The City of Sugar Land remains tight lipped about its continuing attempt to hide the fact that red light camera (RLC) fines are virtually voluntary. My attempt to elicit an explanation for the continuing use of false threats to coerce the payment of RLC fines has only resulted in official silence. I first requested an explanation from the city’s official spokesman. He referred my questions to the assistant city manager for public safety who referred me to the open records manager in the city secretary’s office.
She provided a partial reply by acknowledging that no lawsuits have ever been filed in an attempt to collect delinquent RLC fines. No reason was given for falsely threatening this action. Fortunately this threat is no longer being made. But, the false threat to deny vehicle registration on account of unpaid RLC fines continues. The city has acknowledged that this threat is false, but refuses to explain why it continues to be made. My hope is that this it will be quietly withdrawn, and that may come to pass because the city’s expectation is that this threat’s disappearance will go unnoticed.
Unfortunately RLC ticket hearing officers will probably continue to be prohibited from disclosing that the fines are virtually voluntary. They will only provide two options when ruling against ticket dismissal: appellants are being told to pay the fine or appeal to the municipal court. It will be interesting to learn what these officers will say when asked: “What penalty is imposed if the fine is never paid?” Let’s see if they are willing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
H. F. Van Der Grinten