Monroe school-zone cameras hot topic at council meeting

MONROE — The hot issue at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was not even on the agenda.

About 30 people came to talk about traffic-enforcement cameras installed outside two elementary schools last week. The majority of people who spoke complained about the cameras, saying they are only being installed to make the city money, not to make the schools safer.

Activist Tim Eyman asked the council to call for a vote so the local community has a voice in this issue.

“Treating citizens like an ATM shatters the sense of a community,” he said to the council.

Councilman Tom Williams lashed out against Eyman, accusing him of spreading lies and demanding a public apology from him.

Williams said only one person had contacted him about the cameras before Eyman intervened.

“I received only one phone call about the red-light cameras in my 11 months as a council member,” he said.

Arizona-based company Redflex Traffic Systems put up the cameras outside Frank Wagner Elementary School at 115 Dickinson Road and Fryelands Elementary School at 15286 Fryelands Blvd. The company started recording last week but it has stopped, city administrator Gene Brazel said.

Drivers caught violating traffic laws during this period were only given a warning.

Mayor Robert Zimmerman said he thinks the city should have a public hearing to talk about the cameras. The council did not set a date for such a hearing or make any decisions about the cameras. The council had signed a contract with Redflex about a year ago.

“My responsibility is to enact policy approved by the council but nothing is final until residents of Monroe have spoken,” Zimmerman said.

In the meeting, seven people voiced their opinions about the traffic-enforcement cameras. Only two of those said they were from Monroe.

Lewis Roane of Monroe was against the cameras: “It’s a snooping device and I don’t want to see it.”

Wayne Rodland, also of Monroe, was in favor of the cameras at schools so children could be safe. He described an accident that occurred a couple of years ago outside Frank Wagner Elementary where a child was badly injured.

“With cameras, I am sure this would have not happened,” he said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; dominguez@ heraldnet.com.

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