RIP, red light cameras

There they go.

Houston’s red-light cameras are done issuing violations. This time, permanently.

City Council dealt the controversial cameras a double death blow Wednesday, first ordering their immediate shutdown and then outlawing the use of cameras to catch red-light runners.

More than nine months after a majority of Houston voters rejected red-light cameras in a referendum and a month after Mayor Annise Parker ordered them back on, City Attorney David Feldman and Police Chief Charles McClelland issued an order to American Traffic Solutions to shut their cameras off at 12:01 p.m. Wednesday.

It’s been a long, strange road to this point, and it’s not quite over yet as there’s still that teeny matter of settling/litigating the dissolution of the contract with ATS, who made a last ditch settlement offer prior to this that was rejected. Nonetheless, this is a moment for the people who worked to get rid of them to celebrate. I don’t agree with their position, and I certainly gave them a hard time in this space, but today I tip my cap to the Kuboshes and their crew for their hard-fought victory. I just hope we’ll all still feel festive when we learn how big a check we have to write. Stace, Hair Balls, and Houston Politics have more.

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9 Responses to RIP, red light cameras

  1. Michael Kubsoh says:

    I have been reading this blog now for years. Thanks for the ‘tip of the cap’. I know that all of us Kubosh brothers want what is good for the City of Houston. The safety of our citizens is the most important of all. Thanks for taking our time to a column and reporting on this issue.

  2. Michael Kubsoh says:

    Thanks for taking your time to have column and reporting on this issue.

  3. Charles, thank you for you fair coverage on this issue and your gracious comments on the people’s victory.

  4. JJ says:

    (Pardon the indulgence. Don’t read if you are sick of this issue.)

    I should probably let this die. But after the “safety” comment, I just can’t. So this is for the readers who are still able to be thoughtful and open on this issue. I prefer cameras, but I would have been just fine with them coming down based on a simple “too much big brother watching over us” argument winning out. But it didn’t happen that way.

    On the “safety” issue. There seem to be a number of studies. They go both ways on the effectiveness of the cameras. I have looked at some of them. And I don’t understand how to reconcile them.

    What I have is this. I have a friend with an office that overlooks a camera intersection. He opposes them philosophically due to the “big brother” nature. But he sits there, 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week and listens to, and goes to the window to see, crashes. Pre-camera there were several crushing t-bone crashes a week. A couple weeks after the cameras went up, crashes clearly went down, mostly fender-to-fender, and the t-bone horrible accidents down to zero. And there were no rear-end collisions to take their place. That’s what he says. He was shocked. He changed his view on the cameras.

    I don’t know what to think about the Kuboshes and their fervent, get-all-worked-up-into-a-lather TV appearances about how cameras are more dangerous. But I think they are just wrong.

    I also know that there are dozens of engineers and safety people, at HPD, at the Texas Highway Dept, in the City’s Public Works, etc., who are not motivated by a “money grab” and “revenue raising.” They studied and worked out all the details. They are not politicians “on the take” or looking for revenue. They spend all their time trying to improve safety.

    I would understand if we had had a civil debate or disagreement over “government intrusion into lives via camera” versus “safety, but it being too expensive to have live officers sitting at 75 intersections.” I even understand sincere debates over how to figure out the statistics on safety.

    But I think the Kuboshes conducted themselves very poorly. I think the personal attacks were wrong. I think that playing on the African-American community’s dislike of the police was wrong. I think the gross racial nature of the 2010 vote was very unfortunate. It makes me sick to think about where our city is headed.

    Some people attacked the Kuboshes for self-interest. I personally don’t see how they get more work out of this, and I think those attacks were also wrong. (BTW, plenty of wrongful attacking was done by ATS, I also think.) I just think the Kuboshes were having fun, playing with “power”, etc. In many ways, they are like the elected officials who I try hard not to vote for be they Reps or Dems, the ones who do it for the “game,” for the “power,” for their own egos, the type who enjoy being theatrical, acting nasty and attacking others. Just look at the total breakdown of civility on City Council under this weak Mayor (seriously, just try to watch a whole session) compared to the Bill White era.

    In my view, way more harm than good has been done in the long, sorry episode. And the “victory” being celebrated (again, like the worst politicians — like the Republicans who gloat in “bringing down” Obama without regard to what else they are bringing down) makes me sick. I would never tip my hat as you have, Charles.

  5. Ron in Houston says:


    There was a “debate” in that both sides got to put their best case before the voters. You may not like the result but a healthy majority voted to end the cameras. That should have been the end of it. I’m more frustrated with how the City has handled this matter post referendum.

  6. paul kubosh says:

    Jj I could never convince you that your assumptions about h.p.d. are wrong so I wouldn’t even try. You are not alone in your dislike of how we handled this but in the end we did what we felt was right and a majority of the voting citizens went with us. I enjoy reading your posts. I try (I am not perfect) to look at all criticisms as being constructive and look to see if they are true. I will reflect upon your words and I would tip my hat to you for your contribution to the dialogue. That is one thing we never got from the city.

  7. joshua bullard says:

    Ive been strongly against the red light cameras from the start,when i learned from the houston that the mayor had turned the cameras back on-i immiediatlly called ann russell to find out if council had voted on the issue-they had not-i wasnt ticked-i wasnt angry-but my heart was broken becuase i felt the same way i felt back on kirkwood and bellaire in 1982 when my house was robbed- i was 7yrs old.I waited for two hours for my mom to get home from work out front,just to let her know that the house had been robbed.I have known the mayor since 1997-i have told many people in the past-i will walk threw the fire for the mayor-but dont take us to the lions den.This one hurt.The peoples vote is all we have-the vote is absolute-the alpha and the omega,when it comes to the peoples vote-there is no descretion-its final.After the mayor turned the cameras back on,word spread threw the streets of sunnyside that the kubosh brothers and the area ministers where having a meeting- i attended-i saw for my very own eyes that they where going to keep fighting,in addition, i saw them ignite the passion of thousands of people to voice to the mayor and the city council to turn the cameras off.lastly-i want to speak directly to the houston chronicle-i dont care if it cost 25 million or 75million or a hundred million-i dont care becuase the votes of the people are not for sale,never have been never will be-you should have directed your editorials and journalism to be more mindful of the vote,not studies, not statistics,just like i told you metro direct would shut down-it did-even over your advocation that it stay for sue lovell council woman-all i can say at this point”thank god for term limits”and shame on you for trying to play the “mom card”.
    turn em off-and take em down
    on behalf of over 180,000 votes
    thank you kubosh
    respectfully submitted
    joshua ben bullard

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  9. Baytown threw in the towel with ATS, Thursday night they voted to pay ATS $1 million to just go away. The cameras should be removed in the next 60 days. More details at my website.

    Looks like Feldman wants the contract case out of federal court and into state court as that is the proper venue. Seems like I have heard that argument from someone before, hmm.

    “The city attorney argues that the question of how much Houston owes its red-light camera vendor does not belong in U.S. District Court – the very court where the city filed the lawsuit it now seeks to end.”

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