Feds allege Redflex conspirator talked to Madigan and Daley

by David Kidwell | Chicago Tribune

The former city transportation manager indicted in a $2 million conspiracy to bring red light cameras to Chicago met with then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan as he championed the agenda of the company that was secretly bribing him, federal prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

It was the first time federal authorities alleged publicly that John Bills, the man at the center of the case, personally reached out to Chicago’s two most powerful politicians in his efforts to steer lucrative contracts to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc…

Chicago Tribune – Red Light Cameras Increase Accidents

by Mark Wachtler | Illinois Herald

What is more insulting? The fact that Chicago taxpayers were defrauded out of millions of dollars from a corrupt and criminal Red Light Program. The fact that the Mayor and City Hall have been lying to Chicago residents about the effectiveness of the police cameras. The fact that the company providing the cameras and City Hall were caught in a $2 million bribery crime to get the scam approved. Or the fact that Chicago’s Red Light Cameras are actually causing more accidents than they are preventing. The answer – all of the above.

In a scandalous front page report from the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday edition, the publication blew the whistle on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ‘Red Light Camera’ program. The Mayor has been pushing the costly plan since his election as a way to raise money for the city and to cut down on automobile accidents at the same time. The fact that it took a $2 million bribe to get the program approved and awarded should have been an obvious sign of bad things to come.

Red light cameras and accidents

The Tribune report pulls no punches and comes right out and portrays Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his staffers as liars at best, and criminals at the worst. The publication even lists a number of examples, and those are just from the Red Light Camera scandal. In the study of accidents at Chicago intersections with new red light cameras, the Tribune investigation found that accidents at those spots increased 5% since the automatic ticketing cameras were installed.

Camera Keeps Ticketing School Teacher’s Parked Car

by Darryl Holliday

HUMBOLDT PARK — A Chicago speed camera already cited for ticketing parked cars in 2013 has struck again, ticketing one Humboldt Park woman four times without cause.

Jennefa Krupinski has the photo proof to back up her claim: four speed camera photos issued to her since June show her car parked outside of her home in the 3100 block of West Augusta Boulevard, each triggered by a random speeding car — but each costing her $100.

“Aside from the fact that it flashes in my living room, [the speed camera] has given me tickets three times. I’m in a pickle about this,” she said Wednesday, noting that a fourth ticket issued her a warning. “It’s clear that my car is parked, but the first two tickets I got, I had to pay.”

That’s because Krupinski, an assistant teacher at Suder Montessori Magnet School, was applying for a job within Chicago Public Schools at the time and would have been ineligible for the job if any pending violations were on her record.

She paid the first two at a cost of $200, she said, but the tickets for her parked car kept coming.

Tribune Concluded Cameras Do Not Reduce Injury-Related Crashes

from Chicago Tribune

Chicago’s red light cameras fail to deliver the dramatic safety benefits long claimed by City Hall, according to a first-ever scientific study that found the nation’s largest camera program is responsible for increasing some types of injury crashes while decreasing others.

The state-of-the-art study commissioned by the Tribune concluded the cameras do not reduce injury-related crashes overall — undercutting Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s primary defense of a program beset by mismanagement, malfunction and a $2 million bribery scandal.

Emanuel has credited the cameras for a 47 percent reduction in dangerous right-angle, or “T-bone,” crashes. But the Tribune study, which accounted for declining accident rates in recent years as well as other confounding factors, found cameras reduced right-angle crashes that caused injuries by just 15 percent.

At the same time, the study calculated a corresponding 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes that caused injuries, illustrating a trade-off between the cameras’ costs and benefits.

The researchers also determined there is no safety benefit from cameras installed at intersections where there have been few crashes with injuries. Such accidents actually increased at those intersections after cameras went in, the study found, though the small number of crashes makes it difficult to determine whether the cameras were to blame.

The finding raises questions about why the city installed cameras in so many places where injury-causing crashes were rare — nearly 40 percent of the 190 intersections that had cameras through 2012, the Tribune found.

“The biggest takeaway is that overall (the program) seems to have had little effect,” said Dominique Lord, an associate professor at Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering who led the Tribune’s study.

