THIS COLUMN is my gift to politicians in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area who are looking for an issue that crosses over party lines and the left/right divide.
Go after the red-light Camera-crats.
That's right. Go after the politicians who, "in the name of safety," have expanded the red-light camera line from Grant and the Boulevard across Philadelphia and into the suburbs. Go after them, and I will back you. In fact, I had on my show a man running along with others in Gloucester Township, N.J., who pledged to try to stop and roll back the proliferation of red-light cameras in his area. I am backing him and trying to recruit others to stop this madness.
I also support the petition drive of New Jersey Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, who hired an engineering firm to check the duration of yellow lights at various red-light camera locations in New Jersey. O'Scanlon discovered that the yellow lights' duration, which is supposed to be three or four seconds long based on the average traffic speed of the intersecting roads, was often a quarter of a second too short. That is significant, because a significant number of the violations occur in the first quarter of a second of a light turning red.
It has gone from a safety issue to a blatant government cash grab.
On my radio show, O'Scanlon said of the towns that put in the red-light cameras: "Their appetite for your money is so voracious that they rolled the dice. They count on us not paying attention."
(The petition can be found at tinyurl.com/lm59fqm)
I believe that O'Scanlon is right. Probably the most direct evidence that the motivating forces for these lights only marginally have to do with safety was from Mayor David Mayer, of Gloucester Township, who, according to the Gloucester Township Patch, said about the red-light cameras along Blackwood-Clementon Road, "We had to try to slow traffic down. And we had to do that for a number of reasons. One is safety. The other is economic development. Traffic flowed just too quickly through there. As you can see, that corridor is not thriving."
This is genius. I don't even think George Orwell had a chapter that can match this governmental mind-set.
So given the "prominence" of Gloucester Township in promoting red-light cameras, I've decided to back engineer Paul DiBartolo, who is running for town council and is a big opponent of red-light cameras. I am looking for other candidates to back in the Philadelphia suburbs, and I'd really like to find candidates to run for office in Philadelphia against this issue.
Philadelphia, in fact, has some of the most abusive cameras. In the last fiscal year, the camera just north of City Hall issued 10,948 tickets, for more than $1 million in revenue. The camera just south of City Hall issued over 10,804 tickets, for another take of more than $1 million. Are these really big-crash sites, or are they places where people are unfairly being zapped with $100 tickets?
The answer may lie in Abington Police Chief William Kelly's testimony last week at a hearing, during which Abington commissioners approved cameras for three intersections. According to Abington Patch, the chief said, "You're not allowed to enter the intersection after the light turns red. . . . If a portion of your car is just past the [stop] line, you are in the intersection."
In other words, even if you don't go through a red light, you will get a ticket. Couple this with the fact that yellow lights in many places may turn red earlier than they should, and you have an unfair situation being put into play.
Abington Commissioner Steve Kline, who is against the cameras, said on my radio show that he has been a commissioner for close to six years, and there has been no hue and cry among residents about people running red lights. That doesn't stop the Camera-crats who, under the guise of public safety, see a pot of gold for their local fiefdom and, in some cases, some nice campaign contributions from the camera companies. Follow the money, my friends.
Probably my favorite story illustrating the excesses of these cameras occurred in Glassboro, N.J. They have admitted that a red-light camera at the intersection of William Dalton Drive and Delsea Drive that issued 12,000 tickets worth $1 million had only three seconds of a yellow warning light, rather than the required four as mandated by state regulations. The great part is that Mike Koestler, the former mayor of Harrison Township, caught the error after receiving a ticket.
I want to run people for office at every level in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who will stop the proliferation of these cameras. Second, I want to get enough people elected who will fight to dismantle the cameras that are in our area.
Let me know if you are running for any office. Let your legislators and town councils know that you oppose the cameras. Don't follow the cries of "cameras equal public safety."
Follow the money.