Citing the shaky ethical past of red-light camera operator RedFlex, Belmont City Council members voted last night to terminate the city’s use of the controversy devices, but not before one councilman took a moment to personally chew out some of the company’s executives who were in attendance.
Councilman chews out the company’s executives
Councilman Dave Warden blasted RedFlex for its questionable business tactics and said the red-light cameras don’t do anything to solve problems.
Warden was especially heated because he himself was the recipient of a $540 red-light camera ticket from the city of Hayward.
“I get some damn thing in the mail two months later that I don’t even remember, “Warden said, “who am I mad at now? I am mad at the city. There’s no cause and effect here. I hate these things. ”
Belmont voted 3-1 to terminate its agreement with Redflex with Councilman David Braunstein voting no and Vice Mayor Warren Lieberman absent.
The contract renewal first came up at the May 14 meeting, but the counsel asked for more information regarding reports of unethical business practices on the part of RedFlex.
RedFlex Vice President Jim Saunders tried to ease the council’s concerns last night, claiming that none of its 350 employees were involved in an alleged Chicago bribery scandal, but it didn’t seem to work.
“I just don’t buy it, “Mayor Christine Wozniak said. RedFlex has operated a red-light camera at the intersection of Ralston Avenue and El Camino since 2010. Since then, the camera has averaged 173 citations per month, according to Police Chief Daniel DeSmidt.
Daniel DeSmidt said he felt that the program had been affected and that he hoped that counsel would renew the contract.
“They’re not solving a problem. Our accident rate has not gone down, “Warden said. “All we have done is taken money and giving it to the state and given it to the county and given it to you guys, (RedFlex). We see hardly any of it.”
Councilman Vents frustration
Clearly angry, Warden even lambasted RedFlex executives for spelling his name wrong on the letter he was sent. “This whole thing doesn’t make any sense, “Warden said. “I don’t buy the argument that people feel safer. I don’t feel any safer, I just feel paranoid.”
Warden said that cameras are not nearly as effective as a police officer would be and that all they do is deter people from coming to the city.
Susan Stephan, a San Mateo County resident, said that after being surprised with the ticket in the mail, she stopped shopping in Belmont.
“I am appalled that you guys, in these hard times, are outsourcing your police force,” she said. “Someone from Arizona signed my ticket.”
Warden offered to take Stephan out to lunch to apologize for the way she was treated. The contract will now expire on July 1 and the cameras will be shut off.
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