Category Archives: Red Light Cameras
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.
That’s how many tickets the Chicago Tribune spent the better part of a year analyzing while looking into Chicago’s red light camera program.
The hotly promoted story was the front page of Sunday’s newspaper and revealed problems with the nation’s largest red light camera program.
The story focuses on some odd, short term spikes in ticketing that occurred a few years ago at about a dozen intersections intersections in 2011 and 2012. Red light cameras that issued just a few tickets a day would seemingly and spontaneously erupt in ticket issuance and then after a few days or weeks, return to the normal violation volumes.
A Lincoln Park man filed a federal class action lawsuit Thursday seeking to recover the tens of millions of dollars Redflex Traffic Systems made while it was the city’s red light camera vendor from 2003 until early this year.
Matthew Falkner, who received a red light ticket for $100 in January 2013, alleges in the complaint that Redflex was only able to generate the over $100 million in revenue for the past 11 years because of an illegal bribery scheme.
In its allegations, the lawsuit lays out the story of a former employee of Redflex blowing the whistle on an improper relationship between the company and the Chicago Department of Transportation official in charge of the city’s RLC program. The complaint alleges it was the bribes given to the CDOT official which help secure the contract for Redflex.
That CDOT employee, John Bills, who has since left employment with the city, was recently indicted by the federal government for bribery in connection with Redflex. The U.S. Attorney’s office claims Bills received close to $600,000 in cash, gifts, cars, travel and a $177,000 condominium.
The class action lawsuit claims that 20-25% of each $100 fine paid for a red light camera violation went into Redflex’s pockets. Therefore, according to the court filing, due to the illegal nature of how the contract was awarded, these “ill-gotten gains” must be returned to the hundreds of thousands of drivers who paid their fines.
With city elections on the horizon for 2015, one local group is asking candidates for Chicago alderman to sign a pledge to vote for repealing the city’s red light and speed camera programs if they get elected.
Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras announced its new candidate pledge this week as part of their ongoing campaign to inform drivers about the cameras and voters about which aldermen voted for the city’s speed camera program.
“Red light cameras and speed cameras are unsafe, unfair and unconstitutional” said Mark Wallace, Director of the group. “As we continue our campaign to protest Aldermen who voted in favor of Chicago’s speed camera ordinance, we also want to recognize those elected officials who are championing our cause to ban the cams in Chicago,” said Wallace.
Having writer Jon Yates bring attention to his red light camera woes in the pages of the Chicago Tribune seems to have really helped Jamal Norwood get some justice from the city.
As you may recall, Norwood received a red light camera ticket where the video seems to show him making a complete stop before turning right on red.
But despite contesting his ticket and pointing out he indeed stopped, the Administrative Law Judge who adjudicated his ticket upheld the violation.
Manned with signs and fliers on all four corners of the intersection of Clark St. and Irving Park Rd., approximately 15 protestors opposed to red light and speed camera enforcement elicited loud and positive responses Saturday afternoon from supportive drivers.
Only one person riding a Divvy bike expressed opposition shouting at the protestors to “just obey the law.”
This was just the most recent stop on the citywide tour of a joint protests being held by Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras and Cook County Campaign for Liberty.
Cars and trucks stopped or passing through the Northside intersection near Wrigley Field honked and yelled out their support for the protestors.
That particular intersection is home to both a red light camera and a speed camera located a half block east on Irving Park.
ABC 7 was on hand in Ottawa, IL to cover the oral arguments for Keating V. Chicago in front of the Illinois Supreme Court last Wednesday.
WGN News also did a piece on the hearing but, use video of speed cameras not red light cameras in their reporting.
The day before the hearing, NBC 5 sat down with Patrick Keating, the class action lawsuit’s lead attorney, to lay out his case.
County State’s Attorney Stops East St. Louis “Speed Camera” Program
Speed camera enforcement is only legal in one city in Illinois–and that’s Chicago.
But that didn’t stop East St. Louis.
The city hired a private company to help them start issuing $240 camera tickets to drivers allegedly speeding in construction zones.
But now, after many complaints the St. Clair State’s Attorney stepped in and told the East St. Louis Police Department to discontinue the practice according to KDSK TV.
The Police Chief claims they are legal, but was forced to non-suit a bunch of these tickets recently because the State’s Attorney says these tickets are not being adjudicated by a judge but by an administrative law officer.
H/T: Stephen Donaldson
Palos Hills To Install New Red Light Camera
OTTAWA — A class-action lawsuit that aims to end the city’s red-light camera program — and possibly lead to refunds to drivers for every ticket issued since it started in 2003 — was argued before the Illinois Supreme Court Wednesday, but justices gave no indication which way they might rule.
Attorney Mike Reagan told the court that the city did not have the legal authority to start using cameras in 2003 because the Illinois General Assembly had not passed a law specifically allowing this type of traffic enforcement.
Reagan also argued that the city, by using the cameras, actually violated Illinois laws requiring uniform traffic rules statewide, which applies to such things as the color of stop signs, traffic lights and other rules of the road.
“The city lacked the power to enact this ordinance,” Reagan said. The city law “destroys uniformity and uniform enforcement of traffic laws.”
State lawmakers did not OK automated red-light cameras until 2006, but then restricted their use to just eight of 102 counties, including Cook, the collar counties and counties near St. Louis.
Keating is the lead attorney on a class action lawsuit challenging the validity of Chicago’s behemoth of a red light camera enforcement program–a case which the Illinois Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday.
The lawsuit has been working its way up the legal food chain the past few years will get its proverbial day in court at the historical Ottawa Courthouse starting at 11 AM.
Depending on how they rule, the Supreme Court could open up Chicago to the possibility of having to refund tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in red light camera fines collected over the years.
Chicago has bragging rights to having the nation’s and perhaps the world’s largest red light camera enforcement program. At its peak it had 384 cameras at 191 intersections and has generated over half a billion in revenue for the city over the past 11 years since it’s inception in 2003.
But Keating’s suit contends there are major legal flaws with Chicago’s red light camera enforcement–legal issues at odds with the Illinois constitution.