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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Voters ban traffic-light cameras

Cincinnatians - the first voters in the country to decide whether their municipality should be able to use cameras to catch drivers running red lights - favor a camera ban.

Issue 7, which would prohibit the city from installing cameras, passed 51 percent to 49 percent.

City Council in August rejected a proposal by the city manager to begin contract negotiations with a camera company. Mayor Mark Mallory had said he would veto the ordinance if it had passed.

Still, Councilman Cecil Thomas, chairman of council's Law & Public Safety committee, said he would consider resurrecting the issue in his committee - with a safety emphasis this time rather than a budgetary one. The camera plan came up late last year when council approved the current budget, which included $1 million in planned revenue from camera tickets.

Thomas said, however, that it only made sense to wait until after the election to see what voters think of the cameras before bringing the issue up again.

Proponents of the measure, including NAACP President Christopher Smitherman and lawyer Chris Finney of the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, said they wanted to push for the ban now so future councils could never put forth another camera proposal.

They believe the cameras erode civil liberties, circumvent a driver's right to face his accuser and were put forth by city officials as a way to make money, not to improve safety. [Mark Godsey]

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