20 Comment

  • Sue is the only member of coucil with stones.

  • This is a definite win, not just for the voters of the city of Houston but for civil liberties as well.

    I’m happy to see that the Counsel is more concerned about the will of their citizens than revenue.

    The only question now is…when will they get turned back on?

  • There is one other question: do we have to pay the tickets from the most recent activation?

  • If disobeying the will of your constituency means you have “stones”.. then yes, Kim.

  • geequeue, the civil liberties argument of red light cameras is ridiculous. You have no right to privacy when in a public place. If you don’t like cameras for that reason, go argue with every other store, bank, ATM, etc. in America and fight against surveillance cameras. You will lose (as others have). These cameras are coming down because of voter’s will, not civil liberty violations.

  • Brian,

    The error in your argument is that cameras at stores, banks, and ATM’s are not public. They are private facilities that you have to enter into an agreement to utilize. Also, an agreement in this sense does not mean formal contract.

    Utilizing an ATM means you agree to all the terms of whoever owns that ATM. If that involves a cameral, then so be it.

    If you shop in a store or park in a parking lot, you are in a agreement on the use of those facilities and will abide by their rules.

    These don’t violate privacy because you consent to the cameras being there by participating in the commerce at the locations.

    If the public votes for the cameras, then they are willingly giving up the privacy of not having the cameras. Of course, under this rule, if the city council voted for the cameras they represent the public, but the public has vocally and at the ballot box repudiated their representation.

  • Caveat: All my legal knowledge comes from Law and Order, so there is that.

    You’ve also entered an agreement to abide by rules set by the government when using a public road.

    You don’t have to use it, but if you do, you’re consenting to following those laws, and enforcement of those laws including red light cameras.

    To quote you — you abide by the government (operator and owner of the road) rules. Those rules include cameras.

    Also, those survelience cameras sometimes record actions outside the purview of the ATM, store, parking lot whatever, and you can still be caught. If I’m caught by an ATM camera chopping up a body in a vacant lot across the street, are you saying that the evidence is inadmissible because I was not in agreement to use those facilities?

    Congrats though. You don’t have to pay when you’re literally caught breaking the law

  • Brian did not get burned at all. He is absolutely correct. kjb’s response has no basis in law or fact whatsoever. He just thought it sounded good.

  • Nobody here has basis in law unless they start citing references.

    I’m just drawing logical conclusions.

    Also, the rules for usage of public facilities is different the private ones. You don’t have to utilize a grocery store. You must utilize public right of way (side walk or road).

    My argument also goes to the origination of the use of the cameras in the first place. The councilmembers in representing the people approved the cameras which is legal. I may not like it, but it’s legal. The public pushed through a charter amendment which countered the councilmembers actions. I don’t agree with utilizing a charter amendment for this, but I do agree with idea that the public pushed back.

    It became more obivious that the city is using the cameras for revenue and not safety reasons when they fought so hard to keep the cameras in operation. I figure if the people don’t want to be kept safe by having the cameras (the original intent), then get rid of them and let them risk their lives. Dallas showed their cameras were for just revenue purposes by turning off cameras where red light running is netting less revenue than the operational costs of the camera.

  • An ATM camera wasn’t installed by the state so they could steal money from me. The two are not related at all.
    If you want to live in a police state with cameras watching you to ticket you, then find another place to live.
    While we’re quickly moving away from ‘the land of the free’, we’re not quite gone yet.

  • kjb —

    You didn’t address what happens when a camera on private property (eg — ATM or Grocery Store) catches you in the act of doing something illegal off their property. You never consented to be seen by that camera.

    You are also not forced to use public roadways. They are just easy and have been provided to you, and by using them, you consent to the laws as written for their proper use, monitoring for violations by a camera.

  • Some are in favor of cameras, some are opposed. I like the cameras, but they have been voted down so be it. But, in your celebration remember.

    This will remove funding from trauma centers and law enforcement, make intersections less safe, and now the city is open to a huge liability for breach of contract (between $18 and $25 million depending on the source).

    The cameras are gone, but it’s certainly not a victory for the people. That liability is going to come right out of their pocket. Taxpayer victory indeed.

