ohio judge has slapped town leaders in the Village of Elmwood Place, a Cincinnati suburb, with a contempt charge and has ordered the county sheriff’s office to dismantle and impound the traffic monitoring cameras the town had been using to ticket speeders.

Elmwood Place must also pay for storage fees incurred by the impoundment, and it must refund money it has collected from alleged speeders “caught” by the cameras since they were installed in September.

Judge Robert Ruehlman made the ruling last week at a contempt hearing in which he found both the town and the camera company — Maryland-based Optotraffic — in violation of an injunction in place since March. That’s when Ruehlman found the cameras UnConstitutional and barred the town from operating the cameras and collecting any more fees from motorists.

Under its service contract, the town was collecting 60 percent of revenues from the camera-generated tickets, with Optotraffic taking the rest. But the judge slammed both parties after learning the town had turned the cameras back on, ostensibly only to collect traffic data, and had continued to accept an additional $48,000 in fines from motorists who had come in to pay off outstanding tickets, at $105 a pop, after the date of the original injunction.

Drivers paid their fines through Optotraffic, and town officials said refunds will have to be issued from data the company maintains, since no one in Elmwood Place has any record of who received a ticket. Overall, the town and contractor have collected more than $1.7 million in camera-based ticket fines since the devices were installed.

Ruehlman called the ticketing program “a scam that the motorists can’t win.”

“The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by Optotraffic,” he wrote.

The Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a ban on red light and speeding camera enforcement last Wednesday, sending the legislation to the State Senate for approval. If passed, only mobile camera enforcement within school zones, during restricted hours, would be permitted.

The Columbus Dispatch lamented the House vote in an editorial, calling the ban “reckless lawmaking” that places individual freedom over public safety.

[T]he Ohio House on Wednesday threw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s now up to the Senate to block House Bill 69, a wholesale ban of an important law-enforcement tool… Sure, many drivers hate these cameras. But as a result, most change their driving behavior for the better. For lawmakers to cave to populist sentiment by helping people skirt safety laws is bad policy.

An untold number of Ohioans have been spared accidents and are still around to complain about their tickets. The Senate should recognize that it is being asked to make roads less safe and reject this bill.

A leading Senate Republican said he favors banning the cameras, but can’t predict how the bill will fare in the Senate.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • brian

    these cameras have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with revenue.

  • Elevenarrows

    As more and more states become financially insolvent, we see more and more efforts to generate easy income…easy for the state, that is…
    NC enacted a ban on license plate trim that in any way blocks any of the letters of the state name. I see a constant increase in speed traps between NC and SC. I certainly think the days of “to serve and protect” have ended. Seems more about crowd control and income generating.

    • Carl-Cathy Wisnesky

      In PA, our son was pulled over & told to remove his college license plate frame because it blocked the top half of the state’s name on the plate. Luckily, no ticket was given. So many states probably have a law like this. Funny thing is that the license plate frame from the dealer where we bought our car also blocks the top half of the state name, so people can be breaking this law without even knowing it.

  • Carl-Cathy Wisnesky

    In FL there is a state law that the yellow light must be 4.3 seconds long or longer. The town of Port Richey was shown to have shortened their yellow light time below the state minimum at lights that had red light cameras as well as the cameras showing violations for a legal right turn on red, thanks to one individual who did scientific studies in defense of a ticket he recieved & the Tampa Bay Times newspaper taking up his cause & doing their own research. Good for this judge to declare them unconstitutional.

  • ONTIME

    The use of traffic cams by the government has again proven just how greedy and incompetent government can become when allowed to dictate all the rules. They claim good intentions and immeadiately things go down the path to hell…

  • SBMUTAH

    With a newspaper that is so socialist/communist in their principles it is a wonder that the citizens still buy the paper.

    “The Columbus Dispatch lamented the House vote in an editorial, calling the ban “reckless lawmaking” that places individual freedom over public safety.”

    How can anyone call themselves an American and make statements like that.? How can anyone claim that the basic principles of freedom can be discarded so blatantly in the interest of _______ (fill in your favorite cause). This is the attitude of the liberals/socialists/communists that have gotten our country into the mess it’s in.

    For the people of Columbus, I can only refer you to Benjamin Franklin who said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety..” If you support this “newspaper?” in what they think as a forum of your city, then you only deserve what you get and that is all of your freedoms taken away from you. Remember that it all starts with one step, then another, and another. And soon you will have, nothing.

    For every copy of their paper that is printed, all it takes is for one person to buy that copy, and another, and another. That tells the paper that the people support and agree with the principles and philosophies the paper publishes. If no one buys the trash they print, then they will quickly understand that their principles and philosophies are not acceptable and they will change or go out of business.

    • Deerinwater

      Why ruin a good posting with liberals/socialists/communists rant?

      Everybody knows that “Do Do” stinks and it need not be pointed out like rubbing a puppies nose in a pee puddle.

  • Deerinwater

    “Untold” indeed! ~ You can’t count what didn’t happen or can you use it as evidence in a court of law.

    Hats off to Judge Robert Ruehlman. ~ while I wonder how it will play out in local politics. ~~~~ That’s a lot of money ~ and just the smell of money buys friends.

    There is a serious conflict of interest in this system that needs address.

    • John Woodbury

      Wow, Deer a reasonable post from you. I am looking to the west, I am sure the sun will rise there at any time.

  • tim

    I hope people are boycotting that newspsper. Maybe that would give the newspaper people time to read about freedom and not taking freedom away from americans in the deceitful disquise of safety!!!!!

  • AttilaTheHun

    My wife and I left Ohio a year and a half ago – good riddance. There are lots of good people there, but the influence of the unions and the left is undeniable. I don’t miss the red light cameras, either.

    My real question is why do we still have school zone speed limits? Are there ANY children in the USA who still walk to school? Every kid I’ve seen either takes the bus or is chauffeured by mom. Why do we need to slow down if there aren’t any kids around?

  • john Illinois

    Traffic enforcement has always been a revenue device. Notice how cops “go on strike”–they stop writing traffic tickets except for really screaming offenses.

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