EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Drivers have turned to the FOX 8 I-Team, saying they were stunned to open their mail and find tickets from speed cameras in East Cleveland.

“I thought, how could this be?” said Dan Mizenko. “I had seen news stories that East Cleveland Council did away with this program, so I couldn’t figure out how I got two tickets on April 24. I thought, “Oh, my goodness.’ Looked at how much it cost me and I thought, ‘oh, they got me,’ and I thought, ‘why should I have to pay if they voted it down?”

Mizenko called the I-Team for help.

The I-Team checked and found that East Cleveland Council did pass a resolution in February calling for an end to the photo enforcement program.

However, when we went to East Cleveland City Hall, we were told the program is still up and running.

Attorneys Willa Hemmons and Heather McCollough, who work in the East Cleveland Law Department, say the traffic enforcement program never ended.  

They added that the cameras will remain unless the issue is placed on the ballot and voters decide to end the program.

“So, until that is done, the camera ticket program, which involves speed cameras in school areas, is still in effect,” McCollough said. “If someone got a ticket, they need to pay.”

However, City Council President Juanita Gowdy told the I-Team that council voted to end the program, and the bottom line is, “no one should be paying any camera tickets.”

We also found confusion over appealing or fighting East Cleveland camera tickets. 

A sign on the front of East Cleveland City Hall says you can’t come into the building to discuss the camera tickets. Instead, the sign gives a number to call. 

A recording leads you to believe your ticket will be thrown out if you leave a message with the information on your ticket.

But, Mizenko tried to do that and he found the voicemail was full. He couldn’t leave a message. We found the voicemail full, too.

East Cleveland officials also stress it is not “automatic” that the tickets will be dismissed.

While we found questions about the operation of the ticket program and the appeal, we also found questions about the impact on safety and the amount of money taken in by East Cleveland.

Officials there tell us East Cleveland has never done a safety study surrounding the traffic cameras.

Officials also say they’ve never figured out the amount of money taken in from fines.

Meanwhile, Council President Gowdy issued a sharply worded statement, putting heat on the Mayor of East Cleveland:

“The Mayor and the two fired private attorneys representing him, and not the city, have offered a bogus argument that voters and not Council have the authority to end the red light camera program,” Gowdy said. “The state has stepped in with a general law that invalidates the red light camera language of East Cleveland’s charter whether the Mayor agrees with it or not. It’s the same with residency. The General Assembly in 2006 cancelled residency requirements in city charters across Ohio; and East Cleveland’s residency requirements ended without a vote of the electorate. Regrettably, East Cleveland residents are plagued with a mayor who does what he wants instead of obeying laws. He cherry picks through laws to choose the ones he likes. Meanwhile, his refusal to end East Cleveland’s red light camera program is costing the taxpayers nearly $300,000 a year in local government revenue fund dollars that isn’t being sent to the city by the state. The nearly $300,000 loss is on top of the $30 million deficit he’s predicting over the next five years.”

Mayor Brandon King agreed with the city attorneys and added that residents of East Cleveland voted in favor of the traffic cameras. He said the vote “resulted in an amendment to the city charter.“

“The only way to amend the city charter is by a vote of the residents,” the mayor said.  “Yes, yes, city council has been told this many times and provided with legal opinions and documents stating the same – regarding various subject matters!”