Arnold Candidates Try to Sweep Red Light Cameras Under the Rug

1 Apr

In the Leader‘s election guide, Arnold city council candidates were asked about the red light camera (RLC)  issue. As a reminder, the city has reluctantly decided to stop issuing and prosecuting RLC tickets in response to recent adverse Missouri Appeals Court rulings and the state Supreme Court’s decision to not hear these cases.

In light of this decision, pro-RLC council members and candidates are trying to claim that the issue is moot and should not be considered by voters. Two candidates, Nancy Crisler and Paul Freese, gave almost the exact same answer to the question, suggesting it was crafted collaboratively, perhaps by someone with a law degree who supports both of these candidates. Here is Crisler’s response:

Until the red-light camera company, at its expense, wins its appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, this is a non-issue. The city of Arnold is no longer using the cameras at this time.

Freese elaborated a little bit:

Until ATS, the red-light camera company, on its own dime, wins its appeals to the Missouri Supreme Court, and/or the state Legislature adopts a new state law, this is a non-issue. The City of Arnold is no longer using the cameras at this time.

First, what is this about ATS suing on its own dime? Arnold is still a party to Brunner et al vs City of Arnold, the case that struck down Arnold’s ordinance. On February 14, one of ATS big-m0ney, high-powered attorneys filed a motion with the Supreme Court to take up the case, after the Eastern District Appeals Court denied transfer. The motion is listed as being filed on behalf of the city of Arnold and ATS on Casenet. If it is true, as Freese and Crisler say, that it is up to ATS to win a lawsuit, then the council should order the city to withdraw from the the Supreme Court appeal.

Candidates Brian McArthur and Gary Plunk also gave answers that basically said “there’s nothing to be done on this issue at this time.”

This is far from correct, however. The city’s contract with camera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) expires at the end of May. Previously, the city had to give 60 days notice if it wanted to allow the contract to expire. However, after the city stopped issuing tickets, and ATS graciously agreed not to sue in response, ATS also allowed the city to wait until June 1 to decide whether to renew for two years. I’m sure this allowance had nothing to do with waiting until after the election. City administrator Bryan Richison said on February 6 that he would give notice of non-renewal and try to negotiate a shorter deal with ATS. But that was before ATS waived the 60-day notice requirement. So while this week would have been the deadline to provide notification of non-renewal, now the council can wait two months. So unless the issue is brought up at Thursday’s council meeting (if it even takes place), the next council will decide whether or not to sign another contract with ATS.

That being the case, Freese, Crisler, Plunk, and McArthur should come out and tell us before the election if they will vote to renew the contract or not. If they won’t say, then we have to assume that they will renew it. I asked McArthur about this on Twitter; I await his response.

Given the legal blows that Missouri courts have delivered to RLC ordinances in recent months, the only proper move is to not renew the ATS contract. It is unlikely that the Legislature will pass a bill to save ATS – while the House passed a bill that would allow RLCs in certain instances, the Senate seems ready to kill that bill. So instead of trying to sweep the issue under the rug, council candidates need to tell us where they stand. If they don’t, we can draw our own conclusions.

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10 Responses to “Arnold Candidates Try to Sweep Red Light Cameras Under the Rug”

  1. Doris Borgelt April 1, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    I assure you, I did not try to sweep anything under the rug! I very clearly stated Arnold should allow the contract to expire, period. In my opinion, they can always negotiate a new contract if they feel the need, I would, however, never vote in favor of that.

    Like

    • JC Penknife April 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      I was not in doubt of your position!

      Like

  2. Anonymous April 1, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    You say in one spot “renew at the end of May” then later state that the non-renewal notice is due this week. Which is it?

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    • JC Penknife April 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      The non-renewal was due this week, before the 60-day requirement was waived.

      Like

  3. Anonymous April 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    And Doris, did you not try to sweep your ethics violation and fine under the rug? If not, then maybe there should be an article on here about it, in all fairness that is.

    Like

    • Doris Borgelt April 2, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

      No, as a matter of fact, I admitted my mistake, didn’t try to sweep anything under a rug, didn’t try to blame anyone else, corrected the error, have been studying the ethics laws, checking with the Missouri Ethics Commission and Jefferson County Election Office on a regular basis to make sure everything is up to snuff. So don’t try to insinuate otherwise.

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  4. Mike Carter April 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    How can I get a mailer out tomorrow — I can do it — to the voters in the wards of each of these candidates? Do they have formidable opposition in any way shape or form? Mike Carter

    Like

    • Anonymous April 2, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Each of the four candidates mentioned has a worthy opponent, and these four wards cover the whole city.

      Like

  5. Doris Borgelt April 4, 2014 at 4:22 am #

    Amato, Cooley, Crisler, Freese, and Counts made their stance very clear last night. Michelle Hohmeier made a motion to inform ATS the City of Arnold does not wish to renew the contract for the red light cameras, there was a 4-4 tie and Mayor Counts made the deciding vote to keep the contract alive instead of allowing it to expire. So all of the talk about the red light camera contract being a non-issue, was just that, talk. The right thing to do would be to let the contract expire, as the courts have deemed the ordinance unenforceable and contrary to state law. If, in the future the courts decide differently, they (ATS)could always come back and negotiate a brand new contract!

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  1. Update on Happenings in Arnold | Jefferson County Penknife - May 10, 2014

    […] court ruling while daring someone to sue them? The city council, which tried to sweep the RLC issue under the rug before the election, will have to take a […]

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