Monday, June 20, 2011

Red light camera election ruled invalid


Question (for Baytown's mayor Stephen DonCarlos):  Mr. Mayor, will this affect Baytown?

Answer: Bert-We don’t know yet. Our ATS suit is in State District Court, not Federal, so we don’t yet know if this ruling will set a precedent. Also-we have a slightly different fact situation for the Court  to consider. Needless to say, we are monitoring the situation. SDC.


Byron Schirmbeck said...

Bert, couple of things to note on the differences. As the mayor said our case is in district court with an elected judge, less likely by nature to overturn an election. Next, Houston, in my view, threw this in order to turn the cameras back on. Fortunately the city attorney, council, mayor and Brumback before he left put their full effort in defending our vote and have taken appropriate and vigorous steps to defend the city and our vote. We proposed an initiative, Houston did a charter amendment, they specifically attacked the camera ordinance we did not. Plus, our ordinance actually doesn't exist, the city changed the language and passed it on their own. We are in a much better position. If you want to edit the rest of this out until you get the email from me let me know if you want to see the TXDOT crash results from before and after the cameras were off. I can email you the source documents from TXDOT so you can review them yourself. Post election crashes were down 33% along the Garth corridor camera locations, 15 before and 10 after with no increase in tbone accidents.

Byron Schirmbeck said...

forgot to also mention that ATS was handed a serious defeat for a good portion of their argument which also applies to Baytown. ATS claimed that cameras were outside of the scope of the initiative process. Judge Hughes flatly denied it.

C. Subject.
Traffic says that citizens may not use a referendum to repeal an ordinance that affects
public safety. The city charter says that it "shall have the power to enact and to enforce all
ordinances necessary to protect life, health, and property." This grant of authority cannot be
understood to exclude direct legislation by the people on these topics. Most ordinances carry
a stated purpose that is an empty, emotional generalization of the public interest. No ordinance
could be repealed if life, health, and property were excluded.
More technically, when the charter's semi-specification of the matters that only it may
address is exhausted, nothing remains. Using Traffic's logic, citizens may never submit a
referendum - direct legislation would not exist. The state and municipal rules creating the
opportunity for people to initiate legislation are not empty.

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