Tim and the red lights

Washington’s Tim Eyman is well known as the state’s initiative king, notably on subjects like taxes, fees and budgets. But he’s developed other interests too. One of them shows some indicators of approaching a tipping point.

Here’s a longish quote from an email Eyman just sent out on the subject – of red-light and speeding cameras, and citizen initiatives aimed at blocking or eliminating them in various localities.

Last year in my hometown of Mukilteo (just named the 9th best place to live in the U.S.), the city tried to bring red-light cameras and speed cameras to our community. We were knee-deep in collecting signatures for tougher-to-raise-taxes I-1053 (2/3 for tax increases, legislative approval for fee increases), but I made time to team up with a bunch of great people to sponsor the initiative. Long story short, we got the initiative on last November’s ballot and voters here rejected the cameras with 71% of the vote. Wowza.

I was subsequently contacted by activists in other cities in Washington wanting to get public votes on ticketing cameras in their communities too. So last year, there was one initiative in Mukilteo — this year there are five — Bellingham, Longview, Monroe, Redmond, and Wenatchee. Every single one of them have been enormously fun, interesting, and important. Each one has its own soap opera associated with it. I could write a novel about each one, including glowing accounts of the local citizens who have done all the hard work to make them a success.

These campaigns haven’t distracted me/us from our statewide initiatives. Last year’s I-1053 and this year’s “Son of 1053” I-1125 remain our primary focus.

Nonetheless, it’s been an incredibly gratifying experience working on these local city initiatives with these local citizens. It turns out local initiatives are not utilized very often — it was only the second initiative in Mukilteo city history to get enough signatures and the first to make it through the gauntlet for a public vote. It is Wenatchee Initiative #1, Redmond Initiative #1, and Longview Initiative #1 — it is the second initiative in Monroe city history and the first initiative in 6 years in Bellingham.

To be clear, these initiatives don’t prohibit automatic ticketing cameras, they simply let the voters decide. But after the 71% vote against the cameras in my hometown of Mukilteo, the efforts by cities and the red-light camera companies have been focused on blocking the people from voting. Their adage is “since we won’t win the vote, prevent the vote.” It’s really an obscene abuse of power. Fortunately, we’re having great success bulldozing through their anti-vote obstruction. Last week, a Bellingham judge not only dismissed the red-light camera company’s motion to block the vote on the initiative, but the judge slapped the company with a huge a $10,000 fine for even bringing the lawsuit and forced them to pay the attorneys fees for the initiative campaign.

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