Texas: Red Light Camera Company Blocks Referendum

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

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failure on the part of the ‘initiative petitions’ to identify with reasonable specificity the ordinance sought to be repealed, as identified by its date of adoption, the court cannot ascertain the true outcome of the election and the election should be declared void,” the ATS-backed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

[courtesy thenewspaper.com]

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  • Old Guy Ben Old Guy Ben on Nov 12, 2009
    "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.
  • Vento97 Vento97 on Nov 14, 2009

    I see that "Pay To Play" politics is still alive and kicking...

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
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