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Houston Red Light Camera Ban Rejected In Federal Court—Let’s Accept The Voter’s Will With Both The Red Light Cameras And The Storm Water Fee

A federal judge has ruled that the  successful ballot issue that prohibited the City of Houston’s use of red light cameras is invalid.

(Above–A red light in Houston.) 

From the Houston Chronicle—

“U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the city can not reverse an ordinance except by a referendum of voters held within 30 days of the passage of the ordinance. Opponents to the red light camera ordinance, which passed in 2004, mounted the last year challenge as an amendment to the city charter but Hughes said it was essentially the same thing. “Presented with this mislabeling, the council supinely ignored — over voices of some of its members — their responsibility and put the proposition to the voters,’’ Hughes ruled.”

This type of mob rule outside the process of the law reminds me of the classic book and movie about a lynch mob called The Ox Bow Incident. 

Though in this case the lynch mob took six years to form since the red light cameras were installed in Houston.

I suppose that is as clever as you can expect a lynch mob to be.

It is clear enough that the public rejected red light cameras. These cameras were on the ballot in November of 2010. The people of Houston voted by a margin of 53%-47% to get rid of the cameras.

While the ruling of the court must be respected, the City of Houston should defer to the decision at the ballot box. Mayor Annise Parker says she is considering many options about what the city should do after this ruling.

I say this as someone who very much supported the red light cameras. I believe they save lives.

(Below–Grim Reaper. Drawing by MesserWoland. )

At the same time, if we are going to go by the decision of the public about red light cameras, let us also respect the decision of the public at the ballot box about the new storm water fee.

The storm water fee was passed the same day the red light camera ban passed.

Some are now upset that the fee will be more than was claimed during the campaign. Though, since folks who backed the storm water fee want to do the right thing—if only for politcal purposes—the assessment has now been lowered.

Instead of the ceaseless harping about a fee that will help Houston deal with the serious flooding problem, let us just accept what the people decided on Election Day 2010 and move on to the next fight.

( Top Texas blogger Charles Kuffner has also written about this ruling.)  

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments