Category Archives: Red Light Cameras
Despite a pledge his motorcade drivers would slow down and obey the law in late spring, ABC 7 News is reporting the vehicles used to transport Mayor Rahm Emanuel have racked up another eight more red light or speed camera violations.
Four months ago ABC 7 reported the Mayor’s two vehicle motorcade had been ticketed nearly two dozen times for speed camera, red light camera and parking tickets.
At the time the Mayor said that no one was above the law and that he is instructing his drivers to slow down. But less than an hour after he uttered those words one of his vehicles was caught on camera near Douglas Park going 12 miles over the speed limit.
Here’s ABC 7′s full report, “I-Team: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s motorcade caught by city cameras – again.“
According to the Associated Press, each count carries up to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Finley is the third of three charged by federal authorities in connection with an alleged bribery scheme . Allegedly Redflex funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars via a middle man to the person who oversaw Chicago’s red light camera program in return for securing and maintaining the city RLC contract.
Former Chicago Department of Transportation manager John Bills, who is also under indictment and pleaded not guilty the week before, allegedly was given cash, gifts, tickets to sporting events, a car, computers and even a condo in Arizona (the home state for Redflex’s U.S. division) for greasing the skids for the red light camera company.
That’s the plea former city manager John Bills and his long time friend, Martin O’Malley gave in U.S. Federal Court on Tuesday according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bills, the long time Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner who oversaw the city’s red light camera program, is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help Redflex Traffic Systems win and keep the lucrative city contract.
O’Malley is alleged to have been the conduit who funneled most of the $2 million paid to him from Redflex to Bills.
Martin O’Malley was recently indicted for his involvement in the Redflex Traffic Systems bribery scandal in Chicago.
But he’s already cooperating with federal authorities, according to the Chicago Tribune.
O’Malley allegedly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Redflex to John Bills, the former Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner who oversaw the city’s red light camera program.
Bills allegedly worked to insure Redflex won the city’s RLC contract in 2003 but then sought quid pro quo. Federal prosecutors say O’Malley was the conduit between Redflex and Bills–a friend of O’Malley’s.
That’s one of the key findings of a Chicago Tribune poll which found that two out of three people or 66% of those polled think red light cameras are a bad idea and 92% believe something must be done to change or eliminate the program.
The Trib poll was conducted after the newspaper published a story that revealed several dozen RLC intersections showed mysterious and dramatic spikes in ticketing jumping from a handful of tickets a day to literally hundreds. In all cases the enforcement spikes disappeared after days or weeks just as mysteriously as they began. Perhaps the most eyebrow raising part is the Department of Transportation was not aware of the issue nor had an explanation.
While nearly everyone (92%) believes the program needs to be changed, only 45% of those polled thinks the program should be eliminated while another 47% thinks the program needs better management and oversight.
The red light camera an Belmont and Lake Shore Drive is one of the city’s highest volume RLC intersections.
A combination of poor traffic engineering, a confusing multi-street intersection and an allegedly short yellow light, the red light camera there caught over 18,000 violators in 2012 and generated more than $1.5 million in revenue.
So the members of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras thought this was a perfect place to hold a protest to bring their message of ridding the city of red light and speed cameras to motorists Saturday, August 16th.
Demonstrators will be there passing out fliers and holding up signs from 11 AM to 2 PM. Other interested motorists are invited to attend.
The 23-count indictment alleges Karen Finley provided John Bills, the retired official in charge of the city’s red light camera program, with bribes to help the company secure the city’s contract. Finley was charged with nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of federal program bribery, and one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. Finley was the company’s CEO from 2005-2011 and was Vice-President at the time the alleged bribery scheme was hatched.
Bills, who was indicted in May, is alleged to have received nearly $600,000 in cash and other gifts for his assistance. The company raked in over $124 million in revenue from their Chicago contract over the past 11 years.
Some 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.
Activists against the city’s red-light cameras are accusing the Chicago Police Department of trying to “bully” and “politically intimidate” them during a recent protest at 119th and Halsted streets.
Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras posted a video online recently which shows a police sergeant calling protesters’ signs blasting the camera program and local politicians “slanderous” and then threatening to arrest at least one demonstrator.
According to group member Scott Davis, about 25 to 30 protesters were standing on the sidewalks at the four corners of the intersection holding signs and passing out fliers opposing red-light and speed cameras last month.
One hand-lettered sign said, “Got Tickets? Blame Austin,” referring to Ald. Carrie Austin, whose 34th Ward is where the intersection is located. Other signs called out Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The group had selected the intersection because it was one of the many with cameras that showed sudden spikes in tickets that the city could not explain, according to a recent Tribune story. The city inspector general is reviewing the findings.
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.”