A Victory over Traffic Cameras

Saint Charles County has had some controversies involving residents attempting to use their right of self-government to get rid of traffic cameras. Now TechDirt gives us some good news from Saint Charles city: “Missouri Court Upholds Right Of Citizens To ‘Vote’ Traffic Enforcement Cameras Out Of ‘Office’

Sometimes the citizens win the fight against red light cameras. That’s when the government’s hate for the little people really shows through. Late last year, residents of St. Charles, Missouri, showed Redflex the door by voting for a ban on camera-based traffic enforcement.

In St. Charles, Missouri, it was the county council, not a petition, that put the question of a photo ticketing ban on the ballot. County Councilman Joe Brazil came up with the measure as a means of reining in automated ticketing in St. Peters. Len Pagano, the town’s mayor, insisted it violates “local control” to allow voters to decide such an issue. They did decide by a margin of 72.6 percent that the cameras should be banned.

It’s unclear if Pagano’s relationship with traffic enforcement camera manufacturer Redflex is as close as his predecessor’s was. The former mayor, Shawn Brown, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting a bribe from the traffic camera company — threatening to withhold approval until it paid him off. Redflex’s hands were clean in this incident (not so much in other cases).

Whether there was hidden corruption, the stuff that happened openly was undoubtedly corrupt but legal.

Shortly before this measure went up for public vote, Pagano told constituents he would spend their money to prevent them from enacting the ban they clearly desired.

The court sided with the people, saying they did have the power to remove traffic lights by amending the city’s charter.

But that doesn’t change the fact that they were taken to court with their own money in an attempt to strip them of their own local sovereignty.