Monday, September 17, 2012

New Jersey mayor wants ticket camera money

For years truckers and motorists alike have questioned the true intentions behind the use of automated enforcement.

Advocates for the technology say the devices, which are commonly used at intersections to detect red-light runners and elsewhere to snap photos of speeders, are all about safety. They say the cameras are there when law enforcement cannot be there.

Not too many people buy the explanation. Plain and simple, most view the “enforcement tool” as a moneymaker.

In fact, elected officials with an affinity for the devices will occasionally draw attention to the economic benefits of automated ticketing machines. The most recent example of this way of thinking popped up in a New Jersey community that borders New York City.

Fort Lee, NJ, Mayor Mark Sokolich told The Record newspaper he wants red-light cameras installed in his town in the worst way and admitted it was for money. According to the report, the mayor said – and I quote the newspaper – “... for money reasons. There, I said it. These things generate income.”

Ticket camera use in New Jersey has been a topic of conversation in recent months. The mayor’s comments continue the dialogue.

Concerns about whether everything is on the up-and-up there spurred the state DOT to suspend the doling out of tickets at 63 of the 85 intersections statewide that employ the money-making devices.

The focus was on yellow time. However, DOT officials shortly thereafter determined that everything was fine and they allowed the program to continue at the sites in question.

Some state lawmakers are tired of the shenanigans that are encouraged through the cameras use. Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Washington, is leading an effort at the statehouse to permanently ban the cameras in the state. He also has an online petition to rally support.

Doherty, and many others, question why Sokolich’s proposal to install red-light cameras in Fort Lee is not being put on the local ballot.

The answer is simple: The mayor knows the deck is stacked against him.

Sokolich told the newspaper “you put this on a referendum ... (and) I don’t know if it would garner enough support to pass.”

I think it’s safe to say he’s right. I also think it’s safe to say that the public is tired of being viewed as cash cows.