12/23/2014Missouri Towns Sue County Voters Over Red Light Cameras
Three cities in St. Charles, Missouri seek to invalidate the decision of three out of four residents who voted to ban red light cameras.
Three towns in Missouri joined together to sue the the residents of St. Charles who voted to ban red light cameras. St. Peters, Lake Saint Louis and O'Fallon are asking a county circuit court judge to overturn the charter amendment banning automated enforcement adopted in November with the support of 73 percent of voters. City leaders argue that the 69,469 residents who voted for the measure had no business limiting the right of local politicians to use automated ticketing machines.
"The charter amendment invades the legislative jurisdiction of cities in contravention of state policy, and conflicts with the authority specifically delegated to cities by the state to address their specific needs including traffic and enforcement of traffic regulations," attorney Matthew J. Fairless wrote in the cities' complaint.
The suit alleges the charter amendment will result in "a loss of revenue" and, therefore, each of the cities has standing to sue. The cities also argue that the Missouri General Assembly gave each city government "exclusive control over all streets, alleys, avenues and public highways within the limits of such city" so that the people who live in the county have no say in the decisions made by political leaders.
"The charter amendment is void, invalid and/or unconstitutional because it purports to exercise power and authority over rules of the road and the regulation of traffic on streets within the cities located within the county, including specifically interfering with the exclusive authority of the city of O'Fallon, the city of Lake Saint Louis and the city of St. Peters over the regulation of traffic on their respective streets, and no authority exists for the county to exercise such power and authority and such powers and authority rests in the state and has been delegated to municipalities for streets within their boundaries," Fairless wrote.
The state legislature has never given any municipality permission to use red light cameras, and the controversy regarding the legality of cities hiring private companies to issue traffic tickets remains pending before the Missouri Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the cities demand that the court declare the voters' decision invalid and unconstitutional.
St. Peters was the first American city to see a red light camera corruption trial. Former Mayor Shawn Brown was convicted of soliciting a bribe from Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. He was released from prison in 2008.