SEEDS OF LIBERTY TO LAWYER UP
Plans to take on Monroe’s attorneys in court
July 19, 2011
(MONROE, WA) -- Will robo cameras end up being the next bar room brawl with local voters/residents that Monroe’s mayor and council have gotten themselves into?
Seeds of Liberty: gonna get lawyered up.
First came the city’s quiet fast-tracking and support of the eyebrow raising Walmart/Sabey land deal, and later quickly approving Walmart’s controversial site plan, that left many residents – not to mention some long time local business owners – stunned, fuming mad and feeling as if they had been hoodwinked by elected officials.
That matter is now lawyered up with local residents challenging in court the same city leaders.
And in a touch of irony the locals are paying twice for the privilege of the courthouse tussle. Once with the lawyers they hired out of their own pockets to fight the city, and twice with their own tax money that’s now being used against them by the city to pay its own lawyers.
Justice is not free in the land of the free.
Now comes SeedsOfLiberty.org’s Ty Balascio, one of the sponsors of Monroe’s Initiative No. 1 that sought to remove the red light cameras Monroe has already put up in a deal with an out of state company called Redflex.
The imitative would also reduce the fines levied by those camera-produced tickets and require voter approval before any more such cameras can be installed.
In an email to the Chronicle and supporters and in a posting on the group’s website Balascio is urging supporters to “Help us fight back against their (city of Monroe’s leaders) arrogance. We must raise $5000 to hire the same attorney who successfully defended Mukilteo's initiative. Dick Stephens…beat back this exact same legal challenge brought by the red-light camera company against last year's Mukilteo initiative. His efforts paved the way for a public vote -- and voters there voted 71% against the cameras. In other words, we can win if we fight back. And that's exactly what we're doing.”
IT'S ABOUT ABUSE OF POWER THEY SAY
What are these citizens so angry about?
“It's a blatant abuse of power,” Balascio claims. “Monroe's officials sued their own citizens on Friday… thousands of active voters in and around Monroe signed petitions demanding a public vote on automatic ticketing cameras with Monroe Initiative #1.
Instead of listening to the people, the Mayor and City Council unanimously voted to sue them instead. They didn't have to. Last Monday, Bellingham's officials voted unanimously to put this exact same initiative on the November ballot. Monroe's officials could have done the same thing. They chose not to.
They preferred to use city taxes to hire lawyers to sue the people of Monroe for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to initiative.”
In short, adds Balascio, Monroe Initiative#1 isn't just about ticketing cameras; it's about the people's right to participate in the initiative process itself.
“This is the first initiative in Monroe's city history to qualify for the ballot -- we must defend it or else it will be the last,” he says.
Balascio feels if the city of Monroe is successful in this battle then government at all levels will have a “legal blueprint to use against you” no matter what the issue.
ISSUE PICKS UP TRACTION AROUND THE COUNTRY
Around the country angry citizens are gaining traction with the anti-camera movement.
Many municipalities have been forced by voters to get rid of them, bail out of their contracts with the camera vendor company early or not install them at all.
The latest community to stop the red-light cameras is Longwood, Florida.
City commissioners there voted Monday 3-2 against an ordinance to install four red-light cameras.
The mayor, Joe Durso, who voted against the ordinance, told the Orlando Sentinel there are a number of "legal issues" surrounding red-light cameras, adding that the use of the cameras has been challenged in several communities statewide.
But a number of other communities in the state have embraced the cameras including Orlando, Winter Park, Ocoee, Maitland, Winter Springs and Orange County.
TAGS: Monroe, red light cameras, Monroe Initiative No. 1