You’re Still on Corner Camera

YOU’RE STILL ON CORNER CAMERA Red-light cameras “continue to monitor intersections,” says Mayor Parker — even though no traffic tickets from the machines are currently being issued. Her comments came in response to a ruling this morning by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes that declared last November’s referendum ending the red-light-camera program invalid. The city charter limits the time during which a city ordinance may be repealed; according to Judge Hughes’s ruling, the referendum simply came too late. “Enforcing traffic signals by cameras may be good policy, or it may be bad policy. . . . The court simply must enforce the rules for making policy choices by charter amendment or referendum,” the Judge writes. “Those who favor repeal will react that this distinction is a legal technicality. In some sense, all law is a technicality.” [Office of the Mayor; ruling (PDF); more info; previously on Swamplot]

20 Comment

  • Wahoo! This never should have gone to the voters. The petition was filed too late and the mayor wrongly believed the people of Houston were smart enough to vote it down.

  • Huh? Is he saying that laws cannot be repealed by referendum after a certain time in place? Well, back to getting rear-ended I guess.

  • While I do not take issue with Judge Hughes’s ruling, I can tell that Mayor Parker’s statement that it “means that we have several options to consider” is her way of saying she will continue to pursue red light tickets in spite of the will of voters. When you elect paternalistic nanny state politicians, this is the result you get.

  • Hey Mel, I’ve noticed you chime in about this camera issue before and you always seem to associate one’s intellect with whether or not he desires cameras posted everywhere to keep an eye on people and monitor their behavior. How exactly are the two related?

  • Ordinances can be repealed by a referendum filed within 30 days of the passage of the ordinace. The city charter can be amended at any time by referendum. The red light camera opponents were years too late to repeal the red light ordinance, so they proposed an amendment to the city charter that prohibited the city from using red light cameras. When this referendum came up at council, many said “wait, this isn’t a charter amendment, it is just a referendum seeking to repeal the red light ordinance.” But, the city put it on the ballot anyway.
    J. Hughes called BS. He ruled that just because you call it a charter amendment doesn’t mean it is one. And he held the election result to be invalid because the referendum was untimely to repeal an ordinance.
    The real question here is what rocket scientist at the City thought it would be better to put the thing on the ballot and face a battery of lawyers from the traffic camera company seeking millions in damages than to just tell Mr. Kubosh (the guy who organized the “referendum”) that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is an untimely repeal referendum?

  • The city should be allowed to send whatever tickets they want to send from red light cams. Doesn’t mean those tickets should be legally enforceable to be paid.
    So yeah. Send me a ticket. I’ll just toss it in the trash.

  • let’s just do speed cameras on the freeways and make everyone happy

  • Traffic citations suck, which is why you DON’T COMMIT VIOLATIONS FOR WHICH YOU WILL BE CITED. Oops, caps lock got stuck. That Pavlov was on to something…

  • Old School,

    I think there would be a good case then against the city that they essentially perpetrated a fraud in putting the referendum the ballot, knowingly or unknowingly making it seem like the citizens could then decide for themselves whether or not they wanted the cameras. When the result came out against the city, the city then decided to see if what they allowed was legal or not. There will be hell to pay in the court system for thwarting the people’s will, that’s for sure. Well, at the very least alot of lawyers will get paid and the city will be poorer for it. The only right thing for the city to do is repeal the ordinance in city council and follow the will of the people.

  • Oh, and what referendum would ever be able to be organized within 30 days of the passage of an ordinance. The timeline is completely unrealistic and a complete farce.

  • I would like to hear Magic’s perspective on this issue.

  • I liked coming off the 59 spur at an “undisclosed” speed and making a hard stop at the light… The camera would always flash assuming that I’m going to run the red light.

  • Hate the red light cameras?

    Then stop running red lights.

    I’d rather gather some cash from people who break the law because their sh*t don’t stink and they’re too busy to obey laws than fire a bunch of teachers because of the city budget issues.

  • Lucy, you got me!

  • @ doofus (aka truth in advertising) – the Houston city budget has nothing to do with teachers getting paid, or fired…that would be the various school districts. Who in turn have nothing to do with red lights and the enforcement thereof.

  • And what if everyone stopped running red lights? So much for the cash flow. Then I guess they’d have to invent some new infraction. Any ideas?

    Anyway the charter should be changed; like someone said, 30 days is not long enough.

  • If everyone stopped running red lights, then the cameras will have been a major success!

    Next Duh! question?

    I’m still shocked that people got sucked in by a cadre of ticket-fixing lawyers. They simply wanted to eliminate cut-and-dried, relevant evidence…and they did.

    Of course, I was t-boned in the 1990s @ Bissonnet@59, by a gentleman who then fled on foot from the scene…totalled my
    car, his old LTD was abandoned, and since he crushed the passenger door, I was lucky the seat was empty or I’d have had a dead passenger…not even sure the SOB tapped his brakes as he ran the light.

    …but let those obese brothers speak in exalted terms about “conflicting evidence and rear-enders”, and ignore all the first hand EMTs, nurse and ER docs testimony. Hmmm…which party has the conflict of interest here?

    Insert PT Barnum quote here.

  • Hughes is a dumbass, anyone who agrees with defeating the will of the people with a technicality is a dumbass, anyone who believes in for-profit policing is a dumbass.

  • Ummmm to those proponents of red light cameras – you do realize that accidents are down 16% at the intersections that previously had the cameras????

    Seems pretty clear evidence that red light cameras do in fact cause more accidents.

    Similiar stories can be found in all cities where the cameras have been removed

  • Ken, I have not seen this report about accidents being down 16%. What about the seriousness of the accidents that do happen? I always thought that we were trading relatively mild rear-end collisions for deadlier side impacts.