Governor Pat Quinn is expected to make a decision soon on a bill pushed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that would allow the city to put speed cameras near many Chicago intersections. Though the bill was passed by the House and Senate last year, the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the measure -- and Quinn's office says the governor is "carefully" reviewing the plan.
In October, Emanuel announced his support for llinois Senate Bill 965, which would use red-light cameras to identify, and automatically ticket, motorists recorded traveling above the speed limit in "safety zones." The fines could top $100 per infraction, and the "safety zones" would reportedly cover 66 percent of the city.
The Expired Meter reached out to the Governor's office to find out how close Quinn is to signing the measure -- and how the public feels about it. This is what they discovered:
The Governor’s office released a report via a Freedom of Information request by The Expired Meter, that shows the Governor’s office has received a total of 224 phone calls, emails or letters from constituents regarding SB965, of which just 19 were in support of the bill. The other 205–over 91%–were opposed to the bill and urged the Governor to veto it.
In total the Governor’s office received 15 letters (11 opposed, 4 in support), 36 phone calls (35 opposed, 1 in support) and 173 email comments via the Governor’s website (159 opposed, 14 in support).
Emanuel said the cameras would deter people from speeding in school zones, but has been accused of downplaying the revenue-generating power of the speed cameras, which a joint investigation in November by CBS2 and The Expired Meter blog suggests could far exceed red-light camera yields.
The Chicago Department of Transportation did a two-month study of seven intersections that would be impacted by the cameras, monitoring vehicle speeds from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and noon until 4 p.m. on weekdays. During those nine hours per day, over 43 days, 1,418,797 vehicles were recorded, 131,034 of which would have been issued tickets under the proposed system. That sample group alone would have generated $13.1 million in fines.
“People know speed cameras are not about safety, but about revenue," Cook County Campaign For Liberty’s Scott Davis told the Expired Meter. “If he (Quinn) raises taxes on the poor and middle class by passing this bill, and gives tax breaks to companies like Sears, it’s not going to sit well with voters."
Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein has supported the legislation, saying it is about changing behavior by enforcing the law.
Quinn's office told WBEZ that the governor might make a decision on the cameras by the end of January.
“I can tell you that the Governor is reviewing this legislation very carefully,” Annie Thompson, spokesperson for the Governor’s office, told the Expired Meter. “Public response is one of those (factors involved in the decision) and the Governor always wants to do what’s in the best interest of the people of Illinois.”