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Federal Judge Blocks Red Light Camera Removal in Houston, Texas (voters passed referendum)
The Newspaper ^ | 11/29/2010 | no byline

Posted on 11/29/2010 12:03:55 PM PST by a fool in paradise

Federal Judge Blocks Red Light Camera Removal in Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas city attorneys attempt to preserve red light camera program by throwing lawsuit filed with vendor.

A federal judge issued an order last Friday blocking the immediate removal of red light cameras from Houston, Texas intersections. On November 2, voters adopted an amendment to the city charter making photo tickets unenforceable, against the wishes of the Houston city council and the private vendor that operates the cameras, American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Over the Thanksgiving holiday, US District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn N. Hughes worked out a deal with the city and ATS to preserve the cameras, for now.

"The city of Houston and American Traffic Solutions, Inc, will continue to collect the fines for the traffic violations that occurred through November 15, 2010," Hughes wrote in his order. "The cameras will not be removed during the pendency of the litigation."

Hughes had called a colloquy among lawyers for the city -- David Feldman and Hope Reh -- and the lawyers for ATS -- Andy Taylor and George Hittner -- on the day after Thanksgiving. Although the city technically filed suit against ATS, the city staff do not want to see the cameras removed any more than ATS does. The parties hashed out a compromise that happened to give ATS everything the firm wanted.

"ATS requests the court to preserve the status quo by enjoining the city from terminating the public safety program or otherwise implementing Proposition 3, pending an adjudication of these fundamental issues of law affecting not only these parties, but the general public at large," Taylor wrote in its brief to the court filed Wednesday.

The actions in Houston track what happened last year in the city of College Station after voters approved an anti-camera referendum. Attorneys for the city attempted to lose the lawsuit that ATS filed to overturn the result of the public vote. Ultimately, public pressure on elected officials forced the College Station cameras to come down, even though a local judge ruled against the vote. ATS is hoping it can win this time by arguing not only that voters have no right to overturn a city council decision through the charter amendment process, but that no power can take down the red light cameras.

"Both the US Constitution and the Texas Constitution prohibit legislation impairing the obligation of contracts," Taylor wrote. "The purported charter amendment cannot validly be upheld if doing so would in any way impair the city's ability to fulfill its pre-existing contractual obligations to ATS."

Those obligations are iron clad, ATS argued, thanks to the city's own actions. The firm pointed out that Houston did have a contract provision that would have allowed a "termination for convenience" without financial penalty. Just three days before this provision would have taken effect, the city signed a new agreement with no termination provision in an attempt to avoid a proposed ban on new red light camera contracts, House Bill 300, that passed in the state House but was blocked in the Senate.

"The city, fearful of HB300, did not want to be forced to terminate the agreement upon the passage of a new state law and therefore, removed the termination provisions of the agreement entirely by clearly stating in the amendment that it 'remains in effect until May 27, 2014,'" Taylor explained. "The city also removed 'unless sooner terminated under this agreement' phrase that appeared in the original agreement. Had the city intended to keep its termination options available to it, it could have easily done so."

Judge Hughes has set a Friday hearing for arguments in the case.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: abuseofpower; billwhite; cfr; conspiracy; cultureofcorruption; donutwatch; hb300; houston; judicialtyranny; lawyers; lynnnhughes; mayorparker; redlightcameras; revenuetickets
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1 posted on 11/29/2010 12:04:03 PM PST by a fool in paradise
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To: 1riot1ranger; Action-America; Aggie Mama; Alkhin; Allegra; American72; antivenom; Antoninus II; ...
Houston Culture of Corruption PING

Hughes had called a colloquy among lawyers for the city -- David Feldman and Hope Reh -- and the lawyers for ATS -- Andy Taylor and George Hittner -- on the day after Thanksgiving. Although the city technically filed suit against ATS, the city staff do not want to see the cameras removed any more than ATS does. The parties hashed out a compromise that happened to give ATS everything the firm wanted.

"ATS requests the court to preserve the status quo by enjoining the city from terminating the public safety program or otherwise implementing Proposition 3, pending an adjudication of these fundamental issues of law affecting not only these parties, but the general public at large," Taylor wrote in its brief to the court filed Wednesday.

The actions in Houston track what happened last year in the city of College Station after voters approved an anti-camera referendum. Attorneys for the city attempted to lose the lawsuit that ATS filed to overturn the result of the public vote.


2 posted on 11/29/2010 12:05:55 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

Men in Black. Subverting the will of The People. This has got to stop.


3 posted on 11/29/2010 12:07:06 PM PST by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: a fool in paradise

ABC channel 13 glosses over the detail that the City of Houston is NOT acting on behalf of the public in a manner to see the revenue stream dry up.

