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Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Monroe waiting for attorney’s advice before responding to ruling on traffic cameras

The city says it's waiting for more information on how to proceed following a ruling that it mishandled a traffic camera initiative.

MONROE -- City officials in Monroe have yet to decide how they'll respond to a judge's ruling that they mishandled an initiative regarding the use of traffic-enforcement cameras.
The City Council members are waiting on further direction from the city attorney, Mayor Robert Zimmerman said Tuesday. They won't get a chance to discuss the issue until next week at the earliest.
"We're still kind of sitting in limbo," he said.
The city signed a contract for traffic-enforcement cameras in 2007, but the devices didn't go live until June 2011.
Months later, Mukilteo activist Tim Eyman and the Monroe-area group Seeds of Liberty submitted an initiative calling for all the cameras to be removed until approved by voters. They also wanted ticket amounts reduced and advisory votes on cameras to be held each year as long as cameras were in Monroe.
The city challenged the initiative in court, claiming it wasn't legally sound. It ran its own measure, asking whether voters wanted the camera contract renewed in 2013.
In January, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden ruled that the city shouldn't have rejected the entire original initiative. Bowden wrote that most of the initiative was legally flawed, except for the part calling for annual advisory votes.
After the ruling, Zimmerman said the city needed to move slowly because there was potential for further expensive litigation regarding the camera contract. He said the city also had concerns of conflicts with traffic-camera rulings in other cities.
"We just have had no discussion at this point with regards to the judge's ruling," he said Tuesday.
Eyman says the city is dragging its feet. Because the judge ordered Monroe to pay Seeds of Liberty's legal expenses, an appeal or any other further action would be costly, he said.
The way Eyman interprets state law, the judge's ruling obligates the city to put at least part of the original initiative to a vote in April. The deadline to request a ballot measure in that election is looming.
"Rather than us continuing to rack up incredible legal expenses on this thing, why not just call it a day?" he said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com
Story tags » MonroeElectionsLocal electionsTraffic Safety

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