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.