Redding City Council Renews Unpopular Red-Light Camera Contract and Bids City Manager Farewell

It is safe to say Redding’s eight red-light cameras are not the city’s most popular feature. Unfortunately for grumbling drivers who got dinged $500 for a rolling right-hand turn or another infraction, the people who like them carry some clout: the police chief and all five city council members.

Following the recommendation of Police Chief Rob Paoletti, the Redding City Council on Tuesday voted 5-0 to renew a four-year contract with Glendale, Ariz.-based Redflex Traffic Systems, the company that operates the cameras in Redding.

Paoletti told the council the cameras have made the targeted intersections safer and reduced the number of collisions citywide. Since the cameras first went online in 2007, wrecks at the five intersections have dropped from 96 a year to 30, Paoletti said.

Police Chief Rob Paoletti urged the council to continue with the red-light camera program. Photos by Jon Lewis.

Police Chief Rob Paoletti urged the council to continue with the red-light camera program. Photos by Jon Lewis.

At the intersection of East Cypress Avenue and Bechelli Lane, accidents decreased from 31 a year to three; downtown at Shasta and Market streets, collisions were reduced from 16 to two; and at Hilltop Drive and East Cypress Avenue, collisions dropped from 22 to four.

The controversial cameras (dozens of cities in California have cancelled their red-light camera contracts, including Los Angeles, Fresno, San Diego, Yuba City and Davis) are doing their job and freeing up police officers to be more proactive, Paoletti said.

Councilwoman Julie Winter said she fully supports the cameras, even though her husband was ticketed for a rolling right turn at the corner of North Market Street and Lake Boulevard. She said she drives through that intersection on a daily basis and has had five dangerously close calls. Noting a two-thirds drop in the accident rate, she said “this is not a money issue, this is about saving lives.”

Councilwoman Kristen Schreder said she has reviewed videos recorded by the cameras and watched as drivers careen straight through an intersection despite a red light. She said one driver who challenged a ticket was shown to be talking on a cell phone as failed to stop at a red light.

Bob Crawford said he received an unwelcome Christmas gift last December in the form of a $500 ticket for rolling through a right-hand turn and decided to do some research. He said a study in Los Angeles showed that the overwhelming majority of citations were for rolling right-hand turns—not the “straight through” red-light runners the city was trying to eliminate.

Wendy Bryan said she objected to Redding police contracting with an outside company to enforce traffic laws. “There’s a lot of room for error,” she said, adding that “I don’t like the idea of a company and a camera taking a picture” and traffic tickets being the result.

Under terms of the new contract, Redding will pay Redflex $4,375 a month for each of the eight red-light cameras Redflex operates at five intersections. The previous contract called for monthly fees of $4,500 per camera. Redflex, in turn, will allow Redding to claim operating costs of $900 a month for each camera.

Paoletti said the contract has a cost neutrality clause which means the city cannot lose money: if revenue from the cameras fails to cover the city’s cost, Redflex will absorb the difference. The city’s red-light camera program began to cover its costs and produce a revenue stream once cameras were installed at Hilltop and Cypress, Paoletti said.

As a result, the department was able to put one-time funds of $98,000 towards a massive computer upgrade and add $173,000 to its vehicle replacement fund.

Paoletti said a team of three retired officers work a combined total of 20 hours a week reviewing videos and photos from the cameras and determining which violations warrant a citation. Redflex is not involved in issuing tickets and the cost (the fine is $100 and fees, taxes and assessments make up the other $400) is the same whether the ticket comes from a camera or an officer.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

Kurt Starman’s farewell

–Issued retiring City Manager Kurt Starman a resolution and gave him an ovation during a brief ceremony to mark his 11 years of service as city manager. Each council member expressed their appreciation. Councilwoman Francie Sullivan said Starman “was always a gentleman,” even when suffering a barrage of criticism from irate citizens.

Retiring City Manager Kurt Starman.

Retiring City Manager Kurt Starman.

“I’m grateful to live in a city where we have a reserve,” Sullivan said, attributing that safety cushion to Starman’s prudent leadership.

Starman, in turn, tried to deflect the praise toward “the very bright and dedicated people who work for the city of Redding. We have an outstanding leadership team and we’re very fortunate to have them.”

Department heads stand and applaud Starman.

Department heads stand and applaud Starman.

City Council members were unanimous in their praise of Starman's service.

City Council members were unanimous in their praise of Starman’s service.

