Red-light cameras, good riddance

Five Gwinnett cities — Duluth, Lilburn, Norcross, Snellville and Suwanee -  have either thrown in the towel on red-light cameras at high-traffic intersections or plan to drastically curtail their use.

To which I say, hallelujah!

For this, credit should go to State Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cartersville), who introduced legislation last year that put reasonable restrictions on their use.  His legislation, passed into law, took the regulation of red-light cameras from the cities that were using them as ATMs and put them under the Georgia Department of Transportation.

It also required the cities that employed them to “provide  demonstrable evidence that there is a genuine safety need.”  Safety and not the revenue to be generated had to be the deciding factor. “The only consideration shall be the increased lifesaving value,” the bill stipulated

  Importantly, too, local governments couldn’t tinker with the signal timing to gin up dollars.  “The minimal yellow light change interval shall be established in accordance with nationally recognized engineering standards” plus one second, the law provided.

  It was a fine example of a conservative legislator checking the power of goverment to exploit and abuse its citizens. 

   Lilburn’s city manager, Bill Johnsa, told the AJC’s Shane Blatt that in the January before Loudermilk’s bill was passed, Lilburn issued almost 1,500 citations at three intersections with red-light cameras. A year later, after the new law went into effect, citations dropped to 300.  “Certainly our high-speed accidents are down, so [the cameras] are working,” he said.  “But when you build your budget around those sources of revenue, it’s difficult.”   Lilburn pays $1,200 for use of the cameras.

Suwanee suspended use of the cameras in January.  “With the changing of the lights,” said Mayor Dave Williams, “violations dropped so much that it was going to cost taxpayers a significant amount of money to continue to have those cameras in place.”

The cameras never were about traffic safety so much as they were the local version of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposed $200 ”fee” on “super-speeders” to raise money for a new trauma care program, or the various add-on that legislators have tacked on to fines and court-filings over the years.  Their primary purpose is to generate revenues from a class of people who can temporarily be classified as unworthy — the super-speeders or red-light runners, for example.

When it truly is about safety, as the Loudermilk bill required, the red-light revenue stream dries up.

To which I say, good riddance.

78 comments Add your comment

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 16th, 2009
6:59 am

Good morning all. I’m willing to praise Rep. Loudermilk’s initiative, but how about a word for our genial host here. Jim Wooten was the first and loudest, and maybe the only, voice in the media to tackle the corrupt purpose in the red light cameras. The battle is not won, but the tide turns.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 16th, 2009
7:02 am

I cannot determine whether my comment on the topic posted, either my browser crashed, or there is an unprecedented delay in post times. If my argument did not post, I will repost later. But the higher priority, I now publish talking points for friend Redneck.

Our blogging friend, “Chris Matthew’s Tingling Leg” coined an exceedingly clever term this weekend, detected and magnified by friend Glenn. The term is “nannycrats,” a more accurate term describing those I have previously mocked as “Obamacrats.” I cite that piece of genius on the blog due to the weekend’s latest significant deception by the Obama administration, an initiative to “help” small business.

The administration apparently discovered that which conservatives already knew, that small business is the principal engine of job formation in the United States. In order to facilitate small business job formation, the Obama administration commits $700 million for lending by the Small Business Administration. Surely that is the most impressive declaration since Dr. Evil announced his intention to blackmail the governments of the world for $1 million.

$700 million would not finance the small businesses in Atlanta, much less make a serious dent into the needs of small businesses nationwide. But the money is only a secondary matter, the larger deception is the concealment of the cause of the problem.

We have previously discussed the constraints on liquidity generally, arising from the banks’s sudden and unforeseeable inability to resell securitized mortgages. The problem is compounded by regulator insistence on marking to a market value of $0 securities that otherwise continue to throw off a 5% return with a reasonable likelihood of 95% recovery of principal. The regulatory-effect is to close banks that otherwise are viable, thus diminishing outlets of business credit.

