Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Review

Everyone else does it so I guess we should too.

Our top stories of 2013
1) Despite much bluster about "reforming" the state's speed camera law, the General Assembly ends without passing any reform bill and without allowing a speed camera repeal bill to come to a vote.

2) Baltimore City's speed camera program shut down after revelations of hundreds of erroneous tickets.  The issues occurred on the tail of numerous prior revelations of errors which had been documented in 2012.  The program remained shut down for the remainder of the year until December when the city finally gave up on its contract with Brekford Corp under an agreement under which both sides were required to keep the reasons for the split secret.

3) A Maryland Court ruled that agencies which run speed cameras can profit by committing forgery, deciding that the public has no standing to file a class action lawsuit against a speed camera program even if the basis of the suit involves a violation of criminal law.

4) The state's Open Meetings Compliance Board found that Baltimore's speed camera task force had violated the "open meetings act" by holding a secret meeting at a Brekford facility which excluded the public and the press.

5) Speed camera contractor Brekford Corp was forced to refund citations issued in Hagerstown and Greenbelt after it was revealed that cameras had not been re-calibrated every 12 months as required by law.

6) DC issued three speed camera tickets to a Baltimore City resident whose car had never even been in the city.

7) The Town of Fairmount Heights was forced to shut down its speed camera program after it was revealed it never obtained permits to run the required speed cameras.

8) A Montgomery County speed camera falsely accused a non-speeding motorist, by issuing a citation which contained pictures of completely different cars in the two images.  Montgomery County had bragged in emailed testimony to a state lawmaker that their program has "an accuracy rate in the 90% range".

9) The State Legislature jacked up gas taxes and substantially increased tolls on roads and bridges across the state.

10) A Prince George's County parking enforcement officers was indicted for falsifying parking tickets, issuing thousands of dollars of tickets to innocent motorists.

11) Salisbury stalled access to speed camera calibration records requested under the Maryland Public Information Act by the Maryland Drivers Alliance for several months.  When the documents were finally released months later after a request by a media organization, the documents revealed gaps in calibrations similar to those which occurred in Hagerstown and Greenbelt.  The city was also unable to produce "daily setup logs" for most days for which they had been requested and some of the few which were produced contained defects.  The City has yet to announce any large scale refunds.

12) A lawsuit was filed to obtain documents pertaining to speed camera errors from the Town of Brentwood, after we had been unsuccessful in obtaining responsive documents from the town under a Public Information Act request for a period of almost three years.  The town has provided some documents since the case was filed, but the matter is still pending.

13) The Town of Morningside responded to a Public Information Act request for calibration records by stating that it maintains no calibration records.  A lawsuit has been filed to obtain the calibration records.  Some motorists had complained of receiving inaccurate citations from the town.  It was also revealed that Prince George's County had in fact rejected Morningside's request for permission to deploy speed cameras, but that the town had deployed them anyways.

14) A secret speed camera meeting was hosted by the Maryland Association of Counties, the Montgomery County and Prince George's County Government, and the Maryland Municipal League which banned the public and the press from observing.  The Maryland Drivers Alliance had been invited to attend the event by AAA (who also co-sponsored the event) but our representative was barred from entry at the door.  The head of Montgomery County's speed camera program specifically stated to our representative at the time that we would not be allowed entry because our organization opposes speed cameras.

15) A Montgomery County Circuit court ruled that not being the driver of a vehicle can be an affirmative defense for a speed camera citation, according to the wording of state law.  Another court ruled that if the county did not publish the locations of speed cameras in advance this can also be a valid defense.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Legislature May Take Another Stab at Camera Reform

Two bills pertaining to speed cameras have been pre-filed for the 2014 general assembly which begins in January.