Assistant City Manager Barry Tippin was appointed interim city manager. The council met Monday in closed session to interview the four finalists for the city manager position. The council’s hiring decision could be made next month.

Hill Country CARE Center

–Heard a report from Lynn Dorroh, CEO of Hill Country Community Clinic, on the two-month-old CARE Center now operating at 1401 Gold St. The center provides urgent outpatient mental health services 365 days a year.

Lynn Dorroh.

Lynn Dorroh.

Dorroh said the center has been well received by its neighbors, who had initially expressed concerns. A licensed clinician is always there to provide help for those overwhelmed by emotional distress, traumatic events or life stressors.

The CARE Center staff has already seen a lot of suicidal clients as well as people suffering from schizophrenia, panic attacks and other mental health issues, Dorroh said. The center is open from 2 to 11 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. For more information, call (530) 691-4446.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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27 Responses

  1. cheyenne says:

    Interesting that Arizona’s legislature is going after red light cameras with strict rules put on the red light companies.  Looks like Arizona is telling the red light companies they can stay in business just not in Arizona.  Governor Ducey signed a law in January that limits these companies in methods used in collecting the fines.

     

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    “…this is not a money issue, this is about saving lives.” — Councilwoman Julie Winter

    “As a result (of the camera fines), the department was able to put one-time funds of $98,000 towards a massive computer upgrade and add $173,000 to its vehicle replacement fund.” — Police Chief Robert Paoletti

    :::snorts:::

    This is not a cash-cow issue, this is about a magical cow that prints cash.

    • Don says:

      The bottom-line still remains; if there were no infractions, there would be no fees. If you get caught doing something wrong, own it, then pay it.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Thanks for repping the Authoritarian State circular-reasoning POV, Don.

        “You can’t get sideways with the law so long as you don’t do anything wrong……so if you get sideways with the law, it proves that you did something wrong.

        Thanks also for your sweetly naive faith in the infallibility of a finicky technology—in particular, a technology proved faulty so often that local governments have refunded tens of millions of dollars to citizens charged with pseudo-infractions.

        BTW, I’ve gone through the process of beating a photo ticket—luckily, I had two witnesses in my car, or I’d likely have been screwed.  A pedestrian was crossing the road in front my car, and I was at a complete stop for about 15 seconds waiting for him to pass.  When he was out of the way, I inched forward into a right turn on a red light.

        !!!FLASH!!!

        Both of my passengers wrote letters saying that I’d been at a dead stop for longer than usual (because of the pedestrian) before proceeding.  My ticket was dismissed.

        • Jim Briggs says:

          So basically you’d rather see more people die at intersections than face the possibility of maybe occasionally having to fight a ticket?

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Which would you prefer?  (1) That I answer your question directly?  (2) That I chastise you for the pitiful logical fallacy that you’ve just employed?  Or (3) that I make fun of how eagerly you’ve been chumped into blindly accepting correlation as proof of a causal relationship, with zero evidence provided that it’s causal?

            Take your pick.

          • Jim Briggs says:

            How about if you explain how having still cameras at certain intersections leads to authoritarian states and/or which section of the Constitution enumerates the right to privacy and/or the right to run red lights?

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Jim Briggs — More logical fallacy—another straw-man argument, this time topped with a large dollop of reductio ad absurdum.

            I didn’t say or imply that certain intersections lead to authoritarian states, nor that the Constitution guarantees the right to run red lights—those are ridiculous propositions that you’ve pulled out of your rectal orifice.  I simply said that your reasoning was circular and your outlook authoritarian.  I even rephrased your circular logic in quotation marks.

            As for the right to privacy not being contained in the Bill of Rights: As every schoolboy knows, Amendment IX states in its entirety:  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”   I’m not going to walk to the blackboard and diagram what that means—you’ll have to think about it.

            It’s arguable whether or not being under video surveillance everywhere you go these days—especially regarding government surveillance—constitutes an ongoing invasion of privacy.  I understand that some people are cool with it.  I’m uneasy with it at best—and not because I’m out wilding every night.

        • Justin says:

          Why is Dons comment “Authoritarian State circular-reasoning”?

          • Rod says:

            Come on Justin, it’s May, the month celebrating our devotion to Motherhood.

            It’s still the chicken or the egg!

            Do we enact infractions or do we crack the law?  Law is made to crack, everybody does it everyday.  Infractions are revenue generators.  Big Brother, the authoritarian state,  is unlimited in power and scope.  Freedom hates Big Brother.

            Follow your heart, redlight cameras are wrong.

             

    • Rod says:

      It’s getting risky to shop anywhere near the Interstate 5 corridor in Redding.

      If I drive down there……I’m likely to either get run-over or fined for keeping traffic moving along.

      Downtown Redding is unnecessarily hard on shoppers.

       

    • Common Sense says:

      Problem solved….next question?

      https://www.phantomplate.com/

  3. Redding renewed its red light camera contract with the most scandal ridden of the for-profit camera companies. There are now five guilty pleas or verdicts in federal Redflex-related indictments for fraud, bribery or extortion. NO honorable city would ever deal with Redflex for anything with that history.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  4. David Ledger says:

    Thanks to Jon Lewis and a news cafe for this report on the Redding City Council meeting.  My print edition of the Record Searchlight did not have a story on the Council meeting, just the usual nutty editorials from Fox and Hounds Daily and others.  The RS did run an online story of the council meeting.

  5. name says:

    I thought Redflex was from Australia?  If that is the case, then profits are not even staying in the USA.

    Good coverage of this meeting by Jon – thank you!

  6. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    (the fine is $100 and fees, taxes and assessments make up the other $400)

    Oh, thanks, I’ll just pay the fine then.

  7. Carter Slade says:

    Poor Redding City Council. Even the city dog catcher gets more love and respect

    . – “Love lift us up where we belong…” Ah sing it Joe, sing it loud for dat po council…

  8. Barbara Cross says:

    Thanks to Jon Lewis we get more information  from News Cafe than  from the Record Searchlight!

    And thank you Doni!

  9. Frank Treadway says:

    Kudos to the Hill Country Care Clinic and its outreach to those persons in need of mental health care. They would have been treated by the very adept Shasta Psychiatric Hospital had it not been closed down by the Supervisors years ago.

    • Diane Hepburn says:

      Yes, Frank, you are absolutely right.  Why the Director of MH closed that hospital is beyond me!  Maybe he wanted to create jobs–they had to hire drivers to take patients to Yuba City, Sacramento, Bay area, and beyond for youth.  Then, we had to pay those facilities high prices to hospitalize our patients, and the driver to bring them home when they were released.  The families of the patients were unable to visit them because they were so far away.  The shortsightedness was very costly to everyone.

  10. Redding residents need to go on all-out campaigns to vote out every camera supporter in city government. Once a city gets hooked on the loot from the red light camera racket, voting out the “addicts” in city governments is the only safe way to proceed to get rid of the rackets.

    • Carter Slade says:

      COR – Hooked on red lite loot and now well on it’s way to developing a serious dependency for Bethel Bucks…Lawd, have mercy…

  11. cheyenne says:

    Cheyenne has no red light cameras.  The city installs round-a-bouts at busy corners.  Can’t put a camera at a roundy.

    • Rod says:

      There’s the solution.

      When the traffic all turns right, and nobody turns left, everything works out perfectly.  Oh, Oh but we lose revenue.  When traffic controls itself,  things keep moving with no harm from overreaching officials.

       

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Round-a-bouts?  No Big Brother cameras?  In some small ways, Cheyenne (the city) seems downright progressive.

      Every time a roundabout gets proposed for somewhere in Shasta County, a highly vocal cohort of the local reactionaries squeal like stuck pigs that it’s the end of civilization as we know it.

      Jesus God, how will we deal with something that’s as foreign to us as negotiating the narrow streets of old Dubrovnik?!  We’re all gonna die!

      Out here in Palo Cedro, the only stoplight is in front of the entrance to Foothill High School. It works fine at that spot, but between that light and the SR44 interchange to the south there are three stop signs.  Before and after school, those intersections are a mess—roundabouts are desperately needed at those points to keep traffic moving.  But proposing such a thing would elicit panicked wails that the scheme was cooked up by Gov. Moonbeam, ISIS, and the International Communist Conspiracy.  I exaggerate—but not much.

      • cheyenne says:

        The only cameras Wyoming requires, by law, are on school buses to catch vehicles driving past school buses with lights flashing when loading and unloading.  And in Colorado they are debating red light cameras and speed cameras, pro and con, while building roundabouts everywhere.

  12. Rod says:

    In defense of the roundy-lovers.  Cool April nites saw the roundy at Shasta View and Old Alturas become a place of public discourse.  Seems some official issued orders to quell the multi-lappers.  Hotrods motorcycles and pedestrians were having a small classy party.  A roundy goes round right?

    Eventually the city closed the roundy to all.  You folks can’t be doin’ that.

    It appears roundy lovers are different.

     

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