Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Constitution vs. Red Light Cameras II

Article VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. 

Really, you want us to draw a jury for a $20 civil municipal case.  It is important to know the value of a dollar.  Back in colonial days $20 was a lot of money.  A $20 piece of currency in 1800 is worth $356 today. The gold alone in a $20 gold piece is probably worth over $1,200 alone.  So as you can see the monetary values have an effect on what is reasonable when considering drawing a jury.  However, you are still entitled to a jury trial in a civil case if the case is federal, not local.  A good illustration is the OJ Simpson trial not the criminal but the civil, he got a jury.

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Due process!  If you run a red light and hit and kill someone you are going to get more due process than you can handle.  Ms. Kowlonski ran a red light and killed Mr. Clark and crippled his passenger for life at the corner of Green Oaks and Cooper. Both were 21 yrs. of age.  She was caught on a RLC and is doing 28 yrs. in a federal prison. 
7th Circuit Idris   “It is enough to say that photographs are at least as reliable as live testimony, that the due process clause allows administrative decisions to be made on paper (or Photographic) records without regard to the hearsay rule.  And that the procedures Chicago uses are functionally identical to those it uses to adjudicate parking tickets, a system sustained in Van Harkin v. Chicago.”  “substantive due process depends on the existence of a fundamental liberty interest, and no one has a fundamental right to run a red light or avoid being seen by a camera on a public street.” 
6th Circuit  Mendenhall   “The Akron ordinance as well as its implementation, satisfies due process concerns.  First the ordinance provides for notice.  Second the ordinance provides for a hearing.  Third a record is taken at the hearing and Fourth the ordinance provides for the right of appeal to the Common Pleas Court…on an adverse decision.”
Conclusions: We have discussed the 4th 5th 6th 7th and 14th amendments and we have learned through these precedent setting decisions that no Constitutional Rights are being violated with the use of RLC’s.  I have given you decisions from the Supreme Court, the 5th 6th 7th Circuit Courts and Texas State Law.  So it is important to realize that those people screaming about their Constitutional Rights being violated are all wasting their collective breath.  These are simply lies.  To them a goat simply has 5 legs.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Constitution vs. Red Light Cameras I

Driving is not a right it is a privilege.  In order to enjoy the privilege, you have to get a license, register a car, have it inspected, insure it, and lastly obey the laws of the state of Texas.  I am reminded of a saying by Abraham Lincoln when dealing with people that say their Constitutional Rights are being violated.  He says “if a goat has 4 legs and a tail.  And if we call the tail a leg, then how many legs does a goat have.  Ans: 4, just because you call a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.”  The same is true with the Constitution.  Just because you say your rights are being violated doesn’t make it so.  We have judges well versed in the Constitution, and it is important that you respect their ability to judge.  

Article IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Privacy:  The Supreme Court describes driving as “a regulated activity on public roads where there is no personal expectation of privacy.”  

7th circuit Idris, “nobody has the fundamental right to run a red light or avoid being seen by a camera on a public street.”  “The fact that liability through the use of photographs taken by Automated cameras rather than tickets from absent police officers does not alter the constitutionality of the procedure available to alleged red light violators.”

Guilt:  7th Circuit Idris “ an owner cannot deny liability simply by claiming he or she was not driving the car at the time of the red light violation.” “Issuing a citation to a vehicle owner (or Lessees) instead of the driver is constitutionally permissible.” “A system of photographic evidence reduces the cost of law enforcement and increases the proportion of all traffic offenses that are detected.  These benefits can be achieved only if the owner is held responsible.”  “Owners will take more care in lending their cars and often can pass the expense on to the wrongdoers.”  Judge Easterbrook uses an example of you going to a tax lawyer and him making a mistake on your taxes.  The IRS still comes to you because you are responsible to pay the proper tax.  He also uses the case of Van Harken vs. Chicago, stating that parking tickets are made out to the registered owner not the driver.  I use the example of a Toll bill that arrives in the mail.  It was my car license that was witnessed using the road, therefore it is my responsibility and I can seek retribution from the person that used the road with my car.

5th Circuit;  (Arlington) “The governing body of a local authority by ordinance may implement a photographic traffic signal enforcement system and provide that the owner of a motor vehicle is liable to the local authority for a civil penalty if the vehicle is operated in violation of the instructions of that traffic control signal.”  Appellants have not alleged that they were improperly cited for traffic violations by the City of Arlington instead they have claimed their violations would not have been discovered were it not for ATS.  This interest in evading the law cannot create standing.  A Plaintiff’s complaint that the defendant’s actions “will make his criminal activity more difficult lacks standing because his interest is not legally protected.

6th circuit “it is clear that the type of evidence the hearing officer may consider when determining liability concerns whether a violation was in the owner’s car, not whether the owner was the person who committed the violation.  Thus an owner may be held liable for someone else’s actions.


