Blue Island Red Light Cameras Illegal
Posted in the Dixmoor Forum
#1 Apr 19, 2012
Lawsuit calls citys red-light cameras illegal
A class action lawsuit was filed Wednesday to put the brakes on Chicagos use of red light cameras, which are described as illegal in court papers.
The suit was filed by two motorists ticketed after their vehicles, authorities said, were filmed blowing red lights in Chicago. The suit also opens the doors for other plaintiffs to join the case.
The city never had the authority to use the cameras as a tool of traffic enforcement, the lawsuit contends.
Chicago has consistently claimed that it had home rule authority to enact its 2003 ordinance establishing a novel Automated Red Light Camera Program, the suit states.However, home rule authority in Illinois has never extended to the power of any municipality, even Chicago, to adopt alternative enforcement mechanisms for traffic violations involving vehicle movement or similar offenses.
While city officials maintain the state Legislature approved a 2006 red light camera enabling statute it doesnt suddenly make the program legal, the plaintiffs say in their suit.
[E]ven if the enabling law is valid and does now allow municipalities like Chicago to adopt red light camera ordinances as defined, that law cannot be used to breathe life into Chicagos void 2003 ordinance or validate Chicagos Red Light Camera Program, which was unauthorized by law at its inception and has remained so at all time up to this date, the suit states, which leaves a question about why the city didnt re-enact the red-light camera ordinance once the state legislature gave it the green light.
More than 500,000 red violation notices are issued annually, the suit states, with the fine going from $90 to $100.
Red-light camera tickets generated $48 million in 2009, though it costs the city $18.1 million annually to operate and maintain the system.
The plaintiffs are asking a judge to declare the program illegal and void and therefore to return millions of dollars in fines back to motorists snagged by the red light cameras.
These fines were collected without legal authority and, under principles of equity, the city has no right to retain them in good conscience.
An attorney for the plaintiffs declined comment Wednesday. The city Law Department didnt immediately comment.
#2 Mar 3, 2013
Editorial: Red-light scandal a reminder on all public contracts
When a red-light camera scandal in Chicago came to light recently, it might have been easy from our suburban perch just to chalk it up as another gust of corruption blowing through the city.
But corruption is no light matter, and the suburbs are not immune to it. In governments large and small, strict transparency policies and a constant watch for improprieties are needed to ensure business deals are clean.
In Chicago, a transportation official who is now retired is accused of accepting expensive vacations and gifts such as Super Bowl tickets from Redflex, the city's red-light camera vendor. Chicago has announced it will not renew its contract with Redflex in July, and Redflex officials have launched an internal investigation and fired the top executive they say made the deals.
Eyes are now turning to Redflex's other clients, including several in the suburbs that will have to decide whether the company takes enough corrective action for them to feel comfortable about renewing contracts. Will it be necessary scrap an entire business relationship over what appears to be the misdeeds of a single employee? If the performance and the price are satisfactory, there may be no need to change.
Indeed, some have been pleased with Redflex's service, including Aurora and Gurnee, as reported by the Daily Herald's Marni Pyke last week. But Aurora and another Redflex client, Carol Stream, are wary and say the recent events will factor into discussions about future business. "When the contract comes up for renewal, one thing we will have to consider is the character of the organization," Aurora police Chief Greg Thomas said.
Regardless of which company towns use for traffic cameras or any contracted service, for that matter the responsibility of elected officials to ensure these deals are without blemish cannot be understated. Those working on contract negotiations, whether they are elected officials or paid staff, should not accept gifts of any kind.
They could consider what Gurnee does. Its contract negotiations with Redflex are handled by an independent committee rather than a single person, helping to maintain the proper checks needed for each stage.
When making decisions about red-light cameras, towns have had to tread carefully. Because of the public's general contempt for them, any missteps become news and reopen debates.
We are less than enthusiastic about these programs ourselves and have stated so in the past. If statistics show that cameras increase safety at a particular intersection, fine. If they serve only to boost revenue, one $100 ticket at a time, when drivers roll over a white line before safely turning right on red, we think that's a problem.
But the recent Chicago case has nothing to do with the virtues or evils of red-light cameras. It's about caution, scrutiny and openness. The allegations of wrongdoing are a reminder of what can happen when those are neglected. Beyond that, it really shouldn't take a scandal for officials to critically examine the potential for perks to be passed from contractors to employees who are paid by tax dollars. Such precautions should be a given.
#3 Mar 3, 2013
FireRedflex.com - Information about Redflex and photo enforcement that they don't want you to know about
ETHICS AND FRAUD
Red-light camera firm fires VP, sues him over Chicago scandal
Feb 22, 2013 | Chicago Tribune | Article
Embattled red-light camera vendor Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. fired its executive vice president Wednesday and accused him of misconduct involving the company's scandal-plagued Chicago contract.
Reeling from the crippling loss of that contract and the expanding corruption investigation, Arizona-based Redflex filed a lawsuit against the former top executive that lays much of the blame for the company's troubles on his "dishonest and unethical conduct" over a number of years.
City dropping red-light camera firm as probe heats up
Feb 8, 2013 | Chicago Tribune | Article
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today he will axe the citys embattled red-light camera vendor when its contract expires in July, citing new investigative findings that the company gave thousands of dollars in free trips to the former city official who oversaw the decade-long program.
Emanuel announced the action against Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. following the Chicago Tribunes report today that the chairman of Redflexs Australian parent company resigned this week and trading in the company's stock was suspended amid an intensifying investigation into allegations of corruption in its Chicago contract.
#4 Mar 3, 2013
And guess which company blue island choose to provide red light cameras?
#5 Mar 4, 2013
Donny has taken many Redflex vacations this year,and will continue to until the contract is up.
#6 Mar 16, 2013
Probe deepens as U.S. attorney subpoenas ex-city official
Federal authorities have launched a criminal probe of bribery allegations in Chicago's red-light camera program, issuing a subpoena for financial records of the former city official at the center of the escalating international scandal.
The subpoena, confirmed Friday by the former official's attorney, was the first indication that the U.S. attorney's office has opened a case since the Tribune raised questions in October about the city's contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, triggering a series of investigations that now threaten to consume the company.
Redflex Holdings Ltd., the Australian parent company, has said an internal investigation uncovered evidence that its decadelong Chicago program was likely built on a $2 million bribery scheme involving the city manager and a longtime friend who was hired as the company's Chicago consultant. The program is also the subject of an investigation by city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
The subpoena was signed by an assistant U.S. attorney and delivered to the ex-wife of retired managing deputy transportation commissioner John Bills, his attorney Nishay Sanan said. Bills has denied any wrongdoing. Sanan said he sent a letter to federal prosecutors asking that all further requests for records come to him.
"I don't know why they didn't just subpoena my client directly, but they delivered a subpoena to his ex-wife," Sanan said.
The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment. Bills' ex-wife did not return a telephone message.
In October, the newspaper raised questions about Bills' ties to Redflex consultant Marty O'Malley and disclosed a 2010 company whistle-blower letter alleging an inappropriate relationship between Bills and Redflex that included lavish hotel accommodations. Bills and O'Malley, longtime friends from the