Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida, Europe and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Red-light cameras in Florida are on their way out and Hallandale Beach is FINALLY doing the right thing to end the revenue-generating scheme that has NOT made the city safer, but rather has made it quite infamous in South Florida; Csba Kulin weighs-in with insight and cold stone facts; @RLNOOZ


This video above ought to look familiar to almost anyone who lives in southeast Broward County, or in next-door northeast Miami-Dade County, the most traffic-gridlocked areas in the entire state of Florida. The reason? Lots of video of Hallandale Beach's detested red-light cameras in action!
Local10's Roger Lohse reports:
Study: Red-light cameras making some Fla. intersections more dangerous 
Feb 02 2014 11:34:20 PM EST   
Updated On: Feb 02 2014 11:47:11 PM EST





Per the independent survey (by mail) of Hallandale Beach residents that was conducted a few years ago by a Kansas-based company that my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach & Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin references below, along with some previous emails of mine about the subject, it's important for those of you who are new to the blog or far from here to know that the survey was full of 'loaded' questions that were quite clearly of the City Commission's choosing -i.e. Mayor Joy Cooper's, NOT ones the public wanted to ask and get answers to, which is to say that the questions were deliberately tilted in favor of a positive response for the city to begin withthe red-light cameras were cited by Hallandale Beach residents as one of the 4 worst things about the city, a fact that the mayor consistently underplayed since she was the champion lobbyist of American Traffic Solutions, ATS,

Mayor Cooper consistently failed to see the facts that most of us could see clearly at the time: it was a pretense to increase the city's revenue, not a reasonable attempt to solve actual safety problems in this city that is boxed-in by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway to ther east and I-95 to the west, and only one road that bisects the city and allows north-south travel, U.S.-1/Federal Highway .

Mayor Joy Cooper only saw revenue - $$$.
And she was perfectly happy to take money from drivers making legal right-hand turns on red when there was no oncoming traffic, if her cameras said that the drivers didn't wait long enough.
And what was the result of that?
Lawsuits that the city lost and had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds and damages.

Much of that citizen discontent was not just because of simple policy differences but rather as I've discussed here previously, because of the rather egregious and ham-handed way that the city's program and partnership with ATS was rolled-out, with little transparency and public disclosure about relevant details that citizens like me specifically asked for and were entitled to have.
Details that, in the abstract, you'd think the city -any city- would want to have out on the table before the public if they were genuinely interested in getting the real facts out where everyone could see them so that smart choices were necessarily be made.
But Mayor Cooper and Hallandale Beach City Hall weren't interested in that.

Yes, it was yet another in the hundreds of examples over ther past ten years I've lived here where the powers-that-be at HB City Hall, like the HBPD, dis the mayor's bidding and did NOT 
cooperate because they wanted certain results, not a fair discussion and analysis of the problem and the unique geographical factors we have in this city: 3 city streets carry well over 90% of all traffic, and only one road exists that connects the eastern residents of the city on the beach with I-95. 
A complete lack of options.

Plus, there's the city's failure to actually post warning signs like other communities routinely did -where you could see them.
Instead, they had them placed behind a bus shelter located near the entrance to a retail complex -home of The Knife Argentinian restaurant- so that you couldn't  see the sign until you were even with it as you drove north on U.S.-1.
A sign that was located on the inside of the sidewalk, not where you could see it near the curb, as is the case for most but not all of those RLC warning signs in next-door Hollywood.

Even now, as I saw again yesterday, the city's warning sign on NW 10th Court & Hallandale Beach Blvd. is almost impossible for drivers to see given that there are multiple signs in front of it and it's placed in-between trees.  
Just as it has been for YEARS.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Csaba Kulin
Date: Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM
Subject: Red Light Cameras in WSJ

February 27, 2014


Hallandale Beach Residents,
Due to the relentless hard work of our residents and three courageous Hallandale Beach commissioners, Commissioners Julian, Lazarow and Sanders we can say “goodbye” to the hated red light cameras. Unexpectedly even Vice Mayor Lewy joined the majority, stating in the Sun Sentinel that the time has come to remove them. Only the unrepentant believer in the red light cameras, Mayor Cooper voted to keep it.
I knew it was a bad idea from the start, thirty eight (38%) percent of our residents did not like it when the City surveyed us. Under the slogan of “the beatings will continue until morale improves”, we had to endure the punishment and enriched the coffers of ATS for several years to come.
There had been a lot written about the issue but today the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had an article on its front page about “Number of Communities Using Red-Light Cameras Declines”. The article is good reading but please read the more than seventy reader comments. The comments reflect the public’s view on this issue.
I attached a link to the WSJ article for your convenience.



