DC Admits Purpose of Speed Cameras: Punish Drivers

February 23, 2009

gabeklein_bioThe are two things about the politicians that run the city of Washington, D.C. that you can count on. First, as a one-party town, operatives aren’t used to hiding what they really think. Sometimes that means they can be quite honest about their intentions. Former Mayor Tony Williams, for example, admitted speed cameras were all about revenue. Now District Deparment of Transportation Director Gabe Klein has revealed a new motivation: speed cameras are installed to force drivers to give up their cars. He said as much in this interview with WTOP radio:

“I personally am a fan of keeping cars off the roads and limiting people’s options,” Klein said. “Whether it is raising gas taxes, or whether you look at things like tolls or speed cameras to get people to either ride together or take transit, I think those are positive things overall.”

So when you live in the city and get constantly hit by speed camera tickets on top of the city bureaucracy and hassle of car ownership here, you might be inclined to give up and take public transportation. Even so, there are occasions when it would be nice to make a quick car rental to get around town on short notice.  You know, a company like ZipCar offers that service.

What was Gabe Klein before taking over the top job at DDOT? He was the regional vice president for ZipCar responsible for bringing the company’s service to the District. The second thing you can count on about D.C. politicians? Self-dealing.

Advertisements

VDOT Approves Deadly Red Light Cameras in Arlington

February 20, 2009

vdotlogoInstead of holding a secret, midnight meeting on whether to install red light cameras, Arlington appears to have dispensed entirely with the pretense of public comment. A search of meeting agendas and minutes for Arlington County returned no mention of photo enforcement — but it’s coming back anyway. No wonder the county board members don’t want the public to know about their scheme — the last time cameras were installed in Arlington the following happened:

  1. Rear end accidents increased +139%
  2. Angle accidents increased +53%
  3. Injury accidents increased +89%
  4. The total number of accidents increased

(Numbers from VDOT’s 2007 study)

Obviously, neither Arlington County nor the Virginia Department of Transportation care one bit about your safety. It’s all about the money. After WTOP mentioned that Arlington had secured VDOT’s approval, we checked VDOT’s website which confirmed that the approval has been made. Here are the locations of what are likely to be the very first reactivated scameras in Virginia:

  • North Lynn Street and eastbound Lee Highway
  • Lee Highway and Kirkwood
  • Lee Highway and Washington Boulevard
  • Lee Highway and Fort Meyer Drive
  • N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive

View the VDOT guidelines for installing scameras. (PDF)


D.C. Begins Towing Over Photo Tickets

February 18, 2009

dcplateThe D.C. Department of Public Works yesterday announced a plan to grab more cash from Maryland and Virginia residents. In the good old days, Washington had no enforcement mechanism for red light camera and speed camera tickets issued to outsiders  (i.e. the commuter tax). If a Virginia or Maryland resident tore up a scamera citation, all Mayor Fenty and Marion Barry could do was stomp their feet and ask ATS to send you another nasty letter. As a result, over twelve thousand people were smart enough not to pay their ticket. I’ll bet most are out-of-state. The new booting plan means D.C. bureaucrats will be able to spend not just the revenue from fine payments, but it will grab the extra “boot removal fee” as well.

This changes the game significantly. If you get a ticket, do NOT park on the street because D.C. uses an SUV equipped with a license plate reader (known as ANPR or ALPR) that automatically scans every plate it passes to locate a potential booting target. You will eventually be found, because the only efficient thing about the District is the meter maid function (run by ACS). Note that the license plate scanner also records your location for future use by the police, even if you don’t have any tickets or you are not a terrorist. Just in case.

It’s bad enough that the vast majority of D.C.’s scamera tickets go to Virginians and Marylanders. It’s simply intolerable that most will now actually have to pay them. When the District talks about “Taxation Without Representation” it is, of course, referring to the photo enforcement program.

Full text of the DPW press release after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »


First Maryland Protest Draws Public Support

February 15, 2009
Protest banner (click to enlarge)

Protest banner (click to enlarge)

DC.CameraFRAUD.com held its first protest in Chevy Chase, Maryland today. The event drew the interest of the NBC 4 television news which sent over a crew to film the event and interview participants. Those interviews were constantly interrupted by horns honking in agreement with signs that read “No Speed Cameras,” “Greed Cameras” and “Save Liberty, Stop the Scam.”

WRC interviews participants

WRC interviews participants

The goal was to raise awareness in the area and to show that we’re serious about exposing the lies. Contact us if you want to join in our next protest. Even if you can’t make it, the most important thing you can do is spread the word about the site.

Lawmakers really need to take note of the intense public sentiment — as demonstrated by the loud and constant honks — and realize that the cameras must come down.

Bruno delivers a message to the speed camera pole

Bruno about to deliver a message to the speed camera pole


Join DC CameraFraud’s First Protest on Sunday, 2/15

February 10, 2009

The DC branch of CameraFraud.com is ready to try its first-ever protest this Sunday in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Come and join us if you can — or encourage your friends to do so if you can’t make it.

Date: Sunday, 2/15/2009

Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm (max)

Place: Chevy Chase Village in Montgomery County, MD at the Connecticut Avenue speed cameras

Directions:

Overview of location (click to enlarge)

Overview of location (click to enlarge)

Take the beltway to Exit 33, Connecticut Avenue/hwy 185 South towards Chevy Chase and drive 2.1 miles south.  The cameras are between Oxford Street and Melrose St, at the Chevy Chase Country club.

If you reach the traffic circle, you have gone too far, turn around and go back up Connecticut. Find street parking on Melrose/Newlands/Oxford or other streets to the left (east), but look for no-parking signs signs.

