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Monday, October 15, 2012

City Red-Light Camera Vendor Under Scrutiny - Chicago Corruption!
Ahhh! Good old Chicago-land corruption! Every little Podunk town in Arizona has these cameras, not only for red lights, but speed traps as well. All in the name of revenue collection from travelers not familiar with the area. It’s sickening to watch the locals drive like a-holes all over town and slow down where they know the cameras are! And you wonder why there is a demand for radar detectors? "Chicago has reaped over 300 Million in fines since 2003!" Article written by and thanks to David Kidwell of the Chicago Tribune. A link to their site is provided below:

Prompted by a Tribune investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in Chicago's red-light camera program, an Arizona-based firm has disclosed it paid a $910 luxury hotel tab for the city official in charge of its contract and failed to tell City Hall about the ethics breach for two years.
Lawyers for Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. said the firm disciplined the executive vice president involved and sent him to "anti-bribery" training after the incident, but did not report the violation to the Chicago Board of Ethics until this month, after the newspaper's inquiries.
The company also acknowledged to the newspaper it did not disclose internal allegations about ties between the city official and a Redflex contractor who received more than $570,000 in commissions — $1,500 for each of the 384 cameras the company installed in Chicago.
The company said an exhaustive probe by an outside law firm found no evidence of an inappropriate relationship, although neither man was questioned in the probe. Both men told the newspaper they've done nothing improper.
The disclosures add to a growing list of questions about Redflex, including its relationship with John Bills, the man at City Hall who oversaw the company's biggest U.S. contract from its beginning in 2003. The Tribune previously disclosed that after retiring from the city last year, Bills went to work as a consultant for the Redflex-funded Traffic Safety Coalition.
That group, run by a political ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, backed the mayor's successful push to expand the city's camera program to target speeders. The Emanuel administration now has the authority to pepper half the city with cameras that could tag speeders in school and park "safety zones" for tickets as high as $100. And Redflex is a top contender for the new business.
The stakes are huge — the business could be worth tens of millions of dollars to vendors, and the city has already reaped more than $300 million in camera fines since 2003. Emanuel is counting on up to $30 million in revenue next year from the new speed cameras, which the city hopes to begin testing late this year.
Redflex describes its Chicago camera contract as the "largest enforcement program in the world" and holds it out as a model in efforts to expand across the country.
A spokeswoman for Emanuel said late Friday that the mayor ordered the corporation counsel to review the allegations "that occurred before he took office" and the matter was also reported to the city inspector general's office.
"If true, the city will pursue all remedies, including permanent debarment of Mr. Bills and Redflex from ever doing business with the city of Chicago on any current or future contracts," said spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton. "The mayor has zero tolerance for this type of misconduct — from an employee or contractor — and will act swiftly and harshly whenever abuse is uncovered to protect Chicago taxpayers."
Many of the questions about the Redflex success in Chicago revolve around the friendship between Bills, who was the $138,000-a-year managing deputy commissioner for the city Transportation Department, and Marty O'Malley, who was retained by Redflex as its Chicago liaison at the outset of the red-light program in 2003.
The two men told the Tribune they were longtime acquaintances whose families lived in the same Southwest Side neighborhood near the St. Bede Catholic Church years ago. They said neither of them knew what the other's job was until they met in their official capacities with the fledgling Chicago program — Bills on one side as the overseer of the city contract and O'Malley on the other as the Redflex customer service representative.
Both Bills, 51, and O'Malley, 72, said their relationship played no role in O'Malley's hiring and in no way influenced Bills' management of the contract. Both said their friendship grew while working closely together on the program for nearly a decade.
Redflex general counsel Andrejs Bunkse said Thursday that the company was unaware the two men knew each other before O'Malley was hired. He said, "I do not know," when asked whether Bills played any role in O'Malley's hiring.
But in an Aug. 24, 2010, letter to the board of directors of the company's Australian parent company, a Redflex executive raised questions about Bills' relationship with O'Malley and said O'Malley's involvement in the program was unnecessary. The Tribune has obtained a copy of the letter, which alleged myriad internal problems at the company.
It also alleged Bills received "nonreported lavish" hotel accommodations "directly on the expense report" of Redflex Executive Vice President Aaron Rosenberg.
"This alone would nullify our contract arrangement with Chicago," the letter said.
Bunkse said the company was rocked by the serious allegations and the board of directors ordered an outside investigation by the Chicago law firm of Quarles & Brady. He said the three-week "deep-dive" probe included employee interviews and an extensive review of company expense reports. The investigation discounted most of the allegations in the letter, Bunkse said, with the notable exception of the one-time hotel tab for Bills.
Bunkse further cast doubt on the letter by claiming the executive wrote it while under investigation by the company for substantial abuse of a company expense account.
Rosenberg was warned by Redflex's top executives "that this was a potential conflict of interest issue and a violation of company policy and a follow-up event would result in his termination," Bunkse said. "And we put him through anti-bribery training."

Click here to link to the Chicago Tribune

1 comment:

  1. Once in a blue moon, integrity matters in government - EVEN in notorious Chicago. At least the graft by Redflex over the years takes them out of the bidding for the predatory money-grab speed camera cash register project.

    What is hard to understand is WHY Chicago residents don't rise up and demand the predatory ticket cameras be entirely removed and replaced with better engineering that would make the city safer. WHY do Chicago residents accept lower safety and massive amounts of camera fines? I know why the city government wants lower safety and more fines -- $$$$$$. But why don't the residents vote the camera supporters out of office - and replace them with officials that believe real traffic safety is more important morally than ticket revenue.

    Adding one second to the yellow intervals on the traffic lights would almost ...
    certainly reduce violations by more than the red light camera cash registers. Setting main road speed limits at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions would result in smoother and safer traffic flow with fewer accidents. See the science of these issues on our website.

    AND, in these tough economic times, WHY do Chicago officials and residents tolerate sending millions of dollars to Arizona and Australia (Redflex corporate homes), dollars that leave the Chicago economy forever? Wouldn't it be better for Chicago to keep these dollars circulating in the local economy to be spent in Chicago stores, malls, restaurants, entertainment businesses, service businesses, etc.

    James C. Walker
    Life Member - National Motorists Association
    Board Member and Executive Director - National Motorists Association Foundation
    Ann Arbor, MI