6/26/2012Redmond, Washington Ends Photo Enforcement
Speed cameras shut down in Redmond, Washington ending battle between the city and anti-camera activists.
After a drawn-out battle with citizen activists, officials in Redmond, Washington on Friday shut down the last remaining photo enforcement camera. In February, the city approved a contract to allow American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to issue speed camera tickets until June 22. Initiative guru Tim Eyman declared victory in an email to reporters after confirming the final camera was deactivated.
"Scott Harlan, Nick Sherwood, Alex Rion, and I are very proud to have co-sponsored Redmond Initiative No. 1 and pleased that we helped over 5000 Redmond voters amplify their anti-ticketing-camera voices in the political process," Eyman wrote. "We are thrilled that the city of Redmond is no longer treating its citizens like ATM machines and have shut down all their ticketing-cameras."
Last September, Eyman, Harlan, Sherwood and Rion collected the ballot initiative signatures required to give voters a chance to decide whether cameras should be used in the city. Instead of allowing the public decide, Mayor John Marchione resisted the voting process by refusing to transmit the referendum signatures to the county auditor, as required by law.
Eyman sued to have the initiative placed on the ballot, but Marchione decided to spend city funds in fighting the vote on behalf of ATS. The decision to save ATS that expense irked Eyman.
"You guys are in the position to be able to have ATS pay for it," Eyman told TheNewspaper last September. "All you gotta do is sit back and let them be the bad guy. But if you litigate, you're forcing taxpayers to pay for litigation that the red light camera company is more than willing to incur."
Despite the legal victory, the city council under heavy political pressure had decided unanimously by November to end the red light camera program. As a face-saving move, the speed camera program was kept alive through the end of the school year.
ATS and Redmond were desperate to avoid a public vote given the overwhelming -- and embarrassing -- results at the ballot box in Washington state. In 2010, 71 percent of voters in Eyman's hometown of Mukilteo voted in favor of a ballot measure effectively banning the devices. Last year, the cities of Bellingham, Longview and Monroe followed suit by margins of between 59 and 68 percent.
"June 22nd should always be remembered as Camera Emancipation Day in Redmond," Eyman said.