By on August 4, 2011

Voters in Bellingham, Washington are likely to have the final say in whether or not to continue using red light cameras and speed cameras. A Whatcom County Superior Court judge yesterday threw out the attempt by photo enforcement vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to immediately block the measure from being considered. The court believes ATS has an uphill battle to prove its case.

“ATS has not demonstrated that it will suffer immediate and irreparable injury if the temporary restraining order is not granted,” Judge Steven Mura ruled. “ATS’s motion for a temporary restraining order is denied.”

Vanessa Soriano Power, the attorney representing ATS, attempted to rush the case through the system. She served notice emailed initiative on Sunday afternoon informing the group that it was suing to stop the initiative.

“ATS seeks injunctive relief to prevent inclusion of proposed Bellingham initiative No. 2011-01 on the general election ballot on November 8, 2011,” Power wrote.

The company claimed the public could not have a say on the issue because city officials signed a contract with ATS in May for the provision of automated ticketing services. Interfering with such a contract would violate the Constitution, Power said. In addition, ATS lawyers argued that the public referendum power can only be used for “legislative” purposes but the proposed initiative touched an “administrative” matter. The initiative sponsors issued a statement celebrating Judge Mura’s initial skepticism of these claims.

“We are absolutely thrilled with resolving this case so quickly and 100 percent of the credit goes to the arrogance and belligerence of the red-light camera company itself,” Tim Eyman, Johnny Weaver, Nick Sherwood and Alex Rion wrote. “Their actions today serve as a perfect metaphor for how they do business. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

Bellingham officials decided not to intervene either way in the lawsuit, and legal opinion on the matter has split. In Wenatchee, a Chelan County judge granted an order blocking the collection of signatures for an anti-camera ballot measure (view ruling). In Mukilteo last year, a Snohomish County Superior Court denied an attempt to block an anti-camera vote (view decision). The state supreme court’s only input on the issue sided with Snohomish County (view order). The high court is expected to release a more complete decision. The anti-camera initiative sponsors argued that the attempt at forum shopping in this case backfired.

“The attorney for the powerful Seattle law firm who represents ATS traveled up to Bellingham for a one-on-one meeting with the judge where they were asking for an order shortening the time to hear the case,” the sponsors wrote. “After finding out Judge Ira Uhrig, who is battling cancer, was unavailable, they bulldozed into the courtroom of Judge Charles Snyder, the chief justice, who was hearing criminal cases. He eventually booted them out of his courtroom. They then moved on to Judge Steven Mura, demanding that their motion be heard. Oh, he heard it — and then some. He read the pleadings and decided that oral argument was unnecessary.”

A further hearing will take place on August 17.


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14 Comments on “Washington: Court Denies Attempt to Block Public Vote on Traffic Cameras...”

  • avatar

    They don’t care about anyone but themselves.

    You cannot successfully take on an opponent when you believe this about them. The reason is because the statement is not true and you will end up undermining your work by short selling them. All your opponent has to do is prove that they do care, which is very easy.

    In this case, we have very sincere caring people who believe that they can provide a safer driving environment by installing cameras at intersections to catch drivers who fail to stop for red lights.

    That is a real attempt to protect others. What they are failing to recognize however, is how the cameras actually increase dangers at intersections.

    You can defeat red light cameras by proving that their safety claims are bogus. Claiming that the company itself is to blame, will not accomplish this.

    Even if enough voters work through the political system to bring these cameras down – they would have still failed to undermine the actual argument that keep these proponents alive.

    They have to go after the bogus safety claims.

    • 0 avatar

      In the last few articles I haven’t even seen the word safety invoked (see yesterday’s “Houston Residents….”) to justify these cameras. The sham & pretense is gone, now it’s just how “We need the revenue”. it doesn’t make the cameras any less obnoxious, but the honesty is refreshing.

    • 0 avatar

      You are far too kind to these latter day snake-oil salesmen and corporate grifters.

      • 0 avatar

        You end the snake oil salesman’s career by effectively pointing out the uselessness of the snake oil, not by calling him a snake oil salesman. If snake oil cured a disease, we’d be using it and he’d be a wealthy honest salesman.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually you do both simultaneously, as many of these citizen’s groups are attempting.

  • avatar

    A judge in Wenatchee blocked the gathering of signatures??? WOW! Good luck with that.

    Unfortunately the deck is very much stacked against these groups at it takes thousands of dollars to overturn even the most egregious decisions such as this.

  • avatar

    I always feel sorry for these poor people whose faces are randomly plastered on a car blog.

    They must be really confused if/when they discover this.

    • 0 avatar

      The pictures of judges and attorneys in these red-light camera cases are published here as a service to the crazed loons who want to shoot them for enforcing the law.

      • 0 avatar

        So you’re accusing people here of being potential murderers? We may not love big government as much as you but we surely aren’t that. You may want to apologize to us for saying that. There have never been any shootings based on pictures here and it is disgusting to say that. You ought to be ashamed.

      • 0 avatar

        V572625694, I was thinking the same thing. Why put these pictures up if not to have a face at which to direct rage?

      • 0 avatar

        You’re being a bit hypersensitive aren’t you? You have never seen any sort of threat made here directed toward anyone in these articles have you? Just because your delicate sensibilities may be offended doesn’t mean that anyone has ever been in danger. You may want to get a little thicker skin or hide in a closet somewhere, we aren’t out to get you. You’re small fry, so don’t be scared.

      • 0 avatar

        The photos of judges who have ruled against anti-democracy actions of ATS have been published.
        Are you worried about red camera zealots acting out?
        After all, those are the folks who champion shortening yellow light duration, an action which is dangerous to the public.

    • 0 avatar

      So then MikeAR, what is the point?

  • avatar

    “In Wenatchee, a Chelan County judge granted an order blocking the collection of signatures for an anti-camera ballot measure.”

    It seems a judge could block the ballot from being formally submitted but not the actual collection of signatures.

    A group could collect signatures to have Mount Rushmore moved to Florida or Lady Gaga be appointed as the secretary of defense.
    Where does a judge have the power to stop signature collections amongst private citizens?

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