//

Category Archives: featured

City Yellow Lights Too Short, Judge Says Before Tossing Red Light Tickets

PrintSome of Chicago’s yellow lights are too short, according to an administrative law judge who said he’s thrown out “60 to 70 percent” of red light camera tickets he’s come across recently because of the discrepancy.

The city uses the state and federal standard of having yellow lights display for a minimum of three seconds at intersections. But an administrative law judge, who hears appeals from motorists ticketed by red light cameras, said during a hearing this week that he has seen evidence that yellow times are slightly beneath that at some Chicago intersections with red light cameras.

The hearing at 400 W. Superior lasted three hours Monday, after the city sent three lawyers and several department supervisors to defend five tickets being challenged by Barnet Fagel, a video forensic specialist who helps drivers fight red light and speed camera tickets.

Three attorneys, a law department supervisor, a public information officer and a Chicago Department of Transportation deputy director overseeing the city’s traffic camera programs showed up to what normally would be a brief, attorney-free affair. Typically, drivers try to persuade administrative law judges that their ticket should be thrown out by presenting photos and other evidence.

But Monday, city attorneys Alexis Long and Tom Doran spent the first 30 minutes of the hearing challenging Fagel’s expertise and his ability to testify in these matters on behalf of the motorists who were ticketed.

Read more at DNA Info.

Trib Says Mayor Got $10,000 In Donations Linked To Red Light Camera Bidder

The Chicago Tribune is alleging the wives of two executives for a company vying for the city’s red light camera program donated $5000 each to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political campaign.

According to the story, the Mayor issued an executive order prohibiting city contractors, or people bidding for a city contract or their spouses, from making campaign contributions. But, if the person owns less than 7.5% of the company in question, the contribution is acceptable which seems to be the case in this situation.

Bottom line, Emanuel is not returning the $10,000.

The company, System Development Integration, doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience in red light camera enforcement, although it has millions of dollars in contracts with the city for providing computer technology for different city departments.

Here’s the Tribune’s story, “Emanuel got $10,000 in donations linked to red light camera bidder.”

Writer Predicts No Other Cities Will Ever Privatize Their Parking Meters

NBC Chicago writer Edward McClelland last week boldly predicted that due to Chicago’s horrible experience with it’s infamous and hated parking meter lease deal, no city will ever privatize their parking meters ever again.

There’s only good thing about Chicago’s parking meter deal: no other city will ever again lease its parking concession to a private company.

McClelland points to when Pittsburgh flirted with the idea before turning its back on privatizing their meters.

But humorously, just a week after his gutsy prediction, Cincinnati signed away its parking meters for 30 years and a $92 million upfront payment according to the Business Courier.

In addition, it looks like Sacramento is poised to follow the Queen City any day now.

More Warnings, Few Tickets For Bicyclists Ignoring Traffic Laws

A bike ambassador and Chicago Police officer chat with a motorist at a recent bike safety enforcement event. Photo credit DNA Info.

While the City of Chicago has seemingly stepped up its enforcement events on bike riders, as in recent past years, disproportionate numbers of warnings are being issued compared to actual traffic violations–at least according to a story at DNA Info Chicago.

This past Wednesday afternoon, Chicago police and Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Ambassadors were at Damen and Armitage trying to promote general traffic safety for bikers, pedestrians and motor vehicles.

According to the piece, while numerous legal violations by cyclists were spotted by the five policemen on duty, including riding on the sidewalk, not obeying traffic signals or riding against traffic, only 20 warnings were issued in the form of an educational flier.

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.”

Chicagoans Fight Back Against Red Light, Speed Cameras

Stephen Hinton doesn’t like Chicago’s red light cameras.

Over the years, like the hundreds of thousands of other drivers who are issued RLC tickets every year, the 49-year old Chatham resident has received his share of those $100 tickets being photographed entering an intersection when the traffic light had turned red.

But Hinton says it was the third, and most recent RLC ticket he received at 95th and Stony Island about a month ago that was at least part of the inspiration for starting an online petition to rid Chicago of the cameras.

“I see the glaring disservice the red light cameras do to the citizens of Chicago,” said Hinton when asked why he started the petition. “It’s unfairly taking advantage of the citizens of Chicago.”

