1/3/2011Texas Town Nears Referendum to Ban Red Light Cameras
Voters request referendum on red light camera program in Port Lavaca, Texas.
Port Lavaca, Texas residents want the opportunity to vote on the future of red light cameras in the Gulf Coast city of 12,000. Activists who formed the group Port Lavaca Citizens Against Red Light Cameras circulated a petition that would force an up or down vote regarding camera use onto the ballot. Under the city's charter amendment rules, the group needed to secure 289 signatures. It collected 519, plus another one thousand signatures of support from motorists in the surrounding community.
"The response by everyone has been complete outrage over the cameras," petition organizer Carl Baugh told TheNewspaper. "The most frequent complaint is that we have five cameras up at every money-making intersection but not one camera up were there has been the most fatalities."
Baugh became involved in the issue after receiving a red light camera citation that he wanted to contest. He was told that he could have a meeting with a hearing officer, not an actual judge, if he drove four hours to the city of Harlingen. Baugh found this arrangement entirely unacceptable.
"It was time to go to the city and find out what it would take to start a petition and have this voted out by the citizens of Port Lavaca," Baugh said. "Not ever having been involved with any politics, I struggled to figure everything out, but with the help of the Internet things became clearer on how to approach everything."
The group's effort so far has been successful with volunteers collecting support from what would have been a majority of voters who cast a ballot in the last election. Last year the same thing happened 150 miles away in Baytown where the referendum petition had the early endorsement of a majority of active voters, ensuring a successful outcome in November. In the past two years, residents in Houston and College Station have also voted down cameras. Nationwide, photo enforcement has been on the ballot fifteen times and has lost in every election (view list).
Baugh hopes to turn in the petition on Wednesday although he is concerned that city leaders have been dragging their feet in abiding by the city charter amendment process. Baugh did finally have his photo ticket appeal heard. He won.
A copy of the petition is available in a 90k PDF file at the source link below.