WHAT DO YOU THINK? The red-light camera war still rages in North Jersey: State Sen. Michael Doherty today blasted Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for saying he wanted to install them on the edges of town “for money reasons,” while alerting the public that all 25 slots for the state’s pilot program are filled and no new towns are being accepted.
“These things generate income,” Sokolich was quoted as saying in a news report, bringing a sharp response from Doherty.
“The Mayor has stated his intention to put cameras at lights on the edge of town where he says mostly non-residents will be ticketed,” the state senator said. “If safety was truly the goal, wouldn’t he seek to have cameras installed at the most dangerous intersections rather than the ones least likely to draw residents’ ire?”
Sokolich, an attorney, was reportedly at a closing and couldn’t immediately be reached. A message was left for him.
Getting the cameras in Fort Lee is a moot point right now, anyway: The state Department of Transportation capped the number of municipalities getting red-light cameras at 25, and all of the slots are already taken.
Doherty has been fighting to remove those and not add new cameras. He’s gotten support from such municipalities as Warren Township, which recently adopted a resolution supporting a statewide ban.
The resolution said the township “believes that the use of red light cameras can be dangerous and unreliable, and that such cameras are not effective tools in furthering traffic safety.”
Doherty has also launched an online petition that has garnered 5,000 signatures as of this morning. It can be found at: senatenj.com/cameras
Referendum questions would show local officials how their citizens feel about the growth of such electronic surveillance, he suggested.
Sokolich, in turn, said it’s government’s role to sometimes make unpopular decisions, and that a referendum can’t be held on each controversial proposal.
“This is another example of an elected official who thinks he knows better than the people who elected him,” Doherty responded. “The people of Fort Lee need to make it clear to Mayor Sokolich that he answers to them.”
“We have proven that there are major flaws with this program and that these cameras are about money, not safety,” added Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, who is also working to get the devices removed.
Gov. Christie in June suspended all but 22 of the 85 cameras in the state after an inspection found that amber lights at those crossings didn’t give motorists enough time to get through.
O’Scanlon, who calls the cameras ATMs (Automatic Taxing Machines) – hired an engineer to assess yellow light timing and found flaws in the system.
But the cameras were eventually certified, and the fines stood.