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Spurred By Judge Craig’s Drubbing of Palm Coast, Rep. Hutson Calls for Repeal of Red-Light Cameras

| March 21, 2014

Rep. Travis Huston, whose district includes all of Flagler County, is calling for the repeal of all red-light traffic cameras. (© FlaglerLive)

Rep. Travis Huston, whose district includes all of Flagler County, is calling for the repeal of all red-light traffic cameras. (© FlaglerLive)

Rep. Travis Hutson, whose district includes all of Flagler County, is calling for the abolition of all red-light cameras. Absent that, he says he will support a proposal before the Legislature that would slash red-light camera fines from $158 to $83, to eliminate the cash incentive ticketing currently represents for cities like Palm Coast.

“First and foremost, I am in complete opposition to the use of red light cameras in Florida,” Hutson said.

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Hutson, a first-term representative, issued a lengthy statement on the matter late Friday, attributing his decision to the “continued concern” that red-light cameras have represented in communities like Palm Coast, “and with the recent spotlight put on the issue locally by Judge Dennis Craig.”

On Thursday, Flagler County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Craig appeared before a Palm Coast hearing officer to challenge a red-light camera ticket citing Craig for a violation in September. Craig was in court that morning. But the violation was signed by a Palm Coast code enforcement officer, stating clearly that Craig was the violator, even though the officer conceded at the hearing that he had “no idea” who was at the wheel of the car that was cited. Palm Coast and American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that runs Palm Coast’s red-light camera system, routinely issue euch violations to car owners without knowing whether the accusation is accurate or not, leaving it to car owners to prove their innocence.

Craig, in a withering series of legal attacks on Palm Coast’s methods, concluded that the city was acting “in bad faith,” was misreading the law, and was turning vehicle owners into involuntary informants when the city erred in accusing owners of violating red lights. The city’s hearing officer eventually dismissed the violation against Craig, but only by declaring that the vehicle had made a “prudent” turn on red, even though the vehicle had been going 16 miles per hour. Craig was not satisfied with the ruling, because the city refused to address the false accusation against him, as written in the citation, or any of the questions he raised.

The city’s lawyer at the hearing said Palm Coast was merely following state law.

Craig, and now Hutson, disagreed. Hutson, in an attack on a local government unusually direct for a legislator, endorsed Craig’s appearance at the hearing. “I applaud Judge Craig for providing a voice for the many citizens who have been unduly punished by this burdensome practice,” Hutson said in his statement. “I will continue to support the repeal and the curtailment of red light cameras here in Tallahassee this session. To that end, I will work to move legislation that addresses the ambiguity between driver and owner that Judge Craig brought up and ensure that you do not have to pay a fine for another driver’s mistake.”

Hutson’s declaration and Craig’s case are only the latest in a series of rebukes of red-light cameras by prominent individuals and governments. Two weeks ago, St. Petersburg’s city government voted to end its red-light camera contract. Thursday evening, Tampa’s city government did the same, though Tampa officials may reverse curse if they’re certain that the revenue from the cameras is not diverted to the city’s general fund, but rather assigned to traffic and pedestrian safety exclusively.


Hutson cited the two red-light camera measures currently before the Legislature. One bill (HB4009) would repeal local authority to install red-light cameras altogether. But that bill has not moved forward, thanks in large part to the red-light camera lobby, which spends heavily in Tallahassee. Another proposal (HB7005) would reduce the red-light camera fines from $158 to $83 by eliminating the $75 portion that goes to local governments. That, in essence, would eliminate local governments’ incentive or ability to have cameras, because they need that portion of the revenue not only to feed their general fund, but to pay the companies that run the systems for them.

ATS runs most of the systems in Florida. In Palm Coast, 47 cameras have been generating close to an annualized $3 million. Only $400,000 of that goes toward Palm Coast’s general fund. The rest is shared by ATS and state government.

The measure that would cut fines to $83 would still give local governments the option to add a surcharge to fund existing cameras, “but it would have to be discussed at a public hearing and approved by majority vote of local officials,” Hutson said. That measure will be heard in the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday.

