By on July 24, 2008

\"The hard task of keeping the often filthy city streets clean fell to unskilled laborers. In 1889, under pressure from the public, the state of Illinois created the Sanitary District of Chicago to clean up the city and combat the spread of diseases. In contrast to the letter carrier or the ice man, the street sweeper is not posed in the action of his work. Instead, he is shown drinking from a bottle of liquor.\" (courtesy pbs.org)According to a report in yesterday's Chicago Sun Times, the City Council issued 345,206 sweeper tickets in 2006. At $50 a pop. And despite the fact that Chicago is fast becoming the most surveillance-intensive city in the U.S., initiating a camera-fest to rival London's Big Brotherhood, the Council has approved plans to install cameras to automatically ticket parking scofflaws. "Every sweeper would be equipped with a pair of cameras — one to capture the image of the “illegally parked vehicle and its surroundings,” the other to take a clear picture of the license plate. Video evidence would be forwarded to the city’s Department of Revenue daily, then mailed to motorists along with the $50 tickets." Strangely, the paper's City Hall reporter seems as fixated on the presence of paper warning signs as the Council, rather than examining the civil rights issues involved. Anyway, Traffic Committee Chairman Pat O’Connor (40th) swears to God it's got nothing to do with raising more money for the City. "I truly don’t look at it so much as a revenue things as much as it will make people move their cars."  

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34 Comments on “Chicago Street Sweeper Surveillance to Boost Revenue BEYOND $17,260,300...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    “I truly don’t look at it so much as a revenue thing…”

    Just like raising the sales tax to 10.25% this year is not a revenue thing either, right?

    I grew up in Chicago and the more I live in the area the more I dislike it.

    * Housing is pricey
    * Nowhere to park for reasonable $
    * Tons of Crime, especially theft & vandalism
    * Rush hour is 6:00am-10am and 2:45pm-7pm daily which makes driving plain UNFUN.
    * Crazy bicyclists everywhere
    * red light cameras everywhere
    * The roads are a disaster

    Oh yeah, and saying “The auto red-light photo/ticket the city mailed me shows the light as YELLOW” is not one of the valid defenses for running a “red” light!

    Also the urban planners are terrible. I have a great idea. Lets make the interchange from MULTIPLE MAJOR interstates CONVERGE DOWNTOWN to mix with local traffic (I’m looking at you I-94/I-90/I-294. I-55 is also pretty close to downtown…)

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I love my city. I really do. But I do have to agree that the money grab here is getting far far far out of control.

    We now have the highest sales tax in the nation at 10.25%. Property taxes have gone up. Parking tickets are $50 apiece (vs maybe what, $35 in most places). We have to buy a $75/year city vehicle sticker. Meanwhile our bloated, corrupt government adds to their payrolls, usually with friends and family getting paid way too much (I’ve heard county secretaries that make more than 100K per year). Its DISGUSTING to me.

    This doesn’t surprise me. The city keeps trying to find new ways to increase revenue while NEVER cutting expenses. Now, we do have wonderful parks and public spaces, but to me, the taxes far outweigh what we’ve got. I’m willing to pay more to keep the city great, but its gone too far to the point where millions and millions are wasted away on crooked schemes and lawsuits.

    I’ve heard (though no proof) there are already vans that scan streets and read license plates. They then run a cross check and if your IL license plate is registered to a Chicago address, but they don’t have you as purchasing a city vehicle sticker or a residential permit, bam, ticket city.

    People should get their stickers, and they should follow parking restrictions, but I’m getting so tired of feeling like the government is always out to get my money. Funny the restaurant across the street gets a “loading zone” from 10am to 1am 7 days a week that takes up half the block, thanks to being friendly with the alderman, while all this place does is use it for their valets to put the GD cars on the curb. They have a garage for christ sakes! What part of “loading zone” means valet parking? Meanwhile, never ticketed….cause the alderman and likely the cops are friendly with the owner. Guarantee I park my car there and its towed within minutes.

