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

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 More »

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 More »

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 More »

 

Bag Man In Redflex Bribery Scandal Will Plead Guilty

Redflex logoAccording to court filings, Martin O’Malley was the man in the middle of the Redflex Traffic Systems bribery scandal.

Allegedly, Redflex funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts to former city manager John Bills–the man who oversaw the city’s red light camera program–with O’Malley as the conduit.

While O’Malley originally made a plea of not guilty when he was indicted earlier in the year in federal court.

However, according to the Sun-Times court documents indicate O’Malley has been cooperating with the feds and is planning to change his plea to guilty in December.

O’Malley’s cooperation probably puts additional pressure on Bills and former Redflex CEO Karen Finlay who both entered pleas of not guilty to their indictment.

Here’s the full story, “Key player in red light camera scandal plans to plead guilty.”

City Clerk Announces New Push To Nab City Sticker Scofflaws

Roscoe Village resident Chris Courtney puts his new 2015 city sticker on his windshield in the parking lot of a currency exchange after midnight Wednesday morning.

A driver  puts his new 2015 city sticker on his windshield in the parking lot of a currency exchange earlier this year.

City sticker scofflaws beware…Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza is coming after you.

Tuesday, Mendoza outlined many new ideas for the City Council during annual budget hearings at City Hall–including one to find and fine Chicago drivers who don’t buy their city stickers.

During her remarks Mendoza contended the transition to year round city sticker sales went relatively smoothly and will end up increasing revenues by $10 million by the end of 2014.

However, now that the transition to year round sales is complete the clerk’s database is being updated every month by the Illinois Secretary of State’s vehicle registration database. According to Mendoza this gives the Clerk’s office the ability to track down those vehicle owners who refuse to cough up the annual wheel tax–an estimated $5 million in revenue.

Mayor Looks To Squeeze Motorists More In 2015 Budget

Self Park signWith 2015 budget hearings getting underway, early indications seem that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is looking to squeeze more money out of motorists.

Emanuel’s proposed budget is looking to raise parking garage taxes by 2% next year from 20 to 22% during the week and from18 to 20% on weekends according to the Sun-Times.

The mayor hopes to raise an additional $10 million by the tax bump and then use the proceeds to hire 80 new employees to make up 18 crews to fill potholes on Chicago’s streets. This past winter was the worse on record with an expected million plus potholes being filled by the end of the year and a record breaking number of pothole related vehicle damage claims filed as well.

South Side Speed Camera Protest Set For Saturday

Red light  camera protest signIt’s supposed to be rainy Saturday.

But a little rain won’t be enough to deter the Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras from protesting Saturday afternoon on the city’s South Side.

The group, which has held quite a number of protests against both red light and speed cameras at locations across the city the past year and a half.

Saturday they’ll be holding signs and handing out fliers at the intersection of 63rd and Martin Luther King Drive from 11 AM until 2 PM.

The group wants area drivers to know Willie Cochran, the alderman for the 20th ward where the cameras are located. As a member of the Chicago City Council, Cochran voted for the speed cameras two years ago.

Their hope is they can convince the alderman to sign their pledge to repeal the city’s lucrative red light and speed camera programs.

WBEZ Finds Chicago’s Yellow Lights Not Engineered Properly

In a devastating report on how the timing of yellow lights are set at Chicago’s traffic signals, WBEZ reporter Odette Yousef finds the city has not been following tried and true traffic engineering standards.

While none of what Yousef finds is news to well informed Chicago drivers, her research does a great job of explaining the issue.

In Yousef’s researh, she found that virtually no government entities set the yellow light times at virtually all traffic signals the same length–three seconds.

A recent poll says just 6% of 200 responding transportation agencies set amber times using this one size fits all approach.

Lower Than Expected Speed Camera Tickets Hurting City Budget

The good news is: Wary Chicago drivers are slowing down near speed cameras.

The bad news is: the lower than expected fines from speed cameras is hurting Mayor Emanuel’s ability to balance the budget according to CBS 2 News.

Mayoral Candidate Calls For Moratorium On Red Light Cameras

Mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti. (Photo credit: DNA Info).

Mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti. (Photo credit: DNA Info).

Mayoral candidate Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd), in light of the just released Inspector General report, is calling for a moratorium on all new red light camera installations.

The Office of the Inspector General released a report Friday highly critical of how the city has managed Chicago’s red light camera program.

“The lack of oversight from the administration is appalling, and hopefully
this IG report will point CDOT in the right direction,” said Fioretti in a statement. “We know from experience that privatization does not always mean that companies will do right by Chicagoans, and the administration failed us yet again in their obligation. I am calling for an immediate moratorium on any new red light cameras.”

IG Report Slams Red Light Camera Program For Poor Management

A sign on Irving Park Road warns drivers of the red light camera at at Kedzie.

A sign on Irving Park Road warns drivers of the red light camera at at Kedzie.

A newly released report from Chicago’s Inspector General’s Office slams the city’s management of its red light camera program and its oversight of the program’s former vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems.

The report, released Friday morning, is the result of an OIG investigation into a series of mysterious spikes in red light camera tickets at a handful of intersections uncovered by the Chicago Tribune this past summer. The story spotlighted 12 intersections where ticketing would jump dramatically for a short period of time, then subside just as suddenly, resulting in nearly 16,000 questionable violations.

After the Tribune story broke, members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus wrote a letter to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson asking him to investigate these issues.

What the OIG investigation revealed was the Chicago Department of Transportation poorly managed the city’s red light camera program while Redflex was the vendor, allowing Redflex to avoid its contractual duties to report enforcement anomalies over the 11 years the company held the contract.

Redflex was banned from bidding on the new contract when an alleged bribery scandal came to light which implicated company management and a former CDOT manager who oversaw the program.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Tribune Spotlights Short Yellow Issue With Red Light Tickets

red_light_cameraIn a recent report, the Chicago Tribune digs deeper into revelations many Chicago red light camera tickets have been issued despite being a tenth of a second under the three second federal standard.

The Tribune story expands upon the issue originally reported at the Expired Meter, when anti-camera activist Barnet Fagel was fighting a handful of RLC tickets and the Administrative Law Judge hearing the case dismissed two tickets based on short yellow light times.

The ALJ stated on the record that he was dismissing many tickets because of the sub-3 second yellow times.

“We’re having a big problem with these yellow lights,” Sussman said during the hearing in July. “Sixty to 70 percent are coming up under three seconds.”

CBS 2 Catches Valet Parking Cars In Handicapped Spots

You know you’re in trouble when you see CBS 2′s Pam Zekman is walking your way with a microphone in hand and a camera in tow.

Zekman recently exposed a valet parking company called Pinnacle, parking the cars of patrons of Cantina Laredo, a Mexican restaurant in the River North area.

The valet attendants, for whatever reason, were parking vehicles in their care in handicapped designated spots in the North Bridge Interpark garage.

Now the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is getting involved and promises an enforcement crackdown.

GEEK TIP: Never, I repeat NEVER park in a parking spot designated for handicapped drivers–unless you have the proper disabled placard or license plate.

Here’s CBS 2′s full report, “2 Investigators: Valet Parking Attendants Using Handicapped Parking Spaces.”