Red-light camera opponents closer to ballot initiative

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BROOKSVILLE — Shirley Miketinac wants the red-light cameras gone.
A group opposed to red-light cameras in Hernando County delivered what is believed to be enough petitions to get the issue on the ballot in November. GEOFF FOX/STAFF
During the last nine months or so, she and husband, Patrick, say that they have collected thousands of signatures from people in support of a referendum on November’s ballot that could eliminate red-light cameras. The Miketinacs expected to deliver more than 600 petitions to the office of Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson on Friday; 477 petitions are needed to get the issue on the ballot.

The Miketinacs believe the red-light cameras are “a transgression of the U.S. Bill of Rights.”

“We feel very positive about this — it’s the voice of the people speaking,” Shirley Miketinac said. “Last month, we went into neighborhoods. We walked the streets to see what people think, and close to 95 percent of the people we spoke with wanted to get rid of the cameras.”

The Miketinacs said they have not been ticketed for traffic signal infractions since the cameras were installed, but they feel the cameras are “an injustice.” They have counted 16 red-light cameras at eight intersections in or near the city.

“We’re liberty-minded people,” Shirley Miketinac said. “Hard-working people are getting ticketed at these intersections. I have friends and relatives who can’t afford this. For some people, a $150 ticket is a week’s salary.”

To be counted, the petitioners must live inside Brooksville city limits and be current registered voters.

Elections Supervisor Anderson said she could not say whether the issue is likely to drive more voters to the polls should such a referendum land on the November ballot.

“My job is to just verify the petitions and make sure that the process is done correctly,” she said.

Shirley Miketinac said the referendum could “prohibit the use of and collecting funds from automatic infraction detectors (red-light cameras), as well as speed cameras,” which were mentioned as “a future possibility” in a contract the city has with Sensys Camera Co.

In February, City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said during a budget workshop that the city collected more than $487,000 in red-light camera revenue during the first quarter of the fiscal year — about 21 percent of that quarter’s budget.

In March, city council members decided neither to extend nor to terminate early the Sensys contract.

Last year, Hernando County attorneys were directed to find a legal way to have the red-light cameras removed from traffic signals at U.S. 41 and Wiscon Road, and Cobb Road and Jefferson Street, outside Brooksville.

A retired teacher, Shirley Miketinac said she believes the country’s founding fathers would be disappointed if no one objected to the cameras.

“They do not allow for due process,” she said. “In the Constitution, we have certain trial rights and the right to due process. We have the right to face our accuser. The cameras are not a person, so they can’t be an accuser.”