6/24/2010Washington: Council Drops Cameras In Response To Voter Revolt
Mukilteo, Washington cancels camera contract in response to voter petition seeking to ban cameras.
The city council in Mukilteo, Washington voted on Monday to reverse itself on the issue of photo enforcement. After over 1909 voters signed a petition to call for an election to ban red light cameras and speed cameras, council members began to have second thoughts about their contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to operate automated ticketing machines. ATS also operates in the neighboring town of Lynnwood.
"I believe there may be ways to solve this without turning into Lynnwood," Council President Randy Lord said. "I'm willing to say that I probably moved too quickly because it looked like a good solution. But I heard and I studied and I read for the last few weeks and I appreciate the public dialogue and discourse brought forth by our petition process."
Lynnwood's cameras have generated $7,564,599 in profit since July 2007 from tickets worth $124 to $250 each. The cameras operate in a school zone eight hours a day, even when no students are present. Mukilteo residents complained in comments to the council that they should not bring the same "gotcha" cameras to their town.
"Every time I pass Lynnwood I am so stressed out," Mukilteo resident Mimi Gates said. "I have many friends who tell me they go around Lynnwood on a back road to avoid the camera... I lived in a half-communist country for several years. I left that country thirty-five years ago... I thought (here) I was home where freedom reigns. Now I feel like I'm back to my old hometown where every conversation was recorded, every move that I made was detected... The cameras everywhere, watching you, spying on you."
Initiative guru Tim Eyman made it clear that even though the council has backtracked on cameras, he is pushing ahead with his proposal to ask the voters to ban cameras for good (view initiative).
"When the citizens do go to the extraordinary effort to get enough signatures to get something qualified for the ballot, the city council and the state should respect that process and allow citizens to vote on issues in the extraordinary circumstances when they manage to get the required number of signatures," Eyman said. "With this initiative I feel like Jimmy Stewart -- that George Bailey character in 'It's a Wonderful Life' -- because people are just coming out of the woodwork to help with this initiative campaign. 'Hey Tim, I heard you're in trouble.' I have people knocking on my door at midnight, dropping off petitions and asking for more of them. It's really an inspiring thing."
The Snohomish County Auditor notified Eyman last week that he would need another 537 signatures after reviewing his petition submission. Eyman responded with a push to gather 40 signatures per day before Friday, which would be enough to push the effort over the top.