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June 30, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Traffic Cameras in Monroe

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

In the campaign against red-light cameras in Monroe, much has happened since my column of June 21. In the column, I said the signatures were in on Monroe Initiative 1, which would have the city take down the three cameras it now has. The measure would also require a public vote before any other cameras were set up, and would shrink the possible fine—now $124 per violation.

As was done in Longview, the city council in Monroe voted to ask a judge to declare the question of traffic cameras “beyond the initiative power” and thereby keep the initiative off the ballot. The story is here, in the Monroe Monitor of June 27. Longview's council offered an advisory vote only, and in Monroe the council seemed open to such a vote around the time the contract with the traffic-camera company expires in 2013. But neither city government wants a binding vote.

In Longview, the anti-camera people countersued to put the measure on the ballot. In Monroe, following the lead of Tim Eyman, they have done another thing.

Today Eyman was out on U.S. 2 with a make-believe traffic camera on his head, wearing his "LET THE VOTERS DECIDE" shirt. The point of this showbusiness was the start of the signature drive for Mukilteo Initiative 2, here. This one would not take down the cameras directly. It calls for elections that are advisory only. But it calls for them to be on the ballot every time the people of Monroe go to vote - again and again and again- until the cameras are taken down.

Instead of legally compelling the city to take the cameras down, the idea is to embarrass the council into changing its mind. It's legal, it's orderly, it's civilized, and if the people sign the petitions, I'll bet it works. I don't know the poltiicans of Monroe, but the ones I've known over the years do not like to be mocked or embarrassed. They will hate this. They will consider it terrorism.

"What a delicious battle," Eyman told me.

Already the Everett Herald has chimed in. On June 26, the editorial board wrote, "It's remarkable how carefully Monroe's elected officials listened to legal advice last week, given how tone deaf they were when it came to hearing their own citizens."

Apart from taking the cameras down, there is another way for city officials to stop Monroe Initiative 2, says Eyman. "Allow the people to vote on Monroe Initiative 1."

Meanwhile, Bellingham's anti-cameras initiative has been certified for the ballot.

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