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2013-02-28 Iowa City Group Seeks Signatures on Red-light Camera Petition (The Daily Iowan)

2013-02-28 Iowa City Group Seeks Signatures on Red-light Camera Petition (The Daily Iowan)

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Published by stopbigbrother
Press coverage by The Daily Iowan (http://www.dailyiowan.com/)
Press coverage by The Daily Iowan (http://www.dailyiowan.com/)

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Published by: stopbigbrother on Mar 23, 2013
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2/28/13 11:12 PMIowa City group seeks signatures on red-light camera petition - The Daily IowanPage 1 of 3http://www.dailyiowan.com/2013/02/28/Metro/32121.html
40°F / 30°F
Iowa City group seeks signatures on red-light camera petition
| FEBRUARY 28, 2013
5:00 AM
The University of Iowa Young Americans for Liberty student organization has teamed up w ith a community group called Stop Big Brother to petition against red-light cameras, drones, and other traffic-surveillance technology.The petition began in response to an ordinance passed last year allowing traffic officials to installautomatedred-lightcameras. The groups petitioned at the IMU twice this week and will continue to reach out to students and thecommunity until their April 1 deadline.Joey Gallagher, the president of Young Americans for Liberty, said the combined effort was a naturalstep for the two organizations. So far, he believes students have generally been receptive.“We’re getting pretty  good reception from students in the IMU,” he said. “ We’ve gotten over 100 signaturesin just oneafternoon.”The groupsneed 2,500 signaturesto submit the petition tothe Iowa City City Council; they currently  have almost 1,000, said Martha Hampel, who cowrote the petition.Hampel said traffic surveillance technology is not for Iowa City.“We feel Iowa City likes to follow national trends, considering Cedar Rapids uses license-plate-tracking technology now,” she said. “Cedar Rapids is a good example of what we don’t want.”In a January 2012
 Daily Iowan
article, Police Chief Sam Hargadine explained why the cameras are beneficial. According to Hargadine, cameras prevent crashes and improve pedestrian safety. Henoted that an Iowa City police survey found that some red lights were run up to 300 times a day.“With the [University of Iowa], we’ve got about 30,000 pedestrians around,” he said. “When youhave that dense number of pedestrians and with that number of people [running red lights], that’s anunsafe condition.”The Iowa Department of Transportation has recently stepped into the issue as well. According to the
, the Iowa DOT is requesting a greater amount of data concerning traffic and crash history atintersections involving highways.The Iowa Legislature has also debated bans on red-light cameras in the past, but with no outcome.Iowa has no state law pertaining to speed cameras or red light cameras, according to the GovernorsHighway Safety Association. More than half of the states across the country do not have state lawspermitting red-light camera use.In a recent
 Des Moines Register
poll, 50 percent of Iowa respondents favor a ban on red-lightcameras, and 43 percent oppose a ban.Currently, Iowa City has no red-light cameras installed.
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2/28/13 11:12 PMIowa City group seeks signatures on red-light camera petition - The Daily IowanPage 2 of 3http://www.dailyiowan.com/2013/02/28/Metro/32121.html
Stop Big Brother has reached out to the Johnson County Republican and Democratic centralcommittees and received support from both, Hampel said.“It’s basically a nonpartisan issue,” she said.The group is working on holding a forum about the matter of surveillance technologies withmembers from both political parties and someone from the opposition. They currently have weekly meetings at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., to address these concerns.In addition to red-light cameras, the group is worried about the use of drones.Some law-enforcement agencies from around the country have started to use drones for trafficenforcement. One company that makes these drones has moved to Cedar Rapids, which promptedthe addition of drones to Stop Big Brother’s agenda.These drones can be used to collect traffic information and data about “suspicious vehicles.”“Generally, the more data a government collects, the more effective it can be in stopping crimes,”said Aleksey Gurtovoy, who cowrote the petition. “The problem is it’s not balanced by privacy rightsor due-process rights.”Stop Big Brother fears the technology would lead to unintended consequences. Until regulations andlaws catch up with the new devices, there say there is a possibility for misuse.“They could implement this technology and say it’s for a particular purpose, and store thatinformation, and then use it later for something else,” Hampel said.
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University of MichiganCitizens who care about personal privacy,due process in traffic court, and fairness in traffic law enforcement need to support this petition and get iton the ballot. Red light cameras produce profits ONLY if the traffic light engineering is deliberately doneimproperly to cause inadvertent violations by safe drivers - by using yellow intervals too short forthe actual approach speeds. With correct length yellows there will not be enough violations topay the high camera costs which usually run $4,000 to $5,000 per month per camera.Then most camera systems and laws make it very difficult or impossible to challenge the ticketsin court. The principle of "innocent until proven guilty" is NOT part of the system with cameras.The Iowa House passed a bill some time ago to ban ticket cameras and the Governor promised tosign it if it reached his desk. Greed in the Senate killed the bill without even a hearing.Support the petition and protect yourselves. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association.Reply 
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