TAMPA, Florida - A day after city council sent him a defiant message with a rejection of a red light camera contract renewal, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn responded by suggesting councilmembers were simply grandstanding.
"Sometimes, people showboat when the cameras come on," Buckhorn said. "The reality is, [red light camera technology] works. It's reduced the number of crashes, our families are safer, [and] we'll work with city council over the next week to see if we can come to some type of solution."
Buckhorn declined interviews on Thursday, but 10 News spoke to him Friday morning, where he fired back at city council.
"That was not the time to showboat. That was not the time to grandstand. That was the time to have a serious discussion about a serious safety issue with a program that was working."
All seven members of council praised how the Tampa Police Department and Chief Jane Castor administered the program, but the four members who voted against extending the program past April 6, 2014 all voiced frustrations with the mayor's office.
Red light camera (RLC) tickets generated more than $3.5 million for Tampa in their first two years of operation, but council members questioned why the mayor wasn't more responsive to questions about how the revenue was spent.
"They tend to ask those questions when the cameras come on, as opposed to asking us privately" Buckhorn continued. "It's an election year -- I see that frequently every three years.
"We're not going to make intersection improvements on roads that we don't own at intersections that are perfectly safe. There's nothing wrong with the intersections. The problem is people that run the red lights."
Buckhorn said he would be happy to look at ways to improve other roads that don't have red light cameras, adding that the city's traffic- and sidewalk-improvement budget items have increased in recent years.
"I can tell you, unequivocally, that some of the fines have been used to make traffic improvements already. We'll try to clarify that for council," Buckhorn said.
"We don't care if we don't make any money...but [red light-running] was epidemic here in the Bay-area. That has changed. The numbers have proven that it's changed...its no different than using a radar gun to catch speeders."