Some political double-talk never seems to go away, as evident about recent complaints concerning a statewide ban on automated red-light and speed cameras.
Bipartisan legislation cleared the Ohio House by a 61-32 vote in June that will halt the use of such cameras. It will be taken up by the Senate in September.
What we’re hearing across the state for municipal officials is the same thing we heard in Lima several years ago. These officials want residents to think they are opposing the statewide ban because of safety reasons, arguing the cameras help reduce crashes and free up police to focus on more serious crimes. But the more they talk, the more the truth slips out.
The reason municipal government officials want speed cameras is so they can stuff their city, village or township coffers with cash.
Kent Scarrett, a lobbyist for the Ohio Municipal League, admitted as much in an interview with the Hamilton Journal. He said the camera ban would amount to yet another funding cut for some communities.
“The revenue component cannot be denied,” Scarrett said. “Our folks always considered this more of a safety issue… But you know, our demands are not going away for the need to generate revenue.”
Traffic cameras netted around $16.5 million for eight Ohio cities and villages that had them in 2012, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the state legislature’s research arm. That doesn’t count camera revenues in six other communities for which the LSC couldn’t obtain 2012 full-year data.
We encourage the Senate to join the House in shutting down automated red-light and speed cameras. The rights of citizens should not be trampled during the quest to raise revenue. The use of such cameras violate due process. Owners of cars are fined without any proof they were actually driving the vehicle. To prove their innocence, they are forced to engage in a needless and expensive court battle.
As for safety issues, we can only point out what happened in Lima. There had been no public outcry about speeding problems in the years prior to the city wanting to add speed cameras. People did complain, however, when the city tried to install cameras in the name of “safety issues.” The outrage finally caused city leaders to back off their plans. And guess what? There has been no publc outcry about speeding problems since then.
Little good occurs when government officials lie about their real motives.