Tag Archives: red light camera tickets
Chicago is dependent on the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue generated through the controversial and disliked red light camera program according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The newspaper reports the nation’s largest red light camera program generated $285 million in ticket revenue since Mayor Rahm Emanuel first took office in 2011. And with Chicago’s ongoing financial crisis, the city simply just can’t afford to drop such a lucrative program–despite the corruption, lack of evidence of safety benefits, and the controversial shortened yellow lights.
That’s the strategy the City of Waukegan seems to be using on north suburban motorists according to the Chicago Tribune.
First the carrot.
The town is offering it’s third parking ticket amnesty since 1994 to try to get paid on about $3 million in unpaid tickets. Although the city has many tickets on their books that have increased with fines and penalties due to non-payment, Waukegan is willing to let scofflaws pay the original ticket amount plus 17%.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Committee for Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, despite many questions from city council members during special hearings on the city’s controversy generating red light cameras, aldermen never really got answers to many of their questions.
Inspector General Joseph Ferguson and Scheinfeld were invited by committee chairman Walter Burnett (27th) to testify Tuesday. Ferguson gave an oral summary of the Office of the Inspector General’s recent investigation on enforcement anomalies reported in the media. According to Ferguson, it was the first time in 25 years the Inspector General has been asked to testify at a city council committee hearing.
Scheinfeld’s opening statement was a history and defense of the city’s RLC program, as well as an answer to the findings and recommendations of the OIG.
The commissioner claimed, based on Illinois Department of Transportation crash data, crashes at red light camera intersections have decreased 43% and fatalities were down 23% between 2005 and 2012 or 225 fewer crashes per year at those intersections.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
Since Sunday’s Chicago Tribune story reporting mysterious spikes in red light camera violations several years ago, there’s been pressure from aldermen and the media for a response from City Hall.
Late Wednesday, Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld responded to the controversy with testimony in front of the city council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.
“The Mayor and CDOT take very seriously the validity of and public confidence in all of our safety programs, including the red light camera program,” Scheinfeld said to begin her explanatory testimony. “Red light camera enforcement is designed to increase safety on Chicago’s streets. Cities across the country, and throughout the world, have been using such technology for many years.”
Having writer Jon Yates bring attention to his red light camera woes in the pages of the Chicago Tribune seems to have really helped Jamal Norwood get some justice from the city.
As you may recall, Norwood received a red light camera ticket where the video seems to show him making a complete stop before turning right on red.
But despite contesting his ticket and pointing out he indeed stopped, the Administrative Law Judge who adjudicated his ticket upheld the violation.
Drivers appear to be hitting the brakes at red lights — leading to a big drop in tickets issued by red-light cameras, city officials said.
For the fifth year in a row, Chicago’s red-light camera program has seen a significant decline in the number of tickets issued.
The city’s 384 red-light cameras issued 579,460 tickets last year — 32,619 fewer than in 2012, representing a 5 percent decline, according to data obtained from the city’s Finance Department.
In fact, the data shows red-light camera tickets have been falling steadily since 2009, when 722,935 tickets were issued, a record at the time after a dramatic expansion of the program a year earlier. The 140,000-ticket drop represents a 20 percent decline since the peak five years ago.
Fewer tickets issued means a potential drop in fine revenue. At $100 a ticket, that translates to an estimated $3.2 million drop in fines issued between 2012 and 2013 and a $14.3 million drop in total fines issued since 2009.