Los Angeles contracted with a private company to install red-light cameras at 32 of its 4,300 intersections to catch scofflaws. The company went bankrupt and now is owned by a firm from Arizona, the state the city is boycotting, and its contract is up.
In five years, the program has chalked up a $1.5 million loss for the city because two-thirds of the $466 fine goes to the state and county and nearly one in five of the tickets for red-light crashing — fully 50,000 of them worth nearly $6 million — have gone unpaid.
You can’t renew your license or car registration if you have unpaid tickets.
One final fact: The Council took the boycott issue off the table and clearly intended to extend the contract for 10 months although accidents are actually up or the same at half the 32 intersections.
So what’s the question? Here’s the question that leaped to my mind:
How come 50,000 motorists haven’t paid their tickets?
The answer is simple: Most of them are driving without a license and don’t register their cars so they can laugh at the law and the law-abiding with impunity.
For the most part, they can’t get licenses or register their cars because they are illegal immigrants — the class of people Arizona is cracking down on and the reason why LA is boycotting everything to do with our neighboring state. Some estimates are as high as 25 percent of motorists here are unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured.
In 45 minutes of nonsensical debate by the Council and dissembling by the LAPD, the focus was almost entirely on public safety, whether the cameras help or hurt. The answer was largely mixed and certainly far from definitive.
Yet no one ever asked how come 50,000 motorists haven’t paid their tickets.
The answer, of course, would have made the boycott as silly as the red-light cameras that lose money every year, persecute the law-abiding and don’t prevent accidents significantly even in the handful of places were they are installed.
Understand that for all the talk Wednesday about public safety, the same Council resisted sending four helicopter officers to a training conference in Arizona last week and forced the Chief of Police to cancel it.
So much for public safety is all the matters.
The vote was 13-0 to extend the contract with Jan Perry absent and Lt. Eric Garcetti tweeting from his Navy reserve duty assignment.