Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
Dubuque's progress toward getting traffic enforcement cameras came to a screeching halt Monday night in a surprise move by city council.
For months now, Dubuque city officials have been researching and pushing for the installation of these cameras at Dubuque's historically most dangerous intersections.
On Monday night, city council members were supposed to hold a second reading of an ordinance that would allow the cameras, but it didn't get that far.
The surprise was palpable in the council chambers Monday evening when one member moved to table the ordinance indefinitely.
As both those in favor of and those opposed to the cameras say, this issue in Dubuque is far from over.
One hour before Monday's 6:30 p.m. council meeting, about one dozen protestors gathered outside Dubuque's Historic Federal Building, where the council meets. The signs they held were clear, including one that simply said, "Stop the Cameras."
Some protestors said they feel the camera system is just a revenue-generator for the city.
"You can always squeeze the poor guy at the bottom for a little bit more. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching," protestor Phil Wiemann said. "That's what upsets me the most, you know. I don't care whether it's a red light camera or a green light camera or some other scam."
"Let's make sure the city of Dubuque citizens really want this instead of this being just a money issue that it comes in for revenue," protestor Michael Heeren said.
Later, in the city council meeting, mayor Roy Buol addressed the crowd before picking up the topic of the automated traffic enforcement camera ordinance, which had prompted many heated comments at its first reading in mid-July.
"We have a controversial issue before us that has still not been completely vetted," Buol said. "I do think that as a city, we could do a better job at communicating about this issue to our citizens."
The ordinance, however, never got its second reading, thanks to council member Karla Braig.
"I do believe red light cameras save lives," Braig said, "but it's apparent to me that we need to do a better job at educating the citizens and working out contract language. We're nowhere near ready to make this decision. Therefore, I move that we table this motion indefinitely."
It was a surprise move for the crowd and many fellow council members, though the motion passed unanimously.
"This will not go away," Braig said after the meeting. "It doesn't mean we voted it down. It means we slowed it down."
She said she doesn't know when the topic will return to the foreground, but she and other city officials said the community needs more information before pushing forward with the issue.
Those opposed to the cameras say they'll continue pushing against the ordinance as long as it's still on the table.
The Iowa Department of Transportation released guidelines, effective as of July 1, 2012, requiring cities to file a justification report before installing red light cameras. Those guidelines also require cities with cameras to report yearly on the system's public safety effectiveness.
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