Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Appellate judges have refused to hear an appeal by the city of Spokane after a Superior Court judge ruled that the way it had been printing tickets from red-light cameras violated state law.
At issue was the way the city had a police officer in Spokane review a photo of a car either running a red light or not coming to a complete stop and determining whether an infraction occurred. The officer then punched an “accept” button, sending an electronic signal to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions to affix the officer’s electronic signature on the $124 ticket it sent to the driver.
The late John Clark, and later Dean Chuang, represented three clients who argued that state law requires those signatures to be written in Washington. After one judge ruled for the city, Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque reversed that decision, which the city appealed to the Division III Court of Appeals. On Thursday, that court declined to hear the case.
City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said after Leveque’s ruling, the city now has officers print out their signatures at the Public Safety Building, thus complying with state law. Red-light runners ticketed under the old system will ahve to challenge the ticket in court if they want a remedy.
The city now operates 15 cameras that officials estimate will generate about $750,000 next year.
The grace period will end tonight for red light runners caught on camera at the three latest Spokane intersections to be equipped with the surveilance devices, police warned today.
Starting first thing tomorrow, anyone caught on camera running a red light will receive a ticket in the mail.
The three new intersections are at southbound Browne St. at Third Ave., southbound Maple St. at Second Ave. and westbound Second Ave. at Walnut Street. The three cameras went live on July 1 and officers have sent out 500 warning notices since they were installed, said police spokeswoman Teresa Fuller.
The city has issued more than 25,000 citations for running a red light since the first cameras were installed, Fuller said. The fine that goes with the citation is $124.
A 30-day warning period begins today for new red-light cameras at three intersections in the downtown Spokane area.
Beginning at 8 a.m., drivers caught on camera running a red light will earn a warning notice for the vehicle owner. No fine is attached, but red-light runners will begin receiving $124 citations on July 31.
The new cameras are at westbound Second Avenue at Walnut Street, southbound Maple Street at Second and southbound Third Avenue at Browne Street.
Spokanealready has seven intersections equipped with cameras that have captured more than 23,000 violations since Oct. 1, 2008:
Browne Street southbound at Sprague Avenue, Hamilton Street northbound at Mission Avenue, Division Street north and southbound at Francis Avenue, Wellesley Avenue eastbound at Ash Street, Freya Street northbound at Third Avenue, Thor Street and Second Avenue both westbound and southbound, and Division Street northbound at Sprague Avenue.
The warning period for those intersections ended long ago.
Red-light runners caught on camera in Spokane shouldn’t automatically expect a break from a recent court ruling rejecting the city’s method for issuing tickets.
A city official says they’d have to challenge the legality in court, too.
City Attorney Howard Delaney said Monday that Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque’s decision affects only the three tickets that were included in the court case. Other motorists who received tickets under the automated system will need to bring their own court challenge before their $124 tickets could be invalidated, Delaney said.
“It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth, frankly,” Delaney said
A judge on Friday ruled against the city of Spokane in a decision that may invalidate the system by which traffic tickets are generated using controversial Photo Red cameras.
The decision by Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque overturns a previous Municipal Court ruling that found no legal problem with the method used to electronically affix a Spokane police officer’s signature to a ticket in Arizona before mailing the $124 citation to the car’s registered owner.
“This ruling basically invalidates the whole system as of (Friday),” said attorney Dean Chuang, who took over the case for the late John Clark, who initially challenged the red-light camera system.
Because city officials had not yet reviewed the ruling Friday, they declined to comment, except to say they will meet Monday to discuss the issue.
An executive at the company that provides red-light cameras in Spokane has been suspended after a newspaper in Western Washington discovered he misrepresented himself as a local resident on its website and made comments to promote business in the area, a company spokesman said Friday.
Bill Kroske, the vice president of business development at American Traffic Solutions Inc., based in Scottsdale, Ariz., also posted comments on The Spokesman-Review’s website. The Herald, of Everett, reported that it tracked posts made by Kroske to the company in Arizona, and that he had signed up for the Herald’s website using his real name and work email.
n 2010, from January through July, Kroske posted nine comments on The Spokesman-Review’s website under the name Obie1, which is registered to his email at American Traffic Solutions.
In his Spokesman-Review posts, all of which addressed red-light cameras, he wrote as if he lived in Spokane.
He refers to critics as the “camera paranoia group” and suggests they start a campaign to get rid of the cameras “by no one running red lights so no money for the city.”
