U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin once arrived in a large, black SUV at a news conference promoting higher fuel efficiency standards.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker imposed $5 billion in new taxes but ripped out the toilets from a mansion to dodge property taxes.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot insisted speed cameras were about safety around parks and schools, but her taxpayer-provided security drivers were twice caught by those cams speeding near a school while children were present.
Rules for thee, but not for me.
Lightfoot’s city chauffeurs have a long history of getting automated speed and red-light traffic tickets: 19 since she’s been mayor. In the past 14 months she received three speed cam tickets and two warnings, including a ticket and warning in the same school zone near Washington Park. Children were present both times.
What is especially galling about Lightfoot’s speeding is she just defeated an effort to roll back the lower speed cam tolerance she imposed in March 2021 that is responsible for taking about $83 million since then from drivers in Chicago. Studies by the Illinois Policy Institute, University of Illinois Chicago and others have shown the cameras do not improve safety. What they do do is very efficiently churn out $207,000-a-day in ticket revenue for the city.
Unless you’re Lightfoot. Her tickets go unpaid.
When she was questioned about the unpaid speed camera tickets, she said her need for speed was about what? You guessed it: Safety.
Sometimes her detail needs to speed and run red lights to keep her safe. Even in a school zone.
The question is: Who’s keeping those schoolkids safe from Mayor Leadfoot?
Lightfoot delayed by a month an effort to repeal her lower speed cam limit and then rallied enough aldermen that she defeated the insurgency on July 20. There were impassioned speeches about aldermen attending funerals for children run down by city speeders, and Lightfoot earlier said this: “No one likes speed cameras. I get it. But this is life or death that we’re talking about here, and we’ve got to step up as a city and address this.”
Again, the data doesn’t show the cameras improve safety: 72 fatalities in the first half of 2022 was a record. An investigation found 16 of the 160 cameras were increasing accidents. The data shows the cameras make money.
For the short term.
Speed cams nickel-and-dime minorities and the poor, according to multiple studies. ProPublica found Black and Latino residents historically receive speed and red-light camera tickets at about twice the rate of white residents. A UIC report found nearly half of tickets received by low-income residents incur late fees and penalties – more than doubling ticket prices – compared to just 17% for upper-income drivers.
That’s a long-term issue in a shrinking city that is especially seeing its minority population move out.
Speed cam tickets also tell visitors and potential residents something about your city.
On a recent architecture tour on the Chicago River, a man stood on the Michigan Avenue bridge with two machines sending curtains of bubbles floating across the water. As the boat passed beneath him, he was saying, “Welcome to Chicago!”
The mayor does the same thing, only her greetings arrive in the mail.
Brad Weisenstein is managing editor for the Illinois Policy Institute.
This article was 0riginally published on thecentersquare.com