Voters expected to get red light camera issue

August 24, 2010 2:36:15 PM PDT
In Houston, it looks like voters will get the chance to vote on whether red light cameras stay or go. The group Citizens Against Red Light Cameras collected thousands of signatures and delivered the petition earlier this month. The organization claims the cameras cause accidents.

There are 70 red light cameras in Houston that photograph red light runners. Much of the fine revenue goes to the Arizona-based company that contracts with the city for the service. The argument for the cameras has been safety, but at least 20,000 Houstonians, who put their name to paper, asked that the public get to vote on keeping the cameras or repealing the practice in a referendum.

Tuesday the city announced the petitions had been certified. The mayor made the announcement.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said, "We will during the course of this meeting take action on that item. I would remind council members it is not a for or against vote on the issue, but we have a ministerial duty to place it on the ballot."

But not so fast -- a council member called an obscure point of order involving how long an item had to be read before a vote.

That opened the floodgate, with several objections and some questioning whether they could oppose putting the items on the ballot.

Houston City Attorney David Feldman said, "Then the city is in the position of being ordered by a judge to conduct the election and the city could also be liable for attorneys' fees as well."

It may also be the beginning of the end of red light cameras in Baytown. The city council has called a special meeting on the issue. Council members are expected to decide whether to ban red light cameras or put the issue on the November ballot.

Like in Houston, a group gathered enough signatures on a petition against the cameras. The council certified the signatures and that's led up to the special meeting.


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