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Garcia Vows To End Red Light Camera Program If Elected

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 6, 2015 7:00PM

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia vowed Thursday to eliminate Chicago’s red light camera network as his first act as mayor, if elected. Garcia’s proclamation came after the International Business Times ran a report revealing a former aide to Rahm Emanuel when the mayor was a congressman became a lobbyist for the company that landed the contract to handle the red light cameras.

John Borovicka’s association with Emanuel started in 2001. Borovicka managed Emanuel’s 2002 congressional campaign and was Emanuel’s political and district director during his congressional tenure. Borovicka was hired by the firm John C. Corrigan & Associates in October 2013, which was lobbying on behalf of Xerox State & Local Solutions Inc. to land the red light network contract after the prior manager of the network, Redflex Traffic Solutions, lost it amid a series of reports the company bribed a CDOT official.

The Emanuel administration announced Xerox won the red-light camera contract 18 days after Borovicka was hired. It’s the latest in a series of reports of Emanuel being extremely cozy with lobbyists who wind up helping the companies they represent obtain city contracts.

(Xerox, by the way, was the same company that was stripped of its contract to handle Baltimore's red light camera network amidst numerous instances of faulty equipment.)

Garcia spokeswoman Monica Trevino previously told Chicagoist the commissioner’s position on the red light camera network was that he would remove cameras from intersections where there was no proof traffic safety improved after their installation. The Tribune has run a series of reports on the network’s “safety versus revenue” argument and found that shorter yellow light times at intersections with cameras they studied resulted in an increase in rear-end collisions.

After the IBT report went wide, Garcia said he would end the network since it mainly appears to profit companies with close ties to the mayor.

“We got new evidence this week that the red-light camera rip-off has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with profits,” Garcia said at a news conference. “The program is just one more way the mayor takes our money and gives it away to his corporate backers. It’s time to end the red-light rip-off. I will do it on Day One.”

Emanuel campaign spokesman Steve Mayberry accused Garcia of flip-flopping on the issue and stuck to the “these cameras save lives” argument Emanuel has flaunted during his mayoralty.

The Tribune questioned how Garcia would make up the revenue the network generates if he’s elected and follows through on his promise. Garcia said it’s also about safety and transparency. “This is about being honest with Chicagoans that the budget isn't going to be balanced on their backs.”

Emanuel, meanwhile, has vowed to add countdown timers to the red light cameras in the network that don’t have them, part of an ongoing series of reforms to the system. There are two bills pending in the Illinois General Assembly related to red light cameras. One would place a moratorium on adding more intersections to Chicago’s network. The other would ban them throughout the state.