Posts by Christine Welborn

Kaufman’s Costly and Illegal Scandal- Part 3

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Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood, along with District Attorney Erleigh Wiley, have gone unchecked for years and have cost the county dearly.  The ticketing scandal we’ve previously reported on is even worse than it appears on the surface.

In 2014, Kaufman County entered into a contract with American Traffic Solutions that caused the county to act outside its legal authority – issuing illegal traffic citations to its citizens – and imposed a significant cost to county taxpayers. The unlawful contract also resulted in illegal financial transactions and a lack of transparency.

By championing the ATS contract, Wood violated the public trust. By failing to blow the whistle on the entire scandal, or investigate any wrongdoing by those involved, Wiley is derelict in her duty to Kaufman taxpayers.

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Kaufman’s Costly and Illegal Scandal – Part 2

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County Judge Bruce Wood led Kaufman County into a costly contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for traffic cameras. The contract resulted in illegal overreaches of authority in addition to costs over $180,000.

Traffic Cameras Were Unnecessary

Kaufman, like most other rural counties, has five law enforcement agencies to patrol its roads and enforce traffic laws. Each school zone is protected by local school police, city police, constables, deputy sheriffs, and the highway patrol. Not only was the ticketing contract with ATS unlawful, it would have added a redundant sixth layer of law enforcement.

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Kaufman’s Costly and Illegal Scandal – Part 1

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Following the public pushback over red light cameras across Texas, camera companies, such as American Traffic Solutions (ATS), have turned their attention to counties, rather than cities. Shockingly, several counties engaged these firms in clear violation of state law.

The problem with ATS’s strategy was that the governments they sought to engage do not have the authority to issue civil penalties to enforce local ordinances. Cities are given that authority in the Local Government Code (LGC); that power does not extend to counties. Every civil citation issued to local residents by Kaufman County under the ATS contract was illegal. (LGC 54.012 & 54.044)

ATS targeted rural counties such as Kaufman, Smith, and Hays, appealing to money-hungry County Judges who would support traffic-camera contracts designed to help bolster their revenue. As is often the case in local government, they relied upon complicit District Attorneys and incompetent county lawyers to rubber stamp unlawful contracts.

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Drivers Beware: New Cameras Spreading in Texas

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Texans do not want their tax dollars paying for traffic cameras that are a revenue stream disguised as a public safety measure. While state lawmakers have failed to act, citizens across Texas are fighting to ban red light cameras, and winning.

Red-light cameras are voted out in almost every city that puts them on the ballot. A statewide ban passed in the Texas Senate, but stalled in the House, and now thousands of citizens have signed a petition, recently delivered to Governor Abbott, to add a state-wide ban to the Governor’s Special Session call.

Meanwhile, cities are fighting to hold onto their cash-cow cameras. In recent years, even counties have tried to get into the game, which they don’t have the legal authority to do. With red-light cameras on the chopping block, the new ploy is cameras set to catch cars speeding in school zones and passing school buses while the stop arm is deployed.

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Tarrant County Property Tax Town Hall Meetings

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Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen has scheduled two Town Hall meetings this month to address county property taxes. Nguyen is advocating for Tarrant County and JPS Hospital district – which both levy a property tax – to provide relief by adopting a 20% homestead exemption.

If you care about property taxes, you should attend and express your opinion!

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