By on November 12, 2009

Darkness falls (courtesy

A lawsuit funded by a photo enforcement company succeeded yesterday in temporarily blocking the results of the vote to end red light cameras in College Station, Texas. Judge Suzanne Stovall granted a temporary restraining order preventing the city from ending its contract with American Traffic Solutions, despite the November 3 vote of a majority of residents demanding that the cameras come down. The law firm of Bovey, Akers and Bojorquez ostensibly filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Keep College Station Safe Political Action Committee (PAC), a group entirely funded by College Station’s camera vendor, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and its subcontractors. Of the PAC’s $67,100 in reported funding, the largest chunk — $30,000 — came directly from ATS. Garry Mauro, a paid ATS consultant, gave $5000. Another $8000 came from Signal Electric, a Washington-based contractor that installs red light cameras for ATS. ForceCon Services, a Texas-based red light camera installation subcontractor, gave $5000. Questmark Information Management Inc, a company that prints citations for ATS, provided a $16,600 in-kind donation.

The company’s election challenge argued that the initiative petition was invalid because it referenced an ordinance “enacted 10/25/08” when the ordinance in question had actually passed in October 2007.

“Given the failure on the part of the ‘initiative petitions’ to identify with reasonable specificity the ordinance sought to be repealed, as identified by its date of adoption, the court cannot ascertain the true outcome of the election and the election should be declared void,” the ATS-backed suit explained.

The suit also contended that the initiative was actually a “referendum” that should have been filed in 2007, twenty days after the ordinance was adopted. Against this, Ash argued that his petition to the city council, signed by residents, was labeled “initiative” not “referendum.” Moreover, the petition declares the “powers” referenced by the ordinance to be “deemed and declared unenforceable” — a legislative action that would do more than simply overturn a particular ordinance.

Although College Station officials are named as defendants in the lawsuit, the city had been planning for this action. The city also admitted that it did not believe there was any mandate to take down the red light cameras, despite the election results.

“College Station was concerned that the petition was invalid because it was a referendum that was untimely filed, and told [petition sponsor Jim Ash] that regardless the city would submit the petition to the voters, but that the petition may be challenged in court,” the city’s brief to the court explained. “Such results do not in themselves send a clear message to College Station that the electorate overwhelmingly desires that red light cameras be banned.”

Hearings on the issue will continue on November 20.


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8 Comments on “Texas: Red Light Camera Company Blocks Referendum...”

  • avatar
    John Horner

    How is it that a state so full of pride in its Freedom Loving Texans manages to lead the nation in privatized toll roads, privatized prisons and privatized law enforcement? Some people seem to think that as long as it is corporations doing it to you, you must be enjoying “freedom”.

  • avatar

    If every local politician that helped promote this scam doesn’t get kicked out an their ass next election then I don’t know what to say.  This is legal extorsion by the local governement and ATS.  The people voted to have them taken down, regardless of the wording that is what they were voting on.

     “Such results do not in themselves send a clear message to College Station that the electorate overwhelmingly desires that red light cameras be banned.”

    The hell they don’t.  What a joke this is all becoming.

  • avatar

    This rather reenforces the quote attributed to Mussolini defining Fascism as the marriage of the corporations and the state.

  • avatar


    I don’t quite get what your point is.  The citizens are fighting City Hall AND the private red light company to keep their freedom (in this case, from having their wallets picked).  That’s fairly Texan behavior (which, happily, is also displayed in many other parts of America).  Texas ain’t perfect, but the alternatives, well, YMMV.

    As for the rat bastard Council and ATS, I second kericf’s comments.

    As for the petition inititiative process, it needs a serious streamlining so that ridiculous lawsuits arguing the crossing of t’s and dotting of i’s can be tossed out as nuisances.  This crap is getting ridiculous…

  • avatar

    The company’s election challenge argued that the initiative petition was invalid because it referenced an ordinance “enacted 10/25/08″ when the ordinance in question had actually passed in October 2007.
    I’d be interested in knowing when the ordinance took effect – it may not have taken effect until October 2008, but it sure looks like they screwed up royally, if they did not get the date correct.  While I agree with the sentiment of the petition and I’m sure there was no doubt in the public’s mind as to which ordinance the petition referred, inorder to write this petition into law, it needs to reference the correct existing ordinance.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Those Texas politicians won’t be forgotten next election cycle.

    They will, however, be unemployed shortly thereafter. 

  • avatar
    Old Guy Ben

    “From my understanding, absolutely it was legal,” White said of the election on Brazos Valley This Morning Wednesday. “My real concern is that the citizens — those who came out to vote — have spoken, and their desire is to discontinue the red light cameras, so it is our intent as a council once those votes are canvassed to turn the cameras off.”
    This is the Mayor speaking on the local news the morning they were to turn the cameras off.  Just before a visiting judge issued the injunction due to the lawsuit.  The city is getting sued over the election.
    From another story about this:
    The following is a statement from College Station City Manager, Glenn Brown.

    “We respect Judge Stovall’s decision to grant the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order and will look to her for a decision about the validity of the Nov. 3 election results.”

    “However, should the judge rule that the election is invalid and that the red-light cameras should stay, I will recommend to the College Station City Council that we immediately inform American Traffic Solutions that we are giving them the required 60-day notice that we are canceling our contract and the cameras will be turned off.”
    (emphasis added)  Sounds to me like they plan to turn the cameras off anyway. 

  • avatar

    I see that “Pay To Play” politics is still alive and kicking…

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