Delegate John Cardin has pre-filed a bill labeled House Bill 57.  Cardin introduced such a bill to the House last year, which had the following provisions:

  • Require that all speed camera citations provide sufficient information to verify the vehicle speed based on time-distance calculations.
  • Impose a fine for the issuance of erroneous citations, payable into the transportation trust fund.
  • Ban the practice of paying contractors based on the number of citations issued
  • Allow an "organization that represents the interest of motorists" to file suit to enforce the provisions of the bill.  (this is arguably the most important aspect of the bill, since right now NONE of the requirements of the law are truly enforcible on local governments)

Cardin's bill may not fix every problem with Maryland's speed camera law.  However The Maryland Drivers Alliance had supported a version this bill in the house last year, and also supported a bill sponsored by Senator James Brochin in the senate which contained some similar provisions, because we believed they represented the best ideas to protect the rights of drivers which stood any chance in the current legislature.

Delegate Conaway pre-filed another bill labeled as HB 71, which if a citation were found to have been issued in error, would order the court to impose a $125 penalty on "the person responsible for maintaining the speed monitoring system" payable to the recipient of the ticket.  Conaway sponsored a similar bill last year.

Last year saw a flurry of legislation similar to these prompted by revelations that Baltimore City's speed camera program had issued erroneous citations based on incorrect speed readings.  Complaints were also raised that the now common practice of paying contractors a fee based on the number of tickets issued violated the intent of state law, a position affirmed by a statement by the governor.  Cardin's bill was not permitted to come to a vote in the House last year.

Last year's session also saw a speed camera repeal bill, sponsored by Senator Pipkin in the senate and Delegate Smigel in the house.  The repeal legislation was not permitted by committees in the house and senate to come to a vote.

Last session the House Environmental Matters committee rejected all ideas for speed camera reform legislation which the Maryland Drivers Alliance had supported when a coalition of organizations which profit from speed cameras opposed changes to the law.  Instead the committee leadership decreed that the only speed camera bill which would be passed was a "phony" reform bill sponsored by committee vice chairman James Malone.  Malone's bill was essentially written based on input from local governments which profit from speed cameras (such as Montgomery County), who spent taxpayer money lobbying against meaningful reform.  In our opinion  Malone's bill was written to answer the question "how do speed camera programs do a better job of public relations" without really changing the way they work.  After weeks of discussion and hearing on other legislation, Malone's bill was dumped in a steaming pile on the house floor at the very end of the 2013 legislative session, when it was too late for anyone to closely scrutinize its provisions, making it essentially a "take it or leave it" proposition.  Malone's bill did not clear the senate before the end of the session.

Whether passage of a meaningful speed camera reform legislation has a chance in the current legislature this year is questionable.  Speed Camera contractors, local governments which profit from cameras, and taxpayer funded lobbying groups such as the Maryland Association of Counties, have been lobbying hard to ensure that any bill which passes does not contain any real "teeth" and has built in loopholes to allow "business as usual" to continue.  Based on past experience the leadership in the House f Delegates appears to believe they can pass off a bill containing only 'cosmetic' changes as meaningful reform and thereby deceive the public into believing that the many serious problems with Maryland's local speed camera programs are fixed.

Last year, the legislature proved that they are not committed to making real changes to the way programs are run or the process by which citations are adjudicated which might really make Maryland's fatally flawed program less bad.  By rejecting meaningful reform legislation, the leadership of the General Assembly proved they cannot be trusted and that they are not committed to making a the system which is as fair as possible.  In doing so they have proven why the state's speed camera law should simply be repealed.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Baltimore City Agreement With Brekford Contains Secrecy Clause

It was recently reported that Baltimore City had reached an agreement with speed camera contractor Brekford Corporation $600,000 in taxpayer money to end their contract for Baltimore's currently shut down speed camera program.  Now, WBFF reports that the deal includes a confidentiality clause which forbids either party from discussing the reasons for canceling the contract and to keep all issues and analyses confidential.

