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Friday, September 29, 2023

Staff Editorial

Red-light cameras deserve to be on ballot

As if there weren’t already enough reasons for students to cast their ballots in the upcoming election, red-light camera foes now have the chance to vote against them, and supporters have a chance to defend the cameras.

In a city council session on Tuesday, Mayor Annise Parker urged council members to allow the charter amendment proposal on the ballot, even though Parker herself supports the cameras.

“It is your (the city council’s) absolute sworn duty to place this on the ballot,” said Parker. And although she maintains that the red-light cameras are beneficial to the city, she’s aware that a vast majority of Houstonians do not concur — and have a right to voice their dissent. Parker practices what she preaches; in 2001, she voted in favor of a charter amendment proposal that excluded same-sex partners from the benefits of married couples, an amendment that was approved by voters, even though it wasn’t in her or her partner’s best interest.

And on Tuesday, she urged council members to do the same. But not everyone agreed.

“Items like this don’t belong in the city charter,” said Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck, the only member to vote against ordering the charter amendment election. “Otherwise, we would be like California, [and] anything we vote on at this table could be overturned by petition.”

Clutterbuck challenged the legality of the proposal, saying that it broke the rule in the city charter that to overturn city ordinances through referendum, the referendum must be concluded with 30 days of the law taking effect.

But this is a law, not an iPod warranty.

So which will it be, Houston? A lot of the money collected goes to trauma hospitals — $13 million of the $44 million gathered since the cameras went online in 2006 — but how many of us don’t come to complete stops before turning right at a red light? These days, that would probably be a lot of us, and the opposition consists largely of these individuals.

So in November, don’t just cast a ballot for governor; cast your ballot with a well-informed opinion on all the issues — this one included.

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