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Cameras were rejected once

August 12, 2012
The Herald-Star

To the editor:

Steubenville City Council is once again considering installing traffic cameras throughout the city. They must have short memories. Just six years ago, the citizens of Steubenville overwhelmingly voted to remove traffic cameras from the city by a 3-1 margin. Not one city ward voted for the cameras.

When the cameras were originally installed some seven years ago, City Council contended they were being installed for "safety" reasons. Although the citizens of Steubenville have always been, and continue to be, concerned about traffic safety, especially in school zones, the voters rejected the cameras. A vote of 3-1 is a landslide and clearly indicates the will of the people. Did the citizens reject the traffic cameras because they weren't concerned with safety in school zones? The answer is no. The citizens viewed the cameras as an unacceptable intrusion into their lives and as a revenue generator for the city.

Do current members of City Council forget what happened six years ago? It appears some have short memories. Despite the overwhelming rejection by citizens, at least four members have indicated their willingness to consider bringing the cameras back under the guise of "safety."

The truth of the matter is the city will use traffic cameras as a revenue generator. The city may have a legitimate need to raise revenue. However, it should attempt that by being honest with the public, as opposed to passing back-door tax increases disguised as a "safety" measure. A similar back-door tax increase was enacted by council in February 2011 when it passed an ordinance to charge a "fee" (as opposed to a tax) to the at-fault driver of an automobile accident occurring in the city when safety forces are dispatched. This "fee" will cost the at-fault driver as much as several hundred dollars. This ordinance was passed as an emergency ordinance. What was the emergency? Was the emergency council's desire to limit public input on the back-door tax increase? Enactment of back-door tax increases in Steubenville should stop.

A flaw in council's "safety" argument for traffic cameras is that one of the more effective methods to combat the drug and gun crime in Steubenville has been the use of routine traffic stops. With the imposition of traffic cameras, traffic stops will decline, as no camera will be able to pull over a car. Without the traffic stops, a key weapon in the fight against crime will be lost.

However, if those stops will continue, what is the need for the cameras? Revenue generation may be the answer. Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf stated the issue should go back before the voters. If council believes it must revisit the issue, I agree. Mayor Domenick Mucci has requested that a public meeting on the topic should be held at Eastern Gateway Community College. When the meeting is scheduled, I urge all citizens who voted against the cameras six years ago to show up and be heard once again, as, apparently, City Council members have forgotten the election results from six years ago.

Mike Johnson


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