    Chicago used to be a great, relatively chill city. Now it feels like its quick becoming a nanny state with the gov’t hands constantly in our pockets.

    I feel a revolt coming though. Next city and county elections look for some massive changes. People are sick of the Daley rubber stamp government and Stroger and his crooked cronies.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Jerome10> Have you tried using public transportation to get anywhere quickly?

    For my wife to go to work it’s 20 min by car or an hour by train (purple -> red).

    What do you think she takes? (No she doesn’t work downtown, but the route she takes goes towards downtown)

    In Brazil (home city), she refuses to drive because the buses (no trains…) are just as quick and cheaper to use.

  • avatar
    boombox1

    Gov. Blagojevich and his Chicago-centric ruling junta have done even less for the state outside of Chicago. Ever drive I-57 between Champaign and Chicago? It looks the Air Force used precision-guided munitions on all lanes.

  • avatar
    AutoFan

    Strangely, the paper’s City Hall reporter seems as fixated on the presence of paper warning signs as the Council, rather than examining the civil rights issues involved.

    What is the “civil rights issue?” If there is no parking during street sweeper time, it’s a ticket. EVERY city that has a street sweeper has this policy and is almost always well marked to let people know what is happening. Are you saying there should be no parking rules whatsoever? Parking Darwinism? Or, are you just pissed because you got a ticket for not moving your car on street cleaning day?
    They are streamlining the process by not needing to send people before or after the street sweeper to issue the tickets. I got street sweeper tickets when I lived in San Francisco. I mostly kicked myself for not paying attention and breathed a sigh of releif that the street sweeper didn’t damage my car.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    AutoFan> If it works as well as the red light cameras, I will not be impressed.

    The other thing is, that unless things have changed, the city puts up “street cleaning” notices THE DAY BEFORE THE STREET CLEANING.

    If you are going to be out of town for a week or two you better damn well have a garage or private parking spot or prepare to be ticketed, possibly multiple times because you can’t assume street cleaning won’t happen. Of course, putting sub-24 hour notice is great for revenue, no?

    I’m in Evanston now and they have PERMANENT METAL SIGNS that tell when street cleaning is so you can plan.

  • avatar

    AutoFan:

    What is the “civil rights issue?”

    Use the second link. There are significant civil rights issues involved in public surveillance systems.

    The UK populace allows the 1984-style surveillance by accepting the argument (which you seem to be making) that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

    In fact, you do. I am not blind to the importance of clean streets, or the dangers of terrorism. But government is the greatest threat to personal liberty. I do not want my whereabouts monitored by the Powers That Be unless they have reason to believe I’m committing a crime. And have proved this to a judge.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    RF> I agree. Electronic surveillance is not what it has cracked up to be. This is a big reason I switched from Windows to Linux.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    What? What’s the big deal? You park illegally, you get ticketed.

    Would you rather pay a uniformed officer (or even a subcontractor) to walk the streets and do this? After living in a big city and watching parking officers sitting in their cruiser (engine running, drinking coffee, natch) just waiting for the clock to tick past 7:00am and start ticketing, I’ll take the camera option.

    Even better, would you prefer to “let the market decide” who gets to park where by allowing people to operate private towing agencies? Oooh, oh, even better–just buy a bigger car and crush anything in your path! Yeah, that’s the American way!

    Suspending habeas corpus, that’s a civil rights issue. Ticketing people via camera who do stupid or selfish things (to paraphrase Samuel Jackson’s Pulp Fiction character) isn’t the same ballpark. It ain’t the same league. Hell, it ain’t even the same sport.

  • avatar
    AutoFan

    Robert,
    Your right to privacy pretty much ends at the front door to your house (or property line, whichever comes first).
    There isn’t a provision to seize and search the vehicle and that slippery slope won’t happen, so don’t get all worked up in saying “It could happen!!” The “government” isn’t keeping tabs on your location, they are issuing a parking ticket, period.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    psarhjinian>
    Lets say after my automated ticketing experience (being ticketed for “going through a red” while the photo shows the light yellow) has soured me on the concept.