The Palm Coast City Council has consistently voted in favor of red-light cameras, with one exception (Jason DeLorenzo).

“In the meantime,” Hutson’s statement concludes, “if you would like to see them go away sooner, please let your local city and county officials who have put them up know that you want them down. If you would like to contact me regarding this issue or any other, please do not hesitate.”

The Pal Coast City Council members’ email addresses are listed here. Travis Hutson can be reached at 386/446-7644 and by email here.

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31 Responses for “Spurred By Judge Craig’s Drubbing of Palm Coast, Rep. Hutson Calls for Repeal of Red-Light Cameras”

  1. Steve Wolfe says:

    BRAVO!

    How about, barring Hutson’s success we get those RLC’s on the ballot? They lose (nearly) every time!

  2. Rob says:

    Nothing short of abolition is acceptable.
    Reductions in fines will not rid the root cause of this injustice.
    The guilty until proven innocent application of the new brand of motor vehicle code will still exist.

  3. OldCdog says:

    Thank you both Judge Craig and Representative Hutson for representing the view of the majority of
    Palm Coasters living here rather than those “elected officials” who purport to “serve” us!

  4. orphan says:

    OMG!
    There really IS a Santa Claus!
    And may the devil take the rest of these people who run roughshod over all citizens rights! DAMN! Finally, someone with enough power to perhaps STOP this madness.
    Whoohoo!
    (in this case there will be several santa clauses). :)

  5. Genie says:

    OMG, it’s Christmas!!! Thank you, Mr. Hutson! This is awesome!

  6. yippee hippy says:

    I am so ready for these cameras to all come down. Thank you Judge Dennis Craig and Representative Hudson for standing up and speaking out on a matter that has left us citizens helpless. The city is doing nothing more then imposing a tax to generate revenue to allow them to continue there out of control spending. One or two cameras at dangerous locations would be understandable-47 is unreasonable.

  7. Jill S. says:

    The biggest crime with these red light cameras is the raping of our local economy. Of the $3 million only $400.000. stays here. 2.6 million is sucked right out of our town. Just think of what that could do if our citizens had that to spend here.

  8. Dennis McDonald says:

    The 37 additional cameras, RLC’s where APPROVED @ City Council 7/3/2013 by Meeker who put the Motion up for adoption, Lewis who seconded it, followed by McGuire and of course Mayor Netts.
    The presentation given just before the vote had data that showed INCREASED accidents at the original 10 RLC’s. No Problem….APPROVED !

    The referendum to remove is a good start but why not remove the people that made them possible ?

    Dennis McDonald

  9. jenna Adams says:

    That’s all well and good that Mr Hutson has taken a stand on the stupid red light camera’s. Now if he will just take a position against Common Core or the Florida Standard. Our children and grand children deserve soooo much better.

    • Genie says:

      @ Jenna: Yes, they do. Unfortunately, many times it appears that Mr. Hutson is too close to Sen. Thrasher, a proponent of Common Core.

      And how many know that former Commissioner Melissa Holland now works for Sen. Thrasher?

  10. Will says:

    I’m not a fan of the red light cameras, but I it would be good to see the facts on whether Palm Coast has fewer intersection accidents – T-Bones and other light running crashes – before the city makes a decision. If it can be demonstrated that lives are saved, maybe some of the cameras should stay – with changes in line with Judge Craig’s concerns.

  11. confidential says:

    First good step from Congressman Hutson for Palm Coast and Flagler County residents! Thank you!

  12. w.ryan says:

    Seeing the tide change and the formal recognition of this Red Light issue, Hudson wants to put his voice on it. Well now…if his voice is to eliminate these cameras entirely I’d like that. His statement quoted implied to me that he isn’t entirely with the good citizens of this city. Judge Craig was on the money! In fact most of those points have been made for a while with exception of the clincher “Bad Faith”. But it takes someone of the Judges knowledge and status to give this argument a voice in Palm Coast. He delivered an impeccable argument!!!

