Monthly Archives: July 2014
Ald. Scott Waguespack is not screwing around this time–he wants formal hearings on the city’s red light cameras.
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Waguespack filed a resolution with 19 c0-sponsors demanding hearings on Chicago’s beleaguered red light camera program.
“The resolution simply says you got to have a hearing on this,” explained Waguespack.
Hearings would be held in the Committee on Transportation and the Public Way.
Waguespack and a handful of other alderman asked for hearings over a year ago after a Chicago Tribune story revealed an alleged bribery scheme between the city’s RLC vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems and former Chicago Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner John Bills. Bills has since been federally indicted.
At the time the aldermen felt it was time to give the program a hard look–but were ignored.
“We represent the people,” said an agitated Waguespack. “They said ‘go shove it to the people of the City of Chicago. It took a federal grand jury to get things going.”
E-15 has run out of gas in Chicago–at least for now according to DNA Info.
E-15 is a motor fuel blend made up of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol. Current ethanol blended fuels can have up to 10% of this fuel produced using corn.
Some Chicago City Council members wanted to legislate city gas stations into carrying the fuel but the proposal died in the Finance Committee on Monday.
The ordinance was proposed by Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke and Ald. Anthony Beale. They brought in former U.S. General Wesley Clark and now Chairman of Growth Energy, a company which represents ethanol producers, to tout the benefits of E-15.
A city official and Redflex Traffic Systems employees met for beers and to rig the bid so the company could win Chicago’s red light camera contrct back in 2003 according to a former company employee who testified in front of a federal grand jury this past Wednesday.
The Chicago Tribune reports the former Redflex emplyee re-told the same story to a grand jury he told to the newspaper earlier this year, about how former Deputy Commissioner John Bills met with company officials at the Signature Room in the John Hancock Building the night before the bid presentation.
Bills allegedly coached the Redflex team on what to say and behave in order to secure a contract that ultimately paid the company over $120 million over 11 years. The city issued over $500 million in red light camera fines over the same time period.
Get any weird e-mails from E-ZPass lately?
In a statement released late Friday afternoon, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office said a Chicago Tribune story about unknown spikes in tickets at RLC intersection prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, the Chicago Department of Transportation and a group of city council members to request the OIG to step in to review the system.
“In the wake of recent media reports, the public’s questions regarding the Red-Light Camera program are understandable,” noted Ferguson. “A multi-pronged approach is clearly needed to restore public confidence in this enforcement program.”
A cluster of protests and events downtown late Friday afternoon and early evening will make a normally difficult rush hour even more challenging.
Starting at 4 PM, a protest against Israel protecting itself from Hamas terrorists will take place in Daley Center.
This is followed by the monthly Critical Mass ride which coincidentally begins at Daley Center at 5:30 PM. The Critical Mass route is never announced in advance, so after departing from Daley Center a few thousand bike riders could be messing or massing up traffic all over the city.
That’s what the Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras and Cook County Campaign for Liberty are doing in announcing four weeks of back-to-back protests and events to promote their anti-traffic camera message.
“A total of four consecutive Saturday events are planned as we continue to bring our message to “Ban the cams” to the people of Chicago!,” said Scott Davis, the head of Cook County Campaign for Liberty in a statement via e-mail.
The group has been holding demonstrations every two weeks over the spring and summer at red light camera and speed camera locations across the city.
But on the heels of an investigative report by the Chicago Tribune, which pointed out troubling technical glitches with Chicago’s red light camera program and a breathtaking lack of program oversight by the city, the group wants to surf the waves of intense anti-camera sentiment that has resulted.
Since Sunday’s Chicago Tribune story reporting mysterious spikes in red light camera violations several years ago, there’s been pressure from aldermen and the media for a response from City Hall.
Late Wednesday, Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld responded to the controversy with testimony in front of the city council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.
“The Mayor and CDOT take very seriously the validity of and public confidence in all of our safety programs, including the red light camera program,” Scheinfeld said to begin her explanatory testimony. “Red light camera enforcement is designed to increase safety on Chicago’s streets. Cities across the country, and throughout the world, have been using such technology for many years.”
With all the recent hub bub surrounding problems with the city’s red light camera system, the Parking Ticket Geek gets a chance to weigh in on Outside the Loop Radio this morning.
The Geek joins OTL ringmaster Mike Stephen at 10 AM on WLUW 88.7 FM to break down the whole situation.
Tune in or stream it right here.
Chicago Tonight’s Carol Marin has a long and interesting discussion with Tribune reporter David Kidwell, who spearheaded a year-long investigation into the problems with the city’s red light camera program and Northwestern University professor Joseph Schofer.