Sent via IPhone App - please excuse any typos
For Immediate Release
St Charles County, MO, May 13, 2014 -- Tonight the St Charles County Council expanded comment time limits for a local law firm that attempted to create a historical narrative of the genesis and intent of the county charter of St Charles County.
This is very uncommon and appeared to be prompted by St Peters Mayor Len Pagano. The city used that same local law firm to to draft St. Peters' red-light camera ordinance which was found to be in conflict with state law by Judge Ted House in St Charles County Circuit Court.
No other speaker used nearly as much time as the law firm representative. Also, only a limited amount of citizens were allowed to speak due to time constraints. Many in attendance would have rather had more individual speakers rather than a 25 minute session for a law firm during the "public comments" section of the council meeting. All subsequent speakers were restricted to three minutes a piece after the special protracted time grant by the council.
Both St Peters and the law firm likely aren't pleased that St Peters' red-light camera ordinance failed under the scrutiny of the courts just a few months ago. That ruling is on appeal with the help of the same local firm. The city having relied on the failed ordinance has now began assessing points to alleged red-light violators within St Peters.
Conventional wisdom is that red-light camera vendors and cities do not want points assessed for two reasons: 1) most citizens pay closer attention to violations that can suspend their licenses based on the accumulation of points on their driving record and so there is more resistance to just "paying the fine" as a nuisance value and you can't simply give citations to the "owner" of a car for matters that involve "points" (this brings revenue down too); AND 2) once several unaware drivers DO start receiving suspension notices from the DOR that their license is going to be suspended or revoked for allegedly running red-light camera intersections in St Peters there will then be a lot if kick back from what would have otherwise been just drivers "aggravated" by a fine yet unaffected by point accumulation.
With regard to the legality of the proposed countywide charter amendment to ban red-light cameras; the St Peters City lawyer on hand would commit to no words stronger than "could violate the spirit of the charter" and at one point said that it is actually completely legal to amend the county charter (under Executive Ehlmann's questioning -- a former legislator, judge, and historian) .
Mayor Pagano compared his city to a neighborhood association and how certain communities wish to protect their local interests similar to the county's relationship with his city.
However, District 3 County Council candidate Michael E Carter in attendance found Pagano's analogy odd and said, "first of all, neighborhood associations don't invite everyone throughout the county to come visit their neighborhood like St Peters does it's mall, businesses, schools and other services; by near necessity, non-St Peters residents are constantly in St Peters and do have a say about public roads in and out of all the municipalities like St Peters. And, you bet your bottom if a neighborhood association within St. Peters' city limits decided it would ignore St. Peters' housing codes because their community wanted to do so; well, let's just say the mayor wouldn't allow it."
In the end - after quite a few legislative gymnastics - Councilman Brazil was able to get a nearly unanimous YES vote from the council (only Councilman Cronin abstained) to place the red-light camera ban amendment on the November 4, 2014 ballot for consideration of voters throughout St Charles County.
Contact. Cronin/Dixon 636-916-4040 firstname.lastname@example.org