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Baltimore City Inks Second Secrecy Clause with Speed Camera Vendor
Updated: Thursday, January 16 2014, 03:58 PM EST
It was an audit paid for by taxpayers intended to reveal flaws in an error-plagued speed and red light camera system. But now city officials are saying the findings are secret even as more questions are being raised about the accuracy of the system that issued tens of thousands of erroneous tickets.
In February 2013 city officials used $268,000 of taxpayer funds to pay a consulting firm called URS. The firm was tasked with studying the performance of the city's former camera enforcement vendor, Xerox. The company managed the enforcement system for several years, issuing tens of millions of dollars' worth of tickets.
But the city severed ties with the company after an embarrassing series of mishaps, including a story by The Baltimore Sun which revealed that a camera had issued a speed ticket to a car parked at a red light.
Now city officials say the agreement to part ways with Xerox included a promise to keep that audit secret. It's a deal that also included a $2.3 million payout to the firm.
"The Xerox audit pertained to work in 2012 and before and was done under supervision of law dept(artment) in anticipation of several types of possible litigation," City Solicitor George Nilson said in an email. "In addition its disclosure is now barred by Xerox settlement agreement. (The) Law (department) has accordingly declined to waive its work product privilege."
But this is not the first time the city has paid a former speed camera money to exit quietly.
Earlier this month the city paid $600,000 to sever ties with Brekford, after the firm failed to get the speed camera system up and running. That agreement too included a clause that Brekford's performance audit be kept under wraps.