“If you are successful you can be smug…and the city will say Bravo,” according to the comment, posted Jan. 27, 2010.
He posted the same comment on another story the next day. After several people posted comments criticizing the cameras, Kroske said their response “is just why we need the cameras.” “It is that same lack of common sense and emotional control that is found in aggressive and dangerous driving,” Kroske wrote.
Initiative-meister and red-light camera-hater Tim Eyman is urging adherents to send e-mails to city leaders around the state decrying the tactics of a leading camera purveyor.
The Spokane mayor and city councilmember were included in his missive this week to supporters, asking them to urge leaders to take a stand on “sleazeball” tactics of ATS, the red-light company that operates the systems in Spokane and many other communities. It's a response to a story in the Everett Herald this week that indicates a company executive waged an “Astroturf” campaign on that paper’s website to support the systems when locals criticized them.
Spokane city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said city officials had only received a handful of e-mails Thursday. That seemed low, prompting some worrying that Eyman was slipping, until a check of his e-mail links showed addresses were incorrect for several Spokane officials.
The correct e-mails can be found here.
OLYMPIA – Cities that want to install cameras to catch motorists who run red lights or speed through school zones would have to get voter approval under bills before the Legislature.
They might also have to make the yellow light last a bit longer at intersections with cameras or set the lights so they are red in all directions for at least a second. They wouldn’t be able to promise a share of the ticket revenue to the company that sells them the cameras.
Traffic ticket cameras started as a pilot project several years ago and “turned into a big problem in Washington state,” Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, told the House Transportation Committee Tuesday. He proposed two different bills, using different standards for setting up the system; but both would require voter approval whenever a city starts or expands a red light camera program.
OLYMPIA — City of Spokane officials might be watching one election result from across the state pretty closely on Nov. 2. Or if not, they should.
The City of Mukilteo has an initiative that severely limits the use of red-light cameras and speeding cameras which issue tickets to motorists they catch running lights or driving too fast. It would require a two-thirds majority of that city council AND a simple majority of voters to approve the devices, and reduce the cost of a fine to the amount of the lowest parking ticket.
The ballot measure, sponsored by Tim Eyman, had huge numbers of signatures at its turn it, and qualified for the ballot. When one combines the universe of voters unhappy with their government with the universe of voters who don’t like to make it easier for police to issue them speeding and traffic tickets, it’s would seem this proposal has at least a decent chance of passage. (Note deliberate understatement as an literary device.)
A successful campaign in Mukilteo could spread across the state like BP oil in the Gulf. It’s also important to note that Eyman’s two chief lieutenants, Jack and Mike Fagan, are Spokane residents.
Local attorney John Clark challenged Spokane’s system of issuing tickets from red light cameras, arguing Thursday in Spokane Municipal Court that the city is not following well-established law.
Officers have long been required to sign infractions indicating that they reviewed the tickets and attested to their accuracy, said Clark (pictured in March).
But with the red light cameras, the officer pushes a computer button that tells a private company in Arizona to affix a digital photo of the officer’s signature.
“The bottom line on this issue is that these tickets do not follow the law,” Clark said. “We are just trying to get the city to do it right instead of just making money.”
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.
OLYMPIA — Initiative guru Tim Eyman’s latest ballot proposal seeks to ban automated ticketing cameras for running red lights in Mukilteo unless they are approved by two-thirds of that city’s council AND a vote of the public.
Spin Control mentioned this morning that Eyman had an event to unveil a new initiative. This is it.
Spokane drivers who run red lights at four new camera-equipped intersections can expect $124 tickets beginning Thursday.
The cameras are located at Freya Street facing north at Third Avenue, Second Avenue facing west at Thor Street, Wellesley Avenue facing east at Ash Street, and Division Street facing north at Sprague Avenue.
Red-light runners at those intersections have received only warnings since the cameras were activated March 1, but the warning period ends this week.
Officers have approved 416 warnings through those cameras as of March 23, according to the Spokane Police Department. Another 184 are pending.
The city began fining red light violators caught on camera Nov. 1, 2008. Two cameras are at Francis Avenue and Division Street. One camera monitors Sprague Avenue and Browne Street, and another is at Mission Avenue and Hamilton Street.
Spokane issued 5,690 camera tickets that resulted in revenue of $419,000, Officer Teresa Fuller said in a Jan. 6 article.
But a review of collisions reports shows the camera-equipped intersections had an increase in crashes and injuries in the first year of the controversial program.
Read the story: Red-light cameras yet to signal safety