The greater problem however is the general regulatory agenda of the Nannycrats. Any regulation is inherently a restriction on market efficiency, a pronouncement by Nannycrats that efficiency is undesirable and thus shall be illegal. Costs of complying with such inefficiencies are broadly the same for all entities. Thus, in most circumstances, economies of scale permit large businesses to adapt to regulatory whims at less cost per revenue dollar than small entities. Big business is not particularly troubled by increased regulations, as it creates a competitive advantage over small, more nimble competitors.

The tone deaf Obama administration is blithely unaware of the crushing effects of its initiatives –
a) imposing new regulations on business, (e.g., “card check”)
b) imposing new costs on business, (e.g., “mortgage cram-down” or “cap and trade”)
c) crowding out business borrowing (due to government borrowing needs to fund its massive new spending,) and
d) the prospective elimination of the Bush tax cuts.

If the Nannycrats had any economic competence, they would accomplish more by simply exempting small businesses from the scope of any act of Congress or any rule published by any regulator, and leave the regulation of small business to the individual states. State governments are generally more rational in dealings with the engines of job formation.

Each of the current thrusts is potentially deadly for business, and the magnitude of the Obama program ensures many corporate bodies will lay in the wake of the Nannycrats. Why would any business add workers to payroll when everything telegraphed by the government suggests disaster ahead?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 16th, 2009
7:12 am

Grammar correction – “bodies will LIE in the wake of the Nannycrats.” Apologies.


March 16th, 2009
7:31 am

If only you had the same take on the rest of our 4th Amendment rights Jim. Big Brother needs to be be eliminated totally from our lives. Get him out of our telephone lines, our computers, and our homes. The era of intrusive government under the guise of security, safety, whatever the excuse is, is total BS and must be fought tooth and nail. The us (gov’t) against them (we the people) mentality that has taken root in this country has to go. If Americans don’t resist the police state mentality that has been born in this country in the recent past, we will all soon lose valuable freedoms. But yes, getting rid of these red light camera spy devices is a step in the right direction. That an inanimate object can be given a citation was way beyond ludicrous to begin with and shot due process all to hell. Good riddance to one of many government intrusions into our daily lives.

Ga Values

March 16th, 2009
7:50 am

I don’t see the problem if you don’t want a ticket don’t run the red light. Thank goodness turkey season starts Saturday.

Churchill's MOM

March 16th, 2009
7:53 am

Is it still a good thing for the Federal Government to listen to our phone calls?

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
7:55 am

As the CEO of this business that employees 65 people, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barrack Obama is our President, and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way. To compensate for these increases, I figure that the Clients will have to see an increase in our fees to them of about 10% but since we cannot increase our fees right now due to the dismal state of our economy, we will have to lay off six of our employees instead.. This has really been eating at me for a while, as we believe we are family here and I didn’t know how to choose who will have to go.

So, this is what I did. I strolled thru our parking lot and found six Obama bumper stickers on our employees’ cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can’t think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for change; I gave it to them.

I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.

Kind regards,

The Boss

Chris Broe

March 16th, 2009
8:04 am

The red light camera was my downfall. I got a summons in the mail just last week. Did you know that you dont just get one photo of your violation, but four? They show your car at 1 second after the light turns read, 2.2 second, 3.4 seconds, and 4.4 seconds after the light turns red, I was still in the intersection. (I was turning left). I guess the cops don’t look at the photos because it also showed a beer can being thrown from my car, I was wearing a ski mask, and my back seat was filled with illegal aliens. This was the second red light camera ticket I’ve gotten. The first time, I guess the camera was broken, because what I got in the mail was a police sketch artist version of what happened. It didn’t even look like my Camry! Isn’t that a violation of due process? I think all patriotic Georgians should wrap crime scene tape around those red light cameras to block the lenses(es). Who’s with me? Lets do it!


March 16th, 2009
8:06 am

To which I’D say “They worked!” I know the 75$ my daughter had to pay for being caught in the intersection after the light changed really made a difference to her.

I don’t see this calling for less regulation and businesses griping about having to pull more weight: when we had less regulation and businesses were pulling it in hand over fist, no one was complaining.

Eventually you get what you deserve. Just maybe not in this life.

