When public officials learn that Watchdog is watching, they take notice.
Texas Watchdog reporter Mark Lisheron was hot on the trail of a secretive school zone camera program, and it all started with a phone call.
The caller gave us a tip about a lawsuit that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved; a citizen in Hays County (outside Austin) had sued the county government over speed cameras set up near schools, asserting that the Commissioner’s Court had no constitutional authority to enter into a contract with a private company that, in effect, created new traffic regulations – and meanwhile, most of the revenue generated was kept by the company.
Once Mark began asking questions, officials realized they could no longer hide. They had already gotten caught red-handed in the lawsuit, and we made their humiliation public. The day after our article was published, the county terminated its contract with American Traffic Solutions, Inc.
But the issues with the cameras are far from resolved, as Bill Davis, the man suing over the program, explained to us in a follow-up article.
“The commissioners are taking the position to terminate a contract that is not a legitimate contract,” he said after the vote. “They didn’t address any of the issues in my suit. And what about all of the people like me who were issued citations?”
Davis is continuing his legal battle with the county, and Mark Lisheron and Texas Watchdog will continue to ask the tough questions.