    I was told by a lawyer it was not worth to fight it for $90 since it wasn’t points and wouldn’t raise my auto insurance.

    I now actively avoid any intersections with red light cameras even if it causes me to use more gas.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Lets say after my automated ticketing experience (being ticketed for “going through a red” while the photo shows the light yellow) has soured me on the concept.

    I was told by a lawyer it was not worth to fight it for $90 since it wasn’t points and wouldn’t raise my auto insurance.

    If the photo shows yellow, you could have fought it and won, unless that camera somehow can prove that you gunned it ahead of the light (which, in some jurisdictions, is illegal). In fact, you were probably better able to fight it than you would have been if you were up against a traffic officer because the machine’s evidence is essentially immutable.

    You chose not to fight it, despite easy evidence to the contrary, because it wasn’t worth your going to court for. That’s not a fault of the camera.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    psarhjinian>

    There are only like 6 valid defenses LISTED ON THE TICKET ITSELF. Anything else is immediately thrown out. I don’t think you live in Chicago. I got this advice from someone practicing Traffic Court law in Chicago.

    Btw, the camera recorded my speed as 31mph through the light so I obviously wasn’t gunning it either.

    Btw, these are “administrative tickets” and are heard before “Administrative judges” not real judges. The whole thing is a joke.

    http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?BV_SessionID=@@@@0772269796.1216913768@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccfadeejlmkmfkcefecelldffhdfif.0&contentOID=536924902&contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&topChannelName=Dept&blockName=Revenue%2FRed+Light+Camera+Violations%2FI+Want+To&context=dept&channelId=0&programId=0&entityName=Revenue&deptMainCategoryOID=-536889525

  • avatar
    hal

    As things are now you are guaranteed a ticket if you are parked in the path of a street sweeper so automating the process won’t increase revenue just increase efficency and waste less police time.
    It is true that the notices go up only a few days before the street sweeping (not the day before) but it is also true that the schedule is available online so you can inform yourself before you go on vacation or whatever.

    The British accept surveillance cameras because they lived through an IRA bombing campaign that lasted for decades and face real and significant threats of terrorism.
    I hope you don’t carry a mobile phone Robert because that gives the authorities a much more accurate and comprehensive record of your comings and goings than cameras ever could.

    As far as the red light issue goes wouldn’t this cover the circumstance where the photo shows you running an orange light?
    4. The facts alleged in the violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that Section 9-8-020(c) or Section 9-16-030(c) was violated;

  • avatar
    bleach

    psarhjinian,

    These automated systems are great if life was black and white but it isn’t.

    You know how many times you are trying to get through a light here during rush hour and people or bicyclists are just ignoring your car? This system isn’t automatically ticketing them too. You can run them over and avoid the stoplight ticket or wait and get caught in the intersection as the camera clicks.

    As for the temporary sweeper notices, it makes it hard to leave your car parked and go on vacation without returning to a ticket.

    So don’t park for over a week and don’t pull into the intersection because it’s all going to end up illegal. So what if traffic extends a couple of seconds past the light for every light? Drivers expect it. People are not abusing red lights and parking to the detriment of the city no matter how much the officials howl.

    These are pure and simple money grabs by treating a few actions in black and white fashion while the rest of life continues in its shades of gray.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Most of the time, my car is parked for a week in the same spot since I walk to work. My wife is the same. We were allowed one private spot behind our building and the other car we have to waste gas & go around the block at least twice per week if my wife is not working (she works just part time).

  • avatar
    Robstar

    hal> According to the lawyer I talked to, no.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I’m glad I don’t live there, don’t need to visit any time soon. Try voting different people in, that is the only message they understand. Ken Livingston got the memo in Londonstan.

    One of the greatest things about the US is the vast difference in policies and costs across the land. It allows us to choose the level of BS we want from our government and the price we are willing to pay. Not everyone can move around to effect a change (due to the expense) but there is always that option.

