Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg official apologizes for not telling council about crash increase

ST. PETERSBURG — City staffers apologized Thursday for not giving the City Council a key document about traffic crashes rising in a report about red light cameras.

"We had no intention to mislead the public," said Joe Kubicki, director of transportation and parking management. "We don't do that."

Kubicki took the blame for not disclosing that crashes jumped 10 percent at intersections with red light cameras in the past year.

He stressed that the 122-page report might have focused too much on the year-old camera program and not enough on crash statistics.

During the council workshop, Mayor Bill Foster said the council can examine any data it needs before deciding next week whether to support his plan to expand the program.

"We want to be transparent," he said.

The council learned about the increase in the Tampa Bay Times, which requested the figure Wednesday after examining the report.

Crashes increased from 298 to 328 at the 10 intersections with cameras between November 2011 and October of this year. Total crash numbers were included in two earlier council reports and also used to decide where cameras should be placed.

Council member Wengay Newton wants the council to vote to end the contract with the private Arizona-based vendor, American Traffic Solutions. He lambasted staffers because the council again learned key news from the media or residents.

He also questioned Kubicki's response since the report is partly titled "An Intersection Public Safety Program."

"You can't have it both ways," Newton said.

Foster stressed that the 22 cameras have made streets safer.

He pointed to the thick report, citing that crashes caused by red light running dropped 25 percent and injuries from those crashes fell 39 percent at intersections with cameras.

The cameras, he said, will not affect other crashes, such as cars striking pedestrians or bicyclists and drivers being distracted behind the wheel.

"No camera system out there is going to eliminate stupid drivers," he said.

The cameras in St. Petersburg generated nearly $3.6 million in fines in their first year of operation. Violations cost motorists $158.

Of that, the state received 44 percent, and 8 percent went into two Florida trust funds. The city kept $707,000 after paying $988,000 to the private vendor.

When the council voted 5-3 in April 2011 to install the cameras, Leslie Curran, Steve Kornell and Newton voted against them.

Charlie Gerdes, the council's newest member, was not in office then. He has not publicly said whether he supports keeping cameras.

The group doesn't have the power to halt the expansion, but it could dissolve the contract.

After the workshop, Foster expressed concern about the program's future.

"City Council is going to determine that," Foster said. "Council has the power to kill the program."

Another camera program in Florida was killed Wednesday.

Collier County commissioners voted 3-2 to remove red light cameras from 12 intersections, exercising an option in the county's 10-year contract with ATS to spike the program after the first year.

Commissioner Georgia Hiller opposed the program because there was "no demonstrated evidence that these cameras reduce accidents," the Naples Daily News reported.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at

St. Petersburg official apologizes for not telling council about crash increase 12/13/12 [Last modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 11:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.
  5. White House signals acceptance of Russia sanctions bill


    WASHINGTON — The White House indicated Sunday that President Donald Trump would accept new legislation imposing sanctions on Russia and curtailing his authority to lift them on his own, a striking turnaround after a broad revolt in Congress by lawmakers of both parties who distrusted his friendly approach to …

    President Donald Trump’s ability to lift sanctions against Russia would be blocked.