Emanuel: Speed cams about safety, not cash

March 13, 2012 3:57:11 PM PDT
After a report that a longtime supporter of the mayor was connected to the current speed cameras in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel said the contract process will be ''open, competitive, transparent.''

On Wednesday, the mayor will ask the city council for 360 speed cameras at schools and parks, a move some aldermen say constituents are concerned about.

"Everything related to this is around safety," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the mayor's administration will ask the Chicago City Council to authorize the installation of 360 cameras near schools and parks. They would generate computerized tickets for drivers as few as 6 miles above the speed limit.

A growing number of aldermen are hearing from their recession-weary constituents who wonder if the real speed cam purpose is to raise revenue.

"There's other ways to reduce speeds than going right to this one more Draconian tactic," Ald. John Arena, 45th Ward, said.

"You know I think if it protects the public, why not? We're talking about school zones where children are playing," Mary Hauser, Chicago resident, said.

"I don't trust that they'll be accurate and I don't trust that they'll do what they're supposed to do," Kelli Powell, Chicago, said.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that one of the mayor's longtime political supporters--Greg Goldner--is a consultant for the firm that already supplies the city's red light cameras. Governor Pat Quinn--who signed the state law enabling the devices only in Chicago--was asked what he thought about the mayor's relationship.

"It has to be a process that's competitive, open and make sure that everything is followed as far as the law goes," Gov. Quinn said.

An administration spokeswoman said "five or six" companies want to bid on the speed cams and there is no guarantee that the firm the mayor's political associate represents will get the contract.

"We're gonna run this is a very open, competitive and transparent way. Open, Competitive and transparent," Mayor Emanuel said.

The 360 speed cameras under the mayor proposal would be only 20-percent of the 1,800 possible under the new state law. Under the ordinance, the first violation would result in a warning and not the $50 to $100 fine.