The goal of this editorial regarding automatic ticketing cameras (Initiative # 2011-01) is to succinctly clarify for Bellingham residents that:
1. A vote is required on this controversial issue because the people deserve to be heard
2. The council should abide by the vote of the people
3. The council – if it has done the research on all sides of the issue – is providing their constituents with a only two-pronged depiction of the use of red-light cameras (increasing city coffers, and erroneous safety claims) rather than the full complexity of the issue that includes, unbiased data-driven accident analysis, civil liberty, the democratic process, and other fundamental and constitutional rights.
Your Bellingham City Council scheduled then denied a public hearing regarding the automatic ticketing camera issue and the Mayor signed a contract with the Arizona Corporation that installs, maintains, and gains a substantial portion of the revenue generated from the cameras. In response to these actions, the Transportation Safety Coalition sponsored a petition to ensure that public opinion is properly represented. That vote will finally happen because of the amazing support from Bellingham constituents to have their voices heard and heeded!
Because nearly half of the number of people that routinely vote in city elections signed this petition,Bellingham Initiative #2011-01 will give the citizens of this community the chance, after being silenced through denial of a hearing, to ask questions, do their own research and decide accordingly.
The Transportation Safety Coalition believes there are less intrusive and greener ways to encourage law abiding, safe drivers that don’t involve a mega-million Goldman Sachs affiliated corporations, and dishing out “secret” tickets to our citizenry, guests and visitors. Slapping up cameras and treating citizens and visitors like ATM machines hurts our reputation as a friendly town. That kind of impersonal, disrespectful treatment may be OK in big cities, but the council and Mayor should abide by what the voters say when they decide if that’s the way we treat each other in Bellingham.
Once people know the facts about this questionable program we are confident they will make the right decision. If this program is ultimately rejected by the people, then the government can implement more effective, greener and less intrusive strategies like more public outreach and education, posted signs, flashing warning lights, solar powered speed indicator signs (Mt. Vernon raves about success in traffic safety), etc. Those approaches are much more in line with the way we do things in Bellingham.
Having the government conduct camera surveillance on its citizens to impose fines is obnoxious and violates fundamental constitutional rights like 4th (privacy), 5th (can not be witness against him or herself) 6th (due process) Amendments. This is Bellingham; we know when something smells fishy.
There are many municipalities that have tried using the red light cameras with results that the Mayor and Bellingham City Council members should pay attention to. A Spokane district judge ruled all tickets through this program are now void due to fact the officer never signs the ticket in Washington, it is from a private out-of-state corporation. LAPD’s recent decision, along with other cities around the country, to discontinue the program due to a multi-faceted combination of problems with the controversial camera ticketing program speaks volumes. Would any honest program actually just take our money and never hold us accountable on our driving record?
The wonderful part about the initiative process is the collection of voter signatures and the campaign. It gives everyone the opportunity to discuss and debate the issue, learn more about the pros and cons, and have a voice in the final decision. It engages and empowers the citizenry and provides elected officials with invaluable feedback from the people they represent. Measures like Bellingham Initiative #2011-01 provide the citizens with a critical check on government power.
We welcome the debate on ticketing cameras (here are 17 reasons why they’re a really bad idea: www.BanCams.com/17reasons, but when the dust settles and your vote is cast, it’s about whether you think it should be the people, and not the politicians and an Arizona corporation who decide.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini
Johnny Weaver heads up the Transportation Safety Coalition (TSC), ww.BanCams.com,