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Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Why would a city open itself up to a potential litany of lawsuits and other legal problems when it is already in fiscal watch?
The use of traffic enforcement (such as red light and speed) cameras (in many cities and states)  is under fire for being unconstitutional.  In addition to, and at issue 1. where the cameras are used (in too many instances, predominantly poor and/or heavily minority areas)  2. the fact the registered car owner  (who may not be the driver) is cited  3. the appeal process (of appealing the traffic ticket)  4. Green Light Yellow Light Traps  5.  *Harm to the local economy  6. Photo radar/red light/speed cameras where the speed changes abruptly, and then 7. there's the issue with speed and red light camera errors [see also***] [and also ****]

And of course there's the  the whole safety vs revenue generation debate regarding the use of traffic enforcement cameras.

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[Maple Heights is a predominantly African American city with predominantly African American taxpayers (who pay sales taxes, income taxes, property taxes).  Their money and other public (tax payer) monies go to hiring contractors, yet we see time and time again, African Americans being left out of the picture when it comes to hiring/training.  It is felt that contractors are predominantly of European ancestry, most  (it's) felt have no or very little" African American staff/workers, and (and it appears that) tend to get away with no insistence by city officials that the contractor show  minority paid participation/labor or the willingness to provide training to minorities.]  

Finally at issue is where private and public money circulates.  It has been proven that communities/cities, where money circulates within the community/city, do better financially.  Maple Heights has a high unemployment rate (9.8%), over burdened tax payers, not enough locally owned businesses, and  to have a lot of money flowing outside the city  is  detrimental to Maple Heights local economy.   [see: Related articles regarding money circulation below]
Unfortunately, it's felt that Maple Heights city council [and remember Maple Heights is under fiscal watch ] rarely if ever thinks  about  these facts  when making decisions about the disbursement of money.  Heck, do they even understand the principle of local money circulation?   


Anonymous said...

I don't think they give one thought about blacks when they hire contractors or disperse monies.

This lies at the core of institutional racism. Blacks (the inclusion of) don't even enter into the conversation.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

These public employees (council, etc) are sometimes lax doing their research. Aside from the minority issues, have they considered problems that might arise with the company (Optotraffic) itself.

Just a brief internet search saw this:
1. Ohio: Optotraffic Settles Lawsuit Over Confiscated Speed Cameras


2. Optotraffic Contract with Cheverly Canceled, Town Records Expose Camera Errors


3. The New Miami Traffic Cameras: Sending over $1 million dollars to Optotraffic LLC of Lanham, Md.


4. Prince George's County moves toward speed cameras


5. Maryland: Optotraffic Cameras Shown To Be Inaccurate


Anonymous said...

and then there's this on Optotraffic:


Anonymous said...

AAA Clashes with City, Optotraffic Over Speed Cameras


Anonymous said...

What's up witht the two blacks on council? You would think they would be concerned with minority representation. Yet, not one peep from them.

Anonymous said...

These cameras are not about safety. They are about revenue generation.

No one has a problem with making schools safer and safer where children mostly play (playgrounds, etc); but the cameras that will be placed in Maple Heights, largely target a Black community (Black people) where individual financial struggle is a fact of life.

What of the money collected from violations? Does that money flow and circulate within the community to make the community stronger? No, it goes to mostly non residents and corporations (gas, light, water, cable).

All you've insured is the lights stay on, etc while watching homeowners leave, unemployment rise, and the population decline, because you've not addressed key/core issues in the predominantly Black community.

Anonymous said...

Some comments from:
Are traffic cameras unconstitutional? Editorial Board Roundtable

"Thomas Suddes, editorial writer:

"Red light" and speed cameras may or may not contribute substantially to traffic safety. But they do contribute to municipal treasuries, and that's the problem. No one is supposed to be deprived of his or her property, and that's what a fine is before it's paid, without due process of law.