Article V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

First let me state the instead of “Himself” it should read “Themselves”.  I state no authority in changing the Constitution, but women were granted the right to vote in 1893 well after the Constitution was written.  Also notice the word “Criminal Case.”  A red light ticket has been determined to be a civil offense by the state.  If you were testifying against yourself you would be stating that you ran the red light.  In this instance you are testifying for yourself stating that you didn’t run the red light, Big Difference!  The reason for not testifying yourself in a CRIMINAL trial is so that a lawyer doesn’t get you on the stand and let you talk yourself into a jail cell.  But you do have the right to testify on your own behalf if you feel compelled to do so.  I will discuss due process in Article 14.  But I want to talk about the “taking of Private Property without just compensation,” in this case $75.

The 6th circuit states rules that, “The citation informed Plaintiffs of 4 methods to resolve the issue.  1.  “to admit” the violation of which involved paying the fine.  2. The instructions “to deny” permitted them to check a box to indicate whether they desired a hearing, 3. wanted to demonstrate that the vehicle had been stolen or 4. wanted to demonstrate that the vehicle was not in their custody, care or control at the time of the infraction.  (Under their control would require producing the individual that was in control of the vehicle.)  In other words they had plenty of options that they did not pursue.  So the government was proper in taking their $75.

Supreme also ruled that the taking of property is just when it is used in a manner that is unlawful.  A car can be confiscated if used in a crime like a robbery or the sale of drugs.  It can be confiscated without any compensation.

Article VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. 

Confronted by his accuser:  State Transportation Code 707.014 a)  A person who receives a notice of violation may contest the imposition of the civil penalty…by filing a written request for an adjudication hearing.  b)  The local authority shall notify the person of the date and time of the hearing. c)  A hearing officer shall conduct the hearing. d)  Issues must be proven by a preponderance of evidence.  e)  The reliability of the photographic system must be attested to by the officer.  f)  The officer must fill out an affidavit attesting to the violation being based on the photographic recorded image: 1) admissible in the adjudication hearing and in an appeal 707.016.  2)  Evidence of the facts contained in the affidavit.  g)  At the conclusion of the hearing the officer must issue a finding in writing of liability/no liability, signed and dated.  h)  the finding will be filed.

State Transportation Code 707.016 a)  The owner of a motor vehicle determined by a hearing officer to be liable for a civil penalty may appeal the determination to a judge filing an appeal petition with the clerk of the court… e)  An appeal under this section shall be determined by the court by trial de novo. (new trial)

I will discuss Article VII and XIV in the next posting. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Discussion on Red Light Cameras

I have accepted an opportunity to discuss the topic of red light cameras at the next Arlington Republican Club meeting.  The meeting is onThursday, February 26th at 7:00 at Humperdinks on Six Flags avenue.  I will be discussing this topic with Ms. Faith Bussey, of the Arlington Tea Party.  The moderator is Mr. Dale Attebery.

We will be discussing the benefits of the red light cameras and what the expected outcome of removing these cameras from our city will include.  The issue of Constitutional violations is sure to come up and also how the funds are utilized within our city.  I look forward to bringing the truth to a group of fellow Republicans and like minded people.  It should be an evening of enlightenment.  Come early and get a good seat.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Council Meeting 10 February

This evening several interesting things were on the agenda.  First was the narrowing of Abram St.  I have never been a fan of this effort.  The downtown organization has been trying to make Abrams a pedestrian friendly area for the last couple of years, by narrowing it to three lanes.  I for one wanted to keep Abrams at four lanes.  I thought that the setbacks were wide enough on the north side of the street and that one lane could be taken out and the sidewalk widened on the south side for walkability.  I was the only vote not to narrow Abram St.

The second thing was a muffler shop and I must admit it was a nice planned development.  But the problem was that it was in violation of the Unified Development Code (UDC) of the city.  We have put a limit on the type of zoning that will allow an automotive business.  This business was in conflict with that code, so I voted no.

Lastly was the election concerning red light cameras.  If the people want a vote to remove red light cameras then I have no problem with it.  I simply want the voters to make an educated decision concerning their existence.  I always pose the same question.  If I had an intersection with 100 accidents a year, and could install a device to reduce the accident rate by 75-80%, would you want me to install that device?  I haven’t had one citizen tell me that they want that device removed.  In 2013 accidents were reduced from 106 in 2006 to 27 in 2013. (75%)  The rate in 2014 was 21 accidents. (80%)  So as you can see the cameras perform a valuable service to the city.  I will be debating the Tea Party at Humperdinks on 26 Feb. at 7:00pm.  If you have time please come and listen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Red Llight Cameras III

On Tuesday a citizens group dropped off a petition to city hall to put the removal of Red Light Cameras on the ballot for the May 9th election.  The required number of citizens signed this ballot for some reason.  I was told by one individual that the people seeking signatures were not forthright in presenting the issue to voters.   (That is hearsay)

Last Friday evening Kel Walters was killed at the intersection of Burney and Green Oaks.  The best lead that the police have in this murder investigation is a camera from an insurance company.  If we had a camera at this intersection we would know immediately who committed this crime. 
The reason that we have Red Light Cameras at all is the fact that you wanted people to stop running red lights.  That was the number two topic of concern on a survey conducted by the Arlington Police Department in 2005.  Enter the Red Light Cameras in 2007.  Accidents are down 75% at the 19 intersections equipped with Red Light Cameras. 