---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 3:55 PM
Subject: FYI: Csaba Kulin re the City of Hallandale Beach's Red-Light Camera contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) which calls for city taxpayers to shell-out $150k if city terminates contract before Dec. 31 -as they've voted to do


After all the dozens of blog posts and emails I've written on the subject of RLC's over the past few years, and all of the meetings I recorded, trust me when I tell you this: at NONE of the public meetings in Hallandale Beach that I or anyone else attended, before and after the ATS contract was signed and RLC cameras were initially erected -over the intense opposition of the majority of this community's citizens -in part because of where they were put up:  NOT where traffic accidents involving speeding actually happened!- were termination fees discussed.

Least of all, mentioned publicly by Mayor Joy Cooper, who received so much from Arizona-based ATS via campaign contributions funds and emotional support, and whose tune she has always danced and sung in public and in Op-Eds.

There was never any discussion of it or the the amount until AFTER the HB City Commission finally voted to get rid of it and the mayor was on the losing 4-1 side.
We got the specific numbers$ last week, weeks after the vote where both the City Attorney and City Manager couldn't answer numerous basic questions about the contract at the meeting where the vote to rid us of the cameras took place.

To most careful observers of what's going on here, which does not include the Herald or the Sun-Sentinel, the sudden need by City Hall to talk about termination fees seems like a rather ham-handed and obvious attempt by city administrators and city bureaucrats to justify keeping the contract, despite the will of the people actually being expressed forcefully thru the elected City Commission for one of the rare times in the past ten years, albeit years after they should've.
This from bureaucrats who routinely waste money hand-over-fist into the tens of millions.

re Unamortized amounts invested:
Also never discussed when Mayor Cooper and Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy were championing it as a safety measure despite all the evidence to the contrary that it was being done to generate revenue for City Hall: it would be HB taxpayers' obligations to pay for something -equipment- that would not be used if the contract was terminated.
Folks, it's NOT a perishable cake or pizza or a time-sensitive airline ticket we're being forced to pay for, it's metal, wires and software that can be used over-and-over.
So why are we going to have to pay ATS a hidden profit for something that the next govt. foolish enough to use it will also have to pay for?


Question for the media to ask the Mayor and Police Chief: if it's all about public safety, why all these years later are there still ZERO of the required warning signs for it on either west-bound or east-bound Hallandale Beach Blvd. as you approach that U.S.-1 intersection?


Dave



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Csaba Kulin
Date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Subject: RE: Red Light Camera Contract
To: "Whitfield, Lynn" <lwhitfield@hallandalebeachfl.gov>
Cc: becjuli@aol.commlazarow@hallandalebeachfl.govalex@hallandalebeachfl.govonevision4life@aol.comrmiller@hallandalebeachfl.govNrafols@hallandalebeachfl.gov



February 24, 2014
Dear City Attorney Ms. Whitfield,
Thank you for your quick response to my e-mail and thank you for your explanation before and during the February 19, 2014 City Commission Meeting. As I stated to you at the time, I did not get your e-mail before the meeting and I did not have sufficient time to read the entire Agreement between the City and ATS. Now I had the time to read the Agreement and I do see the ARTICLES you referred to during the meeting.
To memorialize the essence of your comments let me see if I remember them correctly. Of course, if you remember differently, please let me know.
You told me that ARTICLE 1, TERM of the Agreement reads “the term of this Agreement be five (5) years and shall begin on the date immediately following conclusion of warning period”. That is the reason the Agreement shall not terminate until December of 2014. You are absolutely correct but you did not tell me about the “however” in the clause, the second part of ARTICLE 1.
The second part of the TERM Section reads “if the term of this Agreement extends beyond a single fiscal year of CITY, the continuation of this Agreement beyond the end of any fiscal year shall be subject to both the appropriation and the availability of funds in accordance with Florida law”The language indicates to me that on less the City Commission budgets funds in the next fiscal year the Agreement is terminated at the end of this fiscal year, maybe earlier if no funds are available. No mention of the City’s obligation to pay ATS any “unamortized amounts invested”.
I mentioned in my comments ARTICLE 7, TERMINATION, Section 7.3, the CITY’s right to terminate the Agreement for “convenience”.
Part 1 of the Section 7.3 reads “In the event this Agreement is terminated for convenience, VENDOR shall be paid for any services properly performed under the Agreement through the termination date specified in the written notice of termination. I agree, the VENDOR should be paid for services already performed.
Part 2 of Section 7.3 reads “VENDOR acknowledges and agrees that it has received good, valuable and sufficient consideration from CITY, the receipt and adequacy of which are, hereby acknowledged by VENDOR, for CITY’s right to terminate this Agreement for convenience”This tells me that the VENDOR has received sufficient consideration from the City to cancel for “convenience” at any time. No mention of the City’s obligation to pay ATS any “unamortized amounts invested”.
ATS may argue for “unamortized amount invested” in ARTICLE 7, TERMINATION, Section 7.5. In my opinion, this Section is very poorly worded, ambiguous and unconscionably one sided favoring ATS.
 “Any termination of this agreement by the City shall be without any liability or damages to ATS, except if the Agreement is terminated pursuant to 7.1 above the City shall pay ATS the unamortized amount invested by ATS in the program at the date of termination by the City”. At a minimum, a comma should have been placed between “above and the City” to make the Section easier to read.
What does this above sentence say? The City pays the entire 5 years worth of payments no matter what? Does the City have any contemporary documentation as to the “amortized amount invested” or ATS will give it to the City now?
I cannot understand how the City’s law department “signed off” on the cause and I do not believe our City Commission was made aware of this cause prior to approving the Agreement. Had the City Commission decided to cancel the Agreement one month into the 60 month contract, the City would have been required to pay close to $750,000 to ATS? Am I wrong to assume this?
In my opinion there are sufficient questions concerning this Agreement and a significant amount of money demanded by ATS to hire an outside counsel to advise the City as to the proper course to follow.
You stated that the City Manager has the information as to the dates of grace period and start of the Agreement. She also has documents as to the amount invested by ATS and an amortization schedule of amount invested by ATS. I will ask her for that information.
I hope you will find the time to correct me where I am wrong because I do not want disseminate partial or incorrect information.
Sincerely, 
Csaba Kulin


