71% of voters were ignored

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Apr 13, 2011

After voting to “table” the discussion at a previous council meeting, at the last regular council meeting, the red-light camera issue was revived and the council voted 6 to 1 to remove the language in the Mukilteo Municipal Code (MMC) that authorizes the use of the cameras in the first place.

Seventy-one percent of Mukilteo residents voted to pass a ballot measure put before them as an initiative with very specific clauses. The voters’ pamphlet opponents were Mukilteo’s mayor and two council members. The arguments on both sides were presented and Mukilteo voters were very clear about what they wanted.

That’s not what they got. As the city attorney explained at the council meeting when I asked, it’s as if we are starting from scratch.

The current council or a future council could re-enact that legislation at any time. For that matter, the current council or a future council could enact legislation incorporating the provisions of the vote (hint, hint).

There was another motion made that evening to enact into law the results of the 71-percent vote opposing red-light cameras. That failed 6 to 2. I won’t rehash the arguments, except to say most electeds seem to have a different recollection of the events that have transpired, and I don’t see much changing.

Previous opinions aside, the real reason I’ve pre-empted the topic I had planned for this month is because of two related issues, which have been an embarrassment to me as a council member, and I think something needs to be said.

Having missed the council meeting where the council voted to table the red-light camera ordinance, Mukilteo activist Tim Eyman asked to speak to the council at a work session the following week.

All the council had to do was vote to suspend its rules which would give Eyman three minutes to speak. Then the council could continue on. That’s it.

Instead, the council voted not to suspend its rules and the events that ensued were an embarrassment to the council.

Eyman spoke his peace, some of the council walked out of the room and some of us stayed. Did I mention King 5 was there recording it for the evening newscast?

Later I heard an interview on the radio with the mayor who wisely distanced himself from the council by stating the council doesn’t always do what he thinks they should do. I have to agree on this one.

However, the mayor also made a statement that I’ve heard from at least three other city officials that stated 85 percent of the people are speeding through the Olympic View school zone.

When the council originally voted to put school zone ticketing cameras at OV, it was based on data the council had not seen previously.

Even so, the results of the study do NOT show 85 percent of the people passing through the OV school zone were speeding. Instead it shows that 63 percent were speeding in the morning and that 80 percent were speeding in the afternoon.

Where the 85 percent being quoted by city officials came from is a mystery to this council member.

And to take it one step further, the speeds are broken down into 5 MPH increments so it’s not clear if someone going 21 MPH in the 20 MPH school zone is considered speeding. I suppose since there have been cases of $100+ tickets being issued in Lynnwood for a 1 MPH violation that it is.

Taking that idea one step further and including the counts shown at 25 MPH, the 63 percent and 80-percent numbers change to 45 percent and 53 percent. This data is available in the agenda of the May 17, 2010 council meeting at the city of Mukilteo Web site under the Red Light Camera agenda item, Exhibit 4 – Olympic View Middle School Speed Study (http://www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us/files/ab-2010-05-17-012d.pdf)

I’m completely supportive of safety improvements in school zones and other areas, but the school zone ticketing cameras have the biggest potential for abuse, in my opinion, and if city officials won’t present the actual facts, considering the profit potential of these cameras, I wouldn’t be surprised to see tickets issued for doing 21 MPH in a 20 MPH zone if these cameras were allowed in Mukilteo.

So, to sum things up at least from my perspective:

1) Red light/speed ticketing cameras are not currently authorized in Mukilteo.

2) The mandate of the 71-percent citizens’ vote has been ignored.

3) Even though city officials are quick to criticize residents who don’t have their facts quite right, it’s OK for city officials to lie to promote their own agenda.

If you want to discuss this or any other city related issues, join me this evening at 7 p.m. for a “Council Chat” session in the Vancouver room at the new Rosehill Community Center.  Ask me about “AI.”

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

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