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FEATURE NEWS

NO RULING FROM JUDGE BUT MONROE’S ANTI RED LIGHT
CAMERA FOES UPBEAT
Hopes high that a portion of Monroe Initiative 1 will appear on Feb. ballot

September 22, 2011




Anti-red light camera signature gatherers at Monroe Library Monday May 30. Center, blue shirt is small government activist Tim Eyman. At right next to Eyman is Ty Balascio of Monroe, leader of Seeds of Liberty. CLICK TO ENLARGE


Ty Balascio, of Seedsofliberty.org at left, turns in 1,226 voter signatures to Brad Feilberg at Monroe City Hall Monday May 23, 2011 in effort to get Monroe Initiative No. 1 on the ballot. . CLICK TO ENLARGE
(EVERETT, WA) -- The hearing in the Everett court room Wednesday lasted only about an hour. But there were ample quantities of legal speak and claims and counter claims and he-said-she-said and case law laid out by the legal beagles, all intended to impress the judge about who the real scoundrel in the room was and what remedies might sashay forth from the stage of American justice to the aggrieved party over the actions of said scoundrel.

And both sides felt pretty aggrieved as aggrievings go.

In the end Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden did not issue a ruling about whether the city of Monroe could stop its citizens from putting an anti-red light ticket camera initiative on the ballot – Monroe had sued the local group Seeds of Liberty and others to deep six the measure claiming it over stepped the boundaries of what a citizen initiative could do – nor did the judge say Monroe Initiative No. 1 could have the green light to go on the ballot as is.

It was a Mexican stand off of sorts, but one the anti-camera crowd felt good about.

One of the anti-camera troops, citizen activist Tim Eyman, felt the judge issued very strong signals at the hearing that at least a portion of Monroe Initiative No. 1 would survive the hearing process and make it on the ballot.

‘Monroe Initiative #1 will appear on the February ballot,” said a confident Eyman.

But the entire initiative may not be there: just the third part. The part that requires a public vote, an ongoing public vote for any future installation of traffic cameras in the city.

And that means, “Anytime the city is thinking about bringing a red light camera program to the city, they have to have the opinion of the voters in the community whether or not they really want to do that,” said Eyman.

The city of Monroe itself decided to float its own initiative on the November ballot – that the anti-camera troops say was intended to confuse voters and dilute the vote for Monroe Initiative No. 1 – but it only asks the voters one time what they want to do with the camera program after the contract with the company expires in 2013.

The anti-camera troops think that is about as asinine as it gets and is an insult to voters since it does not allow voters a voice now in telling the city how they feel about the camera issue.

TWO PROVISIONS IN THE INITIATIVE THAT COULD BE DEAD

The anti-camera forces are less confident the other two provisions of their initiative will survive the city’s legal challenge – the provisions that direct the city to remove the cameras now in place and also reduce the traffic camera fines for speeding from $124 to $25.

Bowden said he was of the opinion that a state appeals court ruling earlier this month in a similar red light battle up in Bellingham makes the first two portions of Monroe Initiative No.1 invalid.

In the Bellingham issue a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals ruled a citizen initiative to block the installation of traffic enforcement cameras could stay on the November ballot but it will not be legally binding – meaning it would be advisory in nature and not be able to force the city to do anything about the cameras.

However, that ruling will soon be appealed to the State Supreme Court says Eyman as there is strong belief the lower appeals court erred in that ruling.

But in Monroe for the time being it may well turn out in the end the city was successful in two thirds of its drive to sue local citizens to derail most of a grassroots generated public initiative by using the citizens own money to accomplish the feat.

Some folks think that's a pretty slick trick just about anyway you cut it.





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