These cameras are supposedly installed to improve public safety, but the citizens of New Orleans know the real truth. City Hall has an insatiable thirst for taxpayer funds.
In the Landrieu years, sanitation fees have increased, property taxes have been raised, and parking meter hours have been extended while rates have been doubled in some areas. All of these measures were enacted to bring in more revenue for the Landrieu administration.
Some of the new traffic cameras will be mobile units, while others will be placed in school zones. The goal will be to raise at least $5 million in additional funds for city government in the first year.
In the last nine years, the city’s general fund has received over $123 million in ticket revenue from drivers for red light and speeding violations. This represents only 70% of the overall total in ticket revenue, as the remainder was extracted by the operator of the program, American Traffic Solutions of Mesa, Arizona.
In effect, the traffic camera program removed $52 million from the local economy and diverted it to a firm based in another state. This is not how to build a local economic base and shows the foolish thinking of the Mayor and his bureaucrats at City Hall.
In one year alone, 2014, 14 cities across the country abandoned traffic cameras, otherwise known as unconstitutional instruments of taxation. In contrast, the Landrieu administration is investing in more cameras, hoping to levy additional penalties on even more New Orleans drivers.
After the new ones become fully operational in the next few weeks, New Orleans will have a total of 121 traffic cameras. Last year, 66 cameras issued over 182,000 tickets throughout New Orleans. With the new ones in place, the number of citations will surely skyrocket.
The Landrieu administration claims that the additional cameras will create a safer environment in the school zones and neighborhoods of New Orleans. For people who are wrongly ticketed; however, the tickets will not create a positive impression of New Orleans. The appeals process in fighting the tickets is cumbersome and skewed to benefit the city government. Supposed violators are presumed guilty, not presumed innocent, which is the hallmark of our criminal justice system.
Not surprisingly, there is a class action lawsuit that has already been filed against the city. Attorney Charles Ciaccio of the D’Amico law firm, who represents the plaintiffs, says that the new cameras are “an acceleration or intensification of what we feel is an illegal action.”
These cameras are not only illegal, but they are also unpopular. Across the country, whenever citizens are allowed to vote on whether cameras should be maintained, they always vote to remove them. For example, in Cleveland, 78% of voters said no to traffic cameras in a 2014 vote. In 2015, 66% of Tucson, AZ voters rejected the cameras as well.
This is why city leaders will never allow the people of New Orleans to cast a vote on whether to retain the cameras. They know that if the issue is placed before the voters of New Orleans, the cameras will fail to garner much support.
The Mayor and his City Hall cronies already know what the outcome would be if the voters of New Orleans were given a chance to decide about the cameras. Sadly, they could not care less.
Every year, GNO Inc. conducts its annual meeting luncheon and its President and CEO Michael Hecht presents an overview of the prior year in front of a massive audience in New Orleans, ranging from 1000 to 1200 attendees. And every year, without failure, the audience appears more supercharged about the new opportunities available in the area of economic development.