Chicago Red Light Camera Vendor Faces Possible Ethics Probe
Redflex is the vendor for the city’s entire red light camera program–the largest such program in the world with 384 cameras that generates between $60-$70 million in fines from drivers entering an intersection when the light turns red.
According to a Chicago Tribune investigation, the company paid the tab for a luxury hotel two years ago for Chicago Department of Transportation managing deputy commissioner John Bills who is considered the department’s expert on the automated enforcement system.
The $910 payment was never reported to the city by Bills or Redflex.
The story says Redflex management discovered the problematic payment and immediately hired an outside law firm to investigate to see if there were any ethical violations. The firm, according to Redflex, found no improprieties, but did not report the issue to the city back in 2010. However, the firm did finally report the issue after the Trib began sniffing around a few weeks ago.
The story also points out another potential problem for the city and Redflex. It turns out the salesman who won the contract for the red light camera company and Bills were neighbors when Bills was growing up. Both parties shrug off this as coincidence as there’s a 20 year difference in age between the two men.
However, Redflex management, when made aware of this fact expressed concern that the perceived impropriety could lead the city to cancel their contract with the company, according to correspondence the Tribune dug up.
Interestingly, the salesman for Redflex who inked the Chicago deal, made over $570,000 in commissions from the contract. He was paid $1500 for every one of Chicago’s 384 red light cams.
While this ethics issue could mean the loss of the red light camera contract for Redflex, it may also make it harder, if not impossible for Redflex to win the bid for Chicago’s nascent speed camera enforcement program.
Bids for the contract, which could mean tens of millions of dollars for the winning vendor, were submitted September 9th. Redflex Traffic Systems is one of nine firms which submitted a bid.
CDOT plans to pilot test several of the vendor’s equipment before awarding the final bid. So far, CDOT has not announced which firms have been selected to participate.
Here’s the Tribune’s full story, “City red-light camera vendor under scrutiny.”