They are supposed to save lives, but Houston and College Station recently outlawed them.
The company responsible for manufacturing, selling, and installing most of these is an outfit called ATS:
Millions of dollars paid by motorists in red light camera and speed camera fines end up in the pockets of a handful of individuals. In the United States, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) is responsible for about 41 percent of the nation's photo enforcement business, but as a private company its dealings are well concealed from public scrutiny. Based on a review of documents marked "confidential -- attorneys' eyes only," the ATS leadership team has reaped significant personal profit in a short amount of time.So why would Houston and College Station outlaw this life-saving technology?
"I paid through sweat equity of becoming a member of the leadership, and I made a financial investment in the company," former Wall Street analyst Adam Draizin explained in a December 3, 2009 deposition discussing his joining ATS in May 2004.
Draizin's contribution was $500,000 for which he earned an share equal to that of the company's other three partners. That investment paid off in a big way when Goldman Sachs became the largest shareholder in 2008 with a 30 percent stake. Draizin, John Petrozza, Adam Tuton, James Tuton each share an equal 16.7 percent stake. James Investment (Robert Alpert) held a 3 percent share.
Goldman paid $58 million for its slice of the automated ticketing industry, of which $45 million was invested in the company. The original four partners pocketed $3,250,000 each -- a six-fold return for Draizin, a Harvard Business School graduate. Goldman retains significant influence over the business. The deal required that ATS change from a subchapter S corporation to a C corporation, that Goldman representatives sit on the ATS board of directors and that the board meet on a quarterly basis.
Some drivers believe that the cameras aren't there to make the intersections safer. The cameras are there to increase revenue.
I can promise you that the ATS Sales Reps don't go into City Council meetings and start their pitches with how much safer they can make the busy crossroads of Abbott, Texas. The ATS Sales Reps go into the room talking about Bringing In The Benjamins.
Some cities don't even treat the fines as a moving violation. In Arlington TX, the
Safety or revenue? Will we ever know why the cameras are there?
Don't we deserve to know?
I propose that we lobby for the Safe Highway Intersection Tip Test 2011.
The Safe Highway Intersection Tip Test (listed on ballot initiatives as SHIT Test 2011) would require that all intersections dangerous enough to merit a red-light camera be marked with the appropriate warning signs....
I had to make that one myself, using one of the sign-generator websites.
Many areas already have something similar in place, although I've not seen them in Texas. Chicago apparently has some like this:
So in the upcoming 2012 elections, be sure to ask everyone running for office if they care enough about our childrens' safety to support SHIT Test 2011.
After all, if an intersection is dangerous enough to merit a camera, it is dangerous enough to merit some signs, right?
And ATS should pay for the privilege of installing them.