County Commissioners Joe Martinez and Sally Heyman Want Red Light Cameras

Looking for ways to screw taxpayers even more, county commissioners Joe Martinez and Sally Heyman want to introduce red light cameras for unincorporated Miami-Dade. Several cities, including Miami Beach, Hialeah and Miami Gardens, have already installed the controversial traffic ticket generators as a new source of government revenue. Call it legalized armed robbery of the people. The City of Miami, which has also installed cameras at key intersections in the near future, expects to make $8 million in fines annually.

Like other cities, the county would issue a $158 ticket and then split the money with the state, hospital trauma centers, and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. According to the proposed ordinance sponsored by Martinez and Heyman, the county proceeds would go into the general fund. The proposal will be discussed at the county commission's health, public safety and intergovernmental meeting this Thursday at 2 p.m.

The real winners in this government horn-swaggling bonanza are the companies that get to install the cameras. Those concerns are already on the prowl at County Hall. American Traffic Solutions, the company that currently supplies Miami with its video equipment at $4,250-$4,750 a pop, has retained four familiar faces to help lobby county commissioners.

According to the county clerk's lobbyist registration records, former county commissioner and state Sen.-elect Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, longtime Heyman supporter and lobbyist Susan Fried, and another ex-county commissioner Larry Hawkins are on the American Traffic Solutions' payroll. Rounding out the team is political consultant and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado confidante, Armando Gutierrez, who assisted American Traffic Solutions win the contract in the Magic City.

So when you get that traffic ticket for "running" a red-light at the intersection of Kendall Drive and SW 122nd Street, know that you helped keep political arm-twisters gainfully employed.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.