Close-up of location (click to enlarge)

Close-up of location (click to enlarge)

Newlands Street forms a small “island” along Connecticut avenue which is between the two cameras.  This will be our meetup point and main staging area.  Please try to arrive no later than 1:00.

What we will be doing:
We will have a 12′ anti-speed camera banner, and some posterboard signs ready to go.  We will be holding up the banner and signs.  We’ll have some fliers and take pictures and video. Free bumper stickers for the first 10 participants!

Contact StopBigBrotherMD@gmail.com if you have any questions or need more information.


Speed Cameras Attract Lobbyists in Annapolis

February 10, 2009

The statewide speed camera bills currently being discussed, and soon to be voted on, by the Maryland General Assembly have been the subject of intensive lobbying efforts.

According to Maryland state lobbying disclosures, the company which runs Montgomery County’s speed camera program, Texas based ACS State and Local Solutions, currently retains a team of at least 8 lobbyists at one of the state’s most successful lobbying firms, Alexander & Cleaver. The State Ethics Commission releases an annual report on companies spending over 50,000 on lobbying activities, and ACS has been on that list each year from 2006-2008.

In 2007, prior to the nearly successful statewide speed camera bill, they spent $144,346.74 on lobbying activities. ACS spent an additional $81,460.13 in 2008 through October 31, 2008 on this effort. ACS’s lobbying activities during the 2008 general Assembly included $6286.13 on two banquets at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on January 29 and February 6, 2008 for members of the House Environmental Matters Senate Judicial Proceedings, House Appropriations, and Senate Budget and Taxation Committees.

It will not be known how much they are spending during the 2009 legislative session until after the General Assembly ends in April.

Texas Based ACS (under the names Affiliated Computer Services and ACS Government Committee) made campaign contributions in 2007-2008 to the following Maryland officials:
• Governor O’Malley (who is pushing the statewide speed camera bills)
• Senate President Mike Miller (who sponsored the 2008 and 2009 legislation)
• Comptroller Peter Franchot (who oversees state contracts).
• John L. Bohanan Jr, ( District 29B, St Mary’s County Delegate and Deputy Majority Whip )

The company which provides camera hardware to ACS, Traffipax (which is the US subsidiary of Robot Visual Systems based in Monheim, Germany), paid $50,000.00 on lobbying activities in 2007. Insurance companies are also weighing in heavily, with State Farm Insurance Companies, Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, Nationwide Insurance Company, and the Maryland Insurance Council all making the list of big lobbying spenders in 2007 and 2008.

Meanwhile, local governments hoping to cash in on the revenue have used public funds to hire

Speed camera van

Speed camera van

lobbyists. Prince George’s County hired the firm “Darryl A. Kelley & Associates, LLC”, listed “speed monitoring systems” as one of 4 subjects, and reported spending $47,500.00 in taxpayer dollars on the effort in 2008. The City of Bowie made a similar disclosure, listing speed cameras as one of 6 topics which they paid the firm “O’Malley, Miles, Nylen, & Gilmore, P.A.” a total $37,000 in taxpayer dollars to lobby for in 2008.

The Montgomery County government did not specifically disclose any lobbying spending for more speed cameras. However they do use taxpayer funded resources as part of a PR campaign for the Safe Speed program. The County Council and County Executive (all of whom belong to the same political party) control the content broadcast over Cable County Montgomery, which receives approximately $2million in taxpayer dollars annually, and which frequently broadcasts PR pieces for the Safe Speed program without inviting critics to present opposing viewpoints. Montgomery County also uses taxpayer funded police resources to respond to letters and emails sent to the County Executive. StopBigBrotherMD.org has confirmed that using police resources to respond to letters on this POLITICAL subject is a standard practice for the county executive, and we wonder whether he ever reads any of the many letters which are critical of the county’s position.


Leesburg Drools Over Speed Cameras, Front Royal Over Red

February 7, 2009

The lure of a quick fix to massive budget deficits is difficult to resist. Just outsource your law enforcement to Australia and accidents will magically go down. Money will pour into the coffers. But wait, there’s more. ACT NOW! and you’ll be popular and re-elected by landslide margins. The only way you can lose is by not calling our 1-800 number. Operators are standing by.

Leesburg, Virginia called that number. It wants speed cameras. Leesburg Today:

Members of Leesburg Town Council and town staff headed south yesterday to lobby legislators and bring the town’s priorities to the forefront of the minds of their General Assembly representatives. The council had already met with some of the legislators to lay out its priorities for 2009, including… legislative authority to install speed cameras in the town

Front Royal, Virginia called that number. It wants red light cameras. So the Warren County Board of Supervisors conned the sheriff into bringing up their revenue fix in an open meeting as if it were a “public safety matter” — never mind that cameras increase accidents. You can see how thrilled Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron was to be the board’s stooge. Northern Virginia Daily:

“I’m not saying that the sheriff’s office is a proponent of it, or an opponent of it. I think it’s something that the county needs to look at when it comes to intersection safety,” McEathron said.

Fairfax County's $130 million Monument to Self-Love

Fairfax County government's $130 million Monument to Self-Love

It’s a sign of the bleak budgetary times that the more rural areas are starting to buy into the pitch just as much as the urban areas of Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach which have long abandoned any notion of fiscal discipline — just take one look at the Fairfax County Government Center, pictured above. That’s why it’s important not to sit back and do nothing. Keeping cameras out of Virginia requires action.

So take action. Now. Contact us and let us know you’d like to help.