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Secrets kept by town collecting millions from camera tickets: I-Team

Published By Fox 8 on February 24, 2022
Thomas F. Patton In The News

LINNDALE, Ohio (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team now has found a big secret kept by town leaders in Linndale, the tiny village notorious for traffic camera tickets sent to drivers.

Linndale keeps hiding what the police chief and other employees there get paid.

We routinely get this public record information from other communities but the I-Team has had to go to court to get the same documents from Linndale.

In other words, Linndale collects millions of dollars in fines from the camera tickets, but the village won’t say what it’s employees take home.

We’ve shown you for years that town leaders in Linndale don’t like getting questioned about their traffic cameras, and again now, they haven’t answered questions about what village employees make.

Last year, Linndale collected more than $2 million from speed camera tickets.

Last November, the I-Team started asking how much the police chief and others get paid. Linndale first said someone would get back to us with the information.

Eventually, Linndale sent a broad range of what some salaries could be, but we asked for salaries, bonuses, overtime and everything included in the compensation for all Linndale officials and employees.

Yet, we never got anything more than promises that our request was being processed.

After two months of getting nothing but stalling, the I-Team filed a complaint with the Ohio Court of Claims.

We just got notice that the court is going to move forward and look into why Linndale won’t reveal public records.

Catherine Turcer, who leads the government watchdog group called Common Cause, said, “When you don’t get public records immediately, something is wrong. They are ‘our’ records.”

She added, “One of the reasons we have open government, so we can find out. Are some shenanigans going on? Or is this appropriate use of taxpayer money?”

Some drivers who’ve paid those tickets want to know, too.

Jenn Salamone said, “That really is a great, pointed question. Where is that money going? If you are a public official, that comes with the territory, you know?”

While Linndale collects millions in traffic camera ticket fines, less than 200 people live in the town. Linndale has no fire department or ambulance service, but it does have ten police officers.

Again, starting in November, we sent  more than a dozen emails to Linndale’s law director asking for the records on the paychecks. 

We either got no response or very often, in effect, ‘Hold on. Still pulling it together.’  

The emails told us we could not go in and look at records due to COVID 19.

State Representative Tom Patton recently introduced seven bills that would shut down the Linndale speed cameras. He reacted to the town’s secrecy on paychecks.

“Readily available and submitted once requested, that is what public records are about,” Rep. Patton said. “If you are being paid with public dollars, the public clearly has a right to know. This clearly falls under the Public Records Act, so your request from November and we are now in the month of February. There is no excuse for that.”

Many drivers who’ve gotten camera tickets believe the traffic cameras have a lot more to do with making money than making streets safer.

Even with our ongoing court battle over the records, we requested comment from Linndale for this story.

Law Director Richard Neff told us, “The mayor’s in the process of pulling it together. She actually wanted to approve it.”

Nonetheless, we still don’t have the records.

Catherine Turcer of Common Cause also said, “When we think about ‘We the people,’ it’s very hard for us to participate unless we understand what’s going on.”

As soon we get those documents on the pay for Linndale employees, we’ll share it with you.

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