The city of Houston voted to get rid of their Red Light Cameras in 2010.  Since that time, accidents are up 117% and fatalities are up 30% in the intersections that had Red Light Cameras.  These are facts that cannot be refuted.  Public safety is my number one concern.  Please be informed when entering the ballot box.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Tale of Two Developers

Last night was an interesting evening concerning the tale of two developers.  One developer came to us and wanted approval of a “W” hotel in our city.  Now the piece of property that the hotel went on was a terrible location but the developer did the heavy lifting, and through diligence got the job done.  Earlier, since he had the zoning, there was no need for him to come to us for a Planned Development, but on his own, he has established three quality businesses that front the “W” hotel.  That is the way to effect change for the good in Arlington.

The very next case was one known as Champion’s Park.  This is the property on the east side of Collins and the north side of I-30.  This developer has been trying to put together a Planned Development for the last two years.  Two years he came to us with the same plan.  Last year he came to us with the same plan.  This year he came to us with the same plan.  He could have come to us two years ago and requested a change of zoning and it would have been approved without issue.  But he didn’t.

His plan is to develop this property in two phases.  Phase one is eight pad sights.  Of these eight locations, the developer doesn’t know what business will be put in the development.  He has no letters of intent signed by anyone.  The second phase of the operation consists of two large pad sites.  Although Arlington is in need of hotels, this developer can’t find a hotel to go on one of these sites.  I find this odd because the first developer accomplished this at a much less desirable location.  So this developer has no clue what will go in any pad site in this development and wants approval of his development plan.  The developer did admit that the normal template for shopping centers is to secure principals and then fill in the subsequent businesses.  I stated that he was putting the cart before the horse, and he had no horse.  His plan is tantamount to building a Footlocker and hoping a Dillard’s shows up.  Others may think this is how Arlington should conduct business but I am less convinced.  If you want me to take the responsibility of putting something in a gateway property, then at least tell me what it is.  I deserve that courtesy.  I want to apologize to the thirty constituents that were at the meeting last night in support of this project.  I hope that your support is well warranted.  I however, want something more than hope for North Arlington.  That is why I could not support this developer.   I hope you recognized last night what my representation of your best interest  looked like.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Light Cameras #2

There has been a move afoot to solicit signatures to remove red light cameras from our city.  It seems that Ms. Kelly Canon, of the Arlington Tea Party, has accumulated the requisite number of signatures to put this issue on the ballot.  If this is what the voters of Arlington want then I have no problem with it.  However, if you would allow a closer look at the issue, you might want your signature back. 

Red light cameras were established in our city in 2007 because of a survey that was accomplished by our police department in 2005.  The second highest priority on that survey, from the citizens, was to reduce the number of red light violations.  People were running red lights on a very frequent basis.  An 18 month study was accomplished and it was done to establish a base line of statistics.  The statistics were utilized in an effort to identify where to put the cameras so that they would have the most impact on solving red light violations.  The attributes of red light cameras are as follows:

  1.  Accidents at these 19 intersections are down 75%.  This may not mean much to you, unless you are one of the remaining 25% caught in an accident.  The City Charter tasks me with keeping the citizens of Arlington safe.  According to this statistic alone, if I were to take a position in opposition of red light cameras, I would be in violation of my sworn duties.
  2. Red light cameras are used to record accidents at these intersections.  It is a reliable way for the insurance companies to see who was at fault.  If you were in an accident and didn’t have someone to corroborate your story, a record of the accident would be very helpful.
  3. The red light cameras only capture those individuals that run red lights.  I have been caught twice for not stopping while turning right.  I witnessed the infraction on video and agreed.  So I paid the fine.  I paid because I broke the law, and I was compelled to do the right thing.  Ms. Canon will say that you don’t have to pay the fine so we shouldn’t have the cameras.  By her reasoning then we should stop our police department from giving warnings, you don’t have to pay them either, even though you broke the law.
  4. Lastly, the monies collected are sent to our police department.  The cameras generate about $2.1 million in revenue each year for Arlington. The money covers administrative expenses associated with operating the cameras; the salaries of 9 police officers who form the police department’s DUI unit, 14 patrol officers and 6 officers that administer the program.  So the city covers the salaries of 29 officers in total without raising your taxes.  A very innovative way to improve the safety of our citizens.

So the next time you are asked to sign a petition, try and take a good look at what this person is saying and what their motivation is behind their effort.