Mayor and Police Chief continue to support Electronic Traffic Enforcement in Gonzales

Mayor Barney Arceneaux

Deferred but not dead, Gonzales’ mayor and police chief both expressed support for Electronic Traffic Enforcement (ETE) pursuant to an ordinance introduced during the City Council’s July 11 meeting.  According to a Baton Rouge television station whose camera showed up at City Hall on Monday:

  • The Mayor says he supports the proposal and thinks it will keep kids in school zones safe
  • Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson told WBRZ Monday that he still supports the ordinance

Mayor Barney Arceneaux’s facile argument for ETE in Schools Zones:

“There are still kids that walk, there are still kids that ride bikes, and that is the number one thing. I don’t want to hear someone getting injured or god forbid even getting killed.”

What is being done to counteract the potentially horrific outcome right now?

Gonzales Chief of Police Sherman Jackson (file photo)

To avoid such a tragedy immediate measures, like stationing officers in School Zones to ticket offending motorists, should be an ongoing effort.  Installation of ETE (a combination of Blue Line Solutions’ Automated Stationary Speed Enforcement (ASE) and Manned Photo Laser (MPL) cannot be installed until the enactment of the operative ordinance.

The party line emanating from City Hall, Arceneaux’s administration, sent an email last week including:

“(City Attorney) Matt Percy is working on some minor revisions.  We plan to reintroduce and republish.”

Mayor Arceneaux, according to WBRZ’s paraphrasing, said “the details of the ordinance should be finalized in the next two weeks.”  Which begs the obvious question; why weren’t the details finalized prior to introduction two weeks ago?

A reintroduction would push back the requisite Public Hearing and final vote by the City Council an additional two weeks.  Or the extraordinarily flawed ordinance introduced on July 11 could be placed on the city’s next regularly-scheduled Council meeting’s agenda.  The council meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month.

Electronic Traffic Enforcement ordinance pulled from Gonzales City Council agenda

Among the city’s five-member council only Tim Riley has questioned legislation, clearly a Blue Line Solutions’ boiler plate ordinance.  Riley posed a few more subsequent to Monday’s Council meeting.

“Who will decide where the Electronic Traffic Enforcement will be installed?  Will it be the Chief of Police unilaterally?  Or the City Council as the duly elected legislative body for Gonzales?”

Will the operative ordinance be amended to:

  • Define who will determine installation of ETE, when and where?  Will Chief Jackson exercise that discretion, the City Council or maybe it will be Blue Line Solutions?
  • Restrict ETE to School Zones?
  • Identify the hearing officer, as opposed to leaving it to mayoral discretion?
  • Include language ensuring due process for ticketed motorists?

“I would prefer to have an open discussion after publishing the final ordinance so that our citizens have a fair opportunity to express their views,” Councilman Riley said.  “ETE and similar measures have been done in several jurisdictions in recent years, always seeming to create problems.  If the City of Gonzales is going to do it, let’s do our best to avoid those problems.”