Tag Archives: Chicago red light cameras
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.
The former head of US operations for Redflex Traffic Systems is expected to plead guilty to federal bribery charges. During a status hearing Monday in the Chicago, Illinois federal courthouse, lawyers for Karen Finley told US District Judge Virginia M. Kendall that their client intended to change her previously entered “not guilty” plea at a hearing scheduled for August 11 at 9:45am.
Last August, federal prosecutors charged Finley with nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of federal program bribery, and one count of conspiracy in connection with attempts to influence Chicago officials to expand the highly lucrative red light camera contract with the Australian firm. If Finley was offered a plea bargain similar to the one that bribery bag-man Martin O’Malley accepted in December, she will concede to a single count of bribery to avoid a trial.
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.
On Tuesday, city lawmakers pushed ahead alleged “reforms” to the city’s red light camera program during a meeting of the City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.
These reforms include giving the public input on the location of new red light cameras, more flexible payment plans for scofflaws, the installation of pedestrian count down timers at RLC intersections currently without the devices and an academic review of the city’s red light camera program according to DNA Info.
These changes to the system were originally proposed by Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th), and head of the Transportation Committee, Tom Tunney (44th) and Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) several months ago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel jumped on the reform bandwagon after being forced into a runoff election by a then surging Jesus “Chuy” Garcia who made his opposition to the red light cameras part of his campaign.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s motorcade was caught running a red light by a city red light camera–again.
This time around it’s two separate incidents both with pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists in view of the camera according to ABC 7′s Ben Bradley. In one case, the SUV in question drives down a street the wrong way after running the red.
This is the fourth report by ABC 7 since last May when Bradley first broke the story.
Spring weather will bring the crew from the Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras out this weekend for their first protest of 2015.
The group will meet and protest at the intersection of 55th & Western Saturday morning at 11 AM.
This particular location has both red light camera enforcement and speed camera enforcement at nearby Gage Park.
City officials said Tuesday that they are taking steps to collect the $1.5 billion in unpaid tickets and fines owed the city, but said the vast majority of debt was on the books long before the mayor took office in 2011.
The Expired Meter and DNAinfo Chicago reported earlier Tuesday that Chicago is owed $1.5 billion for unpaid parking, red-light and speed-camera tickets — a potential cash cow for the city.
“Nearly 70 percent of the debt cited in this story was generated before Mayor Emanuel took office, and in fact, it is debt that stretches back a quarter of a century to before the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance, said in an email sent late Tuesday morning. “Many of those who owe money from two decades ago are deceased, have moved, or are otherwise unreachable.”
The Expired Meter & DNA Info reported that the vast majority of the debt, $1.3 billion, is for parking tickets, while red-light camera tickets represent $205 million and speed cameras account for $27 million in outstanding fines, fees and penalties owed to the city.
The debt is far higher than that owed to other major cities like New York or Los Angeles.
A trio of motorists filed another lawsuit challenging the legality of Chicago’s red light and speed camera programs and are seeking class action status, according to the Sun-Times.
This lawsuit takes the unique approach of claiming the City of Chicago is not following the law when it comes to the noticing aspect of the program.
The first problem, the lawsuit states, is that the make (the name of the car manufacturer) is being listed at OTHR on all speed camera violations that have been mailed to lead footed drivers. However, the municipal code explicitly requires a specific make must be listed in order for the violation to be considered proper.
A group of aldermen is hoping to force a vote at Wednesday’s City Council meeting on an ordinance that would spell the end of both red-light and speed cameras by 2018.
The ordinance, introduced by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) in early October, has been languishing in the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Public Way since then.
But now, Sawyer and a handful of aldermen plan on using a parliamentary maneuver to bring it to the floor of the Council for debate and vote on Wednesday.
“We were hoping we would go through the committee process,” said Brian Sleet, Sawyer’s chief of staff. “While were talking about these other ideas for reforming the cameras, we should discuss a realistic way to address these policies. We want to discuss it and see where our colleagues stand.”
Sleet said Sawyer’s plan is a responsible way to rid the city of the unpopular automated traffic cameras by giving the city time to find alternative streams of revenue to replace the tens of millions of dollars in fines generated every year and allow vendor contracts to expire as scheduled. The aim is to end both the red-light and speed camera programs by 2018.
Speed data used in selecting city speed camera locations seem to show Chicago’s traffic signals have yellow light times that are too short according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune acquired studies conducted with radar guns to survey the speed of vehicles at 168 locations around the city. The data showed that in the vast majority of locations drivers were travelling an average of 5 mph over the posted 30 mph limit.
The newspaper took this data to traffic safety engineers and experts and asked them, based on this data, are Chicago’s 3 second yellow light times set too short?
According to the people the Trib spoke too the answer is an overwhelming–YES.