    Last year 36,000 people left Philadelphia for other parts, knocking Philly from 5th to 6th largest city. People do have a choice about the level of nanny state they put up with and they can vote with their feet. For now.

  • avatar
    Tummy

    Robstar:

    Using your link I would have chosen option #4 if in fact the evidence shows that it was a yellow light.

    The following defenses are allowed for Red Light Violations recorded by automated cameras:

    4. The facts alleged in the violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that Section 9-8-020(c) or Section 9-16-030(c) was violated;

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I have no empathy for people who live in Chicago any more. As much as it sucks to have to leave your own town, if you are a contributor to society, you likely have no business being in a town run by the crooks in charge.

    Eventually, they will come for you and yours. Get out.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    In my eyes someone who pushes a yellow light is annoying, but not dangerous. People turning left should be watching and cannot enter the intersection until it has cleared.

    The danger is the people who race through a full second or two after the light has turned red. The left turn people might get t-boned, or more likely the people travelling straight through on the green in the perpendicular direction get crushed.

    Red light cameras are oriented towards the yellow light runner, and, to me anyway, don’t seem as concerned with the safety issue as with the simple money grab.

  • avatar
    Tom-W

    >>One of the greatest things about the US is the vast difference in policies and costs across the land. It allows us to choose the level of BS we want from our government and the price we are willing to pay. Not everyone can move around to effect a change (due to the expense) but there is always that option. Last year 36,000 people left Philadelphia for other parts, knocking Philly from 5th to 6th largest city. People do have a choice about the level of nanny state they put up with and they can vote with their feet. For now.

    Which is why the growth of the federal government (beginning with FDR) is so vexing – increasingly its hard to escape (think the ever spiraling federal income and payroll taxes).

    Chicago sounds like my state of Rhode Island. Run by a corrupt Democrat machine (which in turn is largely run by the public sector unions); insatiable appetite for taxpayer dollars to feed the union-patronage axis; no real opposition party (our “Republicans” are mostly “go along to get along with the Democrat machine” RINO’s); potholed roads; collapsing bridges; lousy public schools and an economy in long-term decline (RI was ranked the worst state in the continental U.S. for business climate by CNBC).

    It appears to me that the Rustbelt has spread to the Northeast, and that “Rustbelt” is not a function of industrial decline, but instead the result of the public sector unions / Democrat Party being in control for an extended period of time.

  • avatar
    motownr

    Can it really have taken this long for someone to point out that the possible next President of our country is a product of this same political machine?

    One of the great ironies of our time may be when America wakes up to realize that President Barry Hussein mentored at the feet of a very slick (read: crooked) political dynasty.

  • avatar
    hal

    There is a lot of truth in Chicago being run by a “corrupt political machine” unfortunately the IL republicans are just as corrupt but less competent then the dems.
    Daley has built a huge political coalition that includes not just unions and city workers but other special interests including business groups, professional groups, “green” groups, the ethnically and politically correct etc.
    The political system is broken.
    It is almost impossible for an independent (of Daley) alderman to get elected never mind achieve anything. My alderman ran unopposed last time as she was able to get all her opponents removed from the ticket on technicalities.
    Meanwhile the snow gets plowed and garbage collected so people don’t complain too much. There are a lot of great things about living in Chicago but it gets harder and harder to justify staying here.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Use the second link. There are significant civil rights issues involved in public surveillance systems.

    Not in this case. It’s easy enough to toss out the name Orwell, and then add Big Brother and 1984. But this isn’t govenment spying on people w/o probable cause. This is a camera doing the job a policeman would do, at substantial savings.

    I won’t get into Chicago parking/street cleaning details because I don’t live there. Suffice to say, if your car is parked where it should not be, you’ll get a ticket. Does it really matter if it’s done by a camera instead of a live cop?

    In my city I can’t park on any city street between 2am and 5am – every day.

