Predatory red light cameras have become a feature of money-hungry jurisdictions for a long time now. Study after study has shown that the increase, rather than decrease, accidents. They serve no purpose other than extorting more revenue from citizens — at the cost of their safety.
And Knoxville got me. As I was visiting some family, we got snapped. Fifty bucks. And, of course, there’s nothing I can do, really. I can’t appeal it since I live over 400 miles away, and I can’t ignore it because I go to Knoxville frequently. But I can do a few things. I can stop buying stuff in Knoxville. So I wrote the mayor to tell him that. It’s below. Maybe if we all did this, folk would start having second thoughts about this kind of predation.
Here’s the letter:
The Honorable Bill Haslam
City Of Knoxville
400 West Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902-2405
Dear Mayor Haslam,
While I live in Greenville, NC, I frequently visit Knoxville, TN to visit my in-laws and godchildren. I normally have a great time when I visit. We take the extended family out to dinner, we go watch the kids play little league baseball, we visit parks, see movies, go to church, and go shopping.
I was appalled, as you might expect, to receive a citation from your city stating that I had run a red light, based on a red light camera. I did not. The citation was for $50.00.
I noticed your amusing notation that, should I wish to contest this citation, I am welcome to drive the 439 miles from my house to Knoxville. For fifty bucks.
This is extortion, no more and no less. This is not about safety. This is not about the law. Of course, I will pay the fine. I will continue to visit my friends and family in Knoxville for many years to come, and I don’t want to take the chance that I will be stopped with an outstanding ticket. You got me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
But I can do something about cities who engage in this kind of red light camera predation as a revenue source. I can cost the city of Knoxville money. I happen to know, since I recently prepared my income taxes, that I spent approximately $3300 in Knoxville last year.
I will never eat at a restaurant within the city limits of Knoxville.
I will never buy gas in Knoxville.
I will never spend a night in a hotel in Knoxville.
I will never buy snacks at a convenience store in Knoxville.
I will never buy presents for my godchildren at a store in Knoxville.
I will never buy overpriced gewgaws at Caswell Park when my godchildren play baseball there.
I will never take my godchildren to a movie in the city limits of Knoxville.
I will never shop for books, electronic accessories, sporting goods, or licensed clothing in Knoxville.
I will never buy last-minute presents for my wife in Knoxville.
I will not put a dollar in the plate when I attend church in Knoxville (but I will put an extra dollar in the plate here when I get home in your name).
Enjoy the fifty bucks, because Knoxville will never get another voluntary dime from me for the remainder of my productive lifetime – even if I have to drive to Farragut for a lousy hamburger.