Red light camera running up; legal battle continues
HOUSTON On Friday, both sides in the case filed legal briefs about their contract dispute. The court fight is the reason that those cameras still haven't been taken down. This is a decision that could cost the city anywhere from nothing to nearly $10 million. So these are big legal briefs that were filed late Friday afternoon in federal court. The city of Houston buys all sorts of stuff - flags and fountains, police cars and paint, street signs, stop lights, sprinklers. And every last one of them has a contractor behind the product expecting to get paid. The red light camera manufacturer says it's the same for them and they deserve to be paid. In a statement the company told us, "For the past four years we've been honored to work with the City on its efforts to make roads safer. It is now our hope that either the court, or the stakeholders themselves, will arrive at a conclusion that acknowledges both the will of the voters and our contract. " In other words, pay up. "It is not my intention to try to turn the cameras back on, to start issuing citations again. We simply have to figure out a way to get out of the contract without having to pay damages that will add even more burden to the city of Houston," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. A federal judge's deadline passed late Friday afternoon for the city to tell him why the referendum voids the contract, meaning the city owes nothing. The camera company filed paperwork saying the opposite - a financial difference that could force the city to pay millions it doesn't have to get out of the deal. The cameras are allegedly not recording photos, just the number of violations. ATS, the red light camera company, is still recording the number of violators every day and they're seeing huge increases. Now that the tickets aren't being issued, the company says in the last five days, red light running is up 27 percent over last year. And there was a 33 percent increase on Thursday over the last December 2. Both the city and ATS will be back in federal court next week.