Pensacola Taking Bids from Bribery-Scandalized Red-Light Camera Company
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Just days after the Orlando Sentinel reported that Orange County is preparing to contract with a red light camera company embroiled in bribery scandals in at least three different jurisdictions, Sunshine State News has discovered the same company is bidding for a contract with the city of Pensacola.
City records show that, as of 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2013, Redflex Traffic Systems had joined four other companies in placing bids to install the controversial enforcement devices at several of the Gulf Coast cultural capital’s intersections.
Redflex recently lost its Chicago contract after a year-long (and continuing) investigation by the Chicago Tribune implicating the company in a $2 million bribery scheme involving at least one city official.
At the Tribune's instigation, Redflex conducted its own internal audit, canned some if its top executives, and is now exploring possible bribery in two other unnamed “geographies that raise concern,” Michael McConnell, interim board chairman of Redflex Holdings, has reportedly told stakeholders.
“Regarding the bidding process, examining a vendor’s track record and reputation is always part of our due diligence process in determining the 'lowest and most responsible' bidder,” Derek Cosson, the Pensacola's public information officer, tells SSN. “Our efforts regarding red light camera enforcement are essentially on hold due to the uncertainty about the issue with the current legislative session. We will not be moving forward with [deciding on a vendor] until after the session at the earliest.”
Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, who has introduced legislation to make it tougher to enforce red light violations caught by traffic cameras, expresses dismay that Redflex is a serious contender for obtaining contracts from Florida cities and counties.
“I think it's ridiculous that this company is actually being considered as a front-runner with all the bribery scandals and everything that comes with that,” he tells SSN. “Its a shame that a bribery scandal in Chicago is trickling down to Florida. I believe in a free market and competition, but when someone has a track record of bribery and backdoor dealings, that has to be taken into consideration, and not just the price [of the bid].
“I sure hope elected local officials take this into consideration when selecting a company.”
Asked for comment on the Orange County developments, Redflex directed SSN to the following statement by Robert T. DeVincenzi, president and CEO of Redflex Holdings and CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems:
“We recently announced new leadership and a comprehensive series of system improvements in our business to support the highest ethical standards. Those actions marked the dividing line between the past and where our company is headed. Each of the changes follows information uncovered during an internal investigation by the law firm of Sidley Austin.
"We gave the firm unfettered access to our people and our records and directed that its inquiry run without limitation. While we may discover additional information, we have already learned enough to take the previously-announced steps that were necessary to change our company. We are working, each day, to recapture the trust of our clients, the public and our own employees. This day, and every day, we intend to be a constructive force in the industry, meeting the needs of communities across the country and serving the public interest.”
Cosson tells SSN the city of Pensacola has installed the red light cameras only at one intersection as part of a pilot program. The City Council unanimously voted to approve the cameras in 2010.
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (954) 235-9116.