BROOKSVILLE - About 15 city and county residents spoke out against Brooksville's red-light cameras during Monday night's city council meeting.
"I almost didn't make it here tonight because I think 41 to Wiscon into town here must be the most dangerous road in America, because there's four cameras there," joked Pierre Desjardins, the first resident to speak. "I was worried that I wouldn't get here."
Most comments weren't as light-hearted. A veteran compared the constant flashing of one of the cameras as "being back in Vietnam," and a woman said her numerous tickets have been a strain on her finances and marriage.
"I know how to drive," Lisa Shaw said. "I'm trying to raise a child here and do the right thing, and it upsets me."
Brooksville resident and business owner Robert Osmond said the city's economy will improve only when the council "stop(s) getting in the way of business."
Osmond called for the "immediate resignation or termination" of Brooksville Police Chief George Turner due to "incompetence."
"Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way . if you don't get rid of that guy I'm going to bankrupt this city, and I'm going to guarantee you all will be unemployed," Osmond said.
Shirley Miketinac, who regularly addresses the city council on the red-light cameras, said between July 2012 and June 2013 Brooksville collected more than $2.3 million for more than 14,000 traffic citations.
"This money, wealth, the fruits of our labor, has been redistributed to Tallahassee ... and the Sensys camera company," Miketinac said.
Miketinac said this money could have been spent in small businesses in downtown Brooksville, on meals, utility bills or extra shopping.
"Somebody up here please be a hero and remove the red-light cameras," Miketinac said.
Several residents said red-light cameras were a smear on Brooksville's friendly image. Deborah Howard told council she was part of a patriot group that escorts deceased veterans to cemeteries, and explained she has made two trips over the past two months to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell with about 30 others.
"We had to make five stops, pull over with the body of a veteran ... I was completely and thoroughly embarrassed, and it was extremely degrading to the veteran," Howard said.
Council member Joe Bernardini said on Tuesday the red-light cameras are doing a "total disservice to our constituents."
"People are afraid to come to Brooksville because of the red-light cameras ... no one wants to get a ticket, and it's a shame we allow that to happen."
Mayor Lara Bradburn said of all the people who spoke at the meeting, about two were from the City of Brooksville.
"What a waste of energy and time, what a drain on our community," Bradburn said. "There are so many positive things happening, let's find a way help strengthen our community rather than tear it down."
Bradburn said there are plenty of volunteer positions with the city, county and other organizations that would be worthy of residents' time and effort to make Brooksville a desirable place to live, and for new businesses to come and open up shop.
Bradburn also disagreed that Brooksville has the largest number per capita of red-light citations, saying far more people pass through the city than the population, and more out-of-towners get tickets than locals.