Municipalities in Maryland have a duty under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) to provide citizens with documents related to government activities. When it comes to speed cameras, however, some towns are maintaining a code of silence. To force them to talk, Ron Ely, head of the Maryland Drivers Alliance, filed suit in the Prince George's County circuit court last week asking a judge to force them to comply in full with the law.
It has been more than 1000 days since Ely filed a formal request for correspondence between Brentwood and the State Highway Administration concerning changes to the speed limit on Rhode Island Avenue where a speed camera is active. After receiving no response to the request made by certified mail in October 2010, another letter was sent in December 2011. The town eventually responded in June 2012, demanding that Ely pay a schedule of fees for the involvement of various town employees, including $200 an hour for the town attorney. The total cost to access the documents was left open-ended. Ely considered this response a constructive denial of his request.
"An agency which places cameras on every street corner shouldn't be allowed to break the law in order to keep secrets," Ely told TheNewspaper. "However this really isn't about speed cameras. If local governments can conceal potentially embarrassing information from the public on this issue, then what else will they be allowed to hide?"