Judge slaps downs Monroe mayor and city council for their anti-initiative lawsuit ($10,000 fine plus attorney fees)
Today was a earthquake ruling in the ongoing battle over automatic ticketing cameras. Last year, in response to nearly half of active Monroe voters signing our petitions for Monroe Initiative #1, Mayor Robert Zimmerman and the Monroe city council decided against following the law and putting our initiative on the November ballot and instead sued their own citizens to stop the vote. Their anti-initiative effort failed today as Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden found that their action was a SLAPP lawsuit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and imposed a $10,000 fine on the city, awarding that $10,000 and the cost of our attorneys’ fees to our lawyer Dick Stephens, and green-lighted the initiative for a public vote.
As Judge Bowden wrote: “Having secured enough valid signatures to place (the initiative) on the ballot, the City’s lawsuit burdens the initiative sponsors with having to defend the right of the voters to express their opinions and weigh in on a matter that will directly affect them.”
We are thrilled with this court decision because it sends a clear message to other greedy politicians and sleazy red-light camera companies that such obstructionist tactics will not only fail, but result in substantial financial penalties.
Now that the court has green-lighted our initiative for a public vote, Mayor Zimmerman and the city council are required to put Monroe Initiative #1 on the next available ballot (which is the April, 2012 ballot). And after the voters approve the initiative in April (which is a near certainty), if Mayor Zimmerman and the city council refuse to take down all the ticketing cameras, the initiative requires an additional vote on the November, 2012 ballot.
When are Mayor Zimmerman and the city council going to get the message and take down all the ticketing cameras in the city of Monroe? Every day they leave them up is a slap in the face of the people of Monroe.