WBFF published excerpts from the agreement:
"Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states"The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever." 
"Likewise, all communications and/or documents referring or relating to, or reflecting, each Party's internal considerations, discussions, analyses, and/or evaluations of issues raised during the settlement discussions constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."
This clause would appear to be intended to prevent the public, the press, or organizations like the Maryland Drivers Alliance from gaining access to any documents pertaining to whatever problems led the city to cancel their contract.

This is not the first time Baltimore has demonstrated a lack of transparency when it comes to speed cameras.  Earlier this year Baltimore City's speed camera task force was found to have violated the Open Meetings Act by holding a secret meeting at a Brekford facility where the press was excluded.  Representatives of the Maryland Drivers Alliance made a complaint to the state open meetings board in May, and the board issued a finding that the city had in fact violated the Act.  
"Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever." The document continues, "Likewise, all communications and/or documents referring or relating to, or reflecting, each Party's internal considerations, discussions, analyses, and/or evaluations of issues raised during the settlement discussions constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV
Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever." The document continues, "Likewise, all communications and/or documents referring or relating to, or reflecting, each Party's internal considerations, discussions, analyses, and/or evaluations of issues raised during the settlement discussions constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV
Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever." The document continues, "Likewise, all communications and/or documents referring or relating to, or reflecting, each Party's internal considerations, discussions, analyses, and/or evaluations of issues raised during the settlement discussions constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUd
"Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever." The document continues, "Likewise, all communications and/or documents referring or relating to, or reflecting, each Party's internal considerations, discussions, analyses, and/or evaluations of issues raised during the settlement discussions constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV
 "Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV
"Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever." The document continues, "Likewise, all communications and/or documents referring or relating to, or reflecting, each Party's internal considerations, discussions, analyses, and/or evaluations of issues raised during the settlement discussions constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV
"Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV
"Neither Party will publicly disparage the other Party or the System," the document states. "The Parties agree that all communications between the Parties relating and referring to, and resulting in, the settlement of this matter, and all documents exchanged during, and pursuant to, the settlement discussions between the Parties, constitute confidential information and shall not be disclosed to any third party whatsoever."

Read More at: http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/baltimore-city-deal-keeps-evaluation-speed-camera-issues-confidential-24166.shtml#.UrUJ0bQnUdV

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Montgomery County Repeats Red Light Camera "Warning Flashes" Lie

The Head of Montgomery County's automated traffic enforcement division, Captain Tom Didone, has stated to WTOP that the unexplained "flashes" from the county's red light camera are because the devices are issuing "warning flashes"

"Just because it flashes doesn't mean you're getting a photo." stated Didone to WTOP.

This is a repeat of a claim made by Montgomery County to the press last year.  many people have complained about the frequent flashes, arguing they distract driver and that they make people believe they are getting tickets when they are not.
Didone says the flash is a warning light to let the camera know to get ready and let the driver know the light is about to change and to slow down immediately.

"We don't believe it's a safety violation. It lets people know there is a camera there. There is an awareness factor. If the flash startles them and gets them to slow down and stop, that's a good thing," says Didone.
The problem is that there is no such thing as a red light camera which issues "warning flashes".  When a red light camera flashes, it is taking photos.  Period.  The flash has no purpose of warning the driver at all.  The "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices" contains no such thing as a traffic control device which issues "warning flashes" at traffic lights.  And it would be stupid to have a device which does so.  What purpose would it serve to issue a driver a "warning" after it is too late for them to safely stop?

Red light cameras in Montgomery County record video starting about 3 seconds before the vehicle reaches the stop line.  Obviously the devices are recording video and taking photos before the violation takes place or you could not have a video.  The county would need to think the public is stupid not to realize this.  In addition, we obtained a copy of the technical specification for this model of red light camera last year, and it contains absolutely no mention at all of "warning flashes".

The real story behind these "warning flashes" is that last year the vendor for red light camera systems in Montgomery County and Rockville installed a new model which is far more sensitive, with the purpose of allowing them to issue tickets for "borderline violations" which the old cameras would not.