Red Light Cameras, Corruption, and Chicago

Like I’ve said before, Red Light Surveillance Cams are unwanted, unsafe, and unconstitutional. – Allen

from Illinois Review

The Chicago Division of the U.S. Attorney’s office issued news Wednesday that a former chief executive officer of Chicago’s first red light camera vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc., and the company’s customer liaison with the city, were indicted on federal corruption charges together with a retired city official who managed the red light camera program for nearly a decade, after he alone was charged initially in May.

A federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment alleging that Redflex officials, including KAREN FINLEY, its former CEO, provided the retired city official, JOHN BILLS, with approximately $570,000 cash and other personal benefits in exchange for Bills’ providing inside information and assisting Redflex in obtaining, keeping, and expanding its Chicago contracts that grew to $124 million. Finley and other officials of Phoenix-based Redflex arranged to funnel the cash and benefits to Bills through his friend, MARTIN O’MALLEY, by hiring O’Malley as an independent contractor who passed much of his $2 million compensation on to Bills, the indictment alleges.

Red Light Cameras Don’t Apply to the Mayor

Why mayor’s motorcade gets a pass on obeying red light surveillance cameras

(CHICAGO) (WLS) — The ABC7 Eyewitness News I-Team uncovers why the mayor’s motorcade got a pass despite running red and speeding.

The number one question heard from ABC7 viewers Monday is why do the mayor and his bodyguards get a pass when hundreds of thousands of drivers don’t?

The I-Team’s search for answers uncovered a little known program that lets lots of people off the hook and, at least according to City Hall, expands the definition of who has the right to run red.

Monday night Mayor Rahm Emanuel is speaking at a gala at the Palmer House.

But he is not talking about the I-Team investigation that uncovered the mayor, who has long said the same thing about red light and speed cameras.

“This is supposed to work as a deterrent,” Emanuel said in Nov. 2011.

The mayor is driven around Chicago in a two-vehicle convoy that has repeatedly been caught running red and speeding near schools parks.

Chicago’s Speed Camera Numbers Show City Speed Limits Are Set Too Low

by James C. Walker, Executive Director of the National Motorists Association Foundation

What the recently released Chicago speed camera data definitively shows is that many of the main collector streets in Chicago are posted in violation of the proper traffic safety engineering principles–principles designed to achieve the smoothest and safest traffic flow.

Most speed zones should be posted at or within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions according to the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).

Having anything like 200,000 “speeding” events recorded in that brief period would be totally impossible with posted speed limits set to properly engineered ITE standards.

Yes, I know, Chicago can legally “hide” behind a statutory default limit of 30 mph inside the city, but that does not make the deliberate mis-engineering of the under-posted limits on the main collector streets valid from either a safety or a smooth traffic flow perspective.

I have been a frequent visitor to Chicagoland for several decades and a great many of your streets and urban freeways are posted arbitrarily low and in violation of the basic traffic safety engineering principles.

Study finds red light cameras cause accidents

by Dr. Richard Swier

Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) conducted a study on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%.

The 2008 study found:

“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.

Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”

“The rigorous studies clearly show red-light cameras don’t work,” said lead author Barbara Langland-Orban, professor and chair of health policy and management at the USF College of Public Health.

Why Red Light Cams Are Increasingly Costing You Money… and How to Fight Back

by Juliette Fairley | MainStreet

NEW YORK—Privatized traffic law enforcement systems are spreading rapidly across the United States. As many as 700 local jurisdictions have entered into deals with for profit companies to install camera systems at intersections and along roadways that automatically detect violations of traffic laws, take photos of offending vehicles and identify license plates. Typically, tickets are delivered by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle. Traffic ticket expert Steve Miller encourages drivers to fight back.

“You can’t lose by contesting a ticket. The worst case scenario is winding up right back where you started,” said Miller who founded TicketBust.com.

The National Motorists Association estimates between 25 and 50 million traffic tickets are issued each year. Assuming an average ticket cost of $150, the total up front profit from tickets ranges from $3.75 to $7.5 billion dollars. In California alone, 18 million tickets were issued, more than in any other state and with less than 5% of drivers contesting.

Miller receives an estimated 10 calls a day from drivers seeking assistance with a ticket in collections. Below are his tips for getting a ticket dismissed before it gets that far: