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Protest of Red Light Cameras: Shredd and Ragan Style

It was a perfect, sunny day for a protest.  Before City Hall, a growing group joined 103.3’s Shredd and Ragan for the Red Light Camera debate.  Signs were created, and people of all backgrounds and ages came downtown to participate.  Couples brought their children and dogs accompanied their owners.  

It was refreshing to see the young people defiantly shouting their message and getting involved in politics.  Vehicles honked as they passed by: postal trucks, firetrucks, semi-trucks, and one man in a tan SUV that must have circled the square a dozen times, beeping and sticking his fist out of the window.

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Anyone who has been listening to The Shredd and Ragan Show on 103.3 The Edge is well
aware of the fight against Red Light Cameras.  The proposed installation of the cameras has become a daily issue on the show, as the  radio hosts voice their opinion to try and make a
difference.  And they seem to be making an impact.

Well,
what’s the big deal?  The only people that will be issued tickets will
be the ones who run red lights, right?  Plus, according to Mayor Byron
Brown they are instituted for safety, not profit.  Shredd and Ragan beg
to differ. 

Not only do the radio personalities claim that the cameras are a scam
to make money, but that the system is flawed as well.  The cameras, according to Shredd and Ragan, can
process citations to anyone who makes the sensor go off, this includes funeral
processions, cars making a right on red or passing the white line of
an intersection.  Studies have shown that the cities that have these
cameras have an increased accident rate.  Imagine slamming on your
breaks to not pass a red light and then getting rear-ended.  That is
a realistic possibility once the cameras come downtown. 

Shredd and Ragan have compiled evidence on their Protest Page,
taken from newspapers such as The Buffalo News, The Washington Post,
and Channel 2 News, to make a solid argument.  They claim that if this
was an issue over safety, the city could easily synchronize the lights
or increase the yellow light time by one second.  Their evidence claims that the accident rate would be reduced by 80 percent. 

If this is about
profit, then why not tax the people instead?  Shredd and Ragan say that at least with taxes, all of the money goes towards the city.  In Yonkers, the city has
only seen $15 of each $50 ticket, the remaining $35 being shipped back
to the camera companies.  A similar situation would occur in Buffalo.  The city needs an estimated $3 million dollars.  To generate that, $10
million in tickets would have to be issued in order to make the profit they needed, $7 million of that
money going back to the manufacturers.  Shredd says that “the $7
million is going to leave WNY … not to be recycled” back into the
community.  That is a lot of money.

To back up their argument, the radio station invited several politicians to give their side of the story.  David Rivera, a councilman for Buffalo, agreed with Shredd and Ragan, saying that the
cameras were intended to create revenue for the city, not for traffic safety.  redlight3.jpg Once the cars got used to the cameras, the number of tickets issued would decline.  He claimed that eventually the city would have to reduce the yellow light time to make a profit.  Rivera said, “Cities have gotten sued for reducing the yellow light time.”  Reducing the yellow light time would cause cars to pass red lights and increase the number of accidents.

Rivera went on to state that many restaurant and bar owners are upset as well.  They believe that the cameras are one more reason not to come to the city.  Multiple people off of the street were interviewed, and stated that instead of going through Buffalo, they will just spend all of their efforts to drive around it.  Is that a risk that the city is willing to take?

Councilmember and mayoral candidate Mickey Kearns said the assumption of safety is not guaranteed under the cameras. 
Kearns went on to say, “We know that rear-end collisions will increase, and it is not good for the regular everyday person.”  On top of that,
Kearns claims that insurance rates will go up.  Kearns says that these
cameras are only in the interest of lobbyists and of special interests.

“Cameras do not replace police officers,” Kearns stated, “We are almost outsourcing our police department.”  Job placement in Buffalo is poor and the population is declining as a result.  “Instead of giving money to these companies, Kearns stated, why not employ a police officer to monitor these intersections?  Their income would come back to the community in one way or another.” 

In contrast to Shredd and Ragan, Red Light Rose, as she’s affectionately called, was one of the only people that was for the Red Light Cameras.  She said, “Drivers are selfish and redlight4.jpggreedy,” passing through red lights because they are impatient.  She believed that there is a problem with drivers breaking the law and that the cameras are a step in the right direction.  The crowd booed her as a result.

Afterwards, Shredd and Ragan said that Red Light Rose asked for more literature concerning the cameras.  They joked that there still might be hope for her to turn to their side. 

If nothing else, Shredd and Ragan may have encouraged a younger crowd to be active in politics.  The protest brought people off the streets (literally) to sign a petition form.  Workers throughout the city came to join in, willingly signing the form and voicing their opinions.  The politicians repeatedly stated that we need to keep debating the issue.  We have to email our politicians so we can make our voices heard.  We need to sign petition forms and keep active.  Things will never change if we don’t.
 
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