Tale of 3 cities: updates on our battle over red-light cameras

by | Oct 2, 2012

  It hasn’t stopped, it has only intensified.  In addition to the ongoing 2/3-for-taxes fight, the battle over letting the voters decide on red-light cameras continues.  Here is a update on this city-by-city reclamation project: 
*   MONROE:  On November 1st in Division 1 of the state appeals court, attorney Dick Stephens will be facing off again with the city of Monroe.  A Snohomish county judge found against the city and hit them with a monetary judgement ($10,000 fine plus forcing the city to pay our attorneys fees) when they sued their own citizens to keep Monroe Initiative #1 off the ballot (he ruled it was a SLAPP lawsuit which is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).  Rather than accept what the voters wanted and what the judge ruled, Mayor Zimmerman and his anti-initiative city council unanimously voted to appeal the case, spending more on Seattle lawyers than they’ll ever save from the appeal (a recent public records request reveals they’ve spent $81,192.49 on their anti-initiative lawsuit so far).
      Last November, 68% of Monroe voters told the pro-camera mayor and city council to take down the cameras now.  They didn’t.  Now there’s another vote resulting from Monroe Initiative #1 on this November’s ballot. 
*    REDMOND:  On November 9th in Division 1 of the state appeals court, attorney Daniel Quick will be facing off again with the city of Redmond.  When local citizens turned in their petitions for Redmond Initiative #1, the city clerk, under instructions by the mayor and city council, refused to turn over the petitions to the county auditor for verification.  As one of the initiative co-sponsors, I was forced to sue the city to get them to turn over the petitions (a recent public records request reveals they’ve spent $21,215.10 on the lawsuit so far).  A King county judge found the city was obligated to turn them over, but then sided with the city’s argument that turning them over the county auditor would be considered a “useless act”.  Despite turning in 6000 voter signatures, more than enough to qualify, the citizens of Redmond were blocked from voting.   
       Because of the political chaos their obstruction caused, the mayor and council did not renew their contract with the red-light camera company and June 22nd became “Camera Emancipation Day in Redmond”   
*     LONGVIEW:  Later this year in Division 2 of the state appeals court, attorney Dick Stephens will be facing off again with the city of Longview.  After the initiative was certified for the ballot, the city sued their own citizens to block the people from voting (a recent public records request reveals they’ve spent $101,797.07 on their anti-initiative lawsuit so far).  A Cowlitz county judge found that their lawsuit was a SLAPP but refused to order the city to pay the corresponding $10,000 fine or our attorneys fees.    
       The vote last year came out 58% against red-light cameras.  As a result, there are no longer red-light cameras in Longview.  Another vote is on the ballot this November, this time on speed ticketing cameras. 

      Whether it’s in the courts or at the ballot box, the battle over red-light cameras continues.  The people deserve the right to vote on whether or not they want those obnoxious ticketing cameras in their communities.  It’s not fair for red-light camera companies or local politicians to get away with stopping the citizens from exercising their right to participate, their right to initiative, and their right to vote.