MONROE — If at first you don’t succeed, file another initiative.
The people behind Monroe Initiative No. 1 aren’t taking kindly to the Monroe City Council’s decision last week to head to court to block a vote on traffic-enforcement cameras.
On Wednesday those who supported Initiative No. 1 announced a new measure that, if it becomes law, would require an advisory vote on the cameras during each election cycle.
The advisory votes would continue as long as Monroe decides to use the cameras to ticket people who roll through red lights or speed in school zones.
Tim Eyman, the Mukilteo initiative activist who helped the first Monroe measure land enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, said city officials could not be compelled to listen to voters, “but there is nothing to stop the voters from continually telling (them) what they want.”
The new initiative is a means to “give the voters of Monroe the opportunity to register their frustration with their elected officials” and to force votes, several if necessary, on the idea of using traffic-enforcement cameras in Monroe, Eyman added.
The form for the proposed new initiative features on its reverse side photographs of Monroe city leaders, and suggests they supported traffic-camera companies, not voters. The language of the measure says in part: “The voters want the Mayor and City Council to employ the same zeal and determination they displayed when they sued their own citizens and utilize their lawyers to find every way possible to get out of the contract with the red-light camera company and if necessary, to pay off the company now so the cameras can be removed immediately.”
Eyman said that backers plan to mail copies of the initiative to everyone who signed Initiative 1.
Copies of the new proposed measure can be found at: http://bancams.com/petition/monroe2/.
The City Council on June 21 unanimously approved a resolution declaring Monroe Initiative No. 1 in conflict with state law. The city also is bound by a contract signed in 2009 with the camera company, Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems. The contract runs until 2013.
It planned this week to seek a judge’s approval to keep Measure 1 off the ballot. It seeks to remove enforcement cameras that already have been installed in Monroe, to reduce fines levied from camera-generated tickets and require voter approval before any more enforcement cameras can be installed.
The city sent the council’s resolution to the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office last week. Its lawyers have since been drawing up legal paperwork to seek a Snohomish County Superior Court judge’s ruling challenging the validity of Measure 1.
“We are not suing our citizens,” Mayor Robert Zimmerman said Wednesday in a written statement. “The city has no intent to seek monetary damages against any Monroe citizen regarding this matter.”
Eyman’s claims, that the council does not want to hear the people’s voice, are absurd, Zimmerman said.
“The city’s position regarding the validity of the proposed initiative petition is consistent with the most recent court ruling, a ruling that Mr. Eyman refuses to acknowledge, because it does not support his purpose,” he said.
Recently, a Chelan County judge ruled that a vote on cameras in Wenatchee would constitute an invalid referendum. In an earlier decision, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Michael Downes ruled otherwise. He held that Mukilteo voters should get a chance to weigh in, in spite of the legal arguments that were raised against Eyman’s initiative there.
The state Supreme Court last month heard arguments about the legality of the Mukilteo red light camera vote. It has yet to announce its ruling.
Alejandro Dominguez contributed to this report.