Davenport votes down revised traffic camera ordinance
8:15 AM

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- The Davenport City Council has voted against a proposal to tweak the city's traffic camera ordinance that a judge says violates state law.

The city's legal counsel, hoping to keep the camera system operational, drafted a revised ordinance after the ruling was issued earlier this month. The City Council decided Wednesday night to keep its original ordinance and hope the Iowa Supreme Court overturns the district judge's decision.

Meanwhile, the city is storing the citations it generates from its traffic cameras and will only send out those tickets if the Supreme Court rules in its favor.

"I support the camera program and I think the (police) chief has shown results," said Alderman Ian Frink. "But I personally think we should go into a holding pattern until we hear the Supreme Court ruling."

District Court Judge Gary McKenrick ruled Jan. 2 that the city's camera ordinance conflicts with the state motor vehicle code in several ways, including its fine structure and the fact that the violations are not reported to the state.

Mary Thee, Davenport's corporate counsel, has said city officials are preparing to appeal the judge's decision to the Iowa Supreme Court in hopes of avoiding the repayment of more than $1 million collected from the cameras since 2004.

Davenport's camera system -- which includes eight speed cameras and five red light cameras -- has issued 16,878 citations since its inception.

The city had planned to use almost $500,000 of the revenue to pay for a new police officer post, create a juvenile crime unit and increase neighborhood enforcement. Those plans may be delayed until the appeals process is complete.

Alderman Shawn Hamerlinck, who has been steadfast in his opposition to camera enforcement, said the council made the right decision by voting against the revised ordinance.

"There's a plethora of ideas and debate on whether these are for revenue or safety," he said. "Rather than approve an ordinance change that opens us to more potential litigation and jumping to turn the cameras back on, I think we need to hold off and wait for a ruling."

Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

AP-CS-01-25-07 0103EST