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7813385


4 posted on 11/29/2010 12:07:30 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: Windflier

Unseat the corrupt government through elections and recalls.

Damn democrat dictatorship around here.

Mayor Bill White did the same thing repeatedly.


5 posted on 11/29/2010 12:08:42 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

Once again, the elected government has become the enemy of the citizenry. Somehow, we keep doing this over and over.


6 posted on 11/29/2010 12:08:46 PM PST by Truth29
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To: a fool in paradise
"Although the city technically filed suit against ATS, the city staff do not want to see the cameras removed..."

Meanwhile, the desires of the city citizenry can simply be dismissed.

7 posted on 11/29/2010 12:08:56 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: a fool in paradise

These local tyrants (and globalists-central planners and elitists) are somtimes worse than our Federal officials, IMO, I have seen it before..


8 posted on 11/29/2010 12:09:39 PM PST by JSDude1
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To: a fool in paradise

Judge Hughes is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a one-world government promoting organization.

I wonder why he blocked the measure.

Another NWO jackass.


9 posted on 11/29/2010 12:10:11 PM PST by wac3rd (Somewhere in Hell, Ted Kennedy snickers....)
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To: a fool in paradise

The Oligarchy..protecting one another....


10 posted on 11/29/2010 12:11:58 PM PST by mo
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To: Truth29

California voted against Gay Marriage 2x and against public money used for illegal aliens called Prop. 187 and judges (many ACLU types) overrule the People.

I think the judges need to be frogmarched to prison, not given raises.


11 posted on 11/29/2010 12:12:11 PM PST by wac3rd (Somewhere in Hell, Ted Kennedy snickers....)
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To: mo
It's my belief that corrupt RINO Chuck Rosenthal helped throw the state's defense of the Texas sodomy law in the Lawrence v. Texas case. He said that he didn't really believe in such legislation but that he had to uphold the law and couldn't choose which laws to prosecute.

Except he betrayed that stance when he declared that he would continue to prosecute citizens carrying firearms in their cars as felons even though the state legislature permitted it because he said that the state supremes could determine what the law actually permitted or did not permit.

Certainly the homosexual stance from day 1 of the Lawrence case was “we will overturn this law in the courts”. Not overturn the charges. Overturn the law.

Glad to see Chuck gone. Too bad it was over a scandal and not just his own scandalous performance.

12 posted on 11/29/2010 12:17:13 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

These red light cameras are not about safety. It’s all about generating revenue.

The will of the people be damned.

They could have kept the clause in the contract that would have given them an out, but they purposely took it out to prevent them from being legislated out of existence.

Slimy ba$t@rd$.


13 posted on 11/29/2010 12:20:54 PM PST by smokingfrog ( ><{{{{{{(0>)
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To: smokingfrog

There are plenty of examples as well of some agency in the government using taxpayer funds to combat the taxpayers who are fighting an uphill battle to end some government power grab or edict.


14 posted on 11/29/2010 12:22:26 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: Windflier
....but that no power can take down the red light cameras.

Aw hell. A couple of 5.56mm rounds will take them down easy.

15 posted on 11/29/2010 12:26:10 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts (NASA? Muslims? Muslims will want to go to the moon only when Israel sets up shop there.)
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To: a fool in paradise
You thought we had self government? Ha!
16 posted on 11/29/2010 12:26:59 PM PST by Paine in the Neck (Napolean fries the idea powder.)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts
I'd wager that there is NOTHING in the contract that the city MUST defend the tickets in court to the best of its ability. Hell, the Bill White and Annise Parker administrations clearly are not negotiating contracts in good faith on the behalf of the public nor adequately defending the city in frivolous lawsuits.

The city ads on behalf of KEEPING the red light cameras denounced some "shady" monied interest that would profit from the removal of these cameras.

Seems those who made revenue from the cameras and the lawyers who would offer to clear this from your record stood to make more money.

17 posted on 11/29/2010 12:32:03 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

The judge had no choice in this. The politicians that acted unilaterally against the public will to thwart upcoming legislation should be tarred and feathered and sent out on a rail. The towns people need to march on city hall and take out the trash.


18 posted on 11/29/2010 12:36:30 PM PST by Dogbert41
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To: a fool in paradise

Our communists judge and his counter parts in action. We the people are just slaves to our masters.


19 posted on 11/29/2010 12:39:14 PM PST by Logical me
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Everyone on this forum is going to blow hot air about these things, but no one is going to do anything.


20 posted on 11/29/2010 12:40:59 PM PST by AlmaKing
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To: a fool in paradise
Okay, the ballot box has failed. Will Houstonians do less than the British?


