Not so fast, says an opponent of red light speeding ticket cameras.
Peter Breen, founder of BanRedCams, a grassroots initiative to end the use of red light cameras in Illinois, is leading opposition to a bill that was approved today, Tuesday, by an Illinois House of Representatives panel and is expected to go to the full House later this week. The bill is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's speed camera legislation to use cameras in Chicago designed to slow down traffic to increase public safety near schools and parks.
"The victims here are the children, not those who are speeding," Emanuel said Monday during a press conference at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, as reported by NBC-TV’s blog, Ward Room. In his statement, he urged the House to approve the bill that would allow the city to retrofit red-light cameras with speed sensors at intersections near schools and parks.
The bill was approved by the Senate Nov. 2 with the help of three Republican senators who broke with their party to provide the winning margin. The only DuPage Republican lawmaker to do so was Kirk Dillard (R-24th) of Hinsdale.
Breen chastised Dillard for his actions.
“We are extremely disappointed that Sen. Dillard is ignoring the views of his constituents and giving red light camera companies and Chicago politicians another way to bleed taxpayers dry,” said Breen. “It all starts in one jurisdiction and then morphs its way into other communities that are cash-strapped and looking for any short-term solution. The people in many communities—including my own—have overwhelmingly rejected these ‘Big Brother’ cameras.”
Breen is an attorney and a village trustee in Lombard.
“When I talk to regular folks around Illinois,” Breen told Patch, “they are against it [the cameras]... strongly against. Naperville took them out. After the initial wave came through and legislators were able to hear from their constituents, a good number of towns have taken them out or avoided putting them in altogether because of residents’ opposition or because the red light cameras do not deliver on the promises that the companies make.”
If the measure passes, the city of Chicago would be allowed to use its red light cameras to also issue $100 speeding ticket to drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 5 mph in designated “safety zones” within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks. The plan would allow cameras in locations covering nearly half the city.
Breen and his organization are urging citizens in DuPage County to contact their state representatives and urge them to oppose Senate Bill 965.
The red light companies and municipalities may say that the installation of the lights is a safety issue, Breen said. “In reality, it is a dollar-and-cents decision.
“Many times in the political process you see people attributing their actions to a nobler purpose but in reality they want to pad their bottom line,” Breen said. “Tickets given out by these devices would not be written by a police officer on the scene. The judgment of a police officer can not be substituted by a machine… you have almost no chance of beating the ticket because you are perceived as guilty when you walk into court.”
A study written by theexpiredpmeter.com and aired by CBS 2 News Monday, states that the cameras could be very lucrative for the city’s coffers.
A story on Huffington Post’s Chicago Impact page today, Tuesday, “Chicago Speed Cameras: Emanuel Exaggerates Safety Impact, Downplays Projected Revenue,” reports that Emanuel has consistently argued that the speed camera plan is intended to be a deterrent and a safety measure, not a revenue-generator, but has said that the money generated by fines would continue to further safety initiatives.
State Rep. Chris Nybo (R-41st) of Lombard strongly opposes the bill and applauds BanRedCams’ effort. “This bill is nothing more than another attempt by Chicago to solve its own budget mess on the backs of suburbanites, including those in DuPage County,” he said in a prepared statement. “Just like the water rate increases and the effort to tax suburban commuters, this bill is only about Chicago trying to get more money from our taxpayers. I am shocked that any suburban legislator would support a money-grab like this.”