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Rahm's Red Light Running Woes Continue As New Videos Surface

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Apr 21, 2015 2:50PM

A blistering mayoral campaign seemingly reached its apex when Chuy Garcia famously declared that he would end Chicago's infamous red light camera network that many claimed did not actually impact traffic safety. While Mayor Emanuel shut down a number of the cameras, he remains a strong believer in the limited use of the program. But what good are red light cameras when public officials can willingly ignore them?

After the Mayor kept blowing through red lights, caught on camera after an election day lunch appearance which presumably was well-covered by the press and blatantly running red lights, an investigation showed that the Mayor accrued over two dozen traffic violations since 2012. Emanuel stated clearly that "nobody is above the law," however, he gave a meandering explanation of his motorcade's traffic violations, explaining that "when there is a tail car, given there are some instances where they need to get through the light, because they can't get separated from first car, that may be what it is."

So if that's the situation, then, well, how does the Mayor explain these?

Neighborhood website Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown brought attention to two videos which catch Mayor Emanuel's SUV (singular, not a second in sight) running red lights at Lake Shore Drive and Belmont and at Cicero and Washington. These events took place on March 14, and March 21, during the heart of the campaign season. In the first video, the SUV is shown missing a yellow light, blowing through the red and making a left turn from a middle lane. In the second, the SUV actually drives through an obvious red light into the wrong lane of oncoming traffic.

ABC7 Chicago's Ben Bradley reported on the videos last night and mentioned that during a Monday press conference when questioned about the incidents, Mayor Emanuel turned and walked away from reporters. When Chicagoist called for a statement regarding the videos yesterday, we were told by the mayor's press office they would get back to us, but we never received a response. A mayoral spokesperson did eventually release a statement, saying that "safety is paramount" and Emanuel expects his police bodyguards to obey the rules of the road. Also that all fines from both incidents have been paid.

Despite the mayor's insistence that he was not to blame for the previous traffic violations, these videos clearly show instances of a single car disregarding the law, not the case of a secondary vehicle trying to keep up with the first. It is entirely possible that these could be isolated incidents, however, it feels as if a picture is being painted of a mayor who regards traffic laws as being beneath him. Someone in Emanuel's administration better start learning to use the brake pedal a bit more often.