  13. Enough says:

    Thank goodness there are elected Officials that really know how the citizens fell about the Red Light Cameras. The cameras are ruining the economy statewide. Not to mention everyday life of the citizens. Politicians that listen to the local community will always get elected or reelected!

    On a final note:
    Please write/email your Florida State Representative and let them know that you are in favor of Senate Bill 144 (SB144) to remove Red Light Cameras state wide.

    Web Link to write/email your State Representative: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx

    Web Links for Senate Bill 144 (SB144):
    http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=51147
    http://flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2014/0144

  14. Louie says:

    “We the people of ” of Palm Coast can stop
    This NOW
    http://www.generalelector.org/petition.pdf

    DO IT NOW!

  15. General Elector says:

    Looks like the tide is turning against these profit machine cameras. Keep those petitions coming. Lets finish the job.

    Do you want to get rid of the Red Light Cameras?
    Please print and sign the petition to End Palm Coasts Red Light Cameras!
    Just:

    1. Follow the link below & Print it
    Please print extra copies for your friends who are registered Palm Coast voters.
    If you get 5 or more signed. We will pick them up.
    2. Fill it out
    3. Mail it to us at:
    General Elector
    226A St. Joe Plaza Drive
    PMB 107
    Palm Coast, FL 32164

    http://www.generalelector.org/petition.pdf

    Join us in the effort to remove them at the link below:

    https://www.facebook.com/endpalmcoastredlightcameras

  16. Rick" says:

    I think I like the way this is finally going. Thank You.

  17. Mystified says:

    Was the city attorney representing both the city, and the board, in the meeting with Craig?

    Did the attorney cross that line at any time during Judge Craig’s questioning? Did they speak on behalf of the board in any one instance and then speak on behalf of the city or any of it’s employees in any other instance?

    If so, that is very clearly illegal according Florida legal statutes.

    If it was done, could it have been done as a favor in order to maintain their chummy financial relationship with the city? If that’s the case, then we may be talking about very serious crimes.

    Does the city attorney’s office have a habit of crossing that line with other “boards” which are supposed to be autonomous judicial branches of local government?

    All anyone has to do is ask the last web publisher for the old website files and look at Reischmann’s job description. It says he represents both the city and the boards. It was foolishly broadcast for everyone to see.

    An investigation of the Code Enforcement Board’s hearings over the last 5 years will probably uncover a lot more questionable behavior. Is the city attorney’s office also behind who has been advising city employees to mislead the public about their rights to hearing procedures like the due process and abuse Linda Thomas is suing city management over in federal court? How many people are they doing things like this to month after month? If they have done anything like this to you, should you speak up now? Especially now that others are no longer afraid and will join in your defense?

    How many thousands of dollars have Reischmann’s office and other lawyers collected while crossing lines with the help of city management and board members? If any of them are receiving any personal gain for doing it, isn’t that a serious crime? How much does Reischmann’s office earn every year from the city?

    Will the engineers, real estate professionals, and business owners who have said they were afraid a few employees in the city may retaliate and mess up their business dealings begin to stand up and talk now? Aren’t we just enabling the corruption when we don’t stand up to it, take a bit more of their corrupt abuse, and then use it provide more evidence we can use to expose and stop it? Not everything that has been done should be taken at face value, on either side.

    By now, it sure looks like there is a mountain of evidence available to help people like Linda Thomas prove this city’s management team is behind a lot of unethical and illegal behavior. Can we all begin to work together for the common good, rather than personal gain, so this city can be an even more beautiful place for us to raise our families and retire in?

  18. Charles Jordan says:

    Repeal them.i

  19. gary says:

    You go rep. Hutson. Keep up the good fight. You have my vote. Stop the red light wallet raping cameras.

  20. Anonymous says:

    But the crooked politicians in Crime Coast want to maintain red cameras. How can anyone fight the thugs in PC?

  21. Judge Craig and Representative Hutson are on the correct side of this issue. Red light cameras issue most tickets to very safe drivers with (A) yellow intervals set too short for the actual approach speeds of at least 85% of the drivers – as maliciously permitted by FDOT since July 2011 and/or (B) enforcement rules to ticket safe right on red turns, actions that federal research shows virtually never cause crashes.

