Seattle's Red-Light Camera Provider Suspends Exec; He Used Pen Name to Troll The Herald

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I-Man
Assuming this is his real name, Bill Kroske, vice president of business development at American Traffic Solutions, Inc.--the Arizona company that contracts for traffic-enforcement camera services in Seattle and Lynnwood--has now been suspended. His corporation is probing allegations that he anonymously trolled The Herald of Everett and possibly other newspapers, extolling the merits of red-light cameras and belittling anti-camera campaigner Tim Eyman.

Not that there's anything wrong with belittling the I-Man. But, using the pen name "W. Howard," Kroske left 43 comments on the Herald's site since last June, the paper says, some of them apparently falsely claiming he was a local guy, and none revealing his corporate interest.

After the Herald reported his deception on Tuesday, ATS yesterday said Kroske's actions were "unacceptable" and he was suspended "pending further investigation." The postings may be widespread. As one reader commented back in January, even: "Maybe The Herald could do a little reporting on how the camera company is blanketing the internet with fake comments from fake residents."

All of which, of course, delights Eyman.

"The Everett Herald," he said in a Tuesday e-mail, "has done the public a great service: They've exposed American Traffic Solutions for the total sleazeballs that they are."

It's so uncharacteristic of Eyman to lash out like that. Cough. (To make sure we noticed, he headlined his e-mail: "'They are total sleazeballs' says Eyman"). Was it something W. Howard said about T. Eyman?

"Stick to your guns," W. Howard wrote in January, urging the Monroe City Council to go for a new red-light camera deal with ATS. "This is not a backwoods city to be manipulated by a bunch of radicals manipulated by Slick Timmy Eyman. He may have buffaloed his home city, but don't let it happen here."

Just this week, W. Howard wrote that "When technology is developed that makes us safer, we need to get our paranoia out the way and take advantage of it...So suck it up Eyman and explain it to the parents and educators in your home town why they will not be able to make it safer for their children."

This morning, Eyman, not one to miss an opportunity, used the deception to further his (fund-raising) anti-camera crusade. In an e-mail, he sent a list of public officials and asked supporters to contact them and complain about their getting "in bed with a red-light camera company whose corporate executives impersonate local citizens in order to give the illusion of local support."

"Write something," he suggested, "like: Such a dramatic breach of trust exposed by the Everett Herald by the taxation-through-citation sleazeballs at this red-light camera company demand [sic] an immediate response from local elected officials."

Then sign your name--effectively deceiving the reader about who actually wrote those words. W. Timothy thanks you.

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