Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Red light cameras may get a Council vote

This ought to be interesting.

Houston’s red-light camera vendor said on Friday that Mayor Annise Parker is trying to turn the cameras off again, and it has asked a federal judge to stop her from doing so.

City Attorney David Feldman confirmed that the mayor is considering turning the cameras off as she prepares a resolution for a City Council vote on Wednesday, but he said Parker has not yet decided what that resolution will say.


If the city does turn the cameras off again, [ATS attorney Andy Taylor] said, it faces liability of up to $25 million for breach of a contract that runs through May 2014.

“The number is growing daily,” Taylor said.

Feldman said another possibility is that the resolution will call for a settlement of the ATS breach of contract lawsuit. He speculated that ATS had picked a public fight as a negotiating tactic.

If you’ve been listening to my interviews, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of support among incumbent Council members and Council candidates for settling with ATS and getting the cameras taken down. Though Mayor Parker has the authority herself to turn the cameras on or off, putting a resolution up for a vote means giving Council a share of that responsibility. It’s good politics on the Mayor’s part, and also a good negotiating tactic. As it remains the case that the nuts and bolts of the contract and its dissolution are still being worked out with Judge Hughes, a Council vote will likely be more for spectacle than anything else. But it does ensure we all know where everyone stands.

One more thing:

“Now because of politics, they (city officials) have changed their mind. Now I guess the noise from the vocal minority is so loud that they just want it to go away,” Taylor said.

Some day I hope to learn the name of Andy Taylor’s home planet. You have to admire the gumption it must take to refer to a 53% vote share as a “vocal minority”, which I’m sure he said with a straight face. Thanks for never disappointing me, Andy.

Related Posts:


  1. My cynical demons have been firing on all cylinders this weekend. I tend to assume, and it usually pays off, that politicians don’t do anything unless they believe it pays off for them politically. Aside from the blame sharing by throwing it to a council vote, does the threat of turning the cameras off take the wind out of the sails of any potential filings for opponents with the deadline looming?

  2. wow, the chron came out with more details, you would think Mayor Parker was anti camera from the beginning. If she sticks to her rhetoric in the article and we see the results I will be the first to thank her.

    “I refuse to let (American Traffic Solutions) hold the City of Houston and its taxpayers hostage to an unreasonable demand for millions of dollars,” she said. “ATS should now know that when they walked away from the negotiating table, they started a battle that they won’t win with the citizens of Houston.”

    Read more:

  3. joshua bullard says:

    let the record show,i voted against the red light cameras,in addition, i dragged anyone and everyone i could to the polls to join me.I was on the 8th floor of one park place towers on election night when it began to look as though the cameras where coming down,i was overwhelmed with the feeling of voter unity,it had been a very long journey and the end of the ride was apon us all.ill never forget when i read the front page of the chronicle,if you notice-they didnt write “mayor parker to turn the cameras back on” on the front page.i support the chronicle in most cases-it has been clear from the beginning that the chronicle wants the cameras on in houston and it shows with their journalism,i disagree with the chron-entirely.whenever you have three brothers get together and combine their passion for a cause,and against allllll odds and years down the road the majority vote of the city of houston turns the cameras off,wow,amazinging.what is even more amazing is the bravery of mayor parker and some other council members that decided to roll the dice and perform a classic”gut check”on this issue by turning the cameras back on.i-c-that didnt go as planned for the admin,so i am not surprised it may reverse,as it closing,i already voted on this issue, so i shouldnt have to say this,but i will.Dear mayor and city council,when you get some time can you please turn the red light cameras off so i can get back to my turkey sandwich and glass of milk.respectfully submitted joshua bullard

  4. HenryH says:

    I predict that during the meeting the city atty will warn the council that ATS could get a $100 million judgment if the City turns off the cameras. That warning will take the council off the hook, save them at election time. So, the council will back off from shutting the cameras.

    I suggest this compromise:

    Leave the cameras on, but prohibit any automated ticketing on rolling rights (like the Tennessee legislature did, recently), and raise the yellows, to a min of 4 secs for left turns, and add 1/2 sec to all straight-thru yellows. Ticketing will go down so much that ATS will be begging to be let out of the contract.

    ATS may argue that a ban on rolling right tickets “impairs” (breaks) the contract. But listen to what the TN Atty Gen said about the TN ban: “While Chapter 425 might arguably diminish the income received under a revenue-sharing agreement by reducing the number of traffic citations issued, any expected revenue stream was always necessarily contingent on the citizens of the state violating the law in certain numbers. That contingency tends to suggest that the parties have no ‘vested right’ in a particular level of revenue.”

    If the mayor doesn’t (at least) stop the rolling right ticketing, and lengthen the yellows, she needs to go.

  5. It would be hard for Feldman to make that argument considering his earlier public statements that the $20 million figure from ATS wasn’t in the realm of reality. Going from memory, I believe Houston is one of the cities that pays ATS a flat fee for each camera each month, cutting down on the ticket revenue is a good idea but it may not hit ATS as hard as Houston. I will look back in my notes and verify they get paid a monthly fee instead of per ticket and post back later.

  6. Ron in Houston says:

    So can we ban plastic bags and then put them over the cameras?

  7. […] all their feuding this week, the city and the camera vendor are still trying to work out the terms of […]