21 posted on 11/29/2010 12:41:01 PM PST by Charles Martel ("Oh, Bother", said Pooh... as he chambered another round.)
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To: Dogbert41

Won’t happen. Most of the local media (one daily newspaper, one 24-7 news station, and 3 alphabet networks) side with the downtown business establishment democrats.

The city has conspired against the citizenry.

I still want to know all family ties between the lobbyists, politicians, and corporations involved. There was a multistate lobbying corruption case that went all the way to Mayor Lee P. Brown’s personal aide.

Follow the money. It’s clear there has been conspiracy to keep the cameras up, it’s unclear whether it is criminal.


22 posted on 11/29/2010 12:41:29 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: AlmaKing

This is not just about cameras. This is about Houston city government that spends more energy and finance on doing whatever the hell they WANT to do rather than what the voters demand they do or prohibit them from doing.


23 posted on 11/29/2010 12:42:50 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

The only way to turn back the tide of tyranny in this country is, unfortunately, a revolution.

Think of the movie Swordfish at the local level, all the way to the global level. It will have to be an underground operation supported by ordinary people. Flame away.


24 posted on 11/29/2010 12:43:22 PM PST by subterfuge (BUILD MORE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS NOW!!!)
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To: a fool in paradise

Told you.


25 posted on 11/29/2010 12:43:31 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: Charles Martel

I’ve been thinking that perhaps that is the next step.


26 posted on 11/29/2010 12:47:10 PM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Dogbert41
The judge had no choice in this.

Seriously? Suppose he refused? What then? Are they going to impeach him? How do they enforce his "choice"?

27 posted on 11/29/2010 12:47:46 PM PST by subterfuge (BUILD MORE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS NOW!!!)
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To: AlmaKing

Just get 250 yds away and put a .233 through the box.


28 posted on 11/29/2010 12:48:01 PM PST by eyedigress ((Old storm chaser from the west)?)
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To: Dogbert41

How do they enforce his “Choice” if it goes against them is what I meant.


29 posted on 11/29/2010 12:49:53 PM PST by subterfuge (BUILD MORE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS NOW!!!)
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To: eyedigress

223 oops


30 posted on 11/29/2010 12:50:32 PM PST by eyedigress ((Old storm chaser from the west)?)
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To: Charles Martel

Yup - a used tire and 1/2 gallon of gasoline will fix just about anything!...red


31 posted on 11/29/2010 12:52:48 PM PST by rednek ("Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.")
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To: eyedigress

http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm


32 posted on 11/29/2010 12:53:24 PM PST by mrmeyer ("When brute force is on the march, compromise is the red carpet." Ayn Rand)
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To: wac3rd
California voted against Gay Marriage 2x and against public money used for illegal aliens called Prop. 187 and judges (many ACLU types) overrule the People.

And the sheeple just accepted it bitch for a day & moved on. I doubt that there is anything that true Americans can do to not see a total takeover by the left. Don't count out Big Ears to not win again in 2012. The PTB will set it up to split the conservative vote & w/o any fraud protection, which the worthless (R)s won't attack....well, we are screwed.

33 posted on 11/29/2010 12:54:52 PM PST by newfrpr04
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To: Joe 6-pack
I live in a NH Town, Town Meeting, and get an Article on the Ballot to abolish the police force and win. There is no provision in our Constitution for a local police force, and there is president for tossing Gov all together by disincorperating, why is this a federal issue?
34 posted on 11/29/2010 12:55:30 PM PST by Little Bill (Harry Browne is a Poofter.)
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To: a fool in paradise

More evidence of the infantile attitude of the public: they want to be able to do anything they want. It is the true “triumph of the will”: the ego-first attitude of modern Americans. This is not the genuine spirit of Liberty.

So I run a red light? I wanted to, and no one should tell me I can’t, or even watch what I am doing. Too bad if I should hit anyone, because my will comes first.

I should also be able to marry anyone I wish, even perhaps an animal; and take marijuana or anything else, and go anywhere I want; steal confidential information including government secrets; never be thoroughly checked at an airport; and never have anyone else criticize me (lest I be “offended”). All my “rights” should be absolute, and my responsibilities removed or forgotten.

This would add up to an ideal paradise for immature-minded marshmellows in a world with no threats, and all desires provided by endless debt.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of hungry beasts, where regimes made for coddling infants will get devoured alive.


35 posted on 11/29/2010 12:55:54 PM PST by docbnj
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To: rednek

See my post 32. Great minds and all that...


36 posted on 11/29/2010 12:56:08 PM PST by mrmeyer ("When brute force is on the march, compromise is the red carpet." Ayn Rand)
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To: mrmeyer

That’s great. Shave the heads of 1000 matches and let her rip.


37 posted on 11/29/2010 12:57:38 PM PST by eyedigress ((Old storm chaser from the west)?)
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To: a fool in paradise

Kickback’s anyone ?


