You're still on camera

Red Light Cameras: Can You Run Through One Today Without A Fine?

The answer to the above question is "We wouldn't recommend it."

But with the big vote against red-light cameras in Houston yesterday, there are a lot of unanswered questions on the fallout.

Paul Kubosh, the lawyer who led the fight, tells Hair Balls that he thinks there should be no more citations issued as of today from the cameras. He thinks the City Council will not fight the vote.

"The council has heard the will of the people, and to go against it would be political suicide," he says.

But the city has a contract with American Traffic Systems, the Arizona-based company that runs the red-light cameras here and across the nation.

Janice Evans, Mayor Annise Parker's spokesperson, tells Hair Balls the mayor will be answering many of the questions after today's council meeting, at her regular press conference.

ATS says it doesn't answer questions about specific programs. When College Station passed a ban on the cameras, ATS sued, but political pressure on the council led to the city getting out of the contract. Houston city officials say the red-light program is worth $10 million a year to the cash-strapped city, though.

Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the local pro-red-light group, told the Houston Chronicle he didn't think ATS would sue.

Kubosh said his group spent about $200,000 on the campaign, and did not have TV ads like the ATS group did. He also pointed out it wasn't strictly an anti-tax/fine thing: Voters did approve new drainage fees in the same election.

So are you free today to take a chance on yellow? For one thing, the election results have not yet been certified. But a lot of other things still need to play out on the issue, so again, we say "probably not."

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