Red Light Camera Dispute Goes To City Hall
by: Pat Hernandez, August 3, 2011 4:08:00 pm
After Houston began reissuing red-light camera citations, opponents of the controversial measure filled council chambers to capacity in protest. The Kubosh brothers mounted a successful petition drive to get rid of the cameras last November. But a federal judge later tossed out the results. This is Michael Kubosh:
Red light camera opponents Paul and Michael Kubosh
"It's no longer about red light cameras. It's about the election. It's about the will of the people, that's what the issue is. That's what this debate has brought forward to this people, and we gotta stand up now."
One-by-one, opponents spoke their mind to Mayor Parker and council.
Female: "There was no confusion on November 2nd of last year. By 53-percent majority, we the people voted to take the cameras down."
Male: "We need to do something about this and reverse the decision to take this to federal court, and go ahead and do away with the cameras."
Female: "And 191 thousand people spoke up and said they did not want red light cameras."
Male: "I would like to know where each council member stands on the issue, so we can get some people in here that will do the people's will in the next election, thank you." (applause)
Despite the overwhelming opposition, Yolanda Macias was the only speaker who was not in agreement. Her 4- year old son was killed by a red light runner.
"My pain is unbearable sometimes. At least be mindful of the lives that can change in a second, because somebody decides to pass a red light."
The issue was of concern to councilmembers like Jolanda Jones, who assured the speakers that their voices were being heard.
"This red light issue, and I want people to remember this, did not get started by the will of the voters. It got started by 14 people on council, and the mayor previous to us, who decided what was best for the people. So, if we started this nightmare, then we should end this nightmare."
Mayor Annise Parker said that while she has a responsibility to represent the interests of the voters, she also has a responsibility to abide by the judge's ruling.
"What we're in right now, is a contract dispute to try to limit the damages, because those are your tax dollars. I get the whole thing about the vote, and I keep standing in front of the cameras saying that, and for some reason people distort that. But, thank you for coming down."
After the meeting, Councilmember Sue Lovell said she wasn't surprised by the huge turnout, but wanted everyone to know that Houston is at the mercy of the court on the issue of red light cameras.
"He's ruled. We've appealed, and now it moves on the to the 5th Circuit Court. We're in a waiting period to see what the 5th Circuit Court does, and I believe until that happens, council won't be taking any action."