Last year the City of Rockville deployed this model of cameras so that they could begin ticketing for slow moving right turns on red, something which a study by the NHTSA has shows is not a significant cause of accidents.  As a result, the City of Rockville saw a VAST increase in the number of citations issued, and the profitability of their cameras.  Now the large majority of red light camera tickets in Rockville are NOT going to straight-through red light runners, but rather to people who made right turns and do not believe they ran a red light at all.  We still get LOTS of emails about this.  Montgomery County sets a somewhat higher threshold for issuing tickets than Rockville, but they use the same model camera and they still occasionally issue right turn tickets (but at an apparently higher speed threshold than Rockville).

So why did Montgomery County cook up this phoney "warning flash" story instead of simply admitting the truth straight up?  "Yes, people do get their photos taken by red light cameras all the time when no violation takes place.  You have no right to privacy in public.  We can take as many photos of non-violators as we wish so that we can examine them after the fact and look for possible reasons to issue citations."  Of course, the reason is because this conflicts with the county's narrative they use to reply to complaints that photo enforcement is a kind of "mass surveillance" by saying "If you don't run a red light/don't speed, you won't get your photo taken".  Obviously that is not always true.

And perhaps many think this is a trivial thing.  If citations don't get issued, then so what?  Well the reason you should care is that Montgomery County apparently can't give the public a straight answer about this for no better reason than they would prefer to tell the press a story which fits their narrative better.  If that is the case, then what else are they lying to the public and the press about?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Baltimore to Pay Speed Camera Company $600K To Go Away

Baltimore City plans to pay speed camera vendor Brekford Corporation $600,000 to end their contract for the city's speed camera program which has been completely shut down since April, according to a report by the Baltimore Sun.

Brekford agreed to accept $600,000 "to carry out this mutually-agreed termination, and to resolve any outstanding disputes related to the matter between the parties".  Brekford started the contract in January 2013.  The previous contractor, Xerox State and Local Solutions, lost the contract amid revelations that cameras had been systematically producing erroneous citations, including false speed readings.  The program was shut down again just three months later when hundreds of new erroneous citations were discovered under Brekford's watch.  Brekford had previously received a payment of $700,000 in August while the cameras were shut down.

"The mayor has said on several occasions that the speed camera program would not come back online until its accuracy and overall ability to function met the highest possible standards," stated the Mayor's spokeman Kevin Harris.  "Brekford expended significant resources to help create a system that performed at the highest standard, but ultimately it became clear that Baltimore needs to move in a different direction to ultimately build a system that uniquely fits our city."  The payment is expected to be approved by the board of estimates.

Brekford corp has recently found itself in deep financial trouble and reported a large loss in the last quarter.

The move places the future of the program in question.  According to the Baltimore Sun, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said the city should stop using speed cameras and instead station more traffic officers :
"Let's go with what we know: professionals standing there doing their job, working with the citizens to ensure safety, especially for our elderly and our children," Clarke said. "I think we've tried long and hard enough" with the cameras, she said, "and wasted an awful lot of money in the process."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Alfa Convertible Gets Ticket for Toyota Hatchback

WTOP has reported on the case of a Virginia driver who received a DC speed camera ticket without visiting the city.  The driver from McClean, VA received a ticket dated October 30 for going 36mph in a 25mph zone with a fine of $100.  The ticket showed the license plate tag "ANDARE", which was the same as the tag on his red Alfa Romeo convertible.  The problem is the vehicle shown in the ticket was not his, instead it was a blue Toyota hatchback which bears no resemblance to the Alfa.

