A vocal opponent of red light cameras filed a lawsuit today against the City of Houston for apparently refusing to release monthly traffic reports requested under the state's Public Information Act.
The lawsuit, filed in Harris County District Court by Paul Kubosh, who helped found the group Citizens Against Red Light Cameras, comes one day before local voters will decide whether to keep the city's red light camera program.
Kubosh's attorney, civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen, tells Hair Balls that he believes the city is trying to avoid or stall the release of the information, which he thinks is favorable to the anti-camera crowd, until after the election so as not to sway voters against the devices, which have reportedly brought in more than $40 million in fines.
"The city is withholding the records," says Kallinen, " because they will show that the incidences of red light running is not going down at red light intersections."
On October 5, according to the lawsuit, Kubosh requested the monthly Location Performance Summary Reports prepared by the city's red light camera contractor for the period from September 2008 to September 2010. Kallinen says the records, or a request for a ruling from the AG's office, was due on October 19.
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Kubosh, however, claims the city neither requested a ruling nor provided the reports.
The city did apparently give Kubosh some information, but it was not what Kubosh was seeking. Kallinen says that Kubosh received one composite report with aggregate totals, but not the monthly breakdowns and individual reports, as were requested.
"The city might say, 'Well, it is the information you requested,' but it is not," says Kallinen. "It's not because it's not the monthly reports and we can't see the numbers going up or down."
Noting that a lawsuit filed on the eve of the election will probably not get the information out in time to effect voters' decisions, Kallinen said Kubosh is nevertheless asking the judge to make the city release the monthly reports.