Red light cameras not coming down soon

November 9, 2010 5:01:20 PM PST
The voters have spoken, but getting rid of those red light cameras is not so clear-cut for the city. So the next time the city sends you a red light ticket -- will it be legal? City leaders say it's no longer a matter of if, but when red light cameras will be removed across the City of Houston. But even the time frame has become a point of contention and could lead to lawsuits.

The easiest answer is, don't run any red lights. Short of that, the topic is a bit confusing.

The red light cameras are still turned on which is getting voter Sherman Mayes very upset.

He said, "Give me liberty to vote and have my vote counted or give me death, because that's exactly what you're doing. You are killing my vote."

Mayes and others who voted against keeping the red light cameras don't understand why the city won't remove them right away. With the official canvass set to occur by November 15, opponents of the cameras say they should be turned off on that date.

Red light camera opponent Randall Kallinen said, "There is no law that allows the city to disobey the law that was voted in by the people."

But city attorney Dave Feldman says it's not that simple, pointing out a pre-existing contract gives the vendor, ATS, 120 days notice, which means the cameras can't come down until early March.

"We have to recognize there are some overriding provisions in both the Texas and the United States constitutions which prohibit any law which impairs the obligation under a pre-existing contract," Feldman explained.

Camera opponents are threatening a class action lawsuit if they stay on past November 15. Feldman says, bring it on.

He asked, "Do I look concerned about a lawsuit?"

An angry Mayes says he's unconvinced.

"There is no excuses, not from the city or anything else, that says they cannot come down immediately," Mayes insisted.

So what should you do if you receive a citation? All sides seem to agree that if you get one between now and November 15, you definitely should pay it. After November 15, if you believe the city, you should pay it until possibly the end of March. If you believe the opponents, they say just ignore it, and nothing will happen to you.


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