The City of Chicago is currently mired in a red-light camera scandal replete with bribes to city officials, indictments, and improperly timed cameras geared to hand out illicit fines. But despite all this, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel refuses to refund the improperly levied fines.
Emanuel, who is running for re-election next year, faces a petition sponsored by challenger Bob Fioretti demanding that the $7.7 million in fines generated by the red-light cameras be refunded. The improper fines resulted from yellow light timers being reduced from the legal three seconds to 2.9 seconds.
But Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, handed down the decision through Chicago transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld that the fines were perfectly legal. “These were valid violations,” Scheinfeld said in a recent meeting of the city council.
During the meeting, West Side Ald. Emma Mitts claimed the red-light cameras are worse in the City’s black community.
“There shouldn’t be ticket injustice,” Mitts said during the meeting. “There just shouldn’t be… They’re worse in–I’m not a racist–but in the black community than anywhere. I just want to tell you. Find out where your tickets are coming from. You’ll find out who’s picking ’em up and it’s probably people who can’t even [afford to] pay.”
Chicago’s red-light camera system has been under a microscope since an executive of Redflex, the company under contract to the city for the camera system, was snared in a federal probe for being involved in a $2 million bribery scheme with city officials.
The investigation resulted in indictments for Redflex executive Karen Finley, city official John Bills, and Bills’ friend Martin O’Malley who was hired by Redflex as a “consultant.”
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