Mayor Parker tosses aside will of voters, says cameras are coming back on
Does anyone believe the "appeal" is anything but a token maneuver to give the mayor political cover?
Mayor Annise Parker today announced that the City will attempt to appeal a recent court ruling invalidating last fall’s vote on red-light cameras. In the meantime, the red-light cameras will be turned back on today. Ticket issuance will resume after a short period of equipment testing.
“This is a difficult decision,” said Mayor Parker. “I have a responsibility to represent the interests of the voters, but I also have a responsibility to abide by the judge’s ruling. The City just went through a very painful budget process in which nearly 750 employees were laid off and park, library and health services were cut back. We simply don’t have the millions they claim we would owe for violating the court decision and our contractual obligation to American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Therefore, I have decided the fiscally-prudent path to take is to turn the cameras back on while also seeking a second chance for the voters in the courts.”
The RIGHT thing to do would be to honor the will of the voters and break the contract (knowing full well the damages might have to be litigated) while letting the same voters know that former Mayor Bill White's too-clever removal of a reasonable opt-out provision in the contract put the City of Houston in the position of owing ATS damages for respecting the decision of voters.
At the very least, this press release should have specified that the cameras would be gone no matter what upon expiry of the contract in 2014. It's telling that Mayor Parker declined to make that pledge.