Early in June, a big story was reported nationwide. Redflex, a red light camera company based in Arizona was being investigated for offering bribes to elected officials in order to obtain contracts. This was reported in the Miami Herald on July 15. This story is important for those of us who live in municipalities that signed up with Redflex.
South Miami’s Mayor Philip Stoddard pushed the Redflex contract very aggressively, although we were informed that Tallahassee was on the verge of outlawing any red light cameras installed after July of 2014. There was no Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by City Manager Steven Alexander — who hand-picked Redflex and refused to abide by the RFP process, which is normally used for contracts involving large sums of money. Citizens who asked for an RFP were ignored. Mr. Alexander and Mayor Stoddard had Redflex on the fast track, in spite of the controversy, stating that they wanted South Miami to sign a contract before July, so that our city would be grandfathered in — and not subject to the proposed state law.
Additionally, due diligence was not performed by the administration. A Google search would have discovered that as early as Feb. 8, 2014 — just over one month before the City of South Miami approved Redflex — New Jersey’s Star-Ledger published allegations that Redflex bribed officials in 13 states.
Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement may be investigating all municipalities with Redflex contracts. Stoddard got the votes that he wanted, even though controversy was swirling around the issue. Taxpayers suffer the consequences of decisions made by commissioners who can’t smell something rotten when it’s right under their noses! It should be noted that this is a prima facie example of a public private partnership that is tainted, as are too many of these deals. Do we really want our city to fast track public-private partnership guidelines that have been written for the express purpose of facilitating future partnerships? This should be seen as a red flag, given the history of public private partnerships in South Miami and elsewhere.
Antoinette Fischer, South Miami
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