By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog
Updated at 3:05 p.m. March 29
UPDATE: Newberg City Manager Dan Danicic said via email Friday the city has sent the state its redlight reports through 2012 and is working on the report for 2013. He said he does not know why the state doesn’t have the reports but that they were mailed to the state capitol the years in which they were due and with attention to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.
PORTLAND — At least two Oregon towns that run red-light camera programs have ignored a state a law requiring them to file evaluation reports, and there appears to be no state agency or person holding them accountable.
The towns of Medford and Newberg have never filed the evaluation reports, required by law to be filed by March 1 in odd-numbered years. Both towns have had their red-light programs for years, but no one seems to know why they have failed to file the reports.
“I do believe we are supposed to be receiving reports from Newberg and Medford but could not speculate why we have not received them,” Oregon State Library Information Specialist Jerry Curry said in an email. The law is vague and simply mandates that local jurisdictions operating red light cameras must file the reports. Newberg has had its red light cameras for about six years and, according to media reports, Medford’s program has been in place since at least 2008.
Towns that have had the cameras for less time had no trouble filing their reports. Fairview, for example, started using cameras last year and has filed its 2013 report.
The state library collects the reports, which are posted online. An executive summary is sent to legislators. But it is not the job of state library officials to hold the towns to task.
It’s no one’s job, apparently.
“At this point, we aren’t tasked with chasing down missing reports, although that’s not a bad thing for some entity to be doing,” Curry said.
Messages left for officials in Newberg and Medford were not returned as of Monday afternoon.
Not only is there no one in charge of making sure these reports are collected, it seems unclear as to who is responsible for reviewing them. Beaverton officials said they haven’t gotten a response to their report; Fairview officials addressed their report to the secretary of the Senate.
“We are not sure what distribution is necessary. We are confident you will know the proper channels of distribution as intended by the legislative language in ORS 810.434,” the letter from Chief of Police Ken Johnson states.
But when Northwest Watchdog called the secretary of the Senate’s office, officials said they have nothing to do with the red light reports.
Also, tracking of just how many jurisdictions run red-light camera programs is murky. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists 11 jurisdictions in Oregon with red light and/or photo radar camera programs and no list exists at the state level.
The law requires the reports to show the effects the cameras have on traffic safety, the degree of public acceptance and the process of administration for the use of the cameras. Reporting how much revenue each jurisdiction earns from the cameras isn’t required.
The debate over red-light cameras has gained momentum across the country. More cameras continue to be installed despite a growing public uncertainty over the effectiveness of the traffic devices. Some question whether they actually improve traffic safety or are simply a cash grab by cities.
But in Oregon, who’s keeping tabs?