Thursday, December 25, 2014

MO Cities Sue in Effort to Overturn Voter-Approved Ban on Red Light Cameras

By: Barry Donegan 

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Voters in Missouri's St. Charles County overwhelmingly approved a referendum banning the use of red light enforcement cameras by municipalities, but the cities of Lake St. Louis, St. Peters, and O’Fallon have filed suit in an effort to overturn the ban.
John Young, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in this case, says that the suit could take months or even years to work its way through the courts. Meanwhile, red light cameras in the county remain in place pending the forthcoming ruling, though they have been kept in a powered-off state since September.
St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil, who opposes the use of red light cameras, commented on the politics of the lawsuit, “Seventy-three percent of the voters pass a ban on red light cameras so what these cities are doing are suing 73 percent of the voters in St. Charles County, within their own cities. They’re suing their own residents.” St. Louis Today notesthat O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper and Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty personally signed on to the lawsuit against the charter amendment banning red light cameras, which bears political risk given the fact that a strong majority of St. Charles County voters came out to the polls in support of the ban. The plaintiffs claim that they have standing to go forward with the lawsuit, which was filed in St. Charles County Circuit Court, because the cities involved would lose revenue if the ban were to be enforced.
Roger Dalsky, a local supporter of the ban on red light cameras who was interviewed by KMOV-TV St. Louis, said, “The federal government has jurisdictions over the states, states have jurisdictions over the counties, the counties have jurisdictions over their municipalities, so it’s fairly clear that they have the right to impose laws on those municipalities, especially if those laws are voted into law by the voters.”
County Councilman Joe Brazil parroted Dalsky’s sentiment, saying in comments to St. Louis Today, “The people have the right to change the constitution of the county… That’s what voters do.” Brazil also pointed out the fact that some of the plaintiffs on the case have themselves promoted county-wide referendums on other issues that would have affected municipal policies, acts which he characterized as hypocritical.