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.