Lightfoot allies delay speed camera vote

Lightfoot allies delay speed camera vote

The Chicago City Council blocked a vote to repeal the lower speed camera ticket threshold, responsible for $59 million in tickets last year. Mayor Lori Lightfoot now has until July 20 to save a policy that issued more tickets than Chicago has residents.

The Chicago City Council appeared ready to repeal Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s lower speed camera ticketing threshhold June 22, but her allies were able to block a vote and give her until July 20 to save the policy worth $59 million in 2021.

Under the proposed ordinance that was up for a vote, the minimum threshold for speed camera tickets would increase to 10 mph over the speed limit instead of 6 mph. On June 21, the Council’s Finance Committee narrowly approved the ordinance in a 16-15 vote.

Lightfoot had the city’s 160 speed cameras set March 1, 2021, to issue $35 tickets for 6 to 10 mph over the speed limit. The new policy generated $59 million worth of the $35 tickets out of $89 million in total tickets last year. The 2.8 million tickets outnumbered the city’s residents.

Ward 9 Ald. Anthony Beale, who spearheaded the new ordinance, argued the full council had to cast a vote because his ordinance was deferred already.

When council members blocked the vote, Beale and mayoral challenger Ward 15 Ald. Raymond Lopez used the same procedure to delay every other item from the finance committee. After the meeting ended, Beale accused Lightfoot of manipulating the rules in her favor.

“We can’t debate it. We can’t bring it to the floor,” Beale said. “That’s a dictatorship. That’s not a democracy.”

Lightfoot defended the lower ticket threshhold, insisting it keeps speeders in check where the cameras are installed in parks and near schools.

“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,” she said.

However, an Illinois Policy Institute investigation found despite Chicagoans being ticketed every 11 seconds, fatal crashes still rose by 13% in the year after the 6 mph threshold went into effect. Three major speed camera studies have failed to show they improve safety, with one concluding drivers actually speed up once they are past the automated devices.

Chicago is desperate for revenue because the city holds more pension debt than 45 states. Rather than nickel-and-diming drivers in a city where gas is $6 a gallon, Lightfoot would be better off pushing to change the Illinois Constitution to allow for pension reforms that protect retirees and taxpayers by ensuring future growth is sustainable.

Before the next meeting July 20, Chicagoans can use Illinois Policy's Take Action tool to tell their alderman how they feel about the flood of automated speeding tickets.

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