Home rule doesn't allow a city or village to circumvent due process. Even the most well-intentioned "administrative proceeding" is stacked against a driver who seeks to appeal fines imposed because of (inferred) violations of traffic ordinances. If the cameras are indeed legal, then someone ticketed and fined as the result of cameras' monitoring his or her driving is entitled to a genuine as opposed to sham appeal. It is incidentally ridiculous to defend "administrative proceedings" by observing that their findings (which determine 99.9 percent of the time that a ticketed driver was at fault) don't result in the deduction of driver license violation "points." Yes, that is the case. But if traffic camera "evidence" doesn't produce higher insurance premiums, where's the genuine incentive for safer driving?

Answer: There isn't one. The "no points" angle is just salesmanship, like almost all other arguments in favor of traffic cameras.

Sharon Broussard, editorial writer, Northeast Ohio Media Group:

I understand that people hate traffic cameras and the tickets they can generate. I hate tickets from traffic cameras too, but I'm tired of home rule taking a beating from the Ohio legislature and the courts and don't want it further eroded because of a legal technicality over whether ticket appeals should be judicial or administrative.

Either home rule has substance or it's merely a fantasy. I vote for home rule and unfortunately, those odious traffic cameras. I hope that the Ohio Supreme Court agrees.

Peter Krouse, editorial writer, Northeast Ohio Media Group:

I don't think there's any question that the primary reason for traffic cameras is to boost revenue. I agree that a byproduct of the cameras is slower driving in and around those intersections or stretches of road where they are placed. But, after slowing down in those areas, drivers so inclined will simply speed up somewhere else. I would like to see a broad, definitive study performed on traffic cameras to see whether they really do result in fewer traffic accidents. If they do, then a well-devised, well-advertised system of traffic cameras might be appropriate.

But another problem I have with the cameras is that the process for appealing them is a pain, especially if you are from out-of-town. If you are pulled over by a police officer, you at least have the opportunity to plead your case and avoid getting a ticket altogether. I also wonder if cities put the cameras in places that could really use them, or the places that are more likely to catch someone speeding because of a sudden change in the speed limit."

Anonymous said...

Maple Hts?
City Hall has proven they are not the sharpest tack in the room when it comes to the constitution.

Ever heard of due process? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

Aint this a bitch

You've got politicians and lawyers with no professional training in finance trying to sneak speed cameras, paying for recycling but not getting recycling services, and the tax payer gets screwed right under their noses.

Maple Heights African American Gazette said...

Our position on Youtube as stated @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUkvcGyniVU

"The use of speed cameras (in many cities and states) is under fire for being unconstitutional. In addition to, and at issue 1. where the cameras are used (in too many instances, predominantly poor and/or heavily minority areas) 2. the fact the registered car owner (who may not be the driver) is cited 3. the appeal process (of appealing the traffic ticket) 4. Green Light Yellow Light Traps 5. *Harm to the local economy 6. Photo radar cameras where the speed changes abruptly, and then 7. there's the issue with speed camera errors.

Traffic cameras' days may be numbered, Ohio lawmakers say:

Garfield Hts dropped their use of red light traffic cameras, and they are next door to Maple Heights. We didn't hear that in this council meeting. Just a mention about Newburgh Heights? You can always find someone to support your position. What you want to look for is overwhelming evidence.

We've also learned that the ticket is $100 and increases. Other cities across the U.S. who use those cameras don't charge that much. **[see letter to editor] Plus it's interesting that the ticket is so high when you consider that Maple Heights has about a 9.8% unemployment rate.

There are ways other than red light cameras to make communities safer from traffic. Did council explore those ways? This resolution passing at the same time Maple Heights is in fiscal watch? No one is stupid. So we guess this really is not about safety but revenue.

Why would a community open itself up to a litany of potential lawsuits and legal problems?

These council members did not (we're told) discuss the use of red light cameras in an open public forum to get the community's responses. If they had, they would have received (from recent responses) a resounding "no" to red light cameras.

