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Bill Kroske, the vice president of business development at American Traffic Solutions, posed as a Spokane local on The Spokesman-Review website in an attempt to promote his company's products

A business executive at American Traffic Solutions has been suspended after posing as a local resident of Spokane on the company's website and newspaper websites, where he posted comments supporting the red-light cameras that were placed in the Washington city.

American Traffic Solutions, which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, specializes in photo enforcement and red-light camera contracting. The company has red-light cameras placed throughout the United States, with one of the cities being Spokane, Washington. 

Bill Kroske, the vice president of business development at American Traffic Solutions, posed as a Spokane local on The Spokesman-Review website. He posted comments encouraging the use of the red-light cameras in Spokane provided by American Traffic Solutions. 

From January through July of 2010, Kroske posted nine comments under the username "Obie1" on the website. He would talk as if he was not himself, but rather, a Spokane local that was happy with the red-light camera issues. It was an attempt to promote business in that area for American Traffic Solutions. 

He would call red-light camera critics the "camera paranoia group" and denounce those that didn't agree with their purpose. 

"It is that same lack of common sense and emotional control that is found in aggressive and dangerous driving," said Kroske in the forums when other users disagreed with the use of red-light cameras.

Kroske also encouraged "safe drivers" to unite when a bill in the legislature intended to cap red-light tickets, and even defended red-light cameras when a user showed statistics that crashes increased at intersections with red-light cameras in winter.

Kroske's last post was in July 2010 when another user blogged about Tim Eyman, who sponsored a ballot measure to reduce the use of red-light cameras in Mukilteo. 

"I hope the safe drivers in Mukilteo will unite and support their police department," said Kroske. "However, I would recommend we have an initiative here too: one banning Eyman from ever moving to Spokane!"

But The Spokesman-Review isn't the only website that Kroske was commenting on. A reporter for The Herald, of Everett, Washington, was covering the "Photo Red" program. Kroske would comment on the articles under the username "W Howard." According to The Herald's editor, Neal Pattison, the username was linked to Kroske's company e-mail, tracing the comments back to Kroske. Kroske never mentioned who he really was. 

According to American Traffic Solutions' Spokesman Charles Territo, Kroske was very passionate about the company, but just went about it the wrong way by posing as someone else for company promotion. 

Kroske is now suspended for an uncertain amount of time.


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By Some1ne on 5/24/2011 6:34:50 AM , Rating: 5
"Red Light Camera" Exec Suspended for Getting Caught Trolling Internet Sites

There, I fixed it for you. Many companies (and also political and religious organizations) pay good money for people to troll around the Internet and promote their product (or candidate or cause). It's kind of sad, really. But it's also only news when someone gets careless and ends up being exposed for the amoral shill they are.

RE: Title
By Dr of crap on 5/24/2011 9:11:38 AM , Rating: 3
It's only when they get caught that we HEAR about it!

RE: Title
By VahnTitrio on 5/24/2011 10:30:19 AM , Rating: 5
Which is more disturbing: the fact that they do so or the fact that 4chan is the most likely entity to catch them doing so?

RE: Title
By CZroe on 5/24/2011 11:42:40 AM , Rating: 2
It's called "guerilla marketing" and it seems legal as long as you pay a third party to do it. ;)

RE: Title
By EricMartello on 5/24/2011 10:09:45 PM , Rating: 2
It worked well (and still works well) for Newegg. Just keep that in mind when you peruse review sites and blindly accept what is said as legit. Over 40% of the reviews, recommendations and other user feedback out there is fake.

RE: Title
By AntDX316 on 5/27/2011 8:47:10 AM , Rating: 2
so the company suspended him for promoting the company's product?

camera flash
By ssobol on 5/24/2011 11:53:19 AM , Rating: 5
One thing that is not mentioned when discussing traffic cameras is the effect of the flash at night. In FL (notably Miami) there are a fair number of traffic cameras. When they trigger at night there is a bright flash from the strobe when they take photos. I find these fairly distracting. Sometimes the flash is in front of you (traffic going in the opposite direction) but can also be to the side or behind you. Even if you don't directly view the flash (e.g. ahead of you), a flash the catches the corner of your eye can cause you to reflexively look away from the road to see what's going on. This could lead to an accident.

I wonder if anyone has sued a camera manufacturer or municipal government because of this.

RE: camera flash
By SunTzu on 5/24/11, Rating: -1
RE: camera flash
By adiposity on 5/24/2011 4:18:03 PM , Rating: 3
Being in the wrong is a totally different issue than increased risk of accident.

For example, if I make crosswalks less clearly marked and there are more pedestrians injured, people who hit pedestrians are still in the wrong. It still might be a bad idea to do that.

Having someone to blame is not the only goal worth pursuing.

And by suspended they mean
By SiliconJon on 5/24/2011 9:25:16 AM , Rating: 5
Extra vacation time, and likely a raise when he returns.

Kroske not the only one...
By Heinrich62 on 5/24/2011 2:20:18 PM , Rating: 2
Kroske was just one of ATS' spokesmen. There's at least one other, and he is potentially much more dangerous. He is Mark Rosenker, former chair of the NTSB. Having retired from the NTSB he now is Senior Advisor to an ATS-supported pro-camera group. Taking advantage of his ('til now) top notch credentials, Rosenker has been granted numerous pro-camera "guest columns" in newspapers around the country in which he mentioned his current position as Senior Advisor to the National Coalition for Safer Roads but never disclosed that the NCSR is supported by ATS.

ATS is also behind most of the "citizen supported" pro-camera websites you'll find in towns where the company is entrenched. The best article about the concocted sites is at bancams dot com. To find the article, put "stupid" in their search box.

By UnauthorisedAccess on 5/24/2011 7:48:23 PM , Rating: 2
...this somewhat reminds me of 36 Chambers of Shaolin (where the monk was 'kicked out' so he could take Shaolin to the people). He gets suspended so he has more time to troll.

Also, I was expecting a 'Y'all be postin in a troll thread' or similar for the thumbnail :)

Grammar police
By Motoman on 5/24/11, Rating: 0
RE: Grammar police
By Motoman on 5/24/11, Rating: 0
Red lights cause accidents in winter
By wordsworm on 5/24/11, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 5/24/2011 8:18:45 AM , Rating: 3
and god knows how many lesbians I let down in the early years of IRC when they found out I wasn't a lady... (a lesbian in a man's body, apparently, is not a good excuse).

Well glad we know how you spent your childhood.

RE: Red lights cause accidents in winter
By amanojaku on 5/24/2011 8:42:35 AM , Rating: 3
Posing as someone else is deceitful and undermines your credibility. The company spokesperson even said so:
“Unfortunately, he did it the wrong way,” [company spokesman Charles] Territo said. “We believe that you should be authentic and honest when engaging.”
On top of that Kroske belittled and insulted people, which is not the way a company expects a representative to behave.
He refers to critics as the “camera paranoia group”
After several people posted comments criticizing the cameras, Kroske said their response “is just why we need the cameras.”

“It is that same lack of common sense and emotional control that is found in aggressive and dangerous driving,” Kroske wrote.
Lastly, you fail at reading:
After an editorial in January 2010 questioned the cameras’ effectiveness after statistics showed crashes had increased at those intersections
The red lights are not causing the accidents, the drivers are; the cameras are not stopping reckless drivers, so they are just a waste of taxpayers' money. And sometimes they give out erroneous tickets, too.

RE: Red lights cause accidents in winter
By therealnickdanger on 5/24/2011 9:03:39 AM , Rating: 2
The red lights are not causing the accidents, the drivers are; the cameras are not stopping reckless drivers, so they are just a waste of taxpayers' money. And sometimes they give out erroneous tickets, too.

