Category Archives: Red Light Cameras
On Saturday August 22nd, the group plans a demonstration at the intersection of 87th & Lafayette from 11 AM to 2 PM.
“This intersection was mentioned in several media reports this week as one of the top revenue generating cameras in the City of Chicago pulling in $5.8 million in infractions since May 2011,” states the group’s press release. “Red Light Cameras were also in the news this week as embattled RedFlex CEO Karen Finley changed her plea to guilty in the $2 million dollar bribery scheme she allegedly engineered with a Chicago transportation official.”
It was truth and consequences for Karen Finley on Thursday when the ex-Redflex CEO pleaded guilty in federal court to her role in a bribery scheme to secure, and grow Chicago’s red light camera program according to the Sun-Times.
In admitting her guilt, she faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Finley will be sentenced in February
Finley helped devise a scheme whe.re she funneled cash and gifts to a high-level Department of Transportation manager via a friend of the city employee.
Over a period of years, federal authorities allege Martin O’Malley passed on hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to CDOT manager John Bills. In return, Bills was able to rig the bid for red light cameras to Redflex and help grow the program into the nation’s largest and most lucrative and generate millions of dollars for the red light camera company.
Chicago is dependent on the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue generated through the controversial and disliked red light camera program according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The newspaper reports the nation’s largest red light camera program generated $285 million in ticket revenue since Mayor Rahm Emanuel first took office in 2011. And with Chicago’s ongoing financial crisis, the city simply just can’t afford to drop such a lucrative program–despite the corruption, lack of evidence of safety benefits, and the controversial shortened yellow lights.
Red light cameras are not about revenue. They’re about safety.
So why is the tiny village of Lakemoor generating about one third of it’s municipal income from a single red light camera at the intersection of Route 12 and Route 120? And why are crashes actually increasing?
Lakemoor is counting on $1.8 million in red light camera fines to keep the budget of the tiny town of 6000 balanced according to the Daily Herald. In fact Lakemoor’s red light camera program is the most lucrative in the suburbs according to the newspaper.
Yet despite the immense number of tickets being issued, shockingly, crashes and injuries at that intersection are up says IDOT and the Daily Herald.
The lawsuit, Kata v. City of Chicago, was filed in 2012, but Thursday’s hearing addressed the city’s motion to have the case dismissed.
But after 2 1/2 hours of sparring between attorneys for the city and those that brought the suit, Judge Rita M. Novak sided with the plaintiffs on several points but continued the city’s motion until Oct. 6 to hear arguments on several other issues.
“We feel good, we feel optimistic,” Patrick Keating, one of the lead attorneys for those seeking to get rid of the cameras, said outside the courtroom. “I think the court gave very careful consideration of the arguments. We’re pleased the case continues and look forward to discussing the merits of the other issues.”
Chicago’s red-light camera program, which began in 2003, is the nation’s largest with 302 cameras at 147 intersections. It has generated over $500 million in revenue for the city — money opponents believe should be refunded to the drivers who paid the fines.
Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras will be taking their anti-camera message downtown Thursday morning, July 30th, with a protest planned for Daley Plaza at 10 AM.
The group chose this site and date, because of a court hearing regarding a class action lawsuit filed against Chicago’s red light camera program is scheduled for 10:30 Thursday morning at Daley Center, in Cook County Circuit Court.
The case, Kata et. al v. City of Chicago, asserts the city’s red light program, begun in 2003 was never legally authorized under state law for many reasons. This includes the fact that the state had no laws on the books allowing this type of enforcement, and when the Illinois General Assembly did change the vehicle code in 2006 to allow red light camera enforcement, the city never revised its municipal code to readopt the new law.
The lawsuit also contends the state law is unconstitutional because it allows red light camera enforcement in just a handful of counties in and around Chicago and St. Louis–and not the entire state.
The trial of the former managing deputy commissioner of the transportation department in Chicago, Illinois, will stay in the Windy City. Judge Virginia M. Kendall on Friday issued a ten-page order rejecting an attempt to move the trial of John Bills to Nevada on the grounds that Chicagoans are so blinded by their hatred of red light cameras that they would take their frustration out on him.
“John Bills cannot receive a fair trial in this town,” his attorney, Nishay K. Sawan had argued in January. “He is accused of being a central player in a transaction that helped bring about one of the most unpopular regulatory programs in the city of Chicago’s history — the red light cameras.”
Sawan noted that the Chicago Tribune has been “relentless and fierce” in its coverage of the bribery story since 2012, making it difficult to find a juror who has not formed an opinion about the world’s most lucrative red light camera program.
“As the city, Cook County, and many other municipalities in the Northern District of Illinois have been subject to this unending press, and as these localities make extensive use of these unpopular cameras, a jury is unlikely to be able to check its bias at the door and dispassionately decide solely on the basis of the evidence before it whether or not Mr. Bills is guilty,” Sawan wrote. “They are likely to express their dissatisfaction with the camera system by voting to convict the man who, as the government will argue, bears a great responsibility for the presence of those cameras in the city of Chicago.”
Judge Kendall did not buy the argument that twelve impartial individuals could not be found in a judicial district with eight million residents.
Good new and bad news.
First, the good news.
Ald. Willie Cochrane has seemingly convinced City Hall to install more digital speed indicator signs near speed camera locations around the city according to columnist Mark Konkol at DNA Info.
It seems Cochrane has been frustrated by the trio of speed cam violations he’s been issued near the University of Chicago and wants more warning for drivers. The digital signs give drivers real time feedback on the speed their traveling near speed cameras. While there have been a handful of these signs posted at a smattering of sites around the city, Konkol reports another 50 are going up. Cochrane’s hope is the speed data will slow drivers down enough to avoid a ticket.
When Allen Skillicorn was elected as a village trustee in suburban East Dundee, he won running on a platform to rid of that town’s red light camera program.
This week he unveiled a video and a website that he hopes will help him put a stake in the heart of East Dundee’s red light cameras.
State politicians in Florida have passed laws mandating longer yellow light times at red light camera intersections over the past few years.
Recent data from some Florida RLC intersections are showing tremendous decreases in red light violations after yellow light times have been lengthened according to The Newspaper.