- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001

House Majority Leader Dick Armey is not backing off from his report that red-light cameras are unconstitutional, unsafe and a steady stream of revenue for localities.

"If you read our report, you´ll see that we suggest that jurisdictions should raise the yellow signal times at problem intersections," said Armey spokesman Richard Diamond.

Mr. Diamond was responding to a letter from Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan that criticized the Armey report.

"This is a life and death issue in my county, and your criticism of the law enforcement tools we´re employing to combat it show insensitivity to the victims and to the importance of the issue at hand," Mr. Duncan wrote.

Mr. Duncan said 54,175 citations, at $75 each, have been dealt out since the program began in 1999, bringing in more than $4 million .

Mr. Diamond said the county executive apparently doesn´t get the point of the Armey report, saying that increasing the duration of yellow lights is "cheap, easy and has proven effective. If their real motivation is safety, there´s no reason not to do it. Of course, it will mean losing millions in red-light camera revenue."

Duncan spokesman David Weaver said the county does not rely on its 25 red-light cameras to stuff its coffers and that all the revenue goes to pedestrian safety.

All the tickets issued in the county are reviewed by police, Mr. Weaver said, adding that the city´s camera contractor collects about $44 for the first 1,500 tickets issued a month, $27 for the next 1,500 and $15 for tickets over 3,000.

Other localities like the District turn over 40 percent of the revenue to the contractors.

Yellow lights in Montgomery County have not been shortened, Mr. Duncan said, adding that the county is "not engaged in the business of entrapping motorists."

"Montgomery County has seen the number of pedestrian fatalities outpace the number of homicides," the executive said.

Mr. Weaver said there is a correlation between pedestrian accidents and red-light running, adding that his county stands behind the use of the cameras.

Linking pedestrian deaths with the red-light camera issue, congressional sources say, shows that Mr. Duncan does not understand the problem well.


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