    If red light cameras could ticket only dangerous drivers, no one would object – but the industry would immediately go bankrupt because the total fines would not even come close to paying the high costs of the cameras – typically $4,000+ per month per camera on a lease.

    Florida residents that have had enough of the scams of red light cameras need to call and write their state Representatives and Senators to insist they actively and publicly support House Bill 4009 and Senate Bill 144 as Rep. Hutson does. Also tell them as a back up to support House Bill 7005 to exclude the cities from the camera revenue stream – and make the use of cameras a cost item for the cities.

    CALL NOW to your Senators, HB144 gets another Senate hearing on Wednesday the 26th. The scourge of red light cameras CAN be defeated if enough residents speak out. Residents in local areas that have cameras should also call every Mayor and local Council Member or Commissioner to demand that those areas end the cameras as St. Petersburg and Tampa have just done.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  22. Gary says:

    The city’s hearing officer eventually dismissed the violation against Craig, but only by declaring that the vehicle had made a “prudent” turn on red, even though the vehicle had been going 16 miles per hour.

    I got mine on right turn in Volusia County two years ago and I was going 2 miles per hour! So, if you go 16 miles per hour on right turn it is ok. My bad.

  23. Charles "Bub" Robson says:

    Good idea put those unconstitutional money machines out of business, now. Let the people vote and the RLC’S will fall like a Rock.

  24. Carl says:

    They should be fined for the sheer number of camera`s they put up in a town this size, it should be gross abuse of a law that only came to exist because they first installed them illegally , everything this city counsel has done with these camera`s was wrong from day one , putting them in illegally in first place , rigging not only the yellow lights to half their normal time but increasing how long the lights stay red , and if that was not bad enough, they rigged them so you get stuck at every single one , which has tripled my gas usage going from Pine Lakes to Oak Trail in the B section on Old Kings Road, my g/f has cancer I go take care of her everyday , its insane how much longer it takes and how much more fuel I use , its criminal, and to put one at the entrance to the ER is just disgustingly greedy , people are upset enough racing a loved one to ER or going to visit someone brought in by ambulance, the last thing they need is the added stress when that flash goes off knowing they just lost half a weeks paycheck , cause lets face it, the only jobs these losers bring in are burger joints and too many of the same ones , someone is getting a kickback to have 3.4,5,6,and 10 of the same franchises in this little town, its like living on a Monopoly Board, and our chances are our red light cams , not only do the camera`s gotta go ,but these thieving lying city counsel members and their boss Mayor McCheese

  25. markingthedays says:

    Maybe we should just get rid of red lights and stop signs too.

  26. markingthedays says:

    Thank God! Now I can run red lights without fear of any sort of punishment!

  27. Mike says:

    I follow traffic laws, but if I ever get one I plan to rip it up in front of city council at their public meeting, it is a code enforcement issue not the law. Then I plan to take them to court for a civil rights violation for accusing me with no evidence, except a picture of a car registered to me going through a light. Palm Coast council cannot lure business here or balance a budget, so they want to supplement their income with these cameras, to the council I say sorry not on my dime.

  28. Please remember that it takes action by residents to end the cameras.

    Call your Senators, HB144 gets another Senate hearing on Wednesday the 26th. Red light cameras CAN be defeated if enough residents speak out. Residents in areas with cameras should call the Mayor and local Council Members or Commissioners to demand the camera programs be ended as St. Petersburg and Tampa just did.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  29. JG says:

    With all due respect to Judge Craig, Joe Everyman still gets screwed by this system. It is the God’s honest truth that I received a citation for running a red light in Phoenix with my tag number on a vehicle I don’t own and in a city to which I have never been. I didn’t even have to go to Palm Coast for ATS to find me. Like most sensible residents of Flagler County, I avoid Palm Coast as much as possible, save when the decree goes out that all the world must be taxed….at Walmart.

  30. Mike Hull says:

    Amazing how the council is trying to ignore the people and continue to rape us so landon can have his play money.

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