Friday, July 15, 2011

National Camera News: Voters Denied Voice In Camera Issues

Voters in Houston and Washington State are fighting for the people's right to decide public matters related to cameras in a referendum.

In Houston, Texas, city officials have turned red light cameras back on which had been switched off after voters rejected the cameras in a referendum. The city officals had colluded with red light camera vendor ATS(American Traffic Solutions) in a court proceeding where ATS (the city's contractor who wanted to keep the cameras) sued the city (who also wanted to keep the cameras), while the petitioners (who didn't want the cameras) were not permitted to participate in the proceeedings. City officials were thus able to throw the case and overturn the will of the people. The petition supporters are initiating legal actions to challenge the decision. During the 5 month period since the cameras had been turned off, data released by Houston officials showed a 16% drop in traffic accidents at the 50 intersections where red light cameras had been switched off, a clear reduction in accidents during the time when the cameras were not functioning.

In Longview Washington, supporters of a petition to put red lgiht cameras to referendum have been forced to file suit against the city under a national anti-SLAPP law ("strategic lawsuits against public participation") in order to allow the matter to got to the ballot. The petitioners had submitted more than the required number of signatures to the city, but instead of forwarding the signatures to the county auditor for verification as required by law, the city council decided to file suit against Wallin on June 7, in order to prevent the revenue generating system from being put to a vote. The organizer of the petition has filed a counter suit under the federal law to defend the right of the people to take the matter to petition.