Looks like all those goody two shoes who paid their red-light camera tickets last month — against the hard advice of select City Councilmembers, traffic lawyers and, well, this very blogger — just screwed things up for the rest of us.
Though the L.A. City Council already abolished the completely ineffective red-light camera program in early summer (and good riddance), our elected officials took a major step back today. They voted, 11-2, to keep collecting fines for yet-unpaid tickets.
Their infuriating rationale, provided by Assistant Chief Legislative Analyst June Gibson:
The $11,000 we pay to American Traffic Solutions each month — the steep price of accessing the red-light camera company's database of photos and evidence, necessary to prosecution — is still smaller than the amount all L.A.'s nervous suckers continue to fork over for their egregious $480 tickets.
The city collected about $107,000 in ticket fines this September, according to Fox11.
So essentially, the City Council, despite being perfectly aware that the red-light camera program was an evil shakedown of its constituents that didn't even address safety issues, still wants to spook the 50,000 Angelenos who haven't paid off their tickets into doing so.
Fresh-faced Councilman Mitchell Englander's excuse: “We've ended the photo red light program. The stake is in the heart … now we still have to deal with the body.”
Huh? We'll ignore the extreme creepiness of that statement and deal, instead, with its embarrassing lack of logic. When the news first broke in July that the broke-ass citizenry likely wouldn't be punished for letting red-light tickets go unpaid, the number of people paying the fines dropped a sharp 40 percent. (That's still 60 percent too many, in our opinion, but hey — the life of a carefree alt-weekly rebel isn't for everyone.
Now, considering only about half of violators were paying the fines to begin with, there's no way the cash milked from approximately 5,000 people — or even 10,000, to be generous — could match the $11,000 the city has agreed to pay to American Traffic Solutions next month.
OK. So L.A. city government is incompetent. Tell us something we don't know, right? Here's what you're really looking for: Do I still not have to pay my red-light camera ticket?
That's up to you. However, we've provided you the lack of consequences, as accurately as we can determine. (And PLEASE, If you've experienced otherwise, let us know.) From our September post on the subject:
In July, L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz said of GC Services, “They'll never actually make you pay, and they won't put it on your credit.'' And to this day, L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine sings a similar tune, adding that the tickets definitely won't show up on your DMV record.
… The only consequence we've been able to identify, so far, is that the ticket will remain in Superior Court, in awkward limbo, for court personnel to view.
The only thing that's changed, today, is that City Councilmembers are being a bunch of greedy jerks (fess up — which one of y'all is in bed with American Traffic Solutions?) and telling their collections agency, GC Services, to keep hassling the huddled masses for what they're well aware is dirty money.
Stay strong, fellow red-light runners of this hellish traffic capital. Things are looking up: The Chief Legislative Analyst has predicted that the Los Angeles Police Commission, who monitors red-light ticket revenue, will vote to stop collecting it by January.
Plus, for every one of us who doesn't pay, another thread unravels in the City Council's (already very crappy) argument for preserving this indirect taxation.
And hell, while we're at it: Long live the 99 percent.