5/27/2010Washington: Ballot Initiative Would Ban Automated Ticketing Machines
Statewide initiative guru takes on red light and speed cameras in Mukilteo, Washington.
He has collected 3.4 million signatures from Washington state voters in the past decade, but now referendum guru Tim Eyman has set his sights on gathering just 1804 names -- in his own home town. Eyman on Monday joined forces with Campaign for Liberty and the group BanCams.com to eliminate speed cameras and red light cameras from Mukilteo, a town of about 18,000 residents.
Until now, Eyman has deliberately avoided becoming ensnared in local politics, but the traffic camera issue gave him no choice. Earlier this month, Mayor Joe Marine called a vote to approve an ordinance that would allow American Traffic Solutions to issue speed camera tickets while Councilman Kevin Stoltz was away. That meant the vote split 3 to 3 with Marine breaking the tie in favor of the deal.
"Normally in a small town like Mukilteo, we debate things to death," Eyman told TheNewspaper. "There's chances to talk about it, there's hearings, there's notice. This thing just got slipped into passage lickety-split, and that raises all sorts of questions. You chose to take the vote on the day the 'no' vote was out of town -- it just looks bad."
Proposed Initiative Number Two would repeal the city ordinance and prohibit use of "automated ticketing machines" unless approved by two-thirds of the city council and a majority of residents. In the case that such approval ever happens, the automated fine could not be greater than the cheapest parking ticket in the town -- following a principle laid down in state law.
There is a distinct possibility that the closely divided council will back down before the initiative signatures are gathered in light of the public opposition. In that case, Eyman says he will press forward because there otherwise is no guarantee that the cameras will not make a return.
"What the initiative is all about is: if you ever try it again, here's the rules," Eyman said. "If they say let's repeal it, ok, well does that stop them from bringing it back up a month from now, two months from now, a year from now, three years from now? This lays down the rules on how it works."
Those signatures have been pouring in, according to Eyman who says the response has been incredible.
"I've been overwhelmed by it," Eyman said. "It's really a huge reaction to how rude these things are. This is an extremely polite bedroom community, and for them to treat citizens like ATM machines and jam this thing through without any public notice or public input is causing a huge backlash."
Eyman's success rate -- eight out of ten of his anti-tax initiatives have been enacted statewide -- bodes well for the effort. BanCams.com has scheduled a kickoff event for the signature gathering on Saturday. Photo enforcement has never survived a public vote.
A copy of the initiative is available in a PDF file at the source link below.