I had laid off of the Albuquerque Red Light Camera's for a while even though it is the number one reason new people from across the nation find my blog. Not being from Albuquerque and after the City of Santa Fe gave up on trying to place them here I figured I would move on. However, late developments have piqued my interest. First I have seen the city of Albuquerque writing many tickets without much challenge to drivers who have Photo Blocker License plate covers installed. For a while they were also confiscating them as evidence. The validity of the tickets when written based on the state law is iffy at best. If the City of Albuquerque passed a local ordinance they might be better justified. Knowing Albuquerque's propensity for writing new laws I am surprised they have not done this. I am expecting a serious challenge to this soon, if not the legislature may jump into this issue next session.
Why the legislature? In the last session the legislature passed a bill that would have effectively killed red light camera's in New Mexico but the governor vetoed it after receiving assurances that the fines would be lowered to a more fair rate in Albuquerque. The fines were lowered slightly but not enough to stop the legislature from addressing this issue again next session. The unpopularity of these camera's will probably not allow the governor the latitude to veto another bill. Interestingly enough the Governor cited traffic accident reduction as a reason to veto the bill. I have a feeling the next time one of these bills is on his desk there will be a lot of doubt as to whether there has been true accident reduction.
Unpopularity of the camera's reached new heights when a very public battle broke out in the last few weeks between 770 Kob Radio talk show host Jim Villanucci and Mayor Martin Chavez. With 770 Kob having one of the largest listening audiences this will not bode well for Mayor Chavez or his campaign for Governor. Mayor Chavez escalated the battle on his weekly talk show as well.I have mentioned before that I felt the Red Light Camera's were not going to be a plus for Mayor Chavez's Governor Campaign. Many are questioning whether these camera's reduce or increase accidents. The timing of the yellow lights as well as the reliability of the camera's themselves are being questioned. All questions I brought up in my earlier posts. A.P.D. has managed to put out statistics which have always been contrary to findings in other states. I hope, but doubt their statistics are correct.
Also in the news in the past few weeks is a class action lawsuit brought about by Attorney Rick Sandoval. The lawsuit passed a major hurdle when it received certification as a class action and all citizens who have received or will receive a red light camera ticket are included in the case.
As in previous posts I feel the fines are too high, the private company "RedFlex" which the City of Albuquerque contracts with makes too much of a cut, the lights must be timed correctly, and I am too worried that Red Light Camera's cause more accidents then they prevent. I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that the end of the Red Light Camera's will be upon us by the end of 2008. Whether it is constituent pressure, the legislature, the courts, the media, or all of the above I see it happening.