We have suspected that the camera company, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), was faking citizen comments for a long time now, (check out our earlier posts here and here).Thanks to Scott North and Rikki King from the Everett Herald, we have proof!
Since June, the user “W Howard” has been posing as a Snohomish county resident when he was actually, Bill Kroske, the vice president of business development at ATS.
Here’s an excerpt from the Herald’s article:
A poster using the screen name “W Howard” has commented 43 times on our site since June. The unifying themes in these posts are that the cameras are good, that they are making the world safer and that anyone who says otherwise — particularly Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman — needs their head examined.
Some readers have suggested “W Howard” has been posting comments as part of a marketing campaign run by American Traffic Solutions, Inc. The Scottsdale-based company contracts to provide enforcement camera services in Lynnwood and Seattle. It had inked a similar deal in Mukilteo last year, then Eyman pushed for a public vote. Upshot: no cameras in Mukilteo, and a spreading movement around Washington that has growing numbers of people asking questions about enforcement camera technology.
Heraldnet.com requires that people who wish to post comments supply us with a live email address at the time they create their user account. “W Howard” gave an address at American Traffic Solutions. It is one used by Bill Kroske, vice president of business development at ATS. Somebody techie here ran down the internet protocol address that’s being used for “W Howard’s” posts. The electronic trail led straight back to Kroske’s company in Scottsdale.
Kroske pitched Mukilteo on the cameras. He recently was in Bellingham, suggesting a similar arrangement. He’s been the public face of American Traffic Solutions in arranging camera contracts in Washington.
James Tuton, president and CEO of ATS, in an attempt to save face, has issued this statement:
“I wanted to take an opportunity to clarify the position of ATS regarding the alleged recent actions of one of our employees. We appreciate this issue being brought to our attention and want to be clear: we do not encourage or condone the kind of behavior your investigation seems to have uncovered. ATS is disappointed and embarrassed by these actions. Such a lack of disclosure violates not only ATS company policy, but also our core values. While we share in the commenter’s passion for red light safety cameras, we also recognize the importance of honest engagement. The employee in question has been suspended indefinitely pending further investigation. Furthermore, we are taking steps to make sure all of our employees know that this type of activity is unacceptable.”
While that statement might convince some people that Bill Kroske was acting on his own and that this is an isolated incident, we know better. It takes a 5 minute Google search to figure out that this practice is common place for ATS (and the other camera company Redflex) and hardly the result of an over zealous employee.
We encourage you to write your city councils and tell them that you don’t want this sleazy company in your town!