By Scott North and Rikki King
It has been awhile since we took a look at traffic-enforcement cameras in Snohomish County.
The devices still are cranking out tickets and controversy, but not much else has changed.
Meanwhile, the reader who posts comments to HeraldNet as “Jacques Klahaya” recently raised questions about the status of Lynnwood’s camera contract.
When last we dove into that particular swamp, Lynnwood officials were fussing over how long they wanted to commit to the program. They claimed to be taking it slow, approving an extension that only took the city into November 2012. A victory, they said, would be getting a clause into the contract that would allow them to dump the cameras whenever they wished.
Jacques wondered whether the city has been operating without a camera contract.
Nope. Turns out that Lynnwood late last year extended the camera contract until November 2016.
That’s something we just tumbled to this week when we filed a public records request.
We’ll be doing more reporting in the coming days for details on how the decision was made. It looks like the new contract the city negotiated does include a bail-out clause. For now, though, smile when you drive through Lynnwood. The benevolent camera overlords still are watching – apparently all legal like.
Mukilteo’s Tim Eyman, meanwhile, continues to tee off on officials at the city of Monroe over that community’s camera program. This week, Eyman caused spam filters around the state to tremble with back-to-back-to-back email blitzes designed to draw attention to his Initiative 517.
He recently submitted signatures to bring a statewide vote on the measure, which says in part: “Government officials, both elected and unelected, must facilitate and cannot obstruct the processing of any initiative petition and must facilitate and cannot obstruct the public vote of any initiative.”
Eyman wrote Monroe’s mayor and others that the provision was a direct response to the city’s 2011 decision to go to court to block a binding vote on the camera program there.
“Isn’t it insulting that such a new law is needed?” he wrote. “Shouldn’t this be done without a new state law requiring it? Because of Monroe’s mayor and city council and their arrogance, it is clearly necessary. To this day, you defend your indefensible anti-voter-participation actions.”
Eyman also sent out an email from Monroe, in which the city acknowledges it has spent nearly $84,000 on lawyers defending its decision to resist the Eyman-supported camera initiative. That includes the cost of representing the city as it appeals a Snohomish County judge’s ruling that the lawsuit against the initiative was strategic litigation against public participation.
Irony: As a result of the camera controversy, Monroe voters have now twice had the opportunity make clear that they want the cameras gone. Double irony: Monroe’s elected officials say they’ve received the messages, loud and clear, and the cameras will be gone at the end of the year.
In Lynnwood? Who knows. Communication from City Hall is sporadic at best.