Northside Republican Demands Halt To Chicago’s Speed Cameras

A sign warns drivers of red light camera enforcement at Foster & Broadway

In light of a growing scandal involving the vendor for Chicago’s red light camera program, Northside Republican Committeeman Scott Davis wants to put the brakes on the city’s new speed camera program.

A report by the Chicago Tribune last week revealed more allegations of misconduct by Redflex Traffic Systems employees, where the former Deputy Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation overseeing the RLC program was provided free trips and hotel accommodations to the Superbowl and other sporting events.

After the most recent revelations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel barred the firm from bidding on the new red light camera contract coming up for bid–a contract the Redflex has held since the program’s inception in 2003.

However, the decision to award the contract for the city’s newest expansion of automated traffic enforcement, speed cameras, is imminent. And while Redflex was also barred from bidding on the speed camera contract, Davis feels the recent scandal surrounding red light cameras demonstrates the city has no business expanding this type of enforcement and wants the Mayor and City Council to stop it from moving forward.

“I’m just calling on the Mayor and the City Council to repeal a speed camera ordinance that it unwanted by the citizens of Chicago,” says Davis, Republican Committeeman for the 44th Ward. “There is still time for the City Council and the Mayor to do the right thing. The story last week shows this type of (automated camera) enforcement is about contracts, clout and corruption. It’s the typical Chicago machine story we see over and over. It should be a big warning not to move forward with the speed camera program.”

The ordinance allowing speed camera enforcement passed last April 33-14, despite heavy public opposition and is expected to generate between $20-$30 million in revenue for the city in 2013.

It’s this multi-million dollar revenue estimate and the over $330 million generated by the city’s RLC program that makes Davis believe the speed camera program is primarily about money, not safety.

“There’s no way to prove it’s (speed cameras) about safety,” said Davis. “It’s impossible to measure the success of a program like this–it’s just about money. More and more people are seeing it for what is is–a scam.”

The city recently ended a month long test of the speed camera technology of two finalists for the contract on January 4th and is in the process of determining which company’s system would work best.

But, according to Richard Diamond, publisher The Newspaper.com, a national news website covering the politics of driving issues, Redflex along with Affilated Computer Services (recently acquired by Xerox) and American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the two companies vying for the city’s speed camera contract, all have a history of ethically challenged behavior.

“Redflex has done this before–we reported about how Redflex put up a Tennessee police chief at the Ritz-Carlton in return for his favorable testimony in court,” said Diamond. “ATS routinely hosts and entertains local officials from around the country at “training” sessions in Phoenix. Two cops in Canada were put on trial after ACS (now Xerox) gave them hockey tickets and trips in return for their favorable recommendation on the contract. One of the officers even had an affair with an ACS employee.”

Charges against the two Edmonton, Canada policemen were ultimately dismissed.

There’s also been questions surrounding the reliability of ACS/Xerox’s technology.

Currently, state officials in Maryland are investigating troubling issues with the speed camera program operated by ACS/Xerox according to Diamond’s website. An audit of the program showed 56% of the photographs supplied by the company as evidence were unreadable. The company also admitted this past December that 5.6% of the speed camera violations it issued to drivers in Baltimore, MD were erroneous.

American Traffic Solutions has been facing its own challenges of late. ATS and Redflex, along with 18 New Jersey municipalities are defendants in a class action lawsuit claiming over $10.2 million in illegal citations were issued. ATS recently agreed to partially refund the traffic camera fines of New Jersey drivers to the tune of $4.2 million, in a suit that claims the municipalities failed to file legally required traffic studies and have a state required six month equipment inspection. ATS denied any wrongdoing but entered into the agreement in a seemingly strategic move to limit their liability in this particular lawsuit.

Chicago’s Childrens’ Safety Zone ordinance states when a camera becomes operational drivers will receive a warning for their first offense, but subsequent violations will cost drivers exceeding the speed limit between 6-10 mph $35 or $100 for motorists exceeding the speed limit by over 11 mph. The cameras will operate within 1/8 of a mile of a school or park. Mayor Emanuel has contended from the idea’s inception the program was aimed at saving the lives and reducing serious injuries of children due to crashes.

“The victims we’re trying to protect are the children,” said Emanuel at a press conference unveiling the speed camera concept just over a year ago.

“How is taking money from working families helping children?” said Davis about these fines and scoffing at the Mayor contention speed cameras will save the lives of children. “You’re taking food off the tables of poor and working class people. Plus you’re hurting local business by taking money–millions of dollars–out of the economy. Small business will be hurt by this tax. It’s just legal plunder.”

20 Responses to Northside Republican Demands Halt To Chicago’s Speed Cameras

  1. [...] North Side Republican Wants to Put the Breaks on Speed Camera Program (Expired Meter) [...]

  2. Jeff says:

    Let’s hope our new US attorney takes a hard look at the speed camera cash-grab scam, and issues indictments at the earliest opportunity. And a hat tip to the GOP commissioner for taking a stand.

  3. DoR Employee says:

    Screw them on the Northside.

    They already act like traffic and parking rules/laws don’t apply to them.

    43rd and 44th and 32nd and 46th Wards are the worst in the City once you go north of North Ave.

    I can drive down Clark street in 43 and 44 any given morning before 9am and I will see cars in bus stops or tow zones or on hydrants while the yuppie asshol3s get their 6 dollar Latte or Dry Cleaning…or Drop their genetic spawn off to school.