--- lwhitfield@hallandalebeachfl.gov wrote:

From: "Whitfield, Lynn"
To: "ckulin Bill Julian, "Lazarow, Michele"  "Lewy, Alexander" , Commissioner Anthony Sanders
CC: "Miller C., Renee" , "Rafols, Nydia M"
Subject: RE: Red Light Camera Contract
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:01:30 +0000
Mr. Kulin
If you look at the contract, the effective date is not until after the expiration of the warning period.  The warning period did not begin until after the cameras and system were installed which was not immediately after the contract was signed.  With the installation of the cameras and the 90 day warning period the contract did not become effective until December 2009. 


V. Lynn Whitfield
City Attorney
AV Preeminent ® rated, the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell
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Used under in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards
And policies.
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From: Csaba Kulin
Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 5:16 PM
To: Billy Julian; Lazarow, Michele; Lewy, Alexander; Commissioner Anthony Sanders
Cc: Whitfield, Lynn; Miller C., Renee; Rafols, Nydia M
Subject: Red Light Camera Contract


Dear Commissioners,


In the short time I had to look over the ATS contract it seems to me that the City entered into a 5 year contract in 2009 with ATS.
ATS signed the Contract February 24, 2009 and the City signed the Contract March 5, 2009.


You can find the signatures on pages 19 and 20 of the Contract.


On less the City signed a 2 year option, the contact is just about expired.


I hope you have time to confirm my findings by tonight's meeting.




Csaba Kulin







---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, Jan 25, 2014 at 2:24 PM
Subject: re Sun-Sentinel's incomplete story re red-light cameras getting the boot in Hallandale Beach -just another example of their shallow reporting missing-the-mark 

Would've been nice if the Sun-Sentinel, for a change -FOR ONCE- actually focused on the myriad reasons why HB citizens have been calling for RLC to go for years, including an honest accounting of the the history of Mayor Cooper, City Hall and HBPD consciously deciding NOT to share public info on traffic accidents so that citizens could actually see where largest number of accidents occurred.

Once again, when presented with a story on a silver platter about a dysfunctional HB story that cried out for some genuine depth in it, the Sun-Sentinel went for the bury-'em-with-quotes 
approach that left HB's unique perspective completely unexplored, and has instead left objective observers just as confused as to why this happened here instead of happening in another city.
How can they bring the word trend into the story without ever explaining how it all happened?
What would those common components in other cities be that could make it happen elsewhere?
They don't say.
Until that paper is sold and new management and reporters are there, that paper 
is an afterthought when it comes to local news and political coverage.

No mention at all of the city starting a RLC program before the state authorized one, and with so little attention to detail by the City, HBPD or then-City Attorney David Jove that required warning signs were actually obscured from the public driving by, as I noted at the time with photos connecting-the-dots.
All these years later, there's still ZERO warning signs on either east-bound or west-bound 
Hallandale Beach Blvd. approaching U.S.-1

Those required warning signs on the median near NW 10th Terrace were NOT there when the 
city started their program or when the state did but much later.
I know because I have the photos that show that lack of attention to detail at the 
time, and most of you have already seen them.

They didn't want to do that because they knew that if the facts came out, they'd be hard-pressed to explain why they were so insistent on placing cameras in places that'd clearly generate less REVENUE, including the illegal right-hand turn money they were getting hand-over-fist at the beginning that got the city so much negative media coverage across the state.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Red-light cameras kicked to curb - Hallandale yanks them, but will others follow?

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