by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 12th 2011 7:01am
Back in November, we noted that residents of Houston, Texas has voted to kill the city's redlight camera program. At the time we pointed out one tiny complication: the city had a contract with the vendor that didn't run out for another four years. However, it looks like the city just decided to listen to the will of the people (contracts be damned) and turned off the cameras. The vendor, ATS, sued. Now, samkash alerts us to the news that the city has lost a court ruling and is rushing to turn the cameras back on. The whole thing sounds like a bit of a technicality, though. As far as I can tell, the judge had originally rejected the plan to turn off the cameras, saying that the referendum itself, to repeal the law authorizing the cameras, had to happen within 30 days of it being passed. It did not. Thus, the judge found the referendum invalid. That actually happened back in June. The latest is that the city asked the judge if it could appeal his ruling, and the judge said no. I don't fully understand all the details here, but the city seems to be claiming that the rejection is actually helpful to them, in that it gets them to a final decision sooner, which they can appeal. Either way, the city says that it's turning the cameras back on, not because it wants to (though, they do appear to be making money), but because it wants to minimize the liability if it's found that they have to keep the contract.
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