Chris Broe

March 16th, 2009
8:27 am

Those lists of sex offenders, and lists of ex-billionaires, and of course the list of the smartest to dumbest dogs are usually self-exclusionary, but somehow, I ended up on all three lists. Funny how the viscissitudes of life and the extra-curricular activities which were supposed to elevate me to astronomical heights have left me only a star of red light cameras where I have never been caught not saying, (free government) “cheese”.

Pa told me some folks just don’t no excuse, they’re just rotten when they’d been born.

My dog likes to stick his head outside my car window and smile for the red light cameras. Talk about a scene stealer. I want to know who gave my dog Joan Crawford lessons?

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:33 am

Amid rising pressure from Congress and taxpayers, the American
International Group on Sunday released the names of dozens of financial
institutions that benefited from the Federal Reserve’s decision last
fall to save the giant insurer from collapse with a huge rescue loan.

Financial companies that received multibillion-dollar payments owed by
A.I.G. include Goldman Sachs ($12.9 billion), Merrill Lynch ($6.8
billion), Bank of America ($5.2 billion), Citigroup ($2.3 billion) and
Wachovia ($1.5 billion).

Big foreign banks also received large sums from the rescue, including
Societe Generale of France and Deutsche Bank of Germany, which each
received nearly $12 billion.

A.I.G. also named the 20 largest states, starting with California, that
stood to lose billions last fall because A.I.G. was holding money they
had raised with bond sales.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:38 am

UBS plans to cut up to 5,000 senior and management jobs in the next few
weeks, Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung said on Sunday.

MacArthur O. Means

March 16th, 2009
8:38 am

I got a red-light camera ticket … because I still own the truck my daughter drives. Those cameras have also put a damper on legal right-on-red turns. I’m not going to take the chance.

On an actually important topic: Have you noticed that Levi Johnston, father of Sarah Palin’s grandson, is plainly Mitt Romney’s love child? How come the media isn’t all over that story?

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:40 am

Based on comments by Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Kenneth D. Lewis of
Bank of America last week about their firms’ earnings power, American
bankers are fighting — for the right to be zombies,

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:41 am

Kirk Kerkorian’s MGM Mirage, which has warned it could breach its
credit agreements this year if the economy doesn’t rebound, may break
itself up to lure potential buyers as it races to raise the more than
$1.5 billion it owes in bond payments and interest this year, The Wall
Street Journal reported.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:45 am

Warren E. Buffett, the world’s second-richest man, was paid only
$175,000 last year by his company, Berkshire Hathaway.


March 16th, 2009
8:45 am

Just like funding children’s healthcare with a cigarette tax, this red light photo-op was nothing but government smoke & mirrors. It’s only a conservative mind that can see clearly down the road.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:46 am

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it will meet on April 8 to
consider whether to propose “short sale price test rules,” which could
include reinstating the so-called “uptick rule.”

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:48 am

Discover Financial Services said late Friday that it had raised $1.2
billion in new capital by selling preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury,
under its Troubled Asset Relief Program capital-purchase program.

Redneck Convert

March 16th, 2009
8:49 am

Well, these red light cameras have just about ruint life as we knowed it. Used to be you could squeeze nine, maybe ten cars thru a light change. It wouldn’t bother other people that had a green light. They would just wait for everybody to get thru before they started to move. Now you get a ticket mailed to you if you’re even in the innersection when the light changes from yellow to red.

And that’s why I stopped going to Roswell. I already got mailed 7 tickets from them. Heck, up here in Forsyth County they would just wave hello to you if you run a red light. But Roswell wants 150 bucks for every ticket they write. Besides, I looked at the pictures they took of me and they got my worst side every time. If I’d of knowed I was getting my picture took I would of at least tried to smile.

Anyhow, most of us hard-working Conservatives got to be to places on time if we want to make any money. We ain’t got time to stop for red lights and such. Those things are for people that got alot of time on their hands. Old people and kids and Those People and such. If they keep slowing us down like this a bunch of us will be out of work and there won’t be no taxes paid and the GA economy will come to a stop.

