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Redflex Ripples

The latest . . .

"We are grateful to the whistleblower and the reporter who helped expose the flaws in our former colleagues and our processes," Robert T. DeVincenzi, the president and CEO of Redflex Holdings Ltd. and CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., writes in the Orlando Sentinel today. The paper notes that Redflex "is vying for a red-light-camera contract in Orange County."

Grateful? Not bloody likely.

In "First Redflex Internal Probe 'Clearly Inadequate,'" the Trib's David Kidwell reported on the absolute joke of an investigation the company outsourced to a firm called Quarles & Brady.

"John W. Daniels Jr., chairman of Milwaukee-based Quarles & Brady LLP, referred all questions to Redflex at the request of the company. Redflex representatives declined to comment."

Talk about a lack of gratitude. But that's not all.

"In October, one of the law firm's longtime Chicago partners, Sanford Stein, accompanied the general counsel of Redflex's Phoenix subsidiary - Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. - to the Tribune's offices to be interviewed about the company's response to a 2010 whistleblower letter. The letter, sent to the board of directors of the Australia-based parent company, detailed how the company plied former Chicago transportation official John Bills with 'non-reported lavish vacations' and the 'illegal transfer of commission' to him through its Chicago consultant . . .

"Both Stein and then-Redflex General Counsel Andrejs Bunkse discredited the allegations during the October interview. They told the newspaper the Quarles & Brady review found no merit to the accusations, aside from one inadvertent $910 hotel stay for Bills at the Arizona Biltmore paid by a top company salesman who was disciplined with anti-bribery training.

"When I read the letter I expected to find a great deal more," Bunkse said in the interview. "And we dug in very deeply, exhaustively into the expense reports and records of the company to the point of extreme redundancy, and the issue - the one instance of a problem - was this one instance where there were no meals reimbursed, there was no flight reimbursed and a two-day hotel stay was found.

"In every other instance, nothing else came up that was problematic," Bunkse said.

Stein even staked his firm's 120-year reputation on it.

"It's our reputation that we put on the line every day for every client. But it is our reputation of our law firm that is far more important - and our service - that supersedes everything," Stein said toward the beginning of the interview. "So we are happy to say that our investigation, which Andy will talk about, is consistent with the high quality standards that we support."

Later in the interview, Stein sought to reinforce that the results were trustworthy because of the firm's involvement.

"It was one incident, and never repeated and it's - you know - it is what it is. We can't make that fact disappear, but it is what it is. And it's not a series of events," Stein told the newspaper. "I am telling you that our reputation is such that you can count on that."

Now, however, Redflex is investigating at least two other possible incidents in other cities.

And, again, Redflex being grateful about the Tribune's reporting wasn't reflected in the fact that Stein, too, refused to comment on Kidwell's latest.

*

"In October, the attorneys also detailed what Bunkse described as a 'deep dive' investigation.

"We, Quarles & Brady, reviewed exhaustively expense reports, interviewed every individual that is affiliated that is an employee of our company that is mentioned in this letter, asked questions directly related to allegations contained in the letter, particularly about Chicago, went through all of the company's records relating to the Chicago contract and came up with one instance of an oversight and a lapse," Bunkse said.

"We spent nearly $100,000 in an investigation in which our CEO - imagine how uncomfortable this is - our CEO sat off to the side because of all the things raised in this letter," Bunkse said. "It was taken quite seriously, and I will tell you again when I read the letter for the first time I thought that there was a lot more to it than there actually was after this big effort, I mean a big shut-down-the-company effort that occurred."

But a subsequent investigation by Sidley & Austin, led by former city inspector general and federal prosecutor David Hoffman, found that the whistleblower's allegations "did, in fact, have merit."

Hoffman's team found the company plied Bills with 17 trips, including hotels, flights, rental cars, meals and golf outings, according to the summary report. It also found that the $2.03 million in company compensation to the Redflex consultant was likely part of a bribery scheme that would have made 'any reasonable person highly suspicious.'

The Hoffman findings also criticized the 2010 investigation and the company's oversight.

"The investigation consisted of interviews of three Redflex officials, no e-mail review and very limited document review," a summary of the findings stated. "There was no attempt to interview the consultant. Some of those interviewed by the law firm did not provide complete and truthful information."

According to Hoffman's findings, the first investigation "was conducted in a manner that was clearly inadequate to determine whether the allegations were true, and there was inadequate oversight." He also found that some of the company's disclosures to the Tribune and to City Hall in October were "inaccurate and misleading."

"Among other things, it was improper for them to describe the 2010 investigation and the associated expense review as 'thorough, complete or exhaustive.'"

And improper, now, for Redflex to pretend they are grateful.

*

"Federal authorities have launched a criminal probe of bribery allegations in Chicago's red-light camera program, issuing a subpoena for financial records of the former city official at the center of the escalating international scandal," Kidwell also reports.

*

One of those other two locations?

"The 2 Redflex employees who were fired as a result of their shady dealings in Chicago were the same 2 people who negotiated the Richmond contract," Richmond, Virginia, officials say.

*

More problems elsewhere.

Seattle: "SeaTac is in the middle of the second two-year renewal of its contract with Redflex, and it expires in March of 2014 . . . Burien dropped its contract with Redflex over a year ago."

Prescott Valley, Arizona: "Motorists here will continue to face photo-enforcement tickets for speeding and red-light running at least to Oct. 3, when the town's contract with Redflex Traffic Systems expires.

"Negative news coverage and growing opposition from the public apparently prompted a majority of the seven Town Council members Thursday to call for severing ties with Redflex. Councilwoman Mary Mallory said she wants photo enforcement to go away.

'"I've lost faith in Redflex as a corporation,' Councilman Rick Anderson said."

Surprise, Arizona: "The city will end its contract with a Phoenix-based photo traffic enforcement firm that operates the municipality's system, citing a nearly $190,000 deficit in the program over the nearly three years it has been in operation.

"The City Council made the decision during its workshop meeting Tuesday night. No formal vote is required.

"'I'm a little disappointed,' lamented Councilman Richard Alton (Dist. 2). 'I didn't think it was going to cost us anything,' said Mr. Alton, who recalled voting for the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., when it was approved by the governing body in Sept. 10, 2009."

Lafayette, Louisiana: "The Lafayette City-Parish Council has deferred a vote on an amnesty program for delinquent parking and traffic camera tickets.

"The Advocate reports the amnesty measure would have given drivers until April 30 to pay nearly 29,000 past-due parking and traffic camera tickets before the start of a tougher collection policy that calls for lawsuits to recover the unpaid fines.

"The council voted unanimously Tuesday to hold off moving forward on the amnesty program over questions about whether the private contractor overseeing the automated traffic camera enforcement program, Redflex Traffic Systems, would share in revenue from any past-due fines that city-parish government won in court."

Geneva, Illinois: "Geneva's red-light cameras - a controversial addition to two intersections to catch drivers who fail to stop - have been removed because the permits for them expired."

New Orleans: "If 100,000 stoplight camera tickets issued in Jefferson Parish were ignored by the alleged violators, just who was obliged to track down these motorists to force them to court?

"The contract between the parish government and the Sheriff's Office with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. is not explicit on this point, and responses to the question were inconclusive Thursday."

*

Ohio: Judge: Speed Cameras A Scam

*

Albuquerque, last year:

*

Phoenix, a few days ago:

-

See also: Warnings About Redflex Go Back To Daley Administration

-

Previously:
* Item: The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The Dead 6-Year Old Girl

* Item: Camera Coinkydink

* Rahm Caught Lying About Speed Cameras

-

Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on March 27, 2013


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