City appeals red-light camera ruling
MONROE - The City Council met behind closed doors last week to decide to appeal a court ruling that found the city’s lawsuit against traffic camera opponents was meant to silence public participation, known as a SLAPP suit.
The ruling also ordered the city to hold an advisory vote on red-light cameras. The city is planning to submit a ballot measure for the November ballot, unless the city’s appeal is successful before then.
The council voted 6-1 to file the appeal, with Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback voting no. The council also voted 5-2 to repeal the November advisory vote if the city’s appeal is successful. Cudaback and Councilman Jason Gamble voted no.
The city disagrees with the court’s decision that it must hold another advisory vote on traffic cameras, citing the fact the city asked voters last November whether the traffic camera program should be renewed when the city’s contract expires in 2013.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden ruled in February that red-light cameras are not subject to the initiative process because the state Legislature gave local municipalities that authority, an interpretation upheld by the state Supreme Court in a ruling released Thursday, March 8.
Bowden, though, upheld other parts of Monroe’s Seeds of Liberty initiative. He upheld the request for an advisory vote and agreed the city’s suit was designed to silence traffic camera opponents. The ruling orders the city to pay opponents’ attorney fees.
The Seeds of Liberty wanted an advisory measure that would ask voters if they want the cameras at all.
A November 2011 ballot measure asked voters a slightly different question: Should the city renew the camera program when the current contract with Redflex is up in 2013. Voters overwhelmingly said no.
By STEPHANIE KOSONEN
Published March 14, 2012