On closer inspection, the tag shown in the citation was apparently not a Virginia tag at all.  The DC Police were initially unhelpful.  WTOP wrote....
After MVA agreed the car in the speed camera ticket appeared to be a Maryland tag, a request was made to D.C. police to void the citation.
"Any questions regarding tickets issued should be directed to the Department of Motor Vehicle Services' Adjudication Services, not the Metropolitan Police Department," writes spokeswoman Gwen Crump.
"I got upset when I tried to adjudicate the ticket and the DMV told me it would take up to six months, when it's simply a case of black and white. I sent them a picture of my red Alfa Romeo convertible, a copy of my Virginia registration, and you sent them proof that this ticket should've gone to a Maryland driver, and they wouldn't do anything," says Merlis.
After WTOP got involved, and the motorist contacted the head of the District's speed camera program on their advice, the citation was voided.

Salisbury City Council president faces charges for driving on suspended license

From Delmarvanow news, covering Salisbury and the greater Wicomico County area:
City Council President Jake Day could face jail time after a traffic stop on the morning of his wedding day resulted in charges of driving on a suspended license and other traffic offenses, court records show.
 Click here for the entire article.

An editorial in the DelmarvaNow website stated
Day’s problem, of course, is the atmospherics of the situation. He’s been pulled over for speeding at least seven times since 2008 and has had his license suspended at least twice. This paints a portrait of a man who gives little heed to speed-limit signs and the safety of himself and other drivers. Anybody can get a speeding ticket, but far fewer people get them repeatedly or get to the point where a license suspension is at issue.
The Maryland Drivers Alliance contacted Mr. Day in October 2013 to request assistance in obtaining Salisbury's speed camera calibration certificates when the city mayor and city attorney failed to respond to  our Public Information Act request.  After initially promising to look into the delay, Mr. Day never did get back to us, in spite of the many voice mail messages that we left for him.  When we finally did obtain some calibration records from Salisbury months after our initial request, the documents indicated several significant lapses in calibrations.

News Coverage From Salisbury:
DelmarvaNow:
          Council President Day faces new driving charges
          Anti-speed camera activists escalate fight over automatic ticketing system
WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice Has Traffic Citation Problems

Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice appears to be having trouble keeping court dates for traffic citations, and also racked up over $1000 in unpaid tickets in Maryland and DC, according to online court records. 

Records from the Maryland Judicial Case Search show that Craig L. Rice, DOB 9/1972, of Coachmans Cir Germantown failed to appear at a district court trial date over a citation for "failure to obey properly place traffic control device instructions".  The court record shows a "FAILURE TO APPEAR SUSPENSION", though it is uncertain based on this whether a license suspension is actually in effect. 

This was first reported on the "Parents Coalition of Montgomery County" blog.

A report on WJLA indicated this was over an HOV lane violation.  Rice claimed to have paid the violation, although the district court records did not indicate payment.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Montgomery County Circuit Court: Innocence is a Defense

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ruled last week that “not being the driver” is a valid defense against a speed camera citation.  Basing his decision on careful analysis of Maryland law, the judge determined that a person named on a citation has no duty to identify the actual driver to exercise this defense. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Public and Critics Banned from MaCo Speed Camera Meeting

The public, including  a member of the Maryland Drivers Alliance, was banned from attending a speed camera symposium in Bowie Maryland today.

The event, which we had discussed in a previous posting, was sponsored by The Maryland Association of Counties(MaCo) and the Maryland Municipal League (MML), both of which are funded in large part by taxpayer dollars.  The heads of the speed camera programs for Montgomery and Prince George's County, Captain Tom Didone and Major Liberati, were leading the event.  AAA (an insurance company which helped to give Maryland speed cameras in the first place) also co-sponsored the event.

