By James J. Baxter
The City of Chicago has the well-deserved reputation of being a corrupt and ethically deficient enterprise. This reality is being reinforced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign to drown the city in ticket cameras.
The Wall Street Journal, in a limp-wristed article published April 14th, mentions that the city is already knocking down $68 million a year in fines from 380 red-light ticket cameras. The article didn’t mention that most of this money is generated by short yellow lights and failure to come to a complete stop before making a right-turn-on-red—a non safety issue. (Of the six million traffic accidents that occur in the United States, approximately 2,000 involve “right-turn on red.”)
With all the cleverness of a turtle crossing the Interstate, Emanuel trots out the ubiquitous “it’s for the children” excuse and certainly has nothing to do with cranking out income for the financially strapped city government. Just to add insult to injury, he follows up with the tried and true “if you follow the law you have nothing to worry about,” leaving out the fact that the city operatives wouldn’t know a legitimate speed limit or properly operated traffic signal if they saw one.
The plan is to place 500 ticket cameras for speed enforcement within one-eighth of a mile from schools and parks, (remember, this IS for the children) which just so happens to carpet bomb half the city with cameras. They didn’t mention that the red-light ticket cameras can also be used to issue speeding tickets, and they will probably cover most of the rest of the city. To dampen citizen opposition, the mayor’s team and corporate allies are using the tried and proven tactics of low fines and no points to give the whole scam the feel of a parking ticket. Once the public has been sufficiently acclimated to being systematically ripped off, the city can incrementally jack up the fines.
In the category of “just how dumb do you think we are,” the mayor’s spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton comes up with, “…in an ideal world we wouldn’t collect a dime because it means everyone is following the law and all our kids are safe.” I just hope those kids that are being “saved” by ticket cameras are a cut above the dimwits who pretend these devices have something to do with public safety. Sarah forgot to mention that in any jurisdiction where ticket cameras failed to generate a profit they were soon history. Somehow the “children” ceased to become so important when the money stopped coming in.
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