It is well known that a group of residents got together a petition with over 700 valid signatures to have an amendment to the Maple Heights City Charter placed on the November ballot. Then when City Council didn’t bring it to a vote as required by the Ohio Constitution, the petitioners filed for a writ of mandamus. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the petitioners requiring the amendment (issue 99) to be placed on the ballot and requiring the City to pay their legal fees ($16,000) because City Council did not act “forthwith” as the Ohio Constitution requires.
So it makes sense that it is our neighbors are encouraging us to vote “yes” to ban the cameras with their red signs. It makes sense that eighty-percent of the funds raised in support of the traffic camera ban has come from our fellow residents – more than 100 of them.
But there is another side of Issue 99 – the vote “no” side. Who are they and where is their money coming from?
Big Money comes to little Maple Heights…
Who is behind those pretty, professional-looking mailers full of stock images that arrived last week? What about the blue “vote no” yard signs? It is obvious that they have some deep pockets.
The flyer’s disclaimer says “Americans for Community Safety”. Who is Americans for Community Safety? For starters, they are not our neighbors – they are located in Columbus. They also were just formed a few weeks ago. Any idea who might be behind them?
As of last week, they had received only one donation – $20,000 from a group called “Protect our Kids” (see below). But here is where is gets strange: Protect our Kids was founded on the same day and has the same office as Americans for Community Safety. Any ideas who might be behind this big money spending to keep the traffic cameras?
Why is Americans for Community Safety interested in Maple Heights anyway? Whatever the reason, let’s have a look at how “Big Money” is only giving us one side of the “facts”.
FACT #1: Our City can count on one hand the number of speed-related pedestrian injuries in recent memory (if they actually kept such records). So much for “drivers recklessly endangering children.” Additionally, the original cameras were merely placed in traditional “enforcement” locations with the highest volume of traffic.
FACT #2: What they didn’t tell you is that the average speed on Warrensville Center was only 30mph prior to the cameras. So much for “drastically reducing speeding.”
FACT #3: The Police Chief admitted that the police department was not spending time enforcing speed laws. However, now we have two officers spending hours every week monitoring the traffic cameras and citations. And City officials fought Councilman Brownlee’s amendment to have the revenue go back to the Police Department. So much to “more efficient allocation of resources.”
So who is this group spending tens-of-thousands of dollars for the traffic cameras? Why are they employing scare tactics to mislead us?
Maple isn’t alone, “Big Money” came to Garfield Heights, too…
When Garfield Heights banned their traffic cameras in 2010, “Safe Roads Ohio” was behind the “vote no” campaign. This innocuously named PAC was started by Redflex, the owner of the Garfield traffic cameras (cleveland.com article). Redflex gave $38,000 to the campaign to keep the traffic cameras in Garfield Heights.
Don’t buy into Big Money’s gimmicks. Instead, join your neighbors in BANNING the traffic cameras by voting “YES” on Issue 99.
Information on the other Maple Heights issues on the November 4th ballot can be found here.