Has there been a more stupid political miscalculation in Miami-Dade over the past decade than the spread of red-light cameras throughout the municipalities? (Well, OK, besides Marlins Park?) Local governments thought the cameras would be a good way to keep streets safe — despite studies suggesting there are better ways to do that than by punishing yellow-light runners — and, more importantly, to make money.
Of course, all it takes for a person to become an anti-red-light ticket crusader is to get one, and they typically aren't cheap. So as red-light cameras spread across the county so did the number of people who grew to absolutely hate them. This should have been evident to politicians at the time. However, it also means that politicians new to office have an easy, voter-pleasing pet cause.
Take North Miami Mayor Smith Joseph, for example. He's finally undoing his city's red-light camera program and painting it as a win for citizens.
"You elected me to look out for the best interests of the city, as well as the best interests of the residents," Smith wrote in a statement issued Monday. "We cannot balance the city's budget on the backs of our residents. We need more police on the streets, not more red-light cameras. This is a new day in North Miami."
Starting just after midnight on Thursday, October 1, red-light cameras in the city will go out of commission.
Joseph sponsored legislation to remove the cameras, and the city commission passed the ordinance back in June.
The move comes as red-light cameras face an uncertain legal future in Florida. Earlier this year, an appeals court ruled that the city of Hollywood's red-light cameras were unconstitutional. Florida's Supreme Court refused to take up the city's appeal, letting the judgment stand. The legal argument is that local police forces are essentially outsourcing their duties to processing companies that review red-light camera footage instead of having an actual officer review the footage before issuing a citation.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.