Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mayor Emanuel gets his speed camera money tree

The ever-docile Chicago City Council has approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel's latest scheme to steal money from drivers on Chicago streets (and enrich his friends in the process).

Speed cameras are coming to Chicago. An all-seeing eye suspended on a pole will determine if drivers are driving too fast past Chicago parks or schools. This is supposedly to save the lives of children who might otherwise be hit by speeding cars. But who really benefits? (Quoting from the linked Tribune article):
The mayor's effort has been supported by the Traffic Safety Coalition, a group pushing for the speed cameras that is run by close Emanuel political ally Greg Goldner and funded by Redflex Traffic Systems, the city's red-light camera vendor.
Remember that name -- Greg Goldner -- because, if the classic Chicago pattern is followed here, he will inevitably be indicted on some sort of kick-back theory. But how much will be stolen from drivers in the meantime?

Here is what the Tribune had to say about Mr. Goldner in a March 13, 2012 article by David Kidwell, Jeff Coen and Bob Secter:
When Rahm Emanuel was a first-time candidate for Congress, Greg Goldner was behind him, quietly marshaling the patronage troops who helped get him elected. When Emanuel ran for mayor, Goldner was there again, doling out campaign cash to elect Emanuel-friendly aldermen to City Council.

And when the rookie mayor was looking for community support for his school reform agenda, there was Goldner, working behind the scenes with ministers who backed Emanuel's plan.

Now, it turns out the longtime allies share another interest -- the installation of automated speed cameras in Chicago.

As consultant to the firm that already supplies Chicago its red-light cameras, Goldner is the architect of a nationwide campaign to promote his client's expansion prospects. That client, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., is well-positioned to make tens of millions of dollars from Emanuel's controversial plan to convert many of the red-light cameras into automated speed cameras.
Today, as noted, the Tribune claims that Goldner runs the Traffic Safety Coalition. I'm not entirely certain that this claim holds water.

Goldner is the founder and chief executive of Resolute Consulting. However, Goldner's name appears nowhere on the website of the Traffic Safety Coalition -- but Redflex is listed as among the organization's "partners." The well-meaning folks who think they're in charge of the Traffic Safety Coalition may be merely what used to be called "useful idiots."

And, speaking of idiots, the City Council actually showed a surprising amount of spunk in approving the Mayor's scheme by a vote of only 33-14. Those of you from outside Chicago may think a better than two-to-one majority something of a landslide. But, in Chicago, this kind of dissent is practically unheard of.

Extreme provocation may be seen as the reason for this slight evidence of independent thought: This is such a rank pile of manure to heap upon the body politic! But loyal 33rd Ward Ald. Richard Mell (Rod Blagojevich's father-in-law) is quoted in the story as saying, "Who would say it wasn't worth it if it saves one [life]?"

Look, I'll eat my words -- just as soon as a speed camera climbs down from a pole and snatches a child from in front of a fast-moving car.

These cameras will go off based on the speed of the vehicles passing beneath. For now, a person driving six to 10 mph over the limit will get a $35 ticket. The fine for going 11 mph or more over the limit will be $100. Of course, if revenue expectations aren't met, the fines can be raised or the cameras can be set to go off at lower speeds. And all this whether or not an actual child is in the vicinity.

This, literally, is highway robbery.

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