tampabay.com

Antispeeding vigilante gets ticket for her efforts

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published April 9, 2007


KENNETH CITY - A dispute with a local activist has turned this town's reputation as a speed trap upside down.

Rather than just ticketing speeders, the Kenneth City police are also ticketing a woman who says she only wants to stop drivers from speeding along the two-block stretch in front of her house.

Kali Gillespie's solution is a flashing yellow light installed at the edge of her property on 46th Avenue N.

The light, she has said, is necessary because police do not enforce the speed limit there. The officers, she has said, do crack down on speeders elsewhere in the town.

The police say the light is a nuisance, distracts drivers and is an illegal device on the town's right of way.

"Drivers coming along there don't have the slightest idea what this thing is," Kenneth City police Chief Jim Ernst said Thursday.

Ernst said the town has received calls from drivers wondering why there is a flashing light in front of Gillespie's home.

"It's a traffic control device," Ernst said. "It's not lawful."

Police ticketed her last year, saying she had violated a Kenneth City ordinance, but a judge dismissed the ticket in late April. For a few days after, Gillespie kept her light turned off, "which made me extremely happy," Ernst said.

Then, Ernst said, she turned the light back on. He sent his officers out to issue another ticket, this time using state law. The officers also confiscated the $30 light to use as evidence.

Now Gillespie, 68, must decide whether to pay the $73.50 fine and keep the light off permanently or go back to court.

Gillespie said Thursday she is not sure what she's going to do. But she is unhappy with the police.

"I believe that it's bully policing," she said Thursday. Gillespie said she was also upset by statements officers have made to the media alleging that she is a chronic complainer.

"That's very hurtful," Gillespie said. "I have tried to be a positive part of this community."

That may be, but Ernst said Gillespie has threatened to cause trouble by saying she had 30 neighbors who were also ready to put up lights.

For his part, Ernst said the solution is simple: "At this point, I just want it removed."