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No vote on red light cameras today

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The council will not act today on Mayor Annise Parker‘s resolution seeking its approval to shut off the city’s red-light cameras and fight its vendor in court over breach of contract. Councilwoman Sue Lovell tagged it, delaying a vote until at least next week.

Today’s Chron had another story about Mayor Parker’s more aggressive stance on the issue.

The city contends that it canceled its contract with ATS in mid-November when Parker ordered the shutoff of the cameras after a referendum in which 53 percent of Houston voters called for an end to them. The mayor ordered the cameras turned on again last month after a federal judge declared the referendum invalid.

Last weekend, three weeks after the cameras began issuing notices of violation again, Parker submitted the resolution asking the council’s approval to turn off the cameras while she fights ATS in court or pursues a settlement.

The resolution states that ATS asked for $18 million, then rescinded that offer three days later when Parker decided to recommend that the council reject it.

“That’s not negotiating in good faith. Now they’re just jerking us around. I’m doing what I always intended to do,” Parker said.

“As long as ATS was productively engaged with us, we were negotiating an end to the cameras,” the mayor said. “But ATS is not negotiating in good faith on an end to the cameras, so we’re just going to deal with them. We’re going to rescind the ordinance.”

Unlike the previous article, this one has happy quotes from camera opponents, though I’m sure they’re somewhat less happy now that it’s been delayed for a week. I strongly suspect the Mayor, who said she thinks ATS is trying to draw things out till the end of the contract, just wants to get this resolved. There’s still the matter of how much the city would owe ATS, and I daresay some people’s resolve might quiver a bit if the price is $10 million or more. We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.

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10 Comments

  1. I am hoping this was just to make a run at ATS to go in strong before their negotiation meeting this weekend. If I understand correctly there is still an action item for Friday to repeal the existing ordinance that authorizes the cameras. My concern is another week without a vote is another week for Andy Taylor to try to pull another rabbit out of his … err, hat.

  2. Honestly, everytime I think I have heard it all from ATS they come out and surprise me. Chron.com is reporting that the figure ATS wants from Houston includes “reimbursement for the money the company spent trying to keep Proposition 3 off the ballot and then campaigning against it.”

    WHAT? ATS wants Houston to pay for their fake front group, TV ads and Andy Taylor’s legal bill for trying to suppress an election? I gotta say, Charles Territo has got some brass ones.

    He is also firing back at Parker’s statements.

    “The mayor’s manufactured outrage toward ATS is not only disingenuous, but it’s also disappointing,” ATS spokesman Charles Territo said. “At the same time she was issuing that statement, we were already working with her legal department on arranging settlement discussions for this weekend.”

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7701754.html

    Meanwhile ATS got rejected by another judge in washington state where they are fighting to keep another petition off the ballot. Not only did the judge say the petition should move forward he hit ATS up with a $10,000 fine for initiating a SLAPP suit.
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/08/17/2145414/judge-rejects-effort-to-stop-bellingham.html

  3. Paul Kubosh says:

    You are right. I am a little more happy. I am very frustrated at the City’s embracement of the big damage claim. Never has the City put out what they thought the amount would be. I hired David Furlow with Thompson and Knight in the intervention and I promise you this their is no way A.T.S. is entitled to that much money. There are so many issues involved it would be very hard for A.T.S. to get a large amount of money. If they would stop opposing our intervention we could get in and help. Furlow has a lot more qualifed to handle this case. He would be a nice addition to the team at my expense.

    Also a new twist…Mike Sullivan’s amendment will put the city in violation of the judges day after thanksgiving t.r.o.

    On November 26th, 2010 the day after Thanksgiving Judge Lynn N. Hughes entered an order that said:

    “The cameras will not be removed during the pendency of the litigation”

    Today August 17th, 2011 Council Member Sulivan proposed an amendment to the Resolution to ban the red Light cameras that said:

    a. All devices, equipment, cameras, software, and related apparatus known as “red light cameras” shall be removed immediately from all city rights of ways, traffic signals, posts, and polse and/or other public locations.

    Council Member Sullivan’s amendment to the Resolution to Ban Red Light Cameras and to the ordiance to Repeal the Red Light Camera ordinance will put the Resolution and ordinance in direct conflict with the Judges Order. This amendment will put the City in a position that will force the Federal Judge to enjoin the City from going forward on their resolution and/or ordinance.

    Why would he a camera opponent amend the resolution in such a way as to violate Hughes order. When it gets amended it will immedately put the City in violation of the Judges Order. Heck even I would grant the T.R.O. on that one. I just don’t get it?

    I am looking forward to this being over. Maybe when it is you blog about Charter Amendments you would like to see. Maybe we could change the power structure of the City. 🙂

  4. Paul Kubosh says:

    One last thing. Who is the mediator?

  5. that would be interesting to know, maybe Hughes appointed one? Maybe ATS has one on staff since they have to go to one so often?

  6. […] Red Light Camera Vote Red Lighted Yet another reason to go to the total-roundabout system… The vote on policing runners-of-red-lights gets pushed back another week. Vendors be vending… and also, apparently, contract breachin’. Stay tuned.. Visit OffTheCuff for more on this story. […]

  7. JJ says:

    I suggest thnking about a charter amendment to change to a weak mayor format. All other big Texas cities have weak mayors with a city manager.

  8. Ron in Houston says:

    ATS has shown themselves to be nothing more than corrupt bastards. The city should be self-flagellating for ever getting into bed with them.

  9. Memorial Momma says:

    You know we the taxpayers are going to get stuck with the bill on this one. Lawyers and all.

  10. unfortunately, the history of our nation is littered with examples of the taxpayers having to foot the bill for mistakes their elected officials have made.