Maryland Speed Camera Petition Ready for Signing

April 29, 2009

The petition sponsored by “Maryland for Responsible Enforcement” to force Senate Bill 277 (authorizing the statewide use of speed cameras) to a referendum is now ready to be signed.

The rules for forcing a new law to a public vote in Maryland are extremely strict. A total of over 57,000 valid signatures must be collected, and signatures can be disqualified for many reasons, with 1/3 of those signatures submitted before may 30 and the rest by June 30. You must be registered to vote in Maryland in order to sign the petition. (If you are a Maryland resident but are not registered to vote, go REGISTER TO VOTE right now. If you don’t vote you have no right to complain). Your name must appear on the petition exactly as it appears on your voter registration (there is a tool you can use to check your voter registration).

If you only want to sign the petition, you can go to www.mdscamera.com to print, sign, and mail the petition. Be sure to read the complete instructions for petition signers before sending in your form. However what is really needed is for you to gather signatures. If you know others who might be willing to sign, please read the “instructions for those collecting signatures” and then ask them to sign as well. Better yet, go out and circulate the petition wherever you can.

MRE needs to receive the first batch of signatures by 5/25/2009. Please spread the word about this effort as widely and as quickly as possible. Senate Bill 277 significantly reduces YOUR rights as a maryland driver to face your accuser, gives an unreasonable amount of new power to local government, and will create the legal precedent and the physical infrastructure for even more sweeping mass surveillance and machine enforcement of drivers in the future. This affects everyone who lives in or visits the state of Maryland. The People deserve a real public debate and a direct vote on this issue and your signature and petition gathering efforts can make that possible.


Big Money Behind Maryland Speed Camera Cash Grab

April 23, 2009
Governor O'Malley with his favorite thing: Money

They sure do love money

TheNewspaper.com has dissected what happened in the Maryland legislature to compel legislators to adopt a policy that is obviously contrary to the majority of residents (evidence suggests that opposition is as high as 80% against). You may not be surprised to learn some lawmakers value cash in their pockets more than anything else. Full article:

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to sign into law recently passed legislation authorizing a massive expansion in the use of speed cameras throughout the state. The measure is the culmination of a coordinated effort by photo enforcement companies, their lobbying firms and the insurance industry to sway the opinions of key legislators. TheNewspaper reviewed state records over the past ten years and found that parties with a direct financial interest in automated ticketing showered members of the Maryland General Assembly and the governor with $707,725 in gifts and campaign cash.

The official legislative analysis for Senate Bill 277 predicted $65,335,400 in new photo ticket revenue at the state level by 2014. The private contractor selected to run the program will pocket $9,783,700. Because a number of localities implementing their own programs expect equally generous levels of revenue, four traffic camera specialists had an incentive to make a long-term strategic investment in Maryland’s legislative process. American Traffic Solutions (ATS) of Arizona, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) of Texas, Sigma Space/Optotraffic of Maryland and Traffipax of Germany together wrote checks to lawmakers worth $183,780 between 1999 and 2009.

To ensure the best reception for their proposals, these firms also retained heavy-hitting lobby shops with their own history of providing $213,055 in financial support to the campaigns of influential state lawmakers. ATS hired Capitol Strategies for $41,000; Sigma hired Rifkin Livingston Levitan LLC for $68,873; Traffipax hired Gildea Schmidt LLC for $50,000; and ACS hired Alexander Cleaver PA for $211,453. Some local governments even got into the act and spent taxpayer money on speed camera lobbying efforts, like Prince George’s County which hired Darryl Kelley LLC for $47,500.

The extra money spent by ACS made an impression on lawmakers serving on four state legislative committees. The ACS lobby shop, Alexander and Cleaver, feted these members with $6286 in food and wine from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Annapolis. Similarly, the American Automobile Association (AAA) threw a $10,933 party at the Lowe House Office Building for General Assembly members to build good will for the full range of AAA’s legislative agenda.

Insurance companies like AAA, Geico, Nationwide and State Farm have an intense interest in the promotion of photo radar and red light cameras. These companies collect millions in extra premium revenue in states like Arizona, California, Colorado and Illinois where certain categories of photo tickets carry license points. As a result, these companies lobbied heavily in favor of Maryland’s photo ticketing plan.

“AAA Mid-Atlantic supported the statewide bill to ensure continuity throughout the state in terms of practice and enforcement,” AAA said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Geico, Nationwide and State Farm together kicked in $293,671 in campaign donations to ensure lawmakers paid attention to their favorite issues, including speed cameras.

For the photo ticketing firms, it makes sense to invest $555,106 in direct lobbying and campaign expenses when the possible payoff is at least $9.8 million. A growing number of ordinary Maryland residents, however, want to keep that victory short-lived. Last week, Maryland for Responsible Enforcement began the process of circulating a petition that would give voters a chance in November to repeal the statewide photo radar legislation. In just a few days, 662 members signed up on the new group’s Facebook page.

