Houston Mayor Annise Parker made the surprise announcement at an impromptu press conference at City Hall.
“After much deliberation and consultation with the members of council, with the city attorney and the city legal department, I have decided that the city will request the ability to appeal the ruling of Judge Lynn Hughes. And while we are appealing his ruling, the red light cameras will be turned back on.”
Parker says as soon as all the cameras are checked and in proper working condition, the city will begin issuing citations to red light runners, although she would not name a date for that to begin.
“I clearly understand the will of the voters. They voted to have the cameras removed. But a federal judge has ruled that election process was invalid. And because of that, we are in a dilemma.”
That dilemma involves the contract between the city and American Traffic Solutions, the company that operates the cameras. After Judge Lynn Hughes ruled last year’s election invalid, ATS threatened to sue the city for as much as $20 million for breach of contract if the cameras are left idle.
Parker says she’s protecting the financial interests of the city while at the same time appealing the judge’s ruling.
Michael Kubosh is one of the main opponents of the red light camera program and led last year’s ballot initiative against them. He says he’ll continue to fight.
“I want to know how can she ask the citizens of the City of Houston to vote for her whenever she doesn’t respect the votes of the citizens of the City of Houston. One hundred eighty-one thousand people have spoken and there’s been an election and she needs to honor it.”
The mayor acknowledges turning the cameras back on flies in the face of the will of the people. She says the city will fight to uphold the election results.
If the city’s appeal is denied, the contract with ATS will run through 2014. At that point, Parker says she would bring the issue back up for a public vote before renewing the red light camera program.