Opponents of automated ticketing machines in Monroe, Washington have turned to a new tactic in battling a city council that refuses to give up the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. Instead of engaging the city and a wealthy traffic camera company in a costly legal battle, the group BanCams.com decided Wednesday to shame the council at every election until officials follow the public will.
Nearly two out of every three active voters in the city signed a petition calling for a vote on ending the use of photo enforcement. Earlier this month the Snohomish County auditor determined this measure qualified for the ballot, but the city council on Tuesday unanimously voted to ignore the petition despite a state law requiring the council either to adopt the proposal as written or submit it to voters.
The level of voter support for the petition is similar to that found in Mukilteo last year where 71 percent ultimately voted to ban cameras. Traffic camera companies American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia realize the only way to save their programs is to file lawsuits to block the vote from happening — a practice that the state supreme court is currently reviewing. Monroe officials decided to side with the Redflex/ATS strategy.
“You made a huge mistake suing your own citizens rather than listening to them,” initiative sponsors Brian Kohn, Nick Sherwood, Alex Rion and Tim Eyman wrote to the city council yesterday. “The people of Monroe deserve a public vote now, not later. And their decision should be implemented. You are elected to represent the people, not rule over them. We will continue to fight for the rights of the two-thirds of active voters who signed on to a public vote and we will not stop until they get it.”
The new initiative sets up a non-binding advisory vote to be held at every primary and general election scheduled between 2012 and 2013. If approved, the language presented on the ballot would take a dig at the council each time.
“We, the citizens of Monroe, advise the mayor and city council to immediately remove the automatic ticketing cameras in Monroe city limits and immediately repeal any ordinance authorizing the cameras,” Monroe Initiative Number Two states. “The passage of this advisory vote proposition means the people reject the cameras and want them removed right away. The voters want the mayor and city council to employ the same zeal and determination they displayed when they sued their own citizens and utilize their lawyers to find every way possible to get out of the contract with the red-light camera company and if necessary, to pay off the company now so the cameras can be removed immediately. Shall this advisory measure be approved or rejected?”
The advisory votes would be discontinued once the cameras were removed from the city limits. The back page of each petition includes photos of each city councilman and the mayor with the caption: “Refused to let the people vote / Representing red light camera companies, not Monroe’s citizens.”