So I’m with Wooten. Make the yellow lights–oh, about two minutes, so we can get where we’re going. And give 10 or 12 warning tickets with no fines before you start mailing real tickets. You got to remember a camera got no person behind it. You can’t talk to it and make up your best excuse and blame the guy ahead of you and maybe get the woman beside you to show some leg and get by.

I’m just disgusted at how they ruint life with these cameras so I’ll just shut up for now. Have a good day everybody.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:50 am

President Barack Obama will announce steps on Monday to make it easier
for small business owners to borrow money, using $730 million in
stimulus funds to cut lending fees, boost loan guarantees and expand
other programs.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:51 am

The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a populist
backlash against banks and Wall Street, worried that anger at financial
institutions could also end up being directed at Congress and the White
House and could complicate President Obama’s agenda.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:52 am

The New York Post, citing undisclosed sources, reports that federal
investigators are looking to freeze Ms. Madoff’s assets, because of
fears she might flee the country or otherwise spirit away some of the
$93 million in her name.

Chris Broe

March 16th, 2009
8:53 am

Oh, you’ll get what you deserve in this life, Catlady. May you cough up the sweet hairball of happiness! Everybody loves cat ladies. There’s just something about a woman in a cat outfit, I don’t know what it is. the claws? the fur? the tail? (I’m getting turned on. gotta go).

Big Boss CEO: The red light cameras only engage when they spot a W bumper sticker.

Ga Values: wrong premise. There are many times, when you approach a green light that traffic slows down or stops after you’ve entered the intersection, and you’re a sitting duck for the camera. Say free government “Cheese”.

Did you know that President US Grant was a repeat-offender of the traffic laws in the old days before cars? He’d make his carriage go much faster than the laws allowed. They captured him many times on daguerreotype careening through intersections against the flow of horses. And he drank and cantered. He needed a designated mule skinner. He was charged with “tipsy trotting” fifteen times, but he classified the tickets and we still cant get access to them till 2525.

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:55 am

With the economy in disarray and so many financial firms in free fall,
analysts and educators themselves are wondering if the way M.B.A.
students are taught may have contributed to the most serious economic
crisis in decades.

Rush Limbaugh for President

March 16th, 2009
8:57 am

Hey, I can’t believe it but I actually agree with something Jim Wooten said. I got a $70.00 ticket form the city of Snellville for going 14mph thru a yellow light that turned red before I made it under the light. A total racket that was all about $$ and nothing about saftey. Good for you Jim.

Now for my friend Rag. Rag you made a few good points today but your percision sometimes is greater than your accuracy.
Your assertion that “any regulation is inherently a restriction of market efficiency” is simply not a plausable position to take. If that were true then even less regulatory oversight of AIG and Fanny and Freddy and banks in general would have created a more efficient market and we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now. Right? I am for minimal but smart regulatory guidelines. And If you still think Wall Street can self regulate then you are smoking you’re underware.

Also, Bush had a conservitive majority for 6 years and could have exempted small business from federal regulation and moved it to the states. Why didn’t he if that is such a great idea?

I hate card check. I haven’t decided if I like the mortgage cram down or the cap-in-trade. I am still studying those.

If $700 million is not the right amount for small business then what is the number smarty pants?

Big Bucks GOP

March 16th, 2009
8:57 am

Representative Maxine Waters lashed out on Friday at critics who
questioned her actions last year in setting up a Treasury Department
meeting involving executives from OneUnited Bank, a black-owned bank
with financial ties to her family.


March 16th, 2009
9:07 am

Good Job Jim………..Important stuff at a time like this in America !

Road Scholar

March 16th, 2009
9:28 am

Jim you state that it was a godsend that the regulation of red light cameras was shifted to GDOT. This is the same GDOT that you have lambasted in the past for mismanagement and support it’s Board redefinition. Which is it? GDOT and its employees put the citizens of the state first as can be seen by their operations and making safety number one. The redlight camera use is not corrupt; it’s the drivers who disobey the law to address their own benefit.

