Tag Archives: Chicago red light cameras
But the nation’s largest red light camera program was created from a bribery scheme.
On Monday, the key figure in the bribery scandal will finally face trial in federal court according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Former Chicago Department of Transportation manager John Bills is accused of accepting over a million dollars in gifts, cars, property and cash in return for insuring Redflex Traffic Systems won and retained the contract for the city’s red light camera program.
Tens of thousands of Chicagoans came out of hiding to pay long-overdue tickets and city fines, adding $5.7 million to city coffers during the most recent amnesty program, according to the city’s Department of Finance.
Scofflaws with unpaid tickets and other debts took advantage of a six-week debt relief program, which temporarily returned all outstanding debt for tickets, business taxes and administrative fines to the original fine amount, minus late fees and collection costs. Those who took advantage during the Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 amnesty saw their debt go down by more than 50 percent in many cases.
Facing a huge budget deficit and with over $1.5 billion in uncollected parking, red light and speed camera tickets, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed the amnesty during fall budget hearings.
Of the total collected amount, $5.3 million came from motorists paying old parking and red light camera tickets from before 2012. Another $340,000 came from unpaid administrative fines and about $14,000 from overdue business taxes, according to the finance department.
“The fact that over 90,000 parking and red light tickets got paid off — that’s a success,” said Department of Finance spokesperson Molly Poppe. “We’re happy with this number.”
Though the program ran for six weeks, about half the close to $6 million was collected during the last two weeks of the amnesty, she said.
US District Judge Virginia M. Kendall said what government prosecutors wanted to hear on Tuesday. Former Chicago, Illinois Deputy Transportation Commissioner John Bills is on trial for receiving hundreds of thousands in cash and benefits from Redflex Traffic Systems in return for his help in securing the massive $100 million photo ticketing contract, and he will have a harder time defending himself.
Judge Kendall essentially granted all of the government’s motions designed to limit the scope of the trial to ensure that it does not get bogged down by discussions of irrelevant side issues, such as Redflex bribery efforts in Louisiana that have not yet resulted in any criminal charges. Representing Bills, attorney Nishay K. Sanan explained the relevance of what Redflex did in the Pelican State.
American Traffic Solutions presents a bitter tasting end to 2015 with their new video “2015′s Worst Red Light Runners,” which shows, of course, videos of some pretty horrible looking crashes caused by a driver running a red light.
While drivers should never run a red light, the implication from ATS, a major provider of automated traffic enforcement camera technology, is that red light cameras are solely about improving safety.
But if you look at the video, in every case the crash is not occurring just after the light changed to red. In all cases the red light has been on a few seconds before the red light running driver went through the light.
Were they drunk? Or on drugs? On their cell phone or sending a text message?
A class action lawsuit filed in federal court against the City of Chicago, Redflex Traffic Systems and other vendors for the city’s red light camera program was tossed out of federal court last week according to Cook County Record.
The lawsuit, filed by Matthew Falkner, claimed red light camera fines were collected improperly by the city and vendors Redflex, Xerox and IBM because the program itself was illegal.
The basis of the suit’s argument was that Redflex was accused of using bribery to win the contract to establish and run the city’s lucrative red light camera program. The lawsuit was amended to maintain that outsourcing the enforcement of traffic violations to Redflex, Xerox (the current vendor) and IBM, was at odds with the state’s constitution.
US District Judge Virginia M. Kendall on Thursday held a hearing to prepare for January’s red light camera corruption trial of John Bills. Government prosecutors took the opportunity to provide Judge Kendall with a sample of the evidence they plan to use to show a conspiracy between Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia and Bills, who used to be in charge of the Windy City’s red light camera program.
Bills stands accused of being the prime beneficiary of $2 million in Redflex bribes that were funneled through his lobbyist friend, Martin O’Malley, and Redflex Executive Vice President Aaron M. Rosenberg. Rosenberg, O’Malley and Karen Finley, the head of US operations for Redflex, have already admitted guilt.
According to the newly cited evidence, the bribes started in 2003, when Bills and Rosenberg began meeting to discuss the original Chicago camera contract. Rosenberg operated out of the Redflex office in Culver City, California, so when Bills mentioned that he was passing through Los Angeles, Rosenberg asked if there was anything he could do while he was out there. Bills said he wanted a hotel room, so Rosenberg bought him a room on the Redflex expense account. The hospitality effort paid off, as Rosenberg explained in a February 6, 2003 email to Finley.
“My contact [Bills] has already told me that he primed Mayor Daley that Redflex has the best system in the market — bar none,” Rosenberg wrote.
Turn them off and take them down.
That’s the essence of what Illinois State Representative LaShawn Ford wants to do to all red light and speed cameras operating in Illinois.
Ford recently introduced legislation in Springfield–legislation that could come up before the Illinois General Assembly as soon as next month according to NBC 5.
Qatar-based international news network Aljazeera America dove into Chicago’s scandal ridden red light camera program Tuesday evening.
Shot beautifully, Aljazeera’s cameras interview the Tribune’s David Kidwell to get most of the lowdown, as well as Barnet Fagel, the Red Light Doctor, who helps prove the city’s yellow lights are often set below federal timing standards.
Kidwell voices, what most people already know, that despite the unseemly nature of the program, the city is too far in debt to ever abandon it.
Here’s the full story, “Putting the brakes on red light cameras.”
Just a handful of Bucktown area residents dropped by Holstein Park on Wednesday night to voice their thoughts on two area red light cameras slated to be permanently decommissioned.
Two red light cameras as Ashland and Diversey and another pair at the intersection of Western, Armitage and Milwaukee have been turned off since March, after a pre-election announcement by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to turn off 50 cameras at 25 intersections across the city.
The intersections, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation, have had crashes fall below a certain metric that made in unnecessary to keep the cameras there. Crashes at Ashland and Diversey have fallen to just 1.31 crashes per million vehicles with zero right angle crashes. At Western-Armitage-Milwaukee, crashes were at 1.99 per million vehicles with zero right angle crashes.
The one hour open house had poster boards extolling the benefits of red light cameras as well as crash data at every RLC intersection in the city.
But perhaps just four or five residents showed up to check out the open house, ask questions and voice their opinion Wednesday evening. Two of the attendees were from the anti-camera group Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras.
Shares in Redflex Traffic Systems tumbled to an all-time low of 15 cents per share September 2nd, after the firm told Australian investors that it lost $38 million in the last fiscal year. The stock price rebounded mildly this week as it was trading at 22 cents a share as of September 9th.
But shareholders likely now regret rejecting as inadequate Macquarie Bank’s bid to buy out Redflex at $2.75 a share four years ago.
The takeover bid came long before the firm’s corruption surfaced. Redflex now faces the prospect of paying Chicago, Illinois up to $300 million in penalties for lying to city officials. Under the Windy City’s “false claims” ordinance, Redflex may be held liable for denying that it was engaged in bribery, when the facts now show that it was. Former Redflex executive vice president Aaron M. Rosenberg, who is cooperating with federal prosecutors, filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court as a whistleblower with direct and independent knowledge of the bribery schemes. His filing is a formality, as Chicago has already sent notice of its intent to take over the lawsuit.