Emanuel changes speed-cameras plan before vote

April 12, 2012 4:25:49 AM PDT
Hours before a city council committee was expected to vote on Rahm Emanuel's controversial plan for speed cameras Wednesday, the mayor made some tweaks to his proposal.

Mayor Emanuel wants to install speed cameras around schools and parks.

After listening to the complaints of some aldermen, the mayor offered some revisions Wednesday.

Initially under the plan, speeders caught driving between six and 10 miles per hour over the limit were set to get slapped with a $50 ticket, but Emanuel changed the plan Wednesday to drop the fine to $35. Drivers who exceed the limit by 11 miles per hour might still get fined $100.

Another changes would be that first time offenders will receive a warning.

The City Council's committee on pedestrian and traffic safety held hearings on the speed camera plan Wednesday afternoon.

"A pedestrian hit by a car at 20 miles per hour, the speed in the school zone, has a 95 percent chance of living," Klein told the City Council. "That same person hit by a car traveling over 40 miles per hour has an 80 percent chance of dying."

Emanuel says the camera plan is a matter of safety, but critics aren't buying the data.

Christina Robin of Taxpayers United of America says the speed cameras are all about making money.

"These are all lies," Robin told ABC7. "There is no facts or basis that the cameras help the children or help safety. That's a downright lie. It is like arguing that the earth is flat. It is not."

If the cameras will bring in revenue, some aldermen are concerned about how the money will be spent. Commissioner Klein admits that has not been worked out.

"We have no revenue projections and if there is revenue, the mayor has been clear that it will be spent on public safety initiatives to ensure safety passages around schools, to provide police protection and surveillance around schools and parks," said Klein.

Ald. Scott Waguespack, who represents the 32nd Ward, has gathered his own research about the speed cameras and the mayor's plan to cover the city with 360 of them.

"There are constituents who call and say, 'I want speed cameras around the schools. There are some, but 9 out of 10 have said, 'No,'" said Waguespack.

According to Waguespack, the thousands of speed bumps already in place around schools are doing a good job of calming traffic.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, the City of Chicago has installed 10,000 speed bumps on city streets and alleys since 2005. Many of them are located near schools and parks, making it difficult for drivers to break the speed limit in the spots where the mayor wants to use the cameras.

The mayor's office insists the speed cameras will help keep children safer, stressing the plan is not a ploy to bring in revenue to the cash-strapped city. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has already given the green light to plan.

Waguespack says he is not sold.

"A lot of people across the city are saying slow this thing down. We don't need to blanket the entire city. We can pick the places where people are speeding," he said.

The streets around Disney II Magnet School on Chicago's Northwest Side are covered with speed bumps. Some parents say they are enough. Others like Renee Linnemeyer say people ignore them. She does not think the cameras would be an excessive addition.

"Speeding is against the law. So, if that's the way they're going to catch people doing it and make money for the city --the city needs money," Linnemeyer said.

After the committee votes on the proposal, the recommendation will be considered by the full City Council. The aldermen have to sign off off on the plan before it can go into effect.