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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Harris County
Houston City Council
by Jim Guidry
Friday, August 19, 2011

Houston City Council today held a brief special meeting called by Mayor Annise Parker to repeal the city’s controversial Photographic Traffic Signal Enforcement ordinance, but the item was tagged by Sue Lovell, Ed Gonzalez and Al Hoang. It will be on the agenda again next week.
Listen:
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“We are going into mediation this weekend, correct?” Lovell asked. 

“Yes ma’am,” Parker answered.

“Which would be to try and mediate what the amount of damages may be if and when we choose to strike down this ordinance and essentially terminate our contract,” Lovell said, explaining her tag. “So there is a financial responsibility that goes along with our actions.  It’s not just simply turning off cameras.”

Council Member C. O. Bradford moved to override the tag, which failed on a vote of 8-4, with only Bradford, Michael Sullivan, Jolanda Jones and Anne Clutterbuck in favor.  Jarvis Johnson and Oliver Pennington were absent.

Parker, who had brought the item to the special meeting, said that she agreed with the tag because mediation has been scheduled for this weekend.

Sullivan was in the process of submitting a written motion to amend the ordinance to require that “all devices, equipment, cameras, software, and related apparatus known as ‘red light cameras’ shall be removed as soon as permitted by law from all city rights of ways, traffic signals, posts, and poles and/or other public locations,” when the item was tagged.  Parker ruled that the written motion was not in order and it was not considered for a vote. 

Sullivan later published a news release.  Click Here

Council Member Al Hoang issued a statement after the meeting explaining his tag.

"I support the repeal and intend to uphold the will of the voters," Hoang said. "However, today’s vote was premature and should not take place without council first knowing what the legal ramifications might be. The city and ATS are expected to meet over the weekend and begin to negotiate a possible settlement. I hope to have more information by the time we reconsider the matter on Wednesday."

During a news conference following the meeting Parker said that she had expected the tags, and explained that there will be two options for the city council to consider at next week’s meeting.  Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“One is the resolution of the contract dispute that we have been dealing with for months now and the other is whether we have an ordinance that allows these red light cameras,” she said.  “We can resolve the contract dispute without repealing the ordinance; we can repeal the ordinance without resolving the contract dispute.  The highest priority is actually to deal with the contract dispute.”




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