N.O. mayor candidates discuss future of traffic cameras
New Orleans Mayoral Candidate Latoya Cantrell generated a lot of buzz this week when she made a campaign promise to suspend the city's controversial traffic cameras.
The ticket-writing, photo-snapping, eyes in the sky are certainly unpopular with most drivers.
While some see them as a necessary evil for safer streets. Cantrell isn't convinced.
"We really don't know if it's actually reducing or making us safer," Cantrell said.
As mayor Cantrell would suspend all traffic cameras, pending a thorough review of their impact on safe driving.
"What we do know, it is putting an added burden on our people who are feeling priced out and nickled and dimed," Cantrell said.
The other major candidates are also weighing in on the topic.
"I don't really like them myself because I received a ticket from those cameras," candidate Desiree Charbonnet said.
Charbonnet agrees the matter needs more study, but she's not prepared to suspend the program.
"If in fact they are having a positive effect on public safety or traffic safety, if I went in and just pulled them out then that could be a mistake," Charbonnet said. "We need to be careful. We can't just ploy for votes."
The traffic cameras are expected to generate up to $25 million in ticket revenue this year.
"I still believe the cameras are just a money grab," candidate Michael Bagneris said.
Bagneris maintains the money should be dedicated and not just go into the city's general fund.
"If we're going to grab that money, let the people use that money in a way that they think is necessary and that is fix our streets," Bagneris said.
Candidate Frank Scurlock said the only place he would leave the cameras is in school zones. He claims the program in general may be unconstitutional.
"You don't have the right to face your accuser," Scurlock said. "If you're charged with something, you know, how do you talk to a computer that just snaps shots."
As the candidates debate the issue, a group called the NOLA Initiative is spearheading a grass roots effort to do away with all traffic cameras in Orleans Parish.
It is seeking 10,000 signatures to put a charter change referendum on the fall ballot.