Rochester's red-light rationale

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If the City newsroom is an accurate microcosm of the larger Rochester community, chances are you were plenty upset to hear that City of Rochester employees don’t have to pay their red-light fines. Brian Sharpe of the Democrat and Chronicle reported recently that city employees in city-owned vehicles ran red lights 119 times over the last year-and-a-half, but because of union contracts, they are not subject to the standard $50 fine.

The employees were snared in the city’s growing web of red-light cameras.

Mayor Tom Richards says that he knows it looks bad, but that city employees are not getting away with anything. The employees may not have to pay the fine, he says, but they are subject to a progressive level of discipline that could eventually cost them their jobs.

Every driving-related issue involving a city employee is examined to determine if the employee was at fault, Richards says. If the employee is to blame, there is a series of steps that can start with a correction plan, Richards says, all the way to losing the right to drive for the city. So if your job depends on your ability to drive for the city, you’re in trouble.

“I understand how people feel about [this] and I understand how it looks,” Richards says. “But the fact of the matter is for our employees, this is actually more serious than paying the fine.”

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