Welcome to NewRomeSucks.com!
It's been over a decade since New Rome, Ohio was dissolved irrevocably into Franklin County's Prairie Township.
To see the NewRomeSucks.com archive, click here. Please note, many links are now broken but the majority of the site remains intact.
Why are we back?
The work isn't done. From small villages to big cities, there continues to be the need to highlight traffic traps across Ohio. Technology and new legislation has complicated the playing field.
Our current favorite speed trap, probably due to the striking similarities between its current state and New Rome shortly before its downfall. The Dispatch recently outlined their latest shenanigans in an editorial. New Rome Sucks released a one minute video summarizing the current status:
Didn't the state ban photo enforcement?
No. 2014 saw the passage of a new state law that requires a police officer to be "present" while cameras were in operation. For some photo enforcement advocates, this was viewed as "authorization", while the bill's sponsors, many local authorities and the media viewed it as a "ban".
What it's done has created a messy patchwork of contradicting court opinions and responses by photo-enforcement local municipalities.
While the law has somewhat curtailed photo enforcement, you have to look community by community at the impact of the law:
Columbus - Columbus was embroiled the nationwide Redflex scandal, and Columbus canceled their contact with Redflex after former Redflex officials pled guilty to bribing Ohio officials. A lobbyist pled guilty to extortion.
Cleveland - Photo enforcement was "banned" by public vote. The language requiring an officer to be present is similar to the statewide legislation. The impact of these types of "bans" on larger installations of fixed cameras is greater than smaller installations such as Linndale.
Toledo - Toledo won an injunction to keep cameras operating. The same judge also ruled against the Ohio's legislature's attempt to force municipalities to comply with state law by withholding funds.
Dayton - Still operating in limited fashion after winning an injunction, then losing on appeal. They were shut off at years end.
Linndale - A notorious speed trap near Cleveland has gone to great lengths to comply with the new law. Linndale went to photo enforcement after circumventing another attempt by the legislature to rein in aggressive ticketing by small villages.
Worse, as the battle on stationery cameras seems destined for the Supreme Court, some local authorities are trying a new type of hand-held speed camera that is operated by a police officer.
New Miami has recently taken this approach, after their stationary unmanned units were shut down by a judge.
Elmood Place was ordered to repay $1.8 million in fines from their stationary cameras, but the case is still in appeals. Their program remains suspended.
Lucas, a small Richland county village, was sued over their stationary cameras. After the new law went into place, they were unable to continue operating their systems because they do not have a police department.
East Cleveland is one of the few communities in the nation to uphold photo enforcement by public vote. They continue to issue tickets in defiance of the new state law by not converting to officer manned hand-held units (like New Miami) or manning the stationary cameras (like Linndale).
Why should photo enforcement be abolished?
1. Traffic laws are decriminalized. The camera vendors coach their customers to enact ordinances that treat what are normally criminal offenses as civil infractions. This lowers the burden of proof and bypasses due process requirements required for criminal charges. While they tout this as a benefit (no points, no insurance increases), the flip side is there are no escalating penalties to remove truly dangerous drivers from the road.
2. Traffic violations are monetized. Photo enforcement vendors are for-profit corporations, all from out-of-state and some from offshore. Some are publically traded, and they all require violations to occur in large numbers forever to survive. They have no interest in correcting underlying engineering issues that often exist at intersections. Redflex's Annual Report includes the phrase "revenue generation" three times.
3. Photo enforcement vendors have questionable ethics. When municipalities outsource their traffic enforcement, big money is involved. This can breed an atmosphere for corruption. In Chicago for example, its vendor Redflex (who also serves the Columbus and Toledo installations), was FIRED last year after a $2 million bribery scandal erupted. She has since pled guilty to bribery in federal court. For more information, see this excellent Chicago Tribune series.
Follow the money. In Ohio, Redflex has contributed about $136,000 to "Safe Ohio Roads", which is a fake "grass roots" organization to promote laws favorable to photo enforcement activities.
Yellow light timing is another sneaky way the camera vendors use to increase violations. This has happened in various municipalities, but the situation in Florida seems to be most egregious.
4. Photo enforcement has questionable effectiveness. Studies vary wildly. One study will show effectiveness, the next won't. One city claims they reduce collisions, the next will drop their contract citing no meaningful reduction, or even an increase in rear-end collisions. Columbus, for example states they have huge reductions in collisions they attribute to red-light cameras. However, they fail to mention that Ohio State law requires an extra second of yellow light at photo enforced intersections. See ORC 4511.094 The question becomes, if a motorist is so stupid, stoned, sloshed, senile or sleepy to run a red light, will a camera prevent it?
5. The majority of tickets are for minor infractions. If you eliminated all the split-second red-light violations that occur when a motorist is faced with the quick decision "is it safer to go or stop", along with all the creeping right-turn on red violations, the infrastructure required to sustain red-light camera installations would not be profitable. There's a lot of material on this subject, a good summary is here.
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