We offer three items below. First the Bellingham Herald story that includes a link to the actual lawsuit. Second, an article well worth reading that describes another ATS lawsuit against San Bernadino, CA (a debacle that ended in a tidy $110,000 cash settlement). And third, we've provided Transportation Safety Coalition's own perspective on this situation.
From The Bellingham Herald, August 2, 2011 - Jared Paben
BELLINGHAM - A traffic-enforcement camera company is suing to keep an anti-camera initiative off the ballot, and city leaders want to remain neutral, the mayor said.
The City Council on Monday, Aug. 1, held a closed-to-the-public executive session in which council members discussed the lawsuit with the city attorney. Afterward, council President Stan Snapp said that, in the session, council members provided direction to staff, but he didn't specify what that direction was.
Mayor Dan Pike, in an interview, said the city won't fight or aid the lawsuit against the initiative.
"We're not going to take a side either way. We're not going to support it or oppose it," he said. "Any other way we go we have a liability issue."
Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions on Friday, July 29, filed the lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court asking a judge to block the initiative from reaching the ballot. (...more)
Herald link: (to the actual lawsuit)
From The Weekly Standard, August 1, 2011 - Jonathan V. Last
Rolling Back the Nanny State, One red-light camera at a time
Last March the city council in San Bernardino voted 5-0 to kill their red-light camera system. Since the cameras were installed in 2005, the program had brought them little but grief. In 2008, the city was caught shortening the timing of yellow lights in order to gin up more citations. Later that year a California appellate court ruled that the city’s contract with the red-light camera service American Traffic Solutions (ATS) was in violation of state law. And in 2010, a county court ruled that images from red-light cameras were inadmissible hearsay. The cameras were such a debacle for San Bernardino that in the end the city paid ATS $110,000 to get out of a contract that would have kept the cameras in place until 2014.
It sounds like an extraordinary story: a city, in the middle of a recession, paying a vendor to cancel a contract that is supposed to produce revenue. But it turns out that San Bernardino isn’t extraordinary at all. Across California and the rest of the country, cities and towns are dismantling their red-light camera regimes. And it’s this larger story that’s remarkable, because it shows that even at this late date, the people can, from time to time, still hold their governments to account.
Like many cultural plagues, the red-light camera originated in Europe. Invented by a Dutch race-car driver, Maurice Gatsonides, red-light cameras were installed by European municipalities throughout the 1980s to ticket drivers without the necessity of using actual police. In 1993 the sickness crossed the Atlantic, and New York City permanently installed cameras of its own. (...more)
Submitted by Transportation Safety Coalition, August 1, 2011 - Johnny Weaver
Red Light Camera Corporation Sues People’s right to Petition
Goldman Sachs-owned American Traffic Solutions loses their cool when the citizens of any community voluntarily exercise their right, as concerned citizens, to peacefully petition their government. Is this the kind of corporate bully we want running the government in Bellingham?
This is truly a David vs. Goliath story. The people of Bellingham are being sued by a multi-billion dollar Arizona corporation, American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Of course, as many of you know, Goldman Sachs bought into ATS right after they received tax funded bail-out dollars.
A sure sign you are succeeding is when you get attacked by high-dollar lawyers! We’re square in the sites of the Goldman Sachs-backed ATS corporate profit program. Please donate to defend the people against the corporate giant here: http://wacfl.com/automated-ticketing-machines-in-bellingham
One person in Bellingham had the ability to stop American Traffic Solutions from suing the people of Bellingham. Who? Your sitting Mayor Dan Pike. Why didn’t he? The details below reveal how Mayor Pike and his new-found bankster friends at American Traffic Solutions are planning to squash the people’s voice.
On April 13th, 2011, the North West Business Club hosted a debate on the Red Light Camera program, where Mayor Dan Pike promised the people of Bellingham he would not interfere with the initiative process. But he was already planning to collude with the Red Light Camera Company; Mayor Pike then rushed to sign the contract on May 6th with ATS to install the cameras before the voter signatures even had a chance to be counted.
This contract, which only Mayor Dan Pike had authority to sign, specifically includes a lawsuit clause enabling ATS to attack the people’s right to petition their government by bullying Bellingham citizens in court with ATS high dollar corporate lawyers. It can only be incompetence or disingenuousness on the part of Mayor Pike to sign an agreement that allows a private corporation to unleash their attorneys on the mayor’s own constituents!
Mayor Pike - and only Mayor Pike - had the authority to give ATS the contractual “right” to sue the people of Bellingham. He chose to give ATS the ability by explicitly including language in the contract he alone signed. (...more)
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