Friday, April 9, 2010 at 4:43 PM
A Cincinnati group that opposes red-light traffic cameras came to Northeast Ohio Friday to help launch a local effort to ban the surveillance devices from city streets. The organization is backing a petition drive to put the issue before voters. ideastream®'s David C. Barnett has more.
About a dozen people with hand-made protest signs huddled at the corner of East 71st and Chester --- a well-known intersection for commuters traveling between Cleveland and the Eastern suburbs. Thousands of traffic tickets have been generated by red light and speed enforcement cameras at this crossroads, which is why it was chosen by the protestors who want to get the devices banned.
Christopher Finney, who founded the anti-tax organization, COAST, was there to cheer them on. He led a successful effort to stop red-light cameras in Cincinnati and has started a similar push in Toledo. He says the cameras impinge on basic civil liberties.
CHRISTOPHER FINNEY: You do not get the right to confront your accuser, there's a presumption of guilt, you also don't have the right of subpoena, and there's a presumption of guilt of the car owner, even if you're not driving the car at the time that the ticket's issued.
Finney also claims that the tickets are legally unenforceable. Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi says the red light enforcement system has passed a number of legal challenges.
ROBERT TRIOZZI: It's an acceptable enforcement tool. The federal court has recognized it. The state court has recognized it. Every challenge to the system has been overturned.
The next decision could be in the hands of voters. The protestors are collecting signatures to put charter amendments on the November ballot in the cities of Cleveland and Garfield Heights.