RD: as for the nannycrats nickname, there is a name also fo know it all conservative jerks and it’s a$$holes! You and BBGOP need to get your own website!

Finally, if you do not like the alledged Big Brother issues with red light cameras, I can not wait until the GOP initiates the pay by mileage or tolls all Interstates in Georgia. How do you think they will track your mileage?

Chris Broe

March 16th, 2009
9:34 am

If rag wrote a correct and true “grammar correction” he’d stop commenting for two full years and join a monastery begging Yeats for forgiveness. Or is it Keats. Dang it! I always get my inner writers mixed up! I hate myself I hate shakespeare. Nuke Xanadu!!


March 16th, 2009
9:56 am

Chris Broe @9:34: It’s not enough you have to drag Yeats and Keats and even Shakespeare through the mud. No, you have to drag poor, opium-addicted Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s corpse, too. At long last, sir, have you no shame?


March 16th, 2009
10:14 am

The yellow light at the intersection of Haynes Bridge and Northpoint Parkway lasts about 0.2 seconds, and the City of Alpharetta is raking it in. How could they have been allowed to put the cameras up in the first place without checks on screwing with the timers? The clause in the notice that tells you to pay up, don’t contest it, don’t ask questions, and you’ll get no points on your license says it all.


March 16th, 2009
10:27 am

I guess the Southern tradition of the lucrative speed trap dies hard.

Now, if we could just get the local governments to shift off of property tax dependency and onto a funding stream that tends less to “fiscalize” zoning and land-use decisions…


March 16th, 2009
10:40 am

It’s interesting that anti-tax activists in Kingsport, TN linked to this column.

Elephant Whip

March 16th, 2009
10:42 am

I have never dealt with a redlight ticket. Do the pictures show the driver? Is it considered a criminal charge? How do they prove who was actually driving the car (unless, of course, no one besides the person who pays for the tag has access to the car)? Who is actually charged?

Churchill's MOM

March 16th, 2009
10:44 am

Good news from the AP.

Bristol Palin’s ex-fiance hopes to reunite one day
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The former fiance of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter says he hopes they can reconcile at some point.

Levi Johnston told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday that he and 18-year-old Bristol Palin ended their engagement after deciding it would be better if they separated for a while.

The engagement is off for Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, the father of her baby. Johnston told The Associated Press on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 that he and Bristol Palin mutually decided ‘a while ago’ to end their relationship.
The two are the parents of an infant son, Tripp, born on Dec. 27. Johnston says the couple needed time to grow up before following through on marriage plans.

Says 19-year-old Johnston, “I’d like to get back together with her. I don’t know what she’s thinking.”

Asked if they are civil when chatting, he says, “Yeah. For the most part.”

As for the future, he adds, “Whatever happens, happens.”

Sarah Palin announced her daughter’s pregnancy days after being picked by John McCain to be his GOP vice presidential running mate.

Johnston says he sees his son “whenever I want to.”


March 16th, 2009
10:53 am

Churchill’s MOM,

To paraphrase Winston, “Pray tell me, what did the GIRL do?”

Curious Observer

March 16th, 2009
10:55 am

Elephant Whip @10:42: A speeding ticket by camera is not considered a criminal charge–unless you fail to pay it. The ticket does not show up on your driver’s license record. You can pay either in person or by mail through use of a credit card number. Most jurisdictions will not accept a check in payment. The picture may show the driver, but usually the face is obscured by the windshield. The most prominent picture is the one of the rear license plate. The legal owner of the car is considered the one ticketed.

Chris Broe

March 16th, 2009
11:01 am

I hate it when I get outmarooned.


March 16th, 2009
11:04 am

OO la la ..cry your heart out…..I have never gotten a ticket from one of the red light cameras.

Well, one time I did get a ticket from a Texas Ranger in a long lonesome speed trap spot in west Texas for going 73 in a 70 mph stretch. I’ll never forget.

My two youngest children and I were heading for Arizona where I would work with the Tohono ‘Oodoms for the summer. The pleasant trooper stopped us, told us what his radar registered, and sent us to a nearby one room tin building. Nothing else around but rocks and sand.

