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Paradise Valley Red-Light Camera Reimbursements Likely Don't Make Up for Lost Time in Class

The Town of Paradise Valley is reimbursing more than 1,000 motorists who were ticketed by a red-light camera with a hair trigger, but some people who took driving classes still get short-changed.

The camera, installed by Redflex for the town in the intersection of Tatum and McDonald, was actually working just fine. But the yellow light for left-hand turns, for some reason, was set to three seconds in May instead of the town-mandated four-and-a-half seconds.

Suddenly, the number of tickets went through the roof. Even the town's mayor, Vernon Parker (pictured), got one -- soon after that, the town decided it had made a mistake and decided to cut refund checks. Motorists simply paid the citation get a refund of $182, says the Arizona Republic this morning. People who took a defensive-driving class get $234.

But red-light runners also take a traffic-survival-chool class like this one, which is mandatory whether they pay their ticket or opt to take a separate defensive-driving class. The town doesn't plan to pay additional reimbursements at this time, but it's not through reviewing the situation, he says.

"I know people were inconvenienced -- more than inconvenienced," Parker says. "I feel for them."

He adds that the town plans to make more "policy decisions" because of the debacle and provide more info about what happened.

We phoned Jay Heiler of Redflex to see what he knew -- he says his company installed the thing, but it's the city's responsibility to program it. If it were any different, people would accuse Redflex of fiddling with public safety to improve its bottom line, he says.

By the way, we asked Heiler how he was coming on our questions about out-of-state process service. He says he's been talking to the Department of Public Safety about the issue and that we should hear something soon.  

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern