Saturday, November 23, 2013

MaCo Hosts Speed Camera Love Fest

The Maryland Association of Counties (MaCo) will be holding a speed camera symposium on December 4th, from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM at the Kenhill Center (Old Bowie City Hall: 2614 Kenhill Drive, Bowie, Maryland, 20715).

The agenda for this meeting will include Requirements for a Speed Camera Program, Partnerships, Vendor Contracts, Policies and Procedures, program results, Current Law, and Proposed Changes in 2014.

The Maryland Association of Counties performs lobbying on behalf of county governments, who fund the organization with your tax dollars.  MaCo was the "bunt instrument" used by local governments including Montgomery County, Prince George's County, for killing off proposed "common sense" changes to require speed camera citations to provide sufficient evidence to detect speed errors after the fact (a change which the Maryland Drivers Alliance supported).

The organization also fought to keep in place the current "loophole" which permits speed camera contractors to be paid based on the number of tickets issued.  Despite an existing provision of the law which even Governor O'Malley admitted was intended to ban paying contractors based on the number of tickets, this practice is now common across the state.  Local governments all know by now that the law simply means whatever the government wants it to at any given time, and that the courts in Maryland will indulge any "loophole" or creative interpretation of the law which is convenient for local governments.

MaCo stood in opposition to the positions of the Maryland Drivers Alliance in both house and senate legislative committee hearings.

MaCo nominally represents all twenty four counties plus Baltimore City.  However the Maryland Drivers Alliance has obtained correspondence written by MaCo during the last session opposing speed camera reform legislation, showed that the organization's correspondence on this matter was copied to Prince George's County, Montgomery County, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Baltimore City, a representative of the Maryland Municipal League, and that's all.  Representatives of Counties which do NOT have large speed camera programs were notably NOT copied in the correspondence.  One might imagine that had any elected officials or counties which do NOT currently profit from speed camera programs (perhaps because the cameras are very unpopular there) been "in the loop" on such discussions, they might have disputed MaCo's interpretation of the facts or the law.  They might also have taken issue with MaCo speaking on behalf of ALL counties in opposition to changes designed to protect the legal rights of motorists, based on consultation only with local governments which profit from speed cameras.
Sample MaCo Correspondence, 'looping in' only those counties which profit from cameras
Sample MaCo Testimony Opposing Speed Camera Reform Legislation
According to the invite, "MaCo urges counties with speed camera programs to attend this educational event."

Anyone who wishes to attend to register can find the instructions for doing so here.

Our readers can Find their county's representative to MaCo's Legislative Committee on this page.  Those who wish express their opinion to MaCo regarding their positions opposing speed camera reform legislation.  We would particularly encourage anyone to write who has objections to:
  • MaCo's opposition to legislative changes requiring accurate timestamp evidence which could prove speed measurement errors, and their support for allowing local governments to withhold accurate timestamp evidence which could potentially exonerate innocent motorists as it did last year in Baltimore City.
  • MaCo's opposition changes to ban paying contractors based on the number of tickets
  • MaCo's support of "cosmetic" legislative changes which are intended only for "public relations", and which would merely be a "smokescreen" designed to fool the public into believing that things are now "fixed" without actually changing the way speed camera programs actually operated
  • MaCo's exclusion of counties which do not profit from speed cameras from discussions about legislative activities
  • The use of taxpay dollars in general to support legislative positions which in any way limit the legal rights of drivers