    People wonder why we seek out employees like Capt M Plate and Drew and The Ticketmaster.

    It’s because they don’t care who you are or who you are related to or who you know. They enforce Impartially and also will not take crap from you if you cop an attitude.

    Out Department is moving more from the ‘City that Cares about how we treat you” to the “City that doesn’t care why you parked stupid, now keep your mouth shut and contest the ticket if you’re not happy.”

  4. Jeff says:

    DoR Employee:

    I don’t think any ward in the city has a monopoly on a-hole drivers. You can find illegal parkers in Englewood or Edgewater, Lawndale or Lincoln Park, Streeterville or South Shore.

    Moreover, I don’t think its always the motorist who disrespects the parking officer. It has been know to occur the other way around. Read the previous stories on this website about parking enforcers who issue tickets while you are walking to the meter box. In short, the lack of civility is a two way street.

    Jeff

  5. Chicago needs to dump the speed camera proposal entirely and never install any of these proposed new speed cameras.
    THEN Chicago needs to vote to NOT renew the red light camera cash register contract when it ends this summer.
    Chicago residents need to contact their Aldermen and the Mayor to demand an end to ALL ticket camera programs in Chicago. Let the elected officials know this issue WILL affect your future votes and that you intend to support ONLY officials dedicated to ending all ticket programs in Chicago.
    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

  6. B says:

    The city of chicago and the state never saw a scam they didn’t like, and that’s all this is, D vs. R on the spoils.

    Red-flex is out because their activities became public. That’s all. It’s a dirty business all the way around.

    Once the speed cameras go in, I’ll just have to drive 15mph everywhere in the city just to be safe. Maybe we should all do that until the speed cameras are removed. That should annoy enough people to do it.

  7. Pete says:

    Out Department is moving more from the ‘City that Cares about how we treat you” to the “City that doesn’t care why you parked stupid, now keep your mouth shut and contest the ticket if you’re not happy.”

    When did Chicago ever care about how they treated people? Unless they were politically connected, that is.

  8. nonya says:

    Sorry, I just have to laugh. How many votes does it take to be the Republican committeeman for the 44th ward? 10? 20?

  9. Jeff says:

    Nonya:

    Lifelong Democrat here. But even Democratic cities can swing Republican if the citizens get fed up with corruption, incompetence, and financial mismanagement of Democratic mayors.

    Republican Rudy Giuliani became NYC mayor in 1993, after 28 years of Democrats in office, largely because of the perception that then Mayor David Dinkins had no answers for New York’s out of control crime problem.

    The same fate may await Rahm Emanuel if a similarly popular/ charismatic/socially moderate GOP contender can be found (paging Judy Barr Topinka).

    Jeff

  10. Toad says:

    If you don’t speed, there is nothing to worry about.

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Toad,

    So tell me what happens in this scenario.

    Driver is going the speed limit of 30 mph in a school zone.

    All of a sudden, a kid comes into view of the speed camera. BOOM! The speed limit immediately drops to 20 mph.

    The driver, (who is driving safely and checking his mirrors routinely, scanning left, right, etc.,) notices the kid who’s just walked into view, but he or she can’t brake fast enough to drop their speed to 20 mph.

    Now they’re facing a ticket for $35 to $100 for not noticing the kid who triggered the drop in the speed limit?

    If a cop was there, an actual human being, the ticket would not be issued because a cop would have had the judgment to understand the circumstances.

    Don’t believe me? Read the speed camera law.

    So please, it’s more complex than “If you don’t speed, there is nothing to worry about.”

    I am betting that this particular scenario I’ve outlined above will be the crux of the problems with our system.

  12. Portage Pat says:

    A republican committeeman! In this city this guy can’t even get your garbage picked up.

  13. Jeff says:

    Geek:

    You have hit the nail on the head. The speed camera law is essentially asking motorists to defy the laws of physics in order to comply with this ordinance. Perhaps that unreasonableness could be one of the bases for a court challlenge.

    Jeff

  14. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    One can only hope Jeff!

  15. Pete says:

    Unfortunately it does not matter what Chicago’s only Republican alderman thinks. Rahm is going to get his cameras and nothing will get in the way. This much has been proven already.

  16. Portage Pat says:

    Amazing how many people her just don’t get it. This guy has a powerless position he’s a ward committee man! He’s not the alderman!

  17. Pete says:

    Any way you slice it, this guy has no power and Rahm’s getting his speed cameras come hell or high water. The only hope for swift removal of the cameras would be Rahm’s swift removal from office in the next election, but that would require Chicago voters to suddenly gain some intelligence which has been in really short supply lately.

  18. Portage Pat says:

    Look let’s get real for a moment. The camera’s are a source of revenue. They are no going away. Once upon a time you could get almost any ticket thrown out just by showing up at court. Then they realized it could be a source of revenue and that all changed. City needs money to run and they will take it out of us regardless who is on the 5th floor.

  19. DoR Employee says:

    My only major issue at this point is…

    The Equipment is installed….

    Do everything in house and only pay for a repair contract.

    Department of Finance has plenty of people that can do what the RedFlex Contractors are doing.

  20. Dumb f-ck says:

    This is a true crime shouldn’t go unpunished… the strong pray on the weak, and the rich pray on the poor to become richer!

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