The group CameraFraud.com has already collected thousands of signatures for a similar effort to ban photo enforcement in Arizona, and the group’s national capital branch supports the Maryland referendum. Once on the ballot, no photo enforcement program has ever survived a public vote. Earlier this month, for example, 86 percent of voters in Sulphur, Louisiana voted to reject speed cameras.

(reprinted with permission)


Petition for Maryland Speed Camera Referendum Launched

April 18, 2009

A Bethesda businessman and former Congressional candidate, Daniel Zubairi, has launched a petition drive which would force SB-277, statewide speed cameras, to a referendum. They have created an organization “Maryland for Responsible Enforcement” and a website www.mdscamera.com to promote the referendum and have filed the required paperwork with the state. There is also a Facebook Group dedicated to the effort.

Maryland rules on forcing a new law to a referendum are extremely strict, requiring a petition with signatures equal to 3% of the total number of votes cast for governor in the last election, or 53,650. Those signatures must all be collected within 60 days of the bill’s passage and must be hand-written (not electronic). However if the drive is successful the chances of a statewide vote overturning the legislature is strong : despite claims by speed camera supporters that the devices are popular, no speed camera program has ever survived a referendum vote.

We will have more on this as it develops.


Deadly Red Light Cameras Issue Tickets in Virginia Beach

April 15, 2009
Karen Finley wants your cash

Karen Finley wants your cash

After a scathing reports by the Virginia Department of Transportation documented that red light cameras caused an increase in the number of accidents and injuries, the deadly devices have returned to roads in the Commonwealth. Virginia Beach this week became the first city to resume issuing $50 citations.

At the moment, two intersection cameras are generating tickets with a third expected at the end of the month. The first phase of the “open-ended” contract between Virginia Beach and Redflex anticipates ticketing at ten intersections. The partnership between the city and the Australians eventually will expand to allow 43 automated ticketing machines to  generate revenue — the maximum allowed by state law.

How did this happen when the evidence shows that the program was a colossal safety failure? Redflex Board Member Karen Finley answered the question in an October press release to the Australian Securities Exchange. (press release PDF)

“As the true pioneer of the photo enforcement industry, Redflex has been an active leader in legislative initiatives in more than half of the 21 states in which it operates,” Finley said. “To ensure the industry’s successful propagation, Redflex has made a strategic investment in a team of legislative experts with a keen knowledge of working the delicate, formal, legislative processes and grass root efforts. When the original 1995 Virginia photo enforcement legislation was not renewed, we implemented a focused legislative effort: two-years later, these efforts were successfully received by the Virginia General Assembly as referenced by the state-wide enablement of photo enforcement programs.”

In other words, it used high-priced lobbyists to buy the votes of legislators willing to sell out the safety of their constituents. “Strategic investments” means cash in the pockets of lawmakers. “Grass roots efforts” mean setting up phony corporate front groups like the Campaign to Stop Red Light Running that gullible media use as a source of “victims” of red light running in their stories. The campaign’s paid drama queens talk up the horror of  red light running as if a red light camera would have prevented a single death or accident.

Instead, Redflex cameras just take photographs of these tragedies while creating hundreds of new accidents, injuries and tragedies nationwide — as seen in the national studies that were not paid for by the camera industry’s legislative experts.


Maryland House Passes Statewide Speed Camera

April 13, 2009

Senate Bill 277 passed in the Maryland House of Delegates today, with the Democratic majority blocking all new amendments to the legislation. The legislation will now go to Governor O’Malley, who is no doubt giddy over achieving his long time goal of stripping Maryland drivers of their legal rights with statewide speed cameras.

We will be posting the complete list of names as soon as it becomes available. Some of the sponsors of this and other speed camera expansion bills submitted this year include:
Senate President Mike Miller (D. Calvert and Prince George’s County 27)
Sen Katherine A. Klausmeier (
D, Baltimore County, District 8)
Sen James N. Robey (
D, Howard County, District 13)
Sen Jennie Forehand (D, Montgomery, District 17)
Sen Douglas J.J. Peters (D, Prince George’s County, District 23)
Sen C. Anthony Muse (D, Prince George’s County, District 26)
Sen Nathaniel J. McFadden (D, Baltimore City, District 45)
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D, Anne Arundel, District 30) Del William A. Bronrott (D, Montgomery, District 16)
Del Roger Manno (D, Montgomery, District 19)
Del Tom Hucker (D-noticing a pattern yet?, Montgomery, District 20)
Del Barbara Robinson (D, Baltimore City, District 40)
Del Samuel I. Rosenberg (D, Baltimore City, District 41)
Del Curt Anderson (D, Baltimore City, District 43)
Del Maggie McIntosh (D, Baltimore City, District 43)
Del Ruth M. Kirk (D, Baltimore City, District 44)
Del Cheryl Glenn (D, Baltimore City, District 45)
And of course: GOVERNOR O’MALLEY

This legislation, about to become law, will allow speed cameras to used not just in school zones but also on FREEWAYS with speed limits of “45 MPH OR GREATER” across the entire state of Maryland in “work zones” “REGARLESS OF WHETHER WORKERS ARE PRESENT,” according to the text of the bill.

