By Rikki King Herald Writer
MONROE — Local votes on traffic-enforcement cameras in Monroe might be no more.
The state Court of Appeals on Monday ruled in Monroe’s favor in the city’s lengthy legal battle with Tim Eyman and other red-light camera opponents.
The court ruled that mandatory advisory votes regarding the city’s use of the cameras overstep the legal powers of the local initiative process.
State law gives local legislatures — think city councils — the power to make rules regarding traffic-enforcement cameras, the court determined. The court said initiatives can’t be used to override those powers, specifically granted to local legislatures under state law.
Monday’s ruling also threw out a fine the city faced for allegedly using litigation to thwart public participation. The city also no longer has to pay attorney fees for the other side of the lawsuit, a Monroe-based group called “Seeds of Liberty” for which Eyman has served as spokesman.
Mayor Robert Zimmerman released a prepared statement about the ruling late Monday afternoon.
“The ruling is a complete vindication of the city’s position throughout this litigation and a total rejection of the numerous arguments that have been asserted by Seeds of Liberty and its supporters,” he said.
In the statement, the mayor wrote that the ruling “reiterates that outside parties cannot co-opt or hijack the city’s legislative process in disregard of the law.”
Eyman on Monday told The Herald he was disappointed with the ruling.
“It’s really frightening,” he said.
Eyman now is concentrating his efforts on Initiative Measure No. 517, he said. The piece seeks to bolster the laws guiding initiatives to make measures supported by voters immune from similar court actions by local governments before an election.
Monday’s ruling “puts a really bright spotlight on the need for 517,” he said.
Monroe’s traffic-enforcement camera contract is set to expire this fall. City officials have said they have no plans to renew the contract.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org