  • SJ,

    There is precedent on this. Depending on your jurisdiction, it can be illegal to film someone without consent off of your property. Of course the smartphone world has toss these laws upside down.

    If you were seriously bothered by an ATM camera, for example, that happens to film someone walking behind a user of the ATM, you do have the ability to challenge it. Luckily for ATM’s, the cameras focus is so close that you couldn’t make out anything much further away anyway.

    A parking lot camera must be pointed to focus on the property.

    If someone points the camera in away it films outside the property, you can challenge it. It isn’t some egregious violation of law. Most people would be reasonable to just adjust the camera.

  • @kjb, unless you can cite a statute, I call BS on the statement about taking pictures off your property. You can take pictures of anyone, anywhere in public. That means you can film anyone on the streets, on the roads, as you leave the strip bar, as you leave the “massage parlor”, etc. You have no expectation of privacy when you are in public.

  • kjb is all over the map. He has heard just enough of a statute here and there to feel he can fill in the rest with whatever pops into his head.

    There IS a criminal statute (TPC 21.15) that prohibits some photography without consent. However, this is a ban on upskirt and other sexually explicit photography! It has nothing at all to do with photographing someone in public. Photographing of people in public is legal and is done frighteningly often. kjb is simply flat out wrong.

    US courts have ruled that no one has a right to run a red light or to avoid being seen by a camera. Indeed, HPD and other police agencies have mounted cameras in their patrol cars to film persons violating the law. They can be very effective in prosecuting drunk drivers. There is no constitutional prohibition against the camera being unattended. In fact, a police officer reviews the video evidence and decides whether an offense is committed. This is no different than reviewing video of a driver to decide if he is intoxicated.

    Finally, the stoplight camera citations are CIVIL infractions assessed against the owner of the vehicle. This is far different than a criminal citation against the driver. The constitutional protections are lower, since there is no loss of liberty (jail) as a possible punishment.

    Now, let’s address that silly idea that stoplight cameras are illegal because they generate revenue. Taxes are legal. So are user fees and tolls. So are fines for civil and criminal infractions. Camera stoplight fines are assessed in the same manner as parking violation fines. They are utterly and categorically legal, either as a traffic enforcement tool, or as a revenue generating tool. That is why the stoplight camera has never been struck down. The courts have found them to be legal.

  • Dave,

    If you think the argument by the people that don’t want red light cameras is that they are “illegal because they generate revenue”, then you completely missed the whole premise.

    The argument about the revenue is that the council and red light camera supporters lied that the cameras will make the intersections safer. The evidence on that is minimal at best and more evidence exist that they don’t do anything to improve safety.

    There is nothing illegal about the government increasing it’s revenue. It would have been more forthcoming if the city said it wanted red-light cameras to increase revenue and also free up more cops to concentrate on other more serious crimes. I would have supported it if they were honest about it.

    I’m not against the use of cameras for red light violations, what I’m against is the premise put forth for needing the cameras. I also have an issue with the process after the photo is taken. Several European cities have moved to cameras that take the drivers photo also to verify the driver is the owner. If you trade in your car and the title information isn’t transfered by the dealer or the parties involved and someone runs one of these cameras, you still get the violation and then have to go through the hell to prove you don’t own the car. Under the law, you are still guilty, because the ticket goes to the title owner and not the driver. The camera itself is not the problem. It’s how the violation is processed after.

  • Dave is right. You “big brother” loonies have absolutely no right to or expection of privacy in the public– including your car. Don’t want your picture taken? Either quit going outside or, even simpler, quit breaking the law. The red light camera issue is the last straw for me, my councilman and Mayor Parker will not receive my vote.

  • Whether or not red light cameras reduce accidents is dependent entirely on which statistics you use and how your use them. Severity and type of accident are all skewed to one degree or another to try and make whatever point the author of an opinion already held betfore the data was gathered. At the end of the day red light cameras punish those who illegally jump red lights. When I have to, yet again, slam on the brakes to avoid some idiot jumping the light at the 610 feeder and San Felipe so he can be home 30 seconds earlier I will click my heels together and hope for their return some day.

  • Well, everybody sing:

    Red traffic light
    Light I decline
    In a hurry-
    Look out for me!

    (Apologies to Firesign Theatre)