Red Light Camera Opponents ‘Roadtrip’ To Springfield For Hearings Tuesday
Influence Of Lobbyists A Concern To Some
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval set the hearings last Wednesday.
Now some Chicago area drivers are planning a road trip to our state’s capital to have their say on this contentious issue.
Scott Tucker, a local anti-red light camera activist and GOP nominee for state representative in the 11th district, is the primary organizer of the convoy and has set up a Facebook event page to promote the event.
“The red light camera lobbyists are paid to be there because it’s their place of business,” said Tucker. “But ordinary citizens have to take a day off work to be there.”
“I think it will be a big turnout,” said state Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington), who is the primary sponsor of SB 2466, a bill to ban all RLCs in Illinois. “I’m excited a lot of people are coming to speak out.”
According to Duffy, several experts on the subject are scheduled to testify. This includes Brian Costin of the Illinois Policy Institute who, through the Schaumburg Freedom Coalition helped shut down red light cameras in that suburb. Also, civil engineer Matthew Gauntt, who consulted IDOT on the red light camera issue back in 2005 and recommended against the technology, will be on hand to weigh in on the issue.
Duffy explains that he will present all the anti-red light camera speakers and Sen. John Millner (R-Bloomingdale) will introduce the supporters of RLC enforcement.
According to Duffy, this list will include representatives of the red light camera companies.
Ever since SB 2466 and four other less extreme bills began bouncing around the state capital, lobbying on behalf of red light camera companies seems to have increased dramatically.
“Since we proposed the bill, they’ve (red light camera companies) have been pumping in the money to make their case,” explained Duffy.
In fact, RedSpeed Illinois, which has many suburban municipalities as clients, had two registered lobbyists in 2007, bumped up that number to four registered lobbyists working on their behalf by the end of 2009. Redflex, which has the exclusive account for Chicago’s red light camera system, increased their registered lobbyists from one in 2008 to three by the end of 2009.
But Sen. Duffy seems more fearful of Chicago’s ability to pull strings on bills restricting red light cameras. Chicago, who’s red light camera program generated nearly $59 million in revenue in 2009 from red light cameras, has a lot to lose if red light cameras get banned or restricted in some way.
“I think the City of Chicago is the biggest influence (on this issue),” says Duffy. “Chicago doesn’t want to budge on anything.”
Despite this powerful and well funded opposition to his bill, Duffy remains upbeat.
“I feel good about our chances,” says Duffy. “I don’t see how some bill in some form or another will get out. ”
Another road tripper, Matt Harrington, former Democratic party operative and now running for Illinois state representative in the 11th district, doesn’t share Sen. Duffy’s optimism on red light legislation.
“Less than 20%,” says Harrington about the chances of SB 2466 getting to the floor of the Senate, at least in it’s purest form. “There needs to be a march on Springfield–that’s what it needs to take.”
In the meantime, Tucker, Harrington and others are working to convince as many people as possible to travel to Springfield to testify and putting the finishing touches on organizing the convoy to Springfield.
“The only thing that speaks louder than lobbyist dollars are people who make the trip on Tuesday,” explained Tucker.
The road trip will depart from Lakeshore Drive and 31st street at noon, after a short press conference at 11:30.
The Chicago contingent will meet up with other drivers outside of Channahon around 1 PM, at the carpool lot at exit 248 off I-55 South. The car caravan will depart Channahon at 2 PM, after another short press conference for area media.
The anti-red light camera convoy hopes to be down in Springfield by late afternoon and at the capital for testimony at 6 PM.
Sub-committee hearings on red light cameras will take place Tuesday, March 2nd at approximately 6:01 (after the Transportation Committee meeting finishes) in room 400 of the State Capital Building.
For more information on the red light camera road trip, check out their Facebook event site.