MIAMI (CBS4) — It was standing room only at Miami City Hall, Thursday, as the commissioners debated shutting down the city’s two-year-old red light camera program.
“Keep the traffic light cameras on. Help us save lives,” said the president of the Miami Project, Marc Buoniconti, a former football player who was paralyzed
“How many more people need to be paralyzed due to automobile accidents? How many people need to be sitting in wheelchairs because of irresponsible driving and people running red lights,” said Buoniconti.
Even legendary coach Don Shula and music producer Emilio Estefan sent messages in favor of the cameras.
The City of Miami played graphic videos of red light crashes, explaining how crashes and crimes caught on camera helped solve cases.
“Be fair with the community! Please,” said Fernando Suarez, a Miami City Commissioner.
In the end, the hearing was not really about safety, but rather money.
“The cost of the ticket, after appeals, can be as high as $408 according to the state statute,” added Suarez.
Based on a new state law that went into effect this month, the city has to set up an appeals process for red light tickets which can turn a $158 mistake into a $400 fine.
“It’s not about removing the red-light cameras. This is about creating another layer of bureaucracy, by the way a full time layer of bureaucracy,” said Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo.
The city already gets about 1200 appeals a month, enough to run hearings three days a week, eight hours a day.
Commissioners are still debating the topic and decided to meet again to vote in two weeks.