    Perhaps after Justin passes his bar exam he’d like to write an essay on traffic/parking cameras and civil rights. IMO, there are no civil rights issues with having a street sweeper camera.

  • avatar
    picard234

    Why would you drive in Chicago?

    Spend a week in Detroit and then go back to Chicago and rejoice in your public transit.

  • avatar
    sfaktor

    Chicago will be great in a few years when gas is $10-20/gal. That will take a lot of cars off the roads. Then there will be incredible demand for public transit as well as political will to support an excellent train system. Right now the main demand for the CTA is from folks too poor to afford higher fares to support much better infrastructure. Too many of the old L lines are on these poor wooden track supports. The trains can’t go up to their design speed of about 70mph. The Orange line has concrete supports and the trains are quiet and fast. That trend needs to spread to all lines, and new lines need to be built to make the L the fastest means of transit in the city. Another Chicago problem was the city’s dislike of handguns. Disarming the law abiding is always a poor idea. City gun law will change after Chicago loses under the new DC v. Heller scheme. I might even move to the city. I have higher hopes for cleaning up Chicago’s near suburbs where the political establishment is smaller and demographic shifts could make some of those places pretty nice with proper investments. When all the illegals are deported I can probably get a house, several houses, or a vacant lot in Cicero for pretty cheap.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    This is politics night, eh?

    I guage state and local governments by two metrics.

    1-dishonesty
    2-stupidity

    These two angles more or less can explain everything you see in USA politics.

    Stupid and dishonest? Boston, Quincy Ma. Much of Mass.

    Stupid but honest? Much of NH including my local small town, Conway NH. Many small towns but not enough.

    Its easier to forgive a hopeless volunteer than a jaded pro.

    Smart and dishonest? RI.

    Smart and honest, my local village Eaton NH. but powerless so all they can do is avoid screwing us.

    Chicago government is operated for the benefit of its workers and their pensions, this is a fundamental truism in US, if not worldwide. If they are like elsewhere, they are irrevocably bankrupt, you would know this if they weren’t lying in their financials, their retirements are not payable out of tax base. Run while you can. NH is in deep shit with the pensions but not like most places.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Don’t think about complaining because the Chicago City are arming themselves with M4s because theyare woefully outgunned by…ummm…street gangs & drug desperados.
    Fortunately this not may not happen as the cops may have to…(horror) pay for the weapon AND the training well done Chicago.

    All to get the Olympics and put the fifth star (the Daley star) on the city flag.

  • avatar
    SAAB95JD

    I live just off Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, and also near Wrigley Field. So, my address requires that my car has: 1-City Sticker, 2-Cubs Parking Permit just to be STORED (even if it is garaged) at my address.

    But, I have to say… if you get hit with a ticket for street cleaning you deserve it. My street has permanent signs telling you when it is scheduled, PLUS the city comes around 1-2 days before and labels the signs with brightly colored temporary signs.

    Many of the other comments are valid as well. Chicago is quite beautiful, but it is all on the surface. The politics are crooked, we are wasteful beyond belief (check out how bad the recycling program is in Chicago), there are way too many cameras, and we pay wicked taxes to cover the salaries of all the mayor and alderman’s friends. Usually I just accept this as part of the Chicago lifestyle, but sometimes it really ticks me off.

  • avatar
    abcb

    Robstar:

    There are 6 valid defenses for red light violation.

    defense #4 The facts alleged in the violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that Section 9-8-020(c) or Section 9-16-030(c) was violated;

    Chicago Muni Code section 9-8-020(c) basically deals with running a red light, 9-8-030(c) deal with flashing signals.

    So if your defense is that the fact alleged in the violation does not support a finding of running a red light, it’s a valid defense.

    I am not sure which lawyer you been talking to, either need to fire him or report him to the IL bar for bad advice. Any competent law student could’ve figure this issue out.

