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Judge Rules Against Murrieta Red-Light Camera Ballot Initiative

Friday's ruling by Judge Daniel Ottolia sides with the argument brought forth that traffic regulation is a matter of statewide concern.

A Riverside judge on Friday ruled in favor brought against the legality of a Murrieta voter initiative seeking to ban red-light cameras from the city.

"It removes it from the ballot subject to any other action," said Charles H. Bell of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, the firm representing Murrieta resident Steve Flynn in the suit.

by Judge Daniel Ottolia sides with the argument brought forth that traffic regulation is a matter of statewide concern. It also states the initiative is flawed as written because it does not call for the adoption of an ordinance.

"Instead, it improperly directs the Murrieta City Council to adopt an ordinance banning the use of red light cameras within the City of Murrieta," Ottolia wrote in the ruling.

The measure

"The presence of an invalid measure on the ballot steals attention, time and money from valid propositions on the same ballot. It will confuse some voters and frustrate others, and an ultimate decision that the measure is invalid coming after the voters may have voted in favor of the measure tends to denigrate the legitimate use of the initiative process," Ottolia wrote.

The attorney for the Murrieta residents who gathered signatures for the initiative, Diana Serafin and Robin Nielson, told Patch he will appeal Friday's ruling.

"We are going to seek a stay so that the Registrar (of Voters) and City Clerk can proceed [with the ballot initiative]," said Peter Lepiscopo of Pacific Justice Institute. "The judge has skipped over the requirement that this challenge happen promptly. It should have happened in November 2011 when the City Council approved the initiative. Instead, they waited until the last minute. That is why we are going for the stay."

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office, which was also named in the lawsuit along with the city of Murrieta, has said it has an Aug. 15 deadline to publish the ballot.

Serafin declined to comment for this story, "under the direction of her lawyer."

Flynn, on the other hand, told Patch Friday's ruling "was a good win for the citizens of Murrieta."

Flynn was a Public Safety and Traffic commissioner for the city of Murrieta when the red-light cameras were implemented.

"These people are being selfish about these cameras," Flynn said. "There are 104,000 people who live here in Murrieta and they are one small group. If they hate these cameras and living in one of the safest cities in America, they can get out. Why can't they realize I do care about the citizens of Murrieta?"

Questions about who funded Flynn's lawsuit still remain.

"The lawyer approached me. They know my name. I was the chairman (of the commission) at the time," Flynn said.

Bell said should Lepiscopo appeal the judge's decision, "he will have an uphill battle."

"We are pleased with the judge's decision. We think it was the right decision legally," Bell said.

Jeff K August 06, 2012 at 08:11 PM
So to Roy, its OK if you have his same opinion for a James T Walker to make a comment, even though he has no connection to Murrieta telling voters not to vote for the City Council candidates of their choice, but a homeowner, should remain quiet. Your not only mentally ill Roy Holmgren, your strange. You don't think beyond your nose. LOL. I am constantly laughing at you.
Jeff K August 06, 2012 at 08:16 PM
But the people who know and respect Steve Flynn and that should be all of Murrieta for stopping this Extremist Right Wing group, the Murrieta-Temecula Republican Assembly from breaking state law and forcing a traffic law to be replaced. The judge said, no matter how many votes, you can't overturn a traffic law unless the local government finds a need to change the law. CASE CLOSED. CONSERVATIVES LOSE AGAIN!!!! Just like Prop 8, a majority cannot force a law that violates the Constitution. It doesnt matter if everyone votes for it. It is still unconstitutional.
The Gorilla August 06, 2012 at 08:17 PM
SWF022329 Felony warrant Jeff Kleiner 28521 Gladstone Court, Escondido He needs to be arrested for this old felony warrant.
The Gorilla August 06, 2012 at 08:18 PM
you are like the pot calling the keetle black. I dont care how much you laugh.
Laura September 21, 2012 at 05:59 AM
Good move, the cameras are a waste of money. According to Los Angeles City Police Commission they are costly and does not make the streets safer. ABC NEWS: " The city's Police Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday calling for an end to the traffic cameras, claiming their costly presence does not actually make streets safer. The decision still has to be approved by the City Council, but according to Councilman Dennis Zine, the move was a right one. "The program has many flaws," he told ABCNews.com. He said that Los Angeles loses about $1 million annually to keep the cameras up. Tickets which are issued cost drivers about $500, but for each ticket the city receives less than $150, he said. In addition, the program is not supported by the courts, making the possibility of getting caught less threatening to motorists, and the violations do not go on drivers' records, Zine said. "If more and more people realize there are no consequences, more and more people aren't going to pay," the councilman said, meaning the cameras will cost taxpayers even more to maintain the system."

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