Many times legislatures or council get things wrong, some times very wrong.
Baytown, TX was one of the many communities whose leadership completely failed them when the decision to install dangerous red light cameras in their intersections.
The driving public was outraged, but Baytown’s city council predictably wasn’t willing to part with the money that American Traffic Solutions(ATS) had promised them.
The initiative process was created in America, in the 1600’s, to combat this type of abuse. When politicians are unwilling to serve the electorate, the laws or programs they enact can be nullified by a citizens initiative (or petition) signed by a certain percentage of registered voters within that city or state.
Apparently American Traffic Solutions, not only has no respect for the safety of drivers or their pocketbooks, but they also don’t think they should be able to vote on a controversial public safety issue.
Byron Schirmbeck, in addition to working a full time job, spent months collecting signatures for “Proposition 1” which repealed the ordinance that allowed for red light cameras in Baytown. It passed overwhelmingly last November.
ATS, however, left their cameras in place and tied the city council up for months in a legal battle over the right for its citizens to vote.
City council has seen the writing on the wall and knows they will not be reelected if they turn the cameras back on. So instead of standing tall against ATS, which amounts to little more than a band of lawyers and a collections agency these days, they capitulated.
The cameras in Baytown will still come down, the taxpayers will pay ATS $1 Million and the November 2010 election is now considered void by council. It seems Baytown city council has just as little respect for their citizens as ATS does.
Schirmbeck explains in the ABC Houston video below that the right to self-govern is being threatened by people like ATS execs and his own city council: