Traffic camera company employee suspended after Everett paper reports he posed in comments as locals
An employee at American Traffic Solutions, which Bellingham has signed a contract with for red-light and school-zone speed cameras, has been indefinitely suspended. This came after The Daily Herald of Everett reported that the employee, Bill Kroske, vice president of business development, was commenting on stories and posing as local residents. He went by the screen name “W Howard.”
Click here to see more from The Herald.
Kroske has posted comments on our blogs in the past, but I don’t think he’s pretended to be local. His comments, as you might expect, were in support of the cameras. I did a search and couldn’t find any comment under the screen name “W Howard.”
Meanwhile, emails obtained from the city of Bellingham via a public disclosure request show that Kroske discussed having ATS sue to block the initiative against the cameras that some locals are now gathering signatures for.
“Can you give me the status of the Bellingham contract?” Kroske wrote in a Feb. 1 email to Bellingham police. “I ask because it affects the role that ATS can play in filing suit to invalidate the initiative. If we can get the Agreement complete we would like to include you. If you attorney would like to talk to our WA attorney, shoot me a request.”
In the emails I didn’t see any indication that police support doing anything like that. The response from Lt. Scott Snider was simply “I have forwarded your email to our legal rep at the city. Sorry for the delay.”
Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike has said the city won’t sue to try to block the initiative from reaching the ballot.
I got a chance to comb through the contract the city signed with ATS earlier this month. It includes a clause that says that if Bellingham wants to terminate the clause because of any initiative that blocks the cameras or interferes with the contract, before Bellingham can cancel it, ATS will be given the opportunity to sue to challenge the initiative. Bellingham would still reserve the right to cancel it for other reasons, and it could still cancel it after the first year pilot program, according to the contract.
Here is the exact language of that clause, which has to do with termination of the agreement for city convenience:
The City may terminate this Contract in the event that state or local legislation, state or local initiative, state or local referendum, or a decision by a court of competent jurisdiction prohibits the enforcement of Violations using image-capture technology or in any way effects the terms of this agreement, however the Contractor shall be given the opportunity to petition a court of competent jurisdiction to determine the legality of any such state or local legislation, state or local initiative, state or local referendum, before the City may terminate the Agreement under this section 12.2, and during such time the City may suspend the program pending the outcome of Vendor’s petition.
The company has spent money supporting a lawsuit challenging an anti-camera initiative. Whe activist Tim Eyman and supporters gathered enough signatures for an anti-camera initiative in Mukilteo (the initiative is similar to the one in Bellingham they’re gathering signatures for) a group called Mukilteo Citizens for Simple Government. The Daily Herald of Everett reports that state Public Disclosure Commission records showed they paid $23,500 for the campaign against the initiative. Click here to see more.