By on October 3, 2011

A red light camera company and officials in the city of Baytown, Texas are conspiring to nullify the results of an election. In November, 58 percent of voters approved a ballot measure prohibiting the use of red light cameras unless a police officer is present to witness any alleged offense. American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed suit in February to overturn the result of this vote, and city officials on September 22 asked Harris County Judge Michael D. Miller to sign off on a settlement of this suit that was prepared by ATS.

“The court, after considering the agreed statement of facts and applicable law, is of the opinion that the contested election held on November 2, 2010 for the approval or rejection of a proposed initiative, related to Baytown’s automated photographic traffic signal enforcement program, was an election on an untimely referendum and, therefore, void,” stated the proposed judgment drafted by ATS attorney Andy Taylor and signed by Baytown City Attorney Ignacio Ramirez. “It is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that the results of the special election are hereby declared void and without any legal effect for all purposes.”

Judge Miller has yet to indicate whether he will accept the settlement struck between ATS and Baytown. Byron Schirmbeck, author of the initiative petition as director of, is hoping he does not. Schirmbeck points out that unlike other anti-camera ballot measures, the one approved by Baytown voters was clearly not a referendum. Baytown’s red light camera ordinance was not repealed, and the city is free to use automated ticketing machines — so long as a police officer witnesses each alleged offense. Baytown dropped the program rather than incur the cost involved in complying with the terms of the ballot measure.

“Baytown city council has no right to sell our election to a corrupt corporation to protect them against further actions of the people,” Schirmbeck told TheNewspaper. “This is a slap in the face to the people’s right to self govern.”

ATS had been so desperate to nullify the election that it spent over $140,000 to block it at various stages. The Arizona company went so far as to file court briefs citing the 1965 Voting Rights Act to charge photo enforcement program opponents as anti-black racists, even though analysis of precinct voting patterns in Houston showed that black neighborhoods were more opposed to cameras than white neighborhoods.

Judge Miller, a Democrat, won his election in 2008 with just 51 percent of the vote. He is up for re-election next year.


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4 Comments on “Texas City Works with Traffic Camera Company to Nullify Anti-Camera Vote...”

  • avatar

    So, if this guy loses reelection next year, will he just nullify that election and keep wearing his robe?

    Exactly what is the point here? At what point do these people respect citizen’s wishes on this issue?

    Who is policing whom here? ATS seems to be more in control over this juridiction than the people living there. Why is ATS forcing themselves onto the citizens of Baytown? Who is being a good citizen here?

    When ATS took a legal route they exposed themselves as indifferent to what they represented. You cannot be in favor of serving communities, and suing them at the same time.

    This is a warning to any town considering ATS as a company with which to do any business. They will not be your friend if you do not do what they demand.

    As to the judge, it seems that he is unable to judge what is best for his neighbors, friends and community. His decision and the means taken to get his approval, is exposing him as too willing to find ways to undermine those he is in office to serve – by silencing them.

    • 0 avatar


      I agree that the behavior of ATS is atrocious, but remember that the judge is only allowed to determine how existing laws apply to this.

      If he’s lazy, he takes the word of the participating lawyers as to which laws, and which previous judicial determinations about the applicability of those laws in specific situations, are relevant here.

      He could also do more research on his own to find relevant case law, but it’s not like judges have oodles of spare time. That’s why winning or losing so often comes down to how good the lawyers are.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, yes, let’s have mob rule because the ‘rule of the people’ always works out better than constituional rule where everyone–people and govt–have to follow the rules.

      It’s kind of strange that you think you know more/better than a judge as to what is best for his neighbors, yet I’d be willing to bet he’s more qualified than you.

  • avatar

    Notice the Baytown city attorney signed off on it…

    ATS also ravaged the City of Longview, WA mayor, city council, and city attorney, all of which are still convinced they can bluff their way through it by screwing around with everything they can touch. In a nice revenge of the negative karma, ILWU union thugs are currently working them over pretty good.

    What goes around, comes around…

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