Red-light camera critics will rally Tuesday

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BROOKSVILLE – Organizers of a red-light camera rally planned for Tuesday hope enough city residents will sign a petition to get a red-light camera referendum on the November 2014 ballot.

Pat and Shirley Miketinac, local activists who oppose red-light cameras and frequently address the city council and county commission on the issue, stood outside Brooksville City Hall on Wednesday evening gathering signatures as residents gathered for a budget hearing. Those wishing to sign the petition must live in the city of Brooksville.

Shirley Miketinac said she has fewer than 100 of the 477 votes needed to put the issue on the ballot, and City Council members Frankie Burnett and Joe Bernardini signed the petition. The 477 petitions must be submitted by May 19, 2014, to get on the November 2014 general election.

The rally will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesday next to Brooksville City Hall and WWJB along Howell Avenue.

Miketinac said the petitions are available at local businesses, including Weeks Hardware, Main Street Eatery, WWJB, Osmond Printing and Green World Path, as well as County Commissioner Jim Adkins’ office.

Petitions should be signed at the locations, Miketinac said, so they can be submitted to the Supervisor of Elections office in one batch.

“Putting it on the ballot gives the citizens of Brooksville the opportunity to make the decision,” Miketinac said.

The city of Brooksville first introduced the red-light camera program in 2008, suspended it in mid-2010 and reinstated the program in mid-2012.

In 2013, county commissioners realized two of the city’s 16 red-light cameras were on county-owned property and asked the cameras be removed. The cameras remain in place at Cobb Road and Jefferson Street and at U.S. 41 and Wiscon Road. County Commissioner Jim Adkins has repeatedly called for a voter referendum.

In June, county engineers tweaked yellow- and red-light clearance times per a new Florida Department of Transportation formula. Many anticipated slightly longer yellow-light times, but the final adjustments showed the majority of lights were shortened rather than extended.

Meanwhile, many motorists who decided to challenge their citations have successfully had their cases dismissed in court. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is expected to attend a hearing in Judge Donald Scaglione’s court on Friday afternoon.

During a city council meeting last month, about 15 city and county residents spoke out against the practice of ticketing motorists by mail instead of by a police officer. Among the voices were a mother who said the numerous tickets she’s received – at $158 each – are a strain on her marriage and family finances, a Vietnam veteran who said the flashing cameras give him flashbacks, as well as a local business owner who called for Brooksville Police Chief George Turner to step down or be fired for his “incompetence.”

At the Aug. 19 meeting, Shirley Miketinac said between July 2013 and June 2013 the city collected more than $2.3 million for more than 14,000 citations.

Miketinac said “the fruits of our labor” are handed over to Tallahassee and the Sensys camera company, money that could instead be spent in Brooksville.

“Somebody up here please be a hero and remove the red-light cameras,” Miketinac said.

After the meeting, Mayor Lara Bradburn said she hoped city and county residents would focus their time and effort on the “positive things” happening in the community, and work instead on building the city up instead of tearing it down.

Bradburn also has disputed the idea that Brooksville has the highest number of per capita red-light camera citations in the state.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday .com

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