Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
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Brooksville files petition to prevent red-light ballot initiative


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BROOKSVILLE — The city of Brooksville on Wednesday filed a petition in circuit court that seeks to prevent an initiative regarding red-light cameras from being placed on November ballots.

On June 2, the county Supervisor of Elections Office certified 536 signatures on petitions that Pat and Shirley Miketinac, and others, submitted in an effort to let voters decide whether the city should have red-light cameras.

The Miketinacs want the red-light cameras banned. If voters chose to ban the cameras in November, it would alter Brooksville’s city charter.

“There are a number of grounds on why (the petition) is deficient,” City Attorney Cliff Taylor said. “It would violate the city charter, state statutes and the state Constitution.”

The proposed charter amendment would make red-light cameras unlawful in Brooksville, but municipal charters “can not make unlawful that which the Legislature has made lawful,” Taylor argued in his petition to the court.

“A municipal charter is designed to set out the structure of its government, not to place a prohibition against the passage of certain types of ordinances and restrict future councils from considering lawful programs,” Taylor wrote.

It may be a week or more before he learns how a circuit court judge will rule, Taylor said.

Brooksville Mayor Kevin Hohn, who favors the cameras, said there are other issues with the anti-camera crowd’s petition, mostly that its language is too vague. The city held a special meeting on the issue Tuesday night.

“I have no problems with putting this to a referendum and making it and up-or-down (yes-or-no) vote on whether or not we should have red-light cameras,” Hohn said. “But this over-reaching charter amendment is way out of line.

“If it’s voted down by the (circuit) court, council can come up with our own referendum. An up-or-down would be the fairest thing to do.”

Shirley Miketinac defended the red-light petition recently certified by the Elections office. She said county Commissioner Jim Adkins, who also opposes the cameras, had several attorneys review the petitions before they were submitted to the Elections office.

“This wasn’t something we pulled out of a hat, but we knew it would be challenged,” Miketinac said. “If we put in less verbiage, they would’ve challenged that also.”

During Tuesday’s special meeting, meant to discuss specifics of the Miketinacs’ petition and how the city might respond, several people spoke against the cameras.

The Miketinacs and other anti-camera crusaders have argued that the devices are a money-maker for the city in the form of costly tickets issued to working men and women.

The city collected $487,330 in red-light camera revenue during the first quarter of the fiscal year, which made up about 21 percent of that quarter’s budget.

While money from the tickets does go toward road improvements and other projects, Hohn said that the main reason for the cameras is safety.

“I’m well-educated and make decisions in the best interests of the city,” Hohn said. “They are a good safety feature to have. It reduces accidents and puts the thought in somebody’s head that maybe I should stop at this red light, or before I make this right turn.

“It changes driving behaviors.”

gfox@tampatrib.com

(352) 544-5283

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