No, Arnold, You Really Don’t Have to Turn on the Red Light (Cameras)

18 Feb

The city of Arnold just can’t quit red light cameras (RLCs). Despite losing its case in the Eastern District of Missouri appeals court, and having transfer to the state Supreme Court denied, Arnold just can’t bring itself to turn them off. This despite the fact that American Traffic Solutions (ATS) customers throughout the state, including Kansas City, are doing just that (St. Louis, though, continues to defy the courts). Arnold just keeps pointing to its contract with scamera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and saying the RLCs have to stay on. I wonder if that contract shouldn’t be framed and hung up in the council chambers, since it seems to be the city’s supreme document. This despite the fact that it contains a clause allowing for termination if the camera use is deemed impermissible.

After beginning to informally dismiss the tickets of everyone who bothered to come to court and plead not guilty (only after those pleading guilty were sent out to the payment window), the city council voted February 6 to dismiss the tickets officially for people who come to court to fight them. The city also won’t go after those who ignore the tickets (not that they have been doing that). But if you send in payment for your ticket, the city will gladly cash your check. This decision, proposed by Nancy Crisler and acceded to by Bob Sweeney, was made without much discussion. A suggestion/clarification, brought up I think by city administrator Bryan Richison, to suspend the issuance of tickets, was rejected by Sweeney in favor of the suspension of prosecution.

Not only does this ignore the appeals court decision and create a double standard, it means the city will keep wasting the services of a police officer, who has to continue to review video of RLC infractions and issue tickets. Considering that most of these tickets will be dismissed or ignored, couldn’t we find a better use for this officer’s time, like, say, patrolling shopping centers?

I also don’t see why this would appease ATS, if they were really interested in suing, which we are led to believe is the case. This is going to cut into their revenue. Plus, the first item on the ATS contract, under the city’s scope of work in Exhibit B, is to “diligently prosecute each citation.” Isn’t the city violating this now?

After Arnold suspended RLC prosecution, a mini-campaign was launched to promote Crisler’s role in it. An unnamed poster on Arnold Topix lauded her, as did councilwoman Mary Elizabeth Coleman on Facebook. This looks suspiciously like an effort to bolster her thin resume before the April election.

Unfortunately for her, though, local newspapers are not cooperating. First, the Post-Dispatch editorial board ripped Arnold’s move:

In a decision remarkable for how little sense it makes, the city fathers of Arnold have made paying red-light camera tickets optional.

Even more amazingly, the Leader agreed in an unfortunately unsigned editorial:

It didn’t seem possible that the city of Arnold could do itself or its reputation any more harm than it already has with red-light cameras. But the City Council last week found a way.
The Leader stops short, though, of placing any individual blame. They won’t go too far off the reservation.
The hopes of Bob Sweeney and ATS now hinge on an unlikely move by the Supreme Court to take Arnold’s case, or in a lifeline from the state legislature, like HB 1557. That is also rather unlikely.
Arnold’s contract with ATS expires in June, and renews for two years automatically without 60 days’ notice. Mayor Ron Counts stated he wants the issue on the council agenda before the deadline. Richison says he wants to give notice, and then negotiate a shorter contract with ATS until the legal issues are sorted out. It seems to me that there is no proper move at this time except to cancel the contract. Even if you believe that the contract requires the city to continue to issue citations, why would you renew said contract amid all that is going on? It is hard to argue that is a good idea.

 

 

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2 Responses to “No, Arnold, You Really Don’t Have to Turn on the Red Light (Cameras)”

  1. wrongonred February 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Looks like Mary Coleman deleted all of the back and forth her and I had where she tried to tell me the ATS contract had some “magic words” in it. I asked her what they were, and she declined to tell me, instead telling me how confrontational I was for pointing out her failures of logic and law. Pretty embarrassing that as an official, she cannot even defend her own actions, but seems par for the course from what I have seen. She just filibusters.

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  1. Arnold Regime Scratches Fulbright’s Back | Jefferson County Penknife - April 21, 2014

    […] moves is obvious. Put council members’ names on bills? Blatant. Credit Nancy Crisler for the ridiculous red light camera “compromise?” Transparent. Send out a city newsletter a week before the election? Come […]

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