It’s My Money and I Need it Now!

School Zones fo Fun & Profit

Chief Swicord’s unprecedented fundraising attempt was in full swing Monday as he pressured the Board of Education to approve the speed cameras next to their properties — you know, “for the children.” It’s also “for the money.” Lots of money.

“A representative from the Florida-based company and Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord addressed the Baldwin County Board of Education during Monday’s work session to brief members and school officials on how the camera and penalty system for school zone speeding offenders would operate. The elected representatives seemed on board with the notion, but are awaiting feedback from the board attorney before giving their blessing. “

Why does the city need the Board of Education’s approval to place speed cameras on city streets? All the money from the fines is supposed to go directly in to the police department’s equipment budget. What is there for the BoE to approve? Does the Board realize that these cameras will cite buses too, and those citations will be mailed directly from RedSpeed to the Board for payment? There are no exceptions; these fines will be paid, so in essence the school board will be paying the police department a little monthly stipend whether they budgeted for it or not. Will they force the bus drivers to pay any fines they incur? Will there be consequences for drivers who are ticketed too frequently?

RedSpeed, the camera company, gets paid on a commission. They profit from every county they can convince to adopt their systems. Oh sure, they conducted “traffic studies” that “proved” we needed speed control methods. That’s like trusting the fox to count the number of chickens in the hen house! Do you think they send representatives out to every municipality they can find to do these “studies” and to schmooze with the politicians because of their civic duty? Hah! Of course not. RedSpeed gains new customers by sharing with them the same vision that drives their company: greed.

“The RedSpeed representative told the BOE that 18 school systems have signed on so far, and in previous cases, the number of speeders has dropped by 50 percent after the 30-day warning period. In a traffic study carried out by RedSpeed in April, a monitoring device recorded 494 drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph in the school zone in front of Baldwin High. The study was done over a nine-hour period on a school day. ”

Just for argument’s sake let’s take that at face value. These magical cameras cut the number of speeders in half. That’s 250 cars. At the minimum fine of $75, that’s:

  • $18,750 per day
  • $375,000 per month (just weekdays)
  • Over 4.5 MILLION DOLLARS each year

Per camera. Minus the paltry $1.5 million or so per camera that goes back to RedSpeed. These are indeed magical cameras; they produce money faster than spinning straw into gold. Think of how much money this will total when they slap up half a dozen cameras or more. The Milledgeville PD will have so much extra money they won’t know where to put it all. They’ll be equipped like MacGyver thanks to these Street ATMs.

RedSpeed also forgot to mention that last year their company lobbied our state government to establish a new law that allows speed cameras in school zones. First they get the laws passed, then they provide the solution. Neat, right?

“The chief stressed that such fines would strictly be “civil penalties” and would not go against the vehicle owner’s insurance or driving record, similar to a parking ticket. “

Previously he has also “stressed” that you will be able to contest these tickets in court — State Court — where a representative of the police department (not RedSpeed) will be there to defend the citation. The non-criminal citation that has landed you in state court… That sounds a lot like a regular traffic ticket to me, except that those are issued by a law enforcement officer to the person who committed the offense and not to the owner of the vehicle they were driving. “Civil penalties” have to meet a much less stringent legal standard than laws and are basically unregulated “fund raisers.”

MPD budget: $4.3 mil. Camera income: $5 mil.

Contact your school board officials and let them know you’re on to the city’s fundraising scheme in the name of “child safety.” Do the same for City Council members — let them know that the public is watching their actions!

If you’re a subscriber, read the article at the Union-Recorder’s site.