10/12/2011Washington: Judge Throws Out Voter Petition on Red Light Cameras
King County, Washington judge denies Redmond voters a chance to vote on the issue of red light and speed cameras.
A King County, Washington court is unwilling to allow the public to have any input into the question of whether red light cameras and speed cameras should be used in Redmond. In a ruling yesterday, Judge Laura Inveen quashed the 6050 signatures that had been filed by city residents who wanted the issue to be presented to voters -- even if only as a non-binding advisory question. Photo enforcement opponents meanwhile have been mounting their own counter-offensive, hoping the state supreme court will resolve the contradictory legal rulings in the lower courts.
Municipalities have joined with red light camera vendors American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex to openly fight every step of the initiative process across the country, knowing that automated ticketing machines have lost in sixteen of sixteen ballot contests, including a contest last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Inveen sided with the companies, insisting it would be a "useless act" for Redmond to comply with a provision of state law requiring the city to transmit voter signatures to the county as part of initiative process. In doing so, she ignored as "unpersuasive" the applicability of a September finding of the state court of appeals. The appellate court ruled that an anti-camera initiative in Bellingham could proceed as an advisory measure to gauge the sentiment of residents on the issue (view ruling).
"Even if placed on the ballot and passed by a majority of the voters the initiative would have no legal force," Judge Marlin J. Appelwick wrote for the three-judge appellate panel. "Consequently, it cannot result in actual and substantial injury to ATS's contractual interests, and ATS cannot demonstrate any injury justifying injunctive relief. ATS's request to enjoin the election is therefore denied."
Initiative co-sponsor Tim Eyman blasted city officials for working to deny voters access to the ballot box.
"Even an advisory vote on the initiative, as is the case in Bellingham, will have a political effect," Eyman said in a statement. "There will be a public debate and public discussion. Citizens will learn about the issue, talk with their friends and neighbors about it, and everyone will get to learn how the people feel about red-light cameras. Everyone's vote will be counted and that collective voice will be loud and impossible to ignore. Not so in Redmond. They've prevented the citizens' voice from being heard."
On Thursday, Eyman petitioned the state supreme court to intervene in the Bellingham case. He hopes their decision will settle the question of whether the public ought to be allowed to petition their government on the issue of automated ticketing machines. Eyman is optimistic because the high court decided to allow a vote to proceed in Mukilteo last year, and 71 percent of voters rejected the use of cameras. The Mukilteo case has been pending since May.