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Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander said today at a radio debate that she’s so pro-speed cameras that she wouldn’t mind seeing the already-high fines raised a little, or even a lot.

“It could be a thousand dollars, I don’t care,” said Alexander, who says she’s seen firsthand the death and destruction wrought by speeders.

That does not seem a particularly popular position for a politician to take, in LL’s opinion. So kudos to Alexander for taking it no matter what voters might think. Her opponent in the November election, Republican Ron Moten, has tried to make hay out of the either real or perceived dislike voters have for the city’s speed camera fines, which generally come in at about $125 a pop. Moten organized a town hall forum on “speed camera abuse” last month. After Alexander made her comments during a debate on WPFW, Moten said he’s all in favor of having speed cameras but thinks the fines might be too high.

The D.C. Council formed a task force to study the District’s rates that has similar views. It’s recommending bringing the rates more into line with the $40-a-pop neighboring Maryland charges. Some years ago, Montgomery County, which was the first county in Maryland to have speed cameras, did a study on their effectiveness. The study found that the $40 tickets were, in fact, reducing speeding.

Of course, cutting speed cameras fines by two-thirds would mean cutting speed camera revenues by a similar amount. The city’s chief financial officer just announced that $23 million of a recent $140 million surplus was due to speed camera fines.

Photo by Alan Suderman