Has Maple Heights decided what to do if red light cameras are ruled unconstitutional by a higher body? Will they be subject to giving back all that money?

There are a host of negative articles/studies about red light cameras and also camera error stories about the very same company Maple Heights chose. [Isn't Cleveland involved in a lawsuit or potential lawsuit w their red light camera equipment company right now?] Like we said, if you want to back your position you can find someone; however, when consitutional issues are at stake and overwhelming negative issues present, one may want to think twice before wading into muddy waters.


Cleveland traffic camera case hits red light at Ohio Supreme Court while similar case is decided

**Reduce fines for being caught by red light camera to limit controversy: Letter to the Editor

Democrats seek to make it easier to challenge Ohio laws in court

Traffic cameras may soon be eliminated in Ohio: What you're saying

Yellow Light problems:

Maple Heights African American Gazette said...

For clarification: We don't know who the company is that is involved in the Cleveland camera speed lawsuit.

Other documents and articles:


Attorney who stopped Elmwood cameras now going after Dayton's

Elmwood Place speed cameras: Drivers who paid tickets seek summary judgment, refunds


The Supreme Court of Ohio

Maple Heights African American Gazette said...

Maryland: Optotraffic Cameras Shown To Be Inaccurate



Anonymous said...

"Surveillance systems warrant careful research
March 17, 2013
Morning Journal News

At least two Columbiana County villages are considering speed-monitoring surveillance systems as a cost-efficient way to address the problem of motorists racing through their communities.

Rogers and Salineville village councils are looking at contracting with Maryland-based Optotraffic LLC, which manufactures and operates automated speed-enforcement machines that catch speeding motorists, using laser radar and cameras.

Both financially strapped villages are looking for ways to solve speeding problems in their towns while neither is able to increase their police presence. In Rogers' case, there has been no policeman for quite some time and council voted at last week's meeting to eliminate the police department and mayor's court, altogether.

In Rogers and Salineville both, Optotraffic would operate and maintain the $80,000 machines and issue the speeding citations in return for 40 percent of the fine money. The only expense to the communities would be in hiring a law enforcement officer to review the citation information and an attorney to conduct the administrative hearings for motorists who want to contest the citation. Furthermore, if the accused speeder then contests the ruling of the hearing officer, the case continues to county municipal court where the village must pay a county prosecutor to prosecute the case. Optotraffic would notify motorists by mail that they had been cited.

While we understand both communities' need to address the problem of motorists speeding through their towns without increasing costs and they both probably see this fine revenue as a potential cash cow, we hope their village councils will do their homework and give this proposal a lot of consideration before jumping in feet first.

Just last week, a Hamilton County, Ohio judge ruled that the village ordinance that allowed Elmwood Place to install speed cameras is unenforceable and violates motorists' due process.

Judge Robert Ruehlman granted a permanent injunction and prohibited further use of the cameras and called the village's traffic camera system a game that Optotraffic, has a financial stake in.

"I used the term 'game' because Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-Card Monty," the judge wrote in his ruling. "It is a scam that the motorists can't win. The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by Optotraffic." Ruehlman wrote in the ruling.

Rogers Village Solicitor Michelle Simonelli warned council to prepare for the public backlash. "People will get angry over this and will appeal it on principle," she said.

If that turns out to be true, this "automatic" revenue builder could end up costing more than it's worth.

At Rogers' meeting the Optotraffic representative, Dorian Grubaugh, dismissed the Elmwood court decision noting Optotraffic has survived other legal challenges and expects to win on appeal in the Elmwood case as well.

State legislators near Elmwood have also introduced a bill prohibiting the use of these systems, but Grubaugh said past efforts to pass a ban have failed. "We're not concerned with the legislation. The legislation is proposed every year," he said.

"Whatever the media wants to say is inaccurate. The goal is safety," Grubaugh said. What the media says doesn't matter, it's what the judge says that does.

