In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the Vista City Council opted to continue with the Red Light Photo Enforcement program, currently in partnership with Redflex Traffic Systems, in selected parts of the city.
Deputy Mayor Amanda Rigby previously requested the item be brought up for discussion before the contract is renewed on May 11, 2016. She had two big objections to the agreement which she mentioned in her remarks to her council colleagues.
“I wanted to talk about the issue of red light cameras in the city of Vista as the contract we currently have with Redflex Traffic Systems is [set to expire] in May of this year, and it is scheduled for an automatic renewal. I wanted to have this discussion before [that renewal],” Rigby told the council.
Ethical lapses charged
Reading notes, she told the council that Redflex seems to be embroiled in litigation in multiple locations throughout the United States. (This does include California, as mentioned in this online Newspaper post from 2014.) Charges that Redflex staff and higher execs have been charged with include deliberately miscalibrating equipment, tax evasion, and bribery, trade violations among other things, stated Rigby from notes.
To see one FBI website link which Rigby perhaps was referencing, information is posted regarding the U.S. Attorney’s Office indictment of August 13, 2014. The allegations included this description that “… Redflex officials, including KAREN FINLEY, its former CEO, provided the retired city official, JOHN BILLS, with approximately $570,000 cash and other personal benefits in exchange for Bills’ providing inside information and assisting Redflex in obtaining, keeping, and expanding its Chicago contracts that grew to $124 million. Finley and other officials of Phoenix-based Redflex arranged to funnel the cash and benefits to Bills through his friend, MARTIN O’MALLEY, by hiring O’Malley as an independent contractor who passed much of his $2 million compensation on to Bills, the indictment alleges.”
Not in Vista
While “no bad behavior” that she is aware of has occurred here in Vista said Rigby, she didn’t want the good name of the City to be linked in people’s minds by association with this company. Rigby did not want the automatic renewal to occur and she suggested alternative steps which might be made for public safety.
Citing “tools” that are available currently, Rigby’s suggestions included extending the yellow light a bit longer or even having “a universal red light” for everyone approaching the intersection. The last one would clear out the intersection and solve the “T-boning” accidents she believed. Mentioned also was that 53% of the camera violations are for “rolling right turns.”
Rigby made clear her objections to the company, and she received applause when she stated she did not wish to automatically continue the partnership with Redflex and then motioned that the contract not be automatically renewed.
Councilmember John Franklin seemed to agree with Rigby and invited people to fill out a speaker slip and make their own thoughts understood on the matter. “I am deeply concerned about the safety of residents on this issue,” he said to his colleagues and then questioned the “baseline data” that was collected in 2004 prior to the installation of the cameras. “The fact is that in the city of Vista the baseline data that we collected was for a very short period of time prior to the installation of the cameras.”
2.4 million dollars
Franklin also mentioned his other objections, which included the harm which was being done to visitors and residents alike when they were hit with huge traffic fees. Subtracting the 2.4 million dollars which could not be spent enjoying restaurants or other businesses in Vista, Franklin added another thought to his colleagues Mayor Judy Ritter, John Aguilera and Cody Campbell that “I hope I can convince one of you ” to consider the harm, likely hoping for a 3-2 decision against the automatic renewal.
Public dialog was to remove the camera, said Franklin. “When I ran for this office I promised voters that I would come to this council and I would do my best to change your minds.”
In the end, Rigby and Franklin were outvoted and the red light cameras will continue in Vista. The contract renewal would be for two more years.