Tag Archives: Chicago red light cameras
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.
That’s the main message for motorists to remember during National Stop on Red Week which kicks off Sunday, August 3rd and runs through Saturday, August 9th.
The annual event spends the first week in August every year reminding drivers of the importance of stopping at traffic lights when the light is red and the dangers in ignoring red lights.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over 8.700 people were killed in the last decade in intersection-related accidents and according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) red light running is one of the leading causes of urban crashes.
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.”
A city official and Redflex Traffic Systems employees met for beers and to rig the bid so the company could win Chicago’s red light camera contrct back in 2003 according to a former company employee who testified in front of a federal grand jury this past Wednesday.
The Chicago Tribune reports the former Redflex emplyee re-told the same story to a grand jury he told to the newspaper earlier this year, about how former Deputy Commissioner John Bills met with company officials at the Signature Room in the John Hancock Building the night before the bid presentation.
Bills allegedly coached the Redflex team on what to say and behave in order to secure a contract that ultimately paid the company over $120 million over 11 years. The city issued over $500 million in red light camera fines over the same time period.
In a statement released late Friday afternoon, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office said a Chicago Tribune story about unknown spikes in tickets at RLC intersection prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, the Chicago Department of Transportation and a group of city council members to request the OIG to step in to review the system.
“In the wake of recent media reports, the public’s questions regarding the Red-Light Camera program are understandable,” noted Ferguson. “A multi-pronged approach is clearly needed to restore public confidence in this enforcement program.”
That’s what the Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras and Cook County Campaign for Liberty are doing in announcing four weeks of back-to-back protests and events to promote their anti-traffic camera message.
“A total of four consecutive Saturday events are planned as we continue to bring our message to “Ban the cams” to the people of Chicago!,” said Scott Davis, the head of Cook County Campaign for Liberty in a statement via e-mail.
The group has been holding demonstrations every two weeks over the spring and summer at red light camera and speed camera locations across the city.
But on the heels of an investigative report by the Chicago Tribune, which pointed out troubling technical glitches with Chicago’s red light camera program and a breathtaking lack of program oversight by the city, the group wants to surf the waves of intense anti-camera sentiment that has resulted.
With all the recent hub bub surrounding problems with the city’s red light camera system, the Parking Ticket Geek gets a chance to weigh in on Outside the Loop Radio this morning.
The Geek joins OTL ringmaster Mike Stephen at 10 AM on WLUW 88.7 FM to break down the whole situation.
Tune in or stream it right here.
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.