The officials of these villages would be better off reading up on the court decisions and pending legislation rather than listening to the advice of a salesman whose company stands to profit greatly from the installation of this system."

Anonymous said...

1.Every freaking council meeting citizens say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Liberty and justice for all? We think not

2.When council members are sworn in they pledge to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Well now we're calling them out. They are liars and hypocrites.

Due process is violated with those speed cameras.

Anonymous said...

Why would businesses want to come to Maple Heights or stay in Maple Heights with all these photo radar cameras on their streets that might chase away customers?

Remember, in most business districts, the speed limit is 25mph. Some folks go 30 or 31. A photo radar camera that is calibrated to ticket at 25 or has a 1 to 5 mph error in calibration would ticket these vehicles, while a police officer might overlook the 30 or 31 mph.

Maple Heights African American Gazette said...

Maple Heights (OH) residents:

Among a whole host of things you need to know
1. Was there a special public forum/hearing or a ballot vote on the photo radar cameras before the Optotraffic signed contract?

2. What was in the contract that was signed by Maple Heights public officials and Optotraffic?

3. Was there a two week period after a camera went up where only warnings and not tickets were given?

4. Were public records introduced that gave the location of each "speed related" accident on public (not private) property in the last 2 years?

Anonymous said...

Maple Heights politicians put two levies on the ballot that were defeated by Maple Heights voters.

Maple Heights politicians without public input or ballot vote, put up speed cameras amounting to a tax.

The first two levies being defeated may have been because voters didn't trust that these politicians knew what they were doing.

So this recent "do the levy again and add speed cameras" is going to make voters/taxpayers/residents trust you?

Politicians ... you just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

A community forum to discuss the already operational speed cameras in Maple Heights was held Wednesday, August 13, 2014.

It is quite clear that Maple Heights City Council shoved these cameras down the throats of Maple Heights residents w/o a public forum and w/o the kind of extensive public education and public discussion and notice that Newburgh Hts gave its residents. It is also clear that what Maple Hts wants to do with revenue collected from the speed cameras is different from what Newburgh Hts does. According to Councilman Bill Brownlee, revenue collected from MHts speed cameras will go toward operating expenses (which does very little to stimulate Maple Hts local economy), while Newburgh Hts earmarks a lot of their speed camera revenue for community and economic development. Shame on Maple Hts city hall .. You screwed up!!!

If you received a speed camera ticket, you need to watch. Pay special attention to the part where the police chief and councilman both state the photo enforcement signs were not placed the correct number of feet from the speed camera (Warrensville). Then do your homework and consult an attorney if you have questions.

Watch part 1 of the community forum @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr9JY_IPrT8

part 2

part 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVKFMpudazs

Anonymous said...

Isn't the head of the safety forces the mayor? So who is really responsible for the problems with the speed cameras? Wouldn't it be the mayor?

Anonymous said...

On the legal issues, since the Newburgh Hts mayor is not an attorney or judge, he should not have had any weight given to his statements regarding issues related to legal problems and restitution that might arise out of legal proceedings.

Recently seen:
Lawsuit against Redflex seeks refunds for red light tickets, class action status


Anonymous said...

Regarding Newburgh Hts mayor and legal statements:

An operator of red-light cameras alleged not to be compliant with New Jersey law has agreed to pay $2.1 million to settle class-action suits alleging federal rights violations.

and the Newburgh mayor's statements regarding the legality of the cameras has nothing to do with whether there is a constitutional issue.

Jim Crow laws were also deemed legal at the time.

Anonymous said...

Did u see this Newburgh mayor?
Optotraffic Contract with Cheverly Canceled, Town Records Expose Camera Errors


Anonymous said...

How about this Newburgh mayor?

Attorney who stopped Elmwood cameras now going after Dayton's

Anonymous said...

Elmwood Place speed cameras: Drivers who paid tickets seek summary judgment, refunds