This, too, is misleading. Red light cameras do not often reduce the total number of crashes, in fact rear-end collisions rise significantly, but they do reduce angle crashes (T-bone) which are the main contributors to severe injury and death. It's similar to, but not identical, the effect of roundabouts. Reducing fatal and serious crashes in exchange for minor or property damage crashes is ultimately a positive thing.

RE: Red lights cause accidents in winter
By Colin1497 on 5/24/2011 11:05:41 AM , Rating: 3
They also generate tons of revenue for cities with no capital cost, typicall they just split with the company that installs them. This is the real reason cities put them in.

They also tend to do things like put slightly longer yellow lights on other traffic lights around town than the ones with the cameras to help generate more "customers" at the lights with the cameras.

By therealnickdanger on 5/24/2011 4:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
So what you're saying is that because a handful of corrupt governments have utilized camera technology in unethical ways, then the whole concept is without merit? Non sequitur.

Specific cases of corruption aside, I'd like to share with you how the world works:

1. Vendors frequently enter into experimental agreements with transportation officials to implement and test new technology and methods for improving safety and/or improving traffic flow. A successful venture will result in a contract or an open bidding process for vendors to compete for business.

2. Most traffic signal timing algorithms are adjusted for volume and travel speed - with exceptions being for unique crash conditions or traffic issues. Thus, the delay at one intersection will not automatically be the same as others.

By wordsworm on 5/24/2011 2:08:55 PM , Rating: 1
Posing as someone else is deceitful and undermines your credibility.

Agreed. I was just saying that lots of folks make mistakes. Lots of people pretend to be people that they are not. Sometimes that's a real problem, sometimes it's not. In his case, I don't think the problem was all that severe.

On top of that Kroske belittled and insulted people, which is not the way a company expects a representative to behave.

I wouldn't be entirely surprised if he had been on the receiving end of a lot of the same. You ought to see the kind of language one receives when one defends copyright protection and slams piracy. I don't know very much about the red light cameras. I hate driving, so I'm usually seeking out alternatives in my commute to work.

However, I would love to see the driving community weeded out for the bad drivers. Driving should be a lot less of a right and a deserved privilege. I hear that they're getting ready to make black boxes mandatory in all cars. Cars are getting closer every year to having AI... so maybe in the near future a bad driver won't result in a traffic accident.

I did not fail at understanding the passage you referenced. I believe what is happening is that people are trying to stop at a red light, suddenly, during icy weather, which apparently lead to more accidents. A lot of people might not have the best traction while others might. So, the guy in front manages to stop, but the guy behind loses traction on the slippery road resulting in a rear-end collision. I was suggesting that rather than criticize the camera for making people want to obey the law, they ought to examine options such as extending the yellow light for times when the roads are slippery. I was saying that the camera was not at fault, but rather the conditions were likely leading to more accidents because of a reason, and that that reason ought to be researched and perhaps counter-acted. In other words, when people who are trying to be more careful about following the rules due to the ever watchful eye of the camera, end up getting in more accidents rather than less due to slippery conditions, then it behooves the authorities to find a solution to reduce the risk of accident.

Hopefully by slowly spelling it out for you, you can understand why it is I said that red lights cause accidents in winter. But, I won't hold my breath.

RE: Red lights cause accidents in winter
By Reclaimer77 on 5/24/2011 12:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
Traffic cameras aren't about safety, they are about collecting more money. Your premise is false, therefor your entire argument is null and void.

Pulling the pin on your fellow man and being a government shill is now big business. I don't think what he did was that big of a deal, but as a citizen I'm disgusted to the core with men such as himself. Everyone has to make a living, sure. But jumping into bed with the Government in order to play big brother safety patrol and extort people? Pathetic.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/24/2011 12:55:11 PM , Rating: 2
Also, because I'm Reclaimer the crazy guy who still thinks it matters, traffic cameras are in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and possibly the Sixth.

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