By on August 4, 2010

The city of Mukilteo, Washington filed papers Monday hoping to thwart the attempt of a traffic camera company to deny residents the chance to vote on banning automated enforcement. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Michael T. Downes on Friday will hear arguments in the case filed by an American Traffic Solutions (ATS)-funded front group to protect the company’s ticketing contract from the fate such agreements have shared in all ten cities where the public has forced a vote to toss out the cameras. The sponsors of Mukilteo’s initiative — Nicholas Sherwood, Alex Rion and Tim Eyman — filed a more comprehensive legal brief as intervenors tearing apart the ATS-backed case.

“A lawsuit to strike an initiative or referendum from a ballot is one of the deadliest weapons in the arsenal of the measure’s political opponents,” James D. Gordon III and David B. Magleby wrote in a Notre Dame Law Review article cited by the initiative’s sponsors. “With increasing frequency, opponents of ballot proposals are finding the weapon irresistible and are suing to stop elections.”

Nearly half of Mukilteo’s active, registered voters signed the petition calling for a November 2 vote (view initiative), but the ATS-backed suit argued that it would be “inefficient and a waste of resources” to put a measure on the ballot when the state legislature has already adopted a law allowing cities to install cameras. In a brief on behalf of the city, attorney Angela S. Belbeck argued that the legislature granted broad powers to cities to submit issues to the judgment of voters.

“Plaintiff cannot meet its burden of proving the elements for injunctive relief because it has no right to prevent the city council from exercising the city council’s right to forward an issue to the electorate,” Belbeck wrote. “The right to place Initiative No. 2 on the ballot belongs to the city council.”

The initiative sponsors provided a fuller history of Washington state case law indicating that courts should not interfere with the electoral process by ruling on the validity of a referendum before a vote takes place. They also argued that the ATS-backed group has no standing to sue because the individual who filed has suffered no harm. Given the long history of the use of propositions placed before voters in the state, initiative co-sponsor Eyman believes the case will be settled quickly.

“It’ll take a very kooky judge to rule against letting the voters vote,” Eyman wrote in an email to reporters. “And it doesn’t seem like this guy’s kooky at all.”

A copy of the intervenor’s brief is available in an 80k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Intervenor Opposition to Motion for Declaratory Judgment (Before the Snohomish County Superior Court, 8/2/2010)


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7 Comments on “Washington: Traffic Camera Opponents Strike Back Against Ticket Company...”

  • avatar

    Just because the state gave the cities the right to install red light cameras doesn’t mean that the individual cities and their residents can’t choose to ban the cameras locally. Just bacause I have the right to drink and smoke doesn’t mean I can’t decide not to do so.

  • avatar

    Meanwhile, parts of Florida continue to increase their camera count.


    On another matter, has anybody attempted to keep any records regarding politicians who have been ticketed as a consequence of their own cameras? Now THAT would be funny.

  • avatar

    I liken individuals who front for camera companies – despite never suffering any personal harm – to enemy collaborators, only worse. In most wars, people typically collaborate to save their own skins, or to maintain their quality of life. I don’t see either motive at work here. Are these people just full of spite? Are they being compensated for betraying their fellow citizens? I don’t know how they sleep at night knowing they’re stifling democracy so some devious company can steal people’s money.

    • 0 avatar

      +1. Though I am wondering what kind of unspoken perks politicians are “not getting” from ATS to allow them to these snakes invade our lives. There is always some reason for a politician to back anything, usually involving self-interest wrapped in a thin coating of “genuine public concern” so we the people can swallow their bull.

      And for ATS to suggest that a city doesn’t have the right to oppose their presence? Man, that’s balls.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, I would hate to know that I lived in the same neighborhood as those dicks. It would be hard to not visit them and discuss the issues in a pretty forceful way.

    • 0 avatar

      I hold no one in lower regard than that woman who is campaigning on behalf of her husband, who was killed by a drunk red-light runner.

      Not only is it illogical to the point of insulting, to pretend that a camera would have changed the outcome of a drunk running a red, but for her to knowingly participate in a practice that is proven to INCREASE traffic accidents makes me physically ill.

      I, too, have to wonder what is going through these peoples’ heads.

    • 0 avatar

      “I, too, have to wonder what is going through these peoples’ heads.”

      The same stuff that was going through the head of a guy who once told a congressional committee that he had become a paraplegic because the manufacturer of his car was too cheap to equip it with an air bag. He had driven his car off a mountain road and over a cliff.

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