Lawsuit Filed Today Against Red Light Camera Vote

A federal lawsuit was officially  filed late Friday afternoon in an effort to prevent Houston residents from voting on whether to ban red light cameras. (click2houston will  have it posted later)

Afternoon update with reaction from Mayor Annise Parker:

“City Council’s vote to put this issue on the November ballot was a mandatory ministerial duty forced by a petition submitted by opponents of red light cameras.  Supporters of red light cameras also have the right to pursue legal options to keep the issue off the ballot.  Personally, I do not believe anyone has a constitutional right to run a red light and endanger someone else’s public safety.  I am strongly in favor of retaining red light cameras as part of the city’s law enforcement tool box.  I also believe the police chief should have the discretion to use cameras as a force multiplier to allow officers to focus more on patrol duties.”

 

Multiple sources have confirmed to 2 On The Beat that the lawsuit will be filed on behalf of  a Houston resident and Keep Houston Safe, a Political Action Committee,  but not American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona based company that sold the red light cameras to the city of  Houston. ( I was told earlier that ATS  was party to the suit, but that is incorrect.)

The suit seeks  to block  the proposed charter amendment from being placed on November’s ballot on the grounds that it violates the city charter and would dilute minority voting strength, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of  1965.

You may recall that Citizens Against Red Light Cameras, led by Houston attorney Michael Kubosh,  submitted thousands of  signatures to the City Secretary to get this controversial issue on the ballot.

After the signatures were verified, Mayor Annise Parker and city council voted to let Houstonians decide the fate of  the red light cameras.

Several camera supporters argued that the city charter prohibits this type of referendum must be done within 30 days of the law taking effect.  The red light camera ordinance has been in place since 2004.

Currently,  the city of   Houston has 70 red light cameras located at intersections that have been identified as dangerous because of the high number of motorist ts who run red lights.

Each infraction caught on tape results in a $75 ticket being sent to the vehicle’s owner.

Check my blog later today and tune into KPRC Local 2.

We’ll have more on the lawsuit and what it could mean for you.

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7 Responses

  1. Seems so much easier to just keep the cameras the way they are. They reduce accidents and they raise money.

  2. I’m not as concerned about the bureaucratic process as much as I am about the actual issue at hand. I know first hand that red light cameras reduce the severity of accidents. I work in a busy ER where I see accidents all the time. Our hospital recently released an internal report about red light crash fatalities and it coincides with what I have observed. Essentially, the number of fatalities at red lights intersections has decreased at intersections with red light cameras. This is reason enough to keep the existing cameras.

  3. What’s the problem with the cameras anyway? They are not paid for with tax money. The only people getting fined are the law breakers that feel their time is more important than the safety of everyone else.

  4. If you do not what some one to know where you are when you get caught running a red light, don’t run it. Keep the cameras, it make it a lot safer for every one.

  5. Great – these corporations will do whatever they can to take away our right to vote.

  6. Mark, you looked good on T.V. I just wanted to correct something you said. It is not traffic ticket attorneys (plural) its just me. Also its o.k. I know you are really with me. See you soon neighbor.

  7. […] Mary Benton had the early scoop on this. If you’re wondering what the Civil Rights Act of 1965 has to do with this, the short answer is “preclearance”. I quote from the lawsuit: 14. Chapter 9 of the Texas Local Government Code, governing the procedures for amending a city’s charter, has been amended by the Texas Legislature multiple times since the adoption of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Multiple preclearance submissions were submitted by the State addressing legislative amendments, including changes to the number of signatures required to place a matter on the ballot; changes in the uniform date for charter amendment elections; and validating statutes for previous charter amendments. Most notably, what has not been precleared is the use of a charter amendment petition to circumvent or otherwise bypass express limitations or prohibitions adopted by voters and incorporated into a home-rule municipality’s city charter. […]

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