Tag Archives: Chicago red light cameras
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.
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.”
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.
In 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.”
Just 126 of the nearly 16,000 Chicago red light camera tickets that were issued during mysterious spikes in RLC violations several years ago were found to be issued improperly according to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times.
After sifting through the data of millions of red light tickets the Chicago Tribune broke a story about unexplained spikes in violations which would start and then abruptly stop. The Chicago Department of Transportation had no idea of the existence of these tremendous explosions in ticketing until the newspaper brought it to their attention and no explanations for why they happened.
After the story exploded in the media Mayor Rahm Emanuel instructed the Department of Finance to send letters to the thousands of drivers ticketed during these flurries of violations, to allow them to request for a review of the video ticket.
According to the Associated Press, each count carries up to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Finley is the third of three charged by federal authorities in connection with an alleged bribery scheme . Allegedly Redflex funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars via a middle man to the person who oversaw Chicago’s red light camera program in return for securing and maintaining the city RLC contract.
Former Chicago Department of Transportation manager John Bills, who is also under indictment and pleaded not guilty the week before, allegedly was given cash, gifts, tickets to sporting events, a car, computers and even a condo in Arizona (the home state for Redflex’s U.S. division) for greasing the skids for the red light camera company.
That’s the plea former city manager John Bills and his long time friend, Martin O’Malley gave in U.S. Federal Court on Tuesday according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bills, the long time Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner who oversaw the city’s red light camera program, is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help Redflex Traffic Systems win and keep the lucrative city contract.
O’Malley is alleged to have been the conduit who funneled most of the $2 million paid to him from Redflex to Bills.
Martin O’Malley was recently indicted for his involvement in the Redflex Traffic Systems bribery scandal in Chicago.
But he’s already cooperating with federal authorities, according to the Chicago Tribune.
O’Malley allegedly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Redflex to John Bills, the former Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner who oversaw the city’s red light camera program.
Bills allegedly worked to insure Redflex won the city’s RLC contract in 2003 but then sought quid pro quo. Federal prosecutors say O’Malley was the conduit between Redflex and Bills–a friend of O’Malley’s.
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.