Red-light camera battle far from over

Bradenton officials will resume their debate in the coming weeks on whether to return red-light cameras to city intersections after shutting down the program this past August. Officials seem to favor additional technology that delays an opposing red-light from turning green if sensors pick up a red-light runner. Whether the city chooses that technology alone or if it will be implemented with cameras is the debate to come. Having lost two friends to red-light runners, Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown has been a staunch supporter of the cameras, and favors using them with the sensor technology. “People forget we are punishing someone who is breaking the law,” Brown said. “So how do we do the safety part and punish the offender? Instead of eliminating something completely, it’s how do you make it work.” Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan has remained neutral in the debate, saying data on both sides of the argument is convoluted at best. But she is expressing confidence in the sensor technology as a legitimate safety tool. “I’m pretty confident the technology is good, and it works,” Bevan said. “We are looking for revenue neutral. We don’t want to make money, but we don’t want to lose money.” The system is more monetary than it is saving lives. Florida Representative Wengay Newton, D-District 70 State Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton, D-St. Petersburg, opposes red-light cameras as a standalone tool. “All they are doing is recording accidents,” Newton said. “Cameras aren’t going to save people. But you do have this technology that doesn’t generate a lot of money, but does address safety. Companies making money don’t want to use that because it doesn’t make money. The system is more monetary than it is saving lives.” Mark Wandall, the late husband of Melissa Wandall, president of the National Coalition for Safer Roads, was killed by a red-light runner. The Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act authorized the first red-light cameras in Florida. Melissa Wandall, who regularly lobbies in Tallahassee to keep the cameras legal in the state, said she supports the combination of cameras and sensor technology. If they wanted to fix this bill they would have listened in 2011 when I had concerns about the right-on-red, but nobody wants to fix anything. Melissa Wandall, National Coalition for Safer Roads president “I absolutely do,” Wandall said. “It’s not that it’s frustrating. It’s that we have programs that work, and everybody would rather take all of their energy and fight against me because nobody likes to be held accountable.” The fate of red-light cameras is now in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court, which in May agreed to hear a case that may very well determine the legality of the camera program.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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