The agenda was supposed to include "best practices" for speed camera programs and "vendor contracts", but would also include "Current law and Proposed Changes in 2014".  In the wake of the revelations of systematic errors in Baltimore City's speed camera program which brought calls for reform or repeal of the state's speed camera law,

MaCo and the MML united with Montgomery County and Prince Georges to oppose all meaningful speed camera reforms during the last legislative session in Annapolis.  Instead they together created a "paper tiger" bill designed to lead the public to believe the problems had been solved, but which really only answered the question "How do we do a better job of public relations?".  (that "paper tiger" would eventually become the so called "speed camera reform act of 2014")
 
Didone, Liberati, MaCo, and the MML united against motorists in a legislative committee, at taxpayer expense
The Maryland Drivers Alliance had been specifically invited to attend the symposium by John Townsend of AAA.  However when a Maryland Drivers Alliance member, Gene Simmers, attempted to sign up for the symposium Captain Tom Didone informed him that he would not be permitted to enter.
"Capt. Didone called me back and informed me that I was denied permission to attend tomorrow's meeting in Bowie." wrote Simmers "He mentioned that he especially didn't want anyone from our group to attend since Ron is so anti-speed camera. I asked him who would be attending and he said county employees. I then asked him if he was aware of the Maryland Openings Act and he said no."

We complained to Townsend of AAA, as we had been previously advised that we could attend.  "Gene, at Ron’s request," [referring to the MDA chairman] "and on your behalf, we had asked for you and members of the alliance  to be able to attend." wrote Townsend.

"I have [asked] the major sponsors to reconsider their position.   I think they should" wrote Townsend.  He then advised Mr Simmers to "Make your appeal in person."

The next day Mr Simmers appeared at the Symposium in Bowie as AAA had suggested... and was barred from entering by police and by Captain Tom Didone.
"I showed up at 9:10 am and introduced myself at the check in desk. As I was speaking, a Mont. County police officer pushed his way through the crowd and proclaimed " I will handle this". A few minutes went by and Captian Didione showed up. He began to repeat that he had told me no yesterday . I showed him the e-mail from Townsend and that was the only reason I drove from Harford County to attend. He then started to become a little rough and said he had told me 3 times the reasons why I could not not attend. I told him I didn't like any of his 3 answers.  He repeated that the reason that I could not attend was because of pending legal action between our group and a community at the symposium. I told him that" anyone who has watched a repeat of any Law and Order show would know that pending legal would never be discussed by police officers at a public meeting. Townsend showed up and literally froze when I asked for his opinion. Regina Averella of AAA was standing next to me and said" I don't get in the middle with this". Capt Didone also said my presence in the room would be intimidating to some in attendance. I told him that I didn't know anyone in the room and no one would know who I was, he just looked down and left for impromptu meetings. At least 5 members of AAA and 3 police officers were gathered around me.
 

When the symposium started  the police officer who pushed his way to the table remained outside in the hallway at the table. He stayed at the table the ENTIRE time from 9:15 until 12:00 when lunch started . He was joined by another officer  as well. This guy never attended one minute of the symposium . I sincerely doubt if his task was to guard a registration desk that collected no money all day. I had a babysitter I believe."
Media presence at the symposium was also severely restricted.  One reporter from a local radio station was permitted to attend a portion of the symposium, because he had been invited to provide a presentation to speed camera programs about "How to Conduct an Effective Media Campaign".  However even that reporter was forced to leave at 1:00 as soon as his presentation was over.

MaCo and the various speed camera programs of the state had an opportunity to demonstrate that they were transparent and that they were open to hearing input and criticism from the driving public.  Instead what they decided to prove was that they prefer to skulk around in dark corners and concoct secret legislative schemes in private meetings, all funded by taxpayer dollars.  They have proven that speed camera programs are basically just like vampires.... unable to survive in the light of day.

*** SHAME!!!! ***

Additional Coverage:
WBFF: Multi County Symposium on Speed Cameras 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Camera Firms Continue Lobbying

The state legislature may not be in session for the moment, but speed camera firms continue spending on lobbying activities even in the off season.

Speed Camera company Xerox Corporation has spent the largest amount, reporting a total of $176,000 on lobbying in the one year period ending November 2013 according to documents on the State Ethics Commission website.

Xerox paid the firm Alexander & Cleaver fees totaling $58,000 in the six month period since May, even though the legislature was out of session.  This brought the total amount which Xerox paid the lobbying firm to $114,000 for the one year period.