We were greeted by an old man in a big Stetson. As he explained the dangers of ’speeding’, I asked “You are not going to fine a nice Southern lady here in Jefferson Davis County, are you?” (The “ol’ college try”.)

Without a blink, he replied,”Yes, mam, I am. That will be thirty seven dollars.” So I graciously paid up and we made our way to Van Horn, Texas for the evening. My children thought it the most fun they’d had in a long time. We did finally make it to Arizona.

Now you know my criminal history. Spread out before you. But not from a red light camera but a Texas Ranger. Bless his lil ol’ cheatin’ heart!

Elephant Whip

March 16th, 2009
11:25 am

Thanks, Curious Observer.

Sounds like a parking ticket. What is the crimimal charge if a person refuses to pay the ticket?

Churchill's MOM

March 16th, 2009
11:28 am

Glenn —She got knocked up, hope you know how that happens but her mother will be our next Conservative President.


March 16th, 2009
11:34 am


Sorry if I came off as condescending yesterday. I was merely trying to show Mr. Shipp a little conviviality. I don’t see why Jim shouldn’t have a liberal friend contributing to the blog, professional or no.

I am, however, a fan of honest paragraphs. Paragraphing was one of the great innovations of 12th Century Europe, and I’m all for it!


March 16th, 2009
11:38 am

I like the sound of this new Administration plan to goose small business loans at lowered rates. I’ll be surprised if it fails to garner significant GOP support. It might be the first really good move so far.


March 16th, 2009
11:48 am

I don’t think I’ll argue the constitutionality, or whether it’s an invasion of privacy or not. As a fairly new resident of Lilburn, however, I will say that’s it been nice to know that people will STOP for yellow lights and I can go on green without much fear of red-light runners. Not so in other areas. If the cameras are removed, I’ll miss them.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 16th, 2009
12:02 pm

Dear Rush @ 8:57, you observe: “Your assertion that “any regulation is inherently a restriction of market efficiency” is simply not a plausable position to take.” Perhaps we split hairs here, but I think we fundamentally disagree. The market will always trend toward efficiency. If a regulation is “efficient” then it will be meaningless, as the market already trends that direction.

“If that were true then even less regulatory oversight of AIG and Fanny and Freddy and banks in general would have created a more efficient market” Undoubtedly true. The problem, federal interference in the market, allowed FNMA and FHLMC to hook taxpayers at an obscene level, ratcheted higher every time the Nannycrats were in power.

“and we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now. Right?” No, I fear we disagree. Presence or absence of regulation is irrelevant. The problem is that Canute attempted to command the tides.

“I am for minimal but smart regulatory guidelines. And If you still think Wall Street can self regulate then you are smoking you’re underware.” Your faith in the integrity and efficiency of bureaucrats is touching.

Dear PoFo @ 9:39, surely you mean I should be begging Chairman Ayn?

Dear Glenn @ 11:38, not likely – too many victims, too little relief. As is always the case with shortages, it will most likely cause “credit” lines.

Chris Broe

March 16th, 2009
12:03 pm

Palin is the face that launched a thousand Bill Shipps. and to those K’s is say, “25 words or less”! Learn to twitter, even when you’re not twittering. That is my suggestion to all K of you.

Twitter. You’ll be a better person. And then maybe I’ll start forgiving mankind for inventing language in the first place.


March 16th, 2009
12:17 pm

Dear Glenn,

Mr. Shipp can post here all he wants. So can Bookman. I would still wonder why either would wander. I will throw kisses next time.

Honest paragraphs? How do you tell honest from dishonest? And 12th century Europe did it? And I just noticed!!!? Where have I been?

(New honest paragraph coming here with only a bit of dishonesty.) Maybe it is this RAIN! This much needed rain! Let us be thankful while cabin fever rages! May all red-light CAMERAS short out in the rain for the good of mankind. There. Right on subject.

GOP is gone

March 16th, 2009
12:22 pm

Shorter version: I got a ticket and I am still pi$$ed off