Chicago's Bid To Fleece Motorists Of $90M Falls Short

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Don’t you just hate it when you plan to screw your constituents out of nearly a hundred million bucks and you only get, like, half of that?

A combination of salesmanship and greed led the city of Chicago to blanket the city with speed and red-light cameras. They were expected to issue over one million tickets a year. Estimates of Chicago’s population range between 2.6 and 9.5 million people, depending on how one defines “Chicago”.

Unfortunately for Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel, the motorist sheep couldn’t be sheared at quite the expected rates. The shortfall between expected revenue and actual revenue could be as much as fifty million dollars, putting pressure on the city to make the money up in other ways.

Still, one has to wonder: If a law is broken at least four hundred thousand times a year in a city area of under ten million people, how valid is the law? And if a city is betting on a million lawbreakers a year to balance its budget, where is the incentive to look at ways to keep people from breaking the law, whether through adjusting the law or adjusting the roads? Finally, if Mayor Emanuel really wants a million people a year to go speeding through school zones, what does that say about his sense of ethics?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Ravenchris Ravenchris on Oct 23, 2014

    Everybody can help to reduce career politician damage by not voting for incumbents. You can take action to improve the future.

  • S2k Chris S2k Chris on Oct 23, 2014

    We can bicker back and forth all day about yellow light times and who collects the fees and who is responsible and so on and so forth, but the overriding issue is that it is wrong, and should be illegal, for governments to monetize lawbreaking by their citizenry that creates incentives for them to "entice" citizens to break laws so that they may charge them for it. We see it with speed limits all the time; statistically the speed limits we have are mostly BS, most can be and should be raised, as has been proven by study after study. But they aren't, because municipalities (and insurance companies) have a vested interest in keeping them artificially low to entice citizens to break them, so that police can line the public coffers with the resulting fines. Ignore all else, and that's the real problem.

    • Brenschluss Brenschluss on Oct 23, 2014

      I'm trying to fathom this whole argument, because where I live, this doesn't exist. Very, very rarely do I see anyone actually blow a red light so badly that anyone would be affected- most signals here are delayed (so one would need to have driven through a longstanding red light to be hit by someone missing the end of a yellow,) and those that aren't have long enough yellows that there's little ambiguity around whether you can safely stop, enough visibility that you can see clearly if some jerk's gonna blow it anyway, and usually enough space that you could launch hard at the green even if said jerk is just entering the intersection and still miss them by a wide margin. In this case, even if you miss your window and the light changes just before you cross the line, it will be another 3-5 seconds before cross-traffic will start moving. You'd need to drive through a 3-second-old red light (count that out next time you approach an intersection,) to have a T-bone accident. I've had old people and drunk people not see their solid red lights and drive straight through them, nearly hitting me as I drive through my green, but I don't think a camera can do anything about basic competence and attentiveness. Those people don't need a fine, they need to be turned into Soylent. Anyway, our intersections work fine. Not sure what the problem is everywhere else.

  • Akear Akear on Oct 23, 2014

    i find the picture used for this article offensive. It looks as if he is back dooming her in the shower.

  • Jim brewer Jim brewer on Oct 23, 2014

    I don't know why there has to be a private intermediary for this equipment. It must have gone off patent years ago. Pedestrian fatalities are rising sharply. I think partly because there's no way to automate the kind of enforcement that makes that safer.

    • Pch101 Pch101 on Oct 23, 2014

      Typically, the camera company covers the equipment and installation costs, and then administers it in exchange for a fee-split. Cities can get into the camera enforcement business without coming out of pocket or paying for ongoing administration. The government can avoid the budgetary headaches.