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Emanuel Tosses Bid By Red Light Camera Vendor For Speed Camera Contract

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 17, 2012 2:10PM

Image Credit: -Tripp-
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office pulled a bid for the city's speeding camera contract from Redflex Camera Systems after a Chicago Tribune investigation showed the company paid a $910 hotel tab for a Chicago Department of Transportation official two years ago.

The bill for CDOT managing deputy commissioner John Bills, widely considered to be the department's expert on the automated enforcement system before he retired last year, wasn't reported to the Chicago Board of Ethics until the Tribune informed Redflex they knew about it.

A Redflex investigation found no evidence of an improper relationship between Bills and the company, though the vice president who paid Bills' hotel tab was reprimanded and sent to "anti-bribery" training. After leaving CDOT, Bills went on to work as a consultant for the Traffic Safety Coalition, a lobbying firm funded by Redflex and run by Greg Goldner, a longtime Emanuel and Richard M. Daley ally who also founded the political action committee For a Better Chicago. Redflex stood to make millions off the speeding camera installations if it was awarded the contract. Under the language in the new speeding camera ordinance approved by the Illinois Legislature and City Council, the city can blanket up to half the city in speeding cameras and generate millions in revenue for the city, although Emanuel has long said the speeding camera ordinance was a safety issue.

Redflex also failed to disclose the relationship between Bills and a contractor who received $570,000 in commissions related to the red light camera contract. Emanuel's chief procurement officer, Jamie L. Rhee, wrote in a letter to Redflex announcing the decision.

"I find that Redflex's failure to timely report this incident to the city is unacceptable behavior and is a failure by Redflex to act in the city's best interest.

"It appears that a Redflex employee in a management position over a city contract violated, at a minimum, the city's ethics law, Redflex violated the city's ethics laws, and that Redflex in effect covered the matter up by failing to report it to the city for a period of two years."

Redflex accepted full responsibility for the incident in a statement.