Because drivers can only fight their tickets in-person Monday through Friday, Hinton says it’s difficult for the typical working Chicagoan to take time away from work to try to contest these violations. According to Hinton, the difficulty in contesting these tickets forces drivers to pay the fines before they double to $200.

The Windy City is the red light camera capital of the U.S., with 384 cameras shooting video and still photographs at 191 separate intersections around the city while generating revenues exceeding $60 million in a typical year.

“It’s a just an added tax–this is another way to generate revenue,” says Hinton. What was it? $61 million in 2010? It’ s unreal for them to present it as a safety measure and reap the benefits of that revenue.”

But Hinton is not the only one working to rid the city of automated traffic camera enforcement.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Illinois Secretary Of State White Announces Results Of Disability Parking Abuse Crackdown

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White recently announced his department’s police force issued 166 citations in its annual statewide crackdown on disability parking abuse.

Each year, beginning on Black Friday, November 23rd and running through the end of December, SOS police target shopping malls in 66 communities around the state including Chicago, Schaumburg (Woodfield Mall) Champaign, Carbondale, Fairview Heights, Marion, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield.

“I’m pleased with the results of the disability parking enforcement efforts,” said White. “As I’ve said before, our mission is not to give tickets, but to ensure the disability parking spaces are available to those who need them.”

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Chicago’s Speed Camera Test Period Ends, Waiting Begins

Without any fanfare the 30 day test period for two vendors vying for the City of Chicago’s speed camera contract, came to an end Thursday evening punctuated by a few bright flashes of light.

In the 1400 block of West Division Street, a camera armed with a bright flash unit posted outside the Near North Montessori School and across the street from Holy Trinity High School, flashed and lit up the street times multiple times just before 7 PM, when enforcement would end if a speed camera was installed permanently.

The testing was conducted at four locations throughout Chicago in an effort for the city’s Department of Procurement Services to select the best speed camera vendor.

Now, the waiting begins as the results from the testing enter an evaluation phase. The city is not ready to say when a decision on the contract will be announced, nor when cameras from the eventual contract winner will start being installed. In addition, the city will not release test data, like the number of speeding violations captured by the cameras during the month long period, until the contract is awarded.

Chicago Speed Camera Testing Begins Today

The City of Chicago’s test of speed cameras began today at four locations around the city.

The test, which begins December 3rd and runs through January 3rd, is for the two finalist automated camera enforcement companies in the city’s speed camera bid process, to show off their respective technologies over the next 30 days. All cameras during the testing phase will be taken down after the test period has finished.

The two vendors, American Traffic Solutions and Xerox owned ACS, each have cameras installed at four locations near schools or parks.

No citations for drivers exceeding the posted speed limit or traveling beyond the 20 mph school zone speed limit when children are present.

Winter Overnight Parking Ban Begins Friday Night, Saturday Morning

Poof!

On December 1st, a few hundred Chicago drivers will return to where they parked their car the night before only to find it has mysteriously disappeared.

It’s like that every December 1st, when Chicago’s infamous, annual Winter Overnight Parking Ban goes into effect. Every day between 3 AM and 7 AM until April 1st, city tow trucks will spirit away vehicles parked along 107 miles of Chicago’s main arterial streets to one of Chicago’s auto pounds.

Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesperson Anne Sheahan says her department has had boots on the ground since Monday reminding drivers of the winter ban’s imminent return by placing fliers on the windshields of cars parked along streets affected by the ban.

“Our goal is to have the season start with no tows,” says Sheahan. “No one wants to come out and find their car has been moved. We’re trying to do our best to see that people don’t get ticketed and towed.”

Getting towed in violation of the winter ban is expensive. Between the $50 ticket and the $160 in tow fees, drivers will fork over a minimum $210 at the auto pound to get their car back.

Sheahan strongly advises motorists who park along winter ban streets to think of the ban as starting Friday night, not Saturday morning.

“Remember, when you go to bed Friday or park your car Friday night, the ban will take effect overnight,” says Sheahan. “We want to stress to people the ban will be in effect at 3 AM.”

MORE…