Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Josh Sutinen is 17. He can’t vote yet. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t having an effect on the politics of his hometown of Longview, Washington.

After his father’s second valiant if unsuccessful attempt to get into the Evergreen State’s House of Representatives, Josh became fascinated with political change. Conveniently, an issue soon darkened his town: Red light cameras.

Josh organized an initiative campaign to remove the red light cameras. Indeed, visitors to the family business, Sutinen Consulting, will sometimes find Josh manning the front desk — and then bringing another employee up from the back room (where they fix computers and do other technical things beyond my understanding) while he fields calls from major newspapers around the state, even around the country.

The campaign has been difficult; the powers that be in Longview (“The Planned City”) fought back. First they balked at giving the collected signatures to the county, to be counted. Then they even sued the petitioners — Josh Sutinen and Mike Wallin — to prevent the initiative from appearing on the ballot.

So the petitioners are fighting back. Josh is now preparing to gather signatures for an Initiative 2, which would prevent the city from suing citizens who draw up initiatives that challenge city policies.

Joining Josh is initiative guru Tim Eyman. Eyman has worked against red light cameras up north, and is enthusiastic about Longview’s second initiative as well, saying it is “exceptionally good policy and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

I’ll keep you posted.

This is CommonSense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Charlie Seng says:

    I sympathize with a citizen, whatever their age, who is trying to “fight back” against city hall. However, if I understand the purpose of red light camera’s (it would have been helpful if the column had further explained this), there is nothing illegal in a city placing camera’s at stop lights to take photos of cars which run the stop light. I don’t see that as anything subversive on the part of the city. Obviously, it is pretty small of the city to sue someone for trying to get a law changed. I’m sorry, but I see Master Sutinen as being taught to scoff at laws like this. Paul, if I am wrong here, could you please let me know? Thanks,

    Charlie Seng

  2. Drik says:

    Red light cameras increase substantialy the raw numbers of rear end collisions, as folks realize that they are not going to make the intersection and slam on their brakes at the last minute. Be nice if they actually lowered the number of intersection T-bone accidents. But they don’t.
    What they do is increase the amount of revenue(tax) that goes into city coffers. And they do that while their proponents purport that it is for the good of the community.
    Good if your not one of the folks with a whiplash injury from trying to adhere to the new forced regulations, or not one of the folks that is in the collision. good if your a bondo man and get the business.
    Why don’t they just hire a guy to hit random cars with a sledge as they go by, or if they don’t stop exactly before the white line?

  3. Paul Jacob says:

    There is no scoffing going on here by either Mr. Sutinen. Sure, it is legal for cities to put up red light cameras, the purpose of which (by various studies I’ve seen) seems all about raising money and little if any about public safety. But it is also legal for citizens to petition to vote on those city policies. What is happening in Longview is a city acting in a childish and arrogant manner against a conscientious young citizen.

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