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Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 5:04 p.m.

Monroe's continued turmoil over traffic cameras

There's more to be said about Tuesday night's long discussion at Monroe City Council regarding the use of traffic-enforcement cameras.

(For background, read my story that ran today. Reminder: You can read Monroe's contract here.)

Here are some nuggets from my notebook that didn't make the deadline story.

Before the discussion, initiative backer Ty Balascio addressed the council. In a five-minute speech that included references to the Boston Massacre, 9/11 and his kids' soccer games, he asked for an apology from the city for not accepting Monroe Initiative No. 1 as legally sound. He asked them to point out their legal authority. He then said their silence was deafening. He also had said he was disappointed in each and every one of them.

The mayor then presented the council members with two draft resolutions. You can read them to your right.

The first covers the continued use of cameras in the city; the second covers the possible addition of new cameras under the current contract. The two may be combined down the road.

The city is trying to act reasonably and protect its people, Mayor Robert Zimmerman said.

Councilman Tony Balk urged the council to act sooner rather than later. People are worried about not being able to appeal tickets to a police officer, he said.

The city also is working on a fact sheet about the cameras to release soon, Zimmerman said. It has to go through the proper rings of approval first.

A November ballot would let people know that the city is listening, Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback said. She floated the idea of an advisory ballot on the cameras every November until the contract is up.

Councilman John Stima said he was worried that people didn't have enough information about the cameras. He said the city needed to work harder to keep people in the loop.

There also was some argument about how best to get voter input on new cameras in the future. The council didn't agree whether they should just put additional cameras to an advisory vote, put out an advisory vote asking people if they want an advisory vote, or promise to get an advisory vote in a resolution. Yes, you read that right -- a vote asking people if they want a vote. It's a bit of a political-process tongue-twister.

There also was some confusion over a fourth planned location for cameras. The intersection of U.S. 2 and Chain Lake Road already was approved for cameras, but installation is pending a construction project. Some council members were unaware of the fourth location and wondered how parking another camera somewhere in town could affect their decisions. They all seemed to agree that they needed to spend some time reading the contract more closely. They repeatedly turned to Police Chief Tim Quenzer for guidance on the camera program and how it works in the city.

Resident thorn-in-Monroe's-side-slash-initiative-activist Tim Eyman wasn't at the meeting but he was disappointed with what happened, he said Wednesday afternoon.

His comments to the Herald for Wednesday's story were optimistic. He assumed the city would be putting Monroe Initiative No 1. to an advisory vote in the November ballot, he said. He thinks he spoke too soon. He thinks the new direction is burning Monroe voters.

He is concerned that the city's new efforts to garner voter input are disingenuous and a distraction from their legal obligations for the initiative process. He is hoping the city will make a clean A-or-B decision on the initiative.That would mean enacting the initiative or putting it on the ballot for voters to decide.

The city also has been talking about taking the initiative in front of a judge, a move that would require bringing a lawsuit. Some at the city told us Wednesday they are continuing down that path, even while the council is talking about advisory votes.

The city council is expected to vote on their draft resolutions next week, but that could change. We will continue to report on this story.

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