    I’ll also add that for the years I lived in Gold Coast. Parking is a bitch, but if you are in the city, just get rid of the car. Buy a mopad, bike, take public transportation, anything but the car. At my location, parking was at painfully $250 a month for outdoor uncovered parking and $300 a month for indoor heated parking. Factoring insurance and permit costs, I can probably take taxi everywhere and still spend less a month to keep a car in the city.

    As for the camera, I welcome our camera overlord. It has made the city so much safer. Anyone ever try walking west on division from gold coast to wicker park after midnight? Used to be cops allow cars to blow stop signs because that area is notorious for crimes. Now, 24/7 camera, safe neighbor.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    abcb> Sorry, but the lawyer I talked to had been doing traffic courts for 20+ years and red light camera violations since they were introduced. Excuse me if I take his opinion over yours.

    Are you a lawyer? And if so, how much traffic court/red light violations you have done? You have to realize that it is an ADMINISTRATIVE judge, not a real judge. It’s point & click law.

    Chicago used to be a wonderful city. I remember being able to catch the bus/train at roughly the same time to go to school every day. It is currently in an almost unusable state.

    They really should raise the fare to $5-$6 (still a deal compared to driving with $4 gas, car expenes, and parking) and rebuild everything with the extra fare money. They should quit already with the extra taxes, begging in springfield, etc. I’d support a chicago area gas tax to fund chicago transport.

    At this point, I will have one year left in Chitown, and then it is off to the far suburbs and commuting daily. I actually look forward to having my own place, having my own garage, etc.

    Every job I’ve worked in the past 6-7 years I’ve had a flexible schedule. I can get to work anytime between 6:00-10am so can avoid rush hour. There is no reason for me to really live in the city anymore. It really offers nothing since my wife & I are homebodies.

    Traffic cameras, automated cameras, and 10.25% sales tax are the final straw.

    Enjoy your high taxes, expensive property, red light cameras, higher crime rates, lack of a garage, crappy schools, etc.

    I will be enjoying cheap housing, large garage, less criminals, but pay for it with gas/vehicle expenses and probably higher property taxes. A pretty good deal IMHO.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    There are only like 6 valid defenses LISTED ON THE TICKET ITSELF. Anything else is immediately thrown out. I don’t think you live in Chicago. I got this advice from someone practicing Traffic Court law in Chicago.…

    Go to court anyway. This way the city has to spend money to hear your case. I received a speeding ticket that had surcharges on it, in addition to the actual violation. I went to court, the cop did show up, and I managed to waste 20 minutes of the court’s time. I was the last case and walked down the hall with the cop that issued the ticket. He asked me why I bothered to come to court if in the end I knew I was going to be found guilty. I told him that between the payroll for the judge, for the cop, plus the time and energy spent to operate the court facilities, the state lost way more than the value of the ticket. So, for me, it was a bit of a victory anyway. The cop laughed and said that if more people acted like me, he would get way more court overtime…

  • avatar
    abcb

    Robstar:

    1. Traffic contests are heard by Administrative Law Officer, who are actual attorneys the city hire to oversee small matter such as traffic and small claim. They are not point and click people. They are actual attorney licensed in the state of IL to practice Law. They have to remain objective and fair when ruling on your case. If they don’t, they can lose their license to practice law. If you felt you got an unfair trial, you can even appeal your case to a trial court where a full time judge will review your case. This whole process is very professional, it’s not like the city pulled some random guy off the street who will always rule for the city of chicago.

    2. In your original post, you stated that you got “ticketed for “going through a red” while the photo shows the light yellow”. Now unless there are other factors that you have not shared with rest of us, the above seem to be a clear case of you not running a red light. I don’t think you even need a law degrees to follow that logic.

    3. Looking back on your original post, the lawyer suggested not fighting the ticket because it’s not worth your time for $90 and no point. He never said you can’t win this ticket against the city of chicago, he also didn’t say that it wouldn’t be a valid defense. I am only arguing that based on the city codes, it’s a valid defense. For all I know, you may have circumstances where it is not worth the $90 to contest this no point ticket.


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