Tag Archives: Chicago red light cameras
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.
With a month to go in the run off election for mayor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel scrambled Sunday to tamp down the issue of red light cameras by announcing the city has shutdown 50 cameras at 25 intersections.
DNA Info covered the press conference where Emanuel, flanked by a handful of aldermen and Chicago Department of Transportation Director Rebekah Scheinfeld, the mayor explained these 25 intersections were decommissioned due to a “significant reduction of serious crashes” based on Illinois Department of Transportation crash data. In early 2014, the city removed 34 cameras at 16 intersections using the same methodology.
“This is all about the election,” says anti-camera activist Barnet Fagel. “He’s (Emanuel) so predictable–it’s laughable. Don’t be surprised if he takes out more right before the election. If he’s really serious about safety he’d set all the intersections with the proper yellow light times.”
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel has decided to embrace a proposal to install pedestrian count down timers at all 132 red light camera intersections around the city.
While the timers are intended to let pedestrians know how much time they have before the walk light expires, many drivers also find the timers helpful in determining how much time is left before the green light ends. Because Chicago’s traffic lights have the shortest yellow light times (three seconds) allowed by federal standards, the timers assist drivers whether they need to slow down or stop or speed up in order to avoid a $100 red light camera ticket.
At a news conference surrounded by members of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras on Thursday, Garcia announced he will stop the city’s red light camera program on “Day One” in office if he’s elected mayor according to the Chicago Sun-Times
Garcia had never made the full dismantling of the nation’s largest red light camera program part of his platform before this. His position was to put the program on hold until a top to bottom review was done to see if it could or should be saved.
A report from the International Business Times has linked a former aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, when he was a member of Congress, to Xerox State and Local Solutions, Chicago’s new red light camera vendor.
IBT reports Emanuel’s top congressional aide John Borovicka joined a lobbying firm working for Xerox just days before the city awarded the contract to the copier company now dabbling in the automated traffic camera industry.
Borovicka and Emanuel have close ties according to the report. He was Emanuel’s campaign manager when he ran for congress in 2002 and then joined his staff, working for him for six years.
Coincidentally, Borovicka joined the lobbying firm just 18 days before snagged the $44 million contract to operate the nation’s largest red light camera program. City records show Borovicka met with Emanuel several times before the contract was awarded.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel “has to rethink” red light cameras to win his runoff election.
That’s one piece of advice Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White gave Emanuel via NewsRadio 780.
White co-chairs the mayor’s re-election committee and feels the controversy surrounding red light cameras is losing him votes.
The 80-year old politician has been Secretary of State since 1999, a department he helped cleanup after his predecessor George Ryan became governor, streamlining a system which oversees and manages millions of vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses every year.
The anti-red light camera train is gaining speed in Springfield.
First, Illinois State Representative David McSweeney proposed a ban on all red light cams statewide.
But more recently, Rep. La Shawn Ford who’s from Chicago, has introduced a bill which would specifically halt Chicago’s RLC system until the city submits a report to the General Assembly addressing all the issues surrounding the system including short yellows, thousands of tickets issued under questionable circumstances and a general distrust of the how tickets are adjudicated.
Ford’s bill would force Chicago to explain how they would fix these problems before allowing the city to restart its program according to the Associated Press.