Tag Archives: Liberty Restoration Project

Banning Red Light Cameras in Columbia

I’ve written a couple of  blogs on the subject of red light cameras in Columbia, questioning the City Manager’s assessment of their effectiveness. You can read them HERE and HERE. I contend, and the city’s own documents support the fact, that red light cameras do not keep us safe from accidents at intersections. Instead, these Orwellian tools serve only to extract a profit for international corporate giant, Gatso, and the City of Columbia. Along with financial profits, the cameras added over $80,000 to the city budget and bureaucracy which gives a boost to the resume of any up and coming assistant city manager.

While accidents at some of the surveilled intersections did decrease, others stayed relatively static or saw marked increases under the watchful eye of the cameras.

Read the City Manager’s report here.

See the actual accident statistics here.

And let us not forget that red light cameras represent one more step in the ever encroaching tide of government surveillance. In a few short years our local government has embraced iris scanners, license plate readers, downtown surveillance cameras, and red light cameras all in the name of public safety. None of these “tools” have made us safer. Instead they have moved us closer to the day when government officials can track us from the moment we leave the house  until the moment we return home.

With this in mind, Keep Columbia Free and Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) will begin collecting signatures for a proposed red light camera ban in Columbia. Several other municipalities around the state and around the country have banned red light cameras and it’s time Columbia did the same.

See the Keep Columbia Free Red Light Camera Ban ballot language here.

We’ll be gathering signatures all over town soon. If you want to sign the petition, check our contact us page and drop a line one way or another.

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Citizens For Justice Just Went Live

Check out the new Citizens For Justice website.  I recently met the good folks behind this site and when I heard what they were up to, I was intrigued to say the least. Their new watchdog website is impressive. Make your way to the Intelligence page and dig in. They’ve compiled a database so comprehensive the CPD will likely start using it for their own research if the CPOA doesn’t find a way to shut it down first.

Keep an eye on this site. It looks like there are good things to come.

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RED LIGHT RIP-OFF

 

The spin doctors in the Columbia City Manager’s Office have been hard at work twisting the reports regarding the city’s red light cameras. They claim that the red light cameras are to thank for fewer accidents at the intersections where they are installed. Both of our local papers have printed these claims without so much as a peep regarding the legitimacy of the study, so let’s break it down.

The Missourian reported that according to the CPD “the number of accidents declined by 10.6 percent in the intersections after red-light cameras were installed, from 157 to 142 in comparable time periods.”

The city manager’s office is touting this drop as proof that the cameras are working and the local media is apparently buying it. Take a look at this headline from the Trib: “Cameras lead to city profits, fewer crashes”. At least the Trib got the “profit” part correct.

Now, that’s all well and good until one looks at the bigger picture. What does it really mean to simply point out that the number of accidents declined under the watchful eye of Big Brother Gatso? It really means nothing unless we have more data to compare.

For instance, what was the traffic count before the cameras? Were there simply more cars traveling through the camera intersections before the cameras? Higher traffic volume would mean more potential accidents. Fewer cars after the camera installation would mean fewer crashes. Of course, this information didn’t make it to the public eye.

What about comparing the number of accidents at non-camera intersections to the camera monitored intersections during the same time period? Perhaps accident rates dropped at all intersections across the city. What if the rate of accidents actually dropped by a larger number at non-camera intersections? Would the city then claim that the Gatso cameras are causing accidents? Could Columbians then sue Gatso?

How about looking at the rate of overall traffic accidents citywide? Are Columbians simply becoming better drivers as the economy continues to falter and insurance rates go up?

Maybe I’m wrong and maybe the rest of the numbers do support the notion that cameras equal safety, but doesn’t it seem just a wee bit disingenuous for the city to not conduct a complete study or release all of the statistics to the press? The numbers printed by both of Columbia’s major newspapers are meaningless, but that doesn’t matter to the majority of readers or voters. I fear that most people will read right over the story believing that if it’s printed it must be true and go right back to dreaming of being a contestant on American Idol.

What I do know is that the city’s original estimate that claimed the city’s camera system wouldn’t break even was wrong. These camera-jockey bureaucrats added over $18,000 in profit to their coffers. Heck, the international mega-corporation Gatso pocketed over $58,000 from the wallets of the citizens of our little city and will continue to profit as long as their cameras fail to stop red light violations.

 And the Tribune printed this little gem from the lame duck city manager Bill Watkins,

“The discussions with Gatso have shown that at other intersections, it has reduced some of the red-light running,” Watkins said. “At some of the intersections that the initial intersection study indicated should have them, it is not as much of a problem.”

I’m a little confused by this statement, but it seems that Bill is relying on information from the for-profit camera company to determine the need for and the effectiveness of its product. He probably received his talking points at the same meeting. Who runs this city anyway, the voters or Gatso?

I also know that the over $18,000 profit comes after our already bulging city bureaucracy grew to the tune of nearly $82,000 to fund the tasks surrounding ticketing. I guess taking from the pockets of citizens in order to grow government is stimulus, right?

When a city bureaucracy learns to self-fund through partnerships with multinational mega-corporations, nothing good can come of it.

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