Friday, June 02, 2006

Rights? You Ain’t Got No Stinking Rights!


A couple days ago, the Houston City Council approved moving forward with the installation of “red-light” cameras at 10 initial intersections. The Council noted that if the program is successful (meaning, if it makes money), they intend to increase the program to 50 intersections within a few years. The vote was close, 8-6, but at least some of those who voted ‘no’ did not do so out of respect for the voters, but because they wanted to use a different vendor.

In the same meeting, City Council also voted to spend tax money for a center alleged to help illegal aliens find work in Houston, thus further confirming the socialist, ignore-the-Constitution character of Houston’s regime. Need I mention that the Council is heavily Democrat in partisanship, as is Mayor Bill White?

Last May, Blog Houston noted the lies in the city’s claims about safety, as well as the fact that the city is aware that red-light cameras are likely to result in more accidents, not fewer, because of timing of the lights.

Let me say plainly here, that I am not at all opposed to catching people for running red lights. I have had some close calls from people who ran red lights, and in 1994 I was broad-sided by a drunk driver who ran a red light (he was also speeding, with his lights off in the middle of the night, but never mind). The problem is, I regard traffic law as a criminal matter, because it is supposed to be driven by concerns of conduct and safety, not revenue. After all, either you are driving in a manner which is safe and sober, or you are not. If you are over the line, whether you are driving drunk, or recklessly, or in an unsafe car, or at an unsafe speed, or in any way putting the safety of others in peril, you have broken a law in terms of criminal conduct, a misdemeanor or felony depending on its severity. The red-light cameras, however, are being treated as civil fines, in the same way as parking violations, because this avoids facing the Constitutional responsibilities the city would otherwise have to address. Little details like being able to subpoena witnesses, challenge evidence, face your accusers, and that small matter of the presumption of innocence – the red-light cameras allow none of that. You are presumed guilty and payment is expected immediately. This is, when examined, a chilling concept, that basic constitutional rights can be denied in the pursuit of revenue. And I am appalled that any elected official would countenance such a brazen usurpation of Justice.


Conservachef said...

I don't remember where I learned this; it has been several years. However, I read that these traffic cameras caused more accidents, because people knew they were being filmed, and would slam on the brakes to avoid going through the yellow-lit intersection, (In fear of the light turning red and them getting ticketed.) and wind up getting rear-ended.

Anonymous said...

These cameras seem to be causing issues all over the world. We have had them in Cleveland, Ohio for several months now.

I've done a lot of research and these cameras violate the Ohio Revised Code in many ways. However, I live outside of the City of Cleveland and have no power to vote within the city limits. It's not the fact that the law was broken, but that cities in Ohio are violating the law.

I have decided to cast my vote with the one thing I do have: my dollar. I refuse to spend any money within the Cleveland City Limits until they remove the cameras.

Will it hurt the local economy? Sure, but hey, this is Captalism and I have the right to use, or not use my dollar where-ever I choose.

PS Just yesterday some people in Athens Greece doused two red light cameras in gasoline and set them on fire... I think this is a pretty tame response.

Anonymous said...

We could easily crush the entire program if we could get enough volunteers to stand near each intersection with a big warning sign. If there was no revenue for 60-90 days, the contractor would be screaming, and the city would have to pull the plug. Don't see how they could complain--they have made it clear that the goal is not revenue, its traffic safety. If no one ran the red lights, crashes from this cause would go to zero along with the revenue. Everyone gains except the safety nazis and the corrupt politicians and the corrupt private firms that though up this scheme in the first place.