Some of the amendments which were proposed to this legislation, but which were rejected by the House majority include:
– two amendments which would have made the cameras revenue neutral by returning net revenue to the people as tax credits (amendment 1, amendment 2)
– an amendment which would have required contracts to explicitly state that the contractor may not receive a per-citation payment (amendment)
– requiring that weekly calibration checks be performed, that the person who performed the calibration appear at court hearings, and find defendants not guilty if calibrations were not performed (amendment)
– require that state and federal lawmakers NOT be exempt from receiving speed camera citations (amendment)
– require legislators who voted for this bill to have their names printed on each citation (amendment) (don’t worry, we will post the names within a few days)

A section of text which would have limited the placement of cameras within 250 yards of a significant drop in the speed limit was scratched just before the bill cleared the senate — making it possible to create a situation like that in Darnestown which could entrap drivers who do not respond immediately to the change.

Lawmakers who support speed cameras are fond of saying that you have nothing to fear from speed cameras if you “just obey the law”. No doubt they are OK with making a statement like that with an inherent presumption of guilt, despite the fact that there have been many documented cases of innocent people receiving photo citations. EVERYONE should be afraid when our lawmakers attempt to diminish our legal rights. Do not be fooled, these lawmakers will be coming back for more and more power every year unless The People stop them.

Senate Bill 277 is nothing short of a declaration of war on drivers’ rights. This bill allows for calibration and maintenance logs to be submitted without corroborating witnesses. The text of the bill which reads this states that “A certificate alleging that the violation of this subtitle occurred and the requirements under subsection (b) of this section have been satisfied, sworn to, or affirmed by an agent or employee of an agency, based on inspection of recorded images produced by a speed monitoring system, shall be evidence of the facts contained in the certificate and shall be admissible in a proceeding alleging a violation under this section without the presence or testimony of the speed monitoring system operator who performed the requirements under subsection (b) of this section.” This wording is actually even WORSE than the CURRENT law as implemented in Montgomery County which at requires that a “a duly authorized agent of the local police department” sign off on the violation rather than any arbitrary “AGENT OR EMPLOYEE OF AN AGENCY“. Translation: citations need not be certified by a sworn law enforcement officer. The bill also redefines who the speed monitoring system operator is to be “A REPRESENTATIVE” rather than a physical operator. That means a local jurisdictions need not worry about presenting the physical operator should it be the case that doing so might risk revealing flaws in their procedures in court.

This bill explicitly lowers the burden of proof for the state to “preponderance of evidence” rather than “beyond reasonable doubt” — something which is NOT done in any of the other transportation articles related to speeding or most other traffic violations. The state certainly does not lower the standard of justice for serial killers, rapists or career criminals. There is no safety-based justification for doing it in this case either, the only reason for it is to allow the state it issue millions of citations per year without having to face large numbers of the defendants in court. The law does not provide any penalty to a local jurisdiction which chooses to not comply with restrictions in the law — allowing them to be broken at the whim if need be to meet revenue goals. Nor are defendants permitted to raise such issues in their defense in Montgomery County speed camera cases. Judges have already gone so far as to tell defendants in court that “the only allowable “not guilty” plea against a speed camera citation is that another person was driving and to present that driver”.

Visitors would be well advised to avoid driving through or spending any money in Maryland if they can help it. Maryland drivers should do whatever they feel is necessary to protect themselves from this attack on their rights. Our website  does not advertise “technological solutions” to speed cameras, but if our readers feel they need that kind of help to avoid accidentally “feeding the monster” they should do what they must.

There are still ways to fight this thing in the courts, in the streets, and at the ballot box. Of course, it is the civic duty of anyone who receives such a citation to challenge it if they believe that the principals underlying our justice system are important, regardless of the efforts the state has gone to in order to make this appear futile. Contact Us if you want to help fight this monstrosity in other ways. Our lawmakers want you to believe that this is a “done deal” and that we, the sheeple of Maryland, can do nothing but accept the obliteration of our legal rights. They are wrong — they have won this battle but the war has only just begun.


Protest Activities This Weekend (April 4-5)

April 3, 2009

With Maryland legislature on the verge of enacting a law putting speed cameras on every freeway, with D.C. declaring automated war on drivers with massive new ticketing blitz and with Virginia cities scrambling to reinstall deadly red light cameras, the National Capital branch of CameraFRAUD.com is taking action. The greed of the big-spending bureaucrats will only stop if they hear a resounding “NO!” from the public. So come be part of that voice.

On the Virginia side of the Potomac, we will distribute this flyer to drivers in Falls Church on Saturday, April 4, starting at 1 p.m. We want to let the public know that re-installing a camera program that caused a 79% increase in injuries is unacceptable. We reject the concept that cities can ignore the law and adopt illegal per-ticket contracts with foreign companies. Shoot an email to capitalfraud at gmail.com if you want to help.

In Maryland, we will be having a protest at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 5, at the 4661 Randolph Road scameras in Rockville, MD View map. Please contact StopBigBrotherMD@gmail.com for more details if you wish to participate.

Update: Please note change in Maryland location.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.