38 posted on 11/29/2010 12:57:44 PM PST by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet)
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To: a fool in paradise

Yeah, peons, ya think ya vote counts in referendums like this.

It don’t.

Just because voters pass a ballot measure doesn’t mean that it should be implemented.


39 posted on 11/29/2010 12:58:16 PM PST by swarthyguy (KIDS! Deficit, Debt,Taxes! Pfft Lookit the bright side of our legacy -America is almost SmokFrei!)
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To: a fool in paradise

Geez, it’s bad enough at the federal and state level, but in city government it’s almost impossible to tell who’s wearing the black hats and who’s wearing the white hats. Nevertheless, if CHANGE is going to come to America it has to start at the grass roots, with the cities and counties.


40 posted on 11/29/2010 1:02:44 PM PST by ichabod1 (Hail Mary Full of Grace, The Lord Is With Thee...)
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To: a fool in paradise

A federal judge issued this order? If the local cops aren’t supposed to enforce federal law toward illegal immigrants, let it be known that they will not be enforcing laws regarding property damage to these cameras. At the very least, treat it as a civil issue, not criminal.


41 posted on 11/29/2010 1:06:57 PM PST by mikey_hates_everything
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To: Charles Martel

A “Cool Hand Luke” solution. Rip them out.


42 posted on 11/29/2010 1:11:25 PM PST by Joe Bfstplk
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To: Little Bill
why is this a federal issue?

Lawsuit between the Arizona firm that expects to be getting red light camera money and a city in Texas.

43 posted on 11/29/2010 1:14:17 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: AlmaKing

>>Everyone on this forum is going to blow hot air about these things, but no one is going to do anything.<<

Actually, over 400 a year are torched in the UK. In the US, most of them can be crimped at the bottom with a good impact with a maul and then pulled down with a rope. I noticed that they are on hollow aluminum posts in every city I’ve been in.

Not that I’m advocating doing it, nor have I ever done it, but it could be done, if people are in need of a good local tea party.

Also, I noticed this in the article: “On November 2, voters adopted an amendment to the city charter making photo tickets unenforceable...”

And this legal excuse for keeping them in force: “Both the US Constitution and the Texas Constitution prohibit legislation impairing the obligation of contracts,” Taylor wrote. “The purported charter amendment cannot validly be upheld if doing so would in any way impair the city’s ability to fulfill its pre-existing contractual obligations to ATS.”

If I understand this correctly, it means that the will of the people can stand, but the city is now gonna have to honor its contract without funds from tickets, which are no longer enforceable.

It’s like signing a contract to hire a company to supply toll booth operators for three years on a bridge, assuming it will be paid for via tolls charged for using the bridge, and then the people pass a law prohibiting the collection of the toll. The contract will be honored and the toll booths and workers will remain until the end of the contract, but the toll booth workers will be useless and another means of financing the monthly contract payments will be necessary.

At least, that is the way I interpret it.


44 posted on 11/29/2010 1:16:15 PM PST by RobRoy (The US Today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: docbnj

The police can still enforce the law against running the red lights by writing the offender a ticket in person.

These cameras wrote a ticket against the owner of the car, did not go against the points on his license, and carried little bite when it came to actually getting the money.

There was no movement to do away with the laws against running red lights. The manner of enforcement was sketchy at best and solely rooted in raising revenue, not safety.


45 posted on 11/29/2010 1:16:38 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

I fail to see why this is in Federal court. I must be missing something.


46 posted on 11/29/2010 1:18:15 PM PST by KirbDog
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To: RobRoy

Except in this case the city WANTS to continue to collect the money and split it with the Arizona company and will do everything it can to arrive at that end even if it is unnecessary under the law.


47 posted on 11/29/2010 1:19:03 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: KirbDog

Dispute between parties in two states.

If an insurance provider or a manufacturer of a product you are suing is out of state, you head to federal court.


48 posted on 11/29/2010 1:20:22 PM PST by a fool in paradise (The establishment clause isn't just against my OWN government establishing state religion in America)
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To: a fool in paradise

>>Except in this case the city WANTS to continue to collect the money and split it with the Arizona company and will do everything it can to arrive at that end even if it is unnecessary under the law.<<

There is enough ambiguity that if I lived there I would definitely NOT pay the fine, if I got a ticket in the mail (after the date the passed referendum was to take effect).

If they tried to collect, I could make possible big money with the follow-up lawsuit.


49 posted on 11/29/2010 1:20:43 PM PST by RobRoy (The US Today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: a fool in paradise

If it is over compensation for a broken contract pay it and then fire them and then the City Council.


50 posted on 11/29/2010 1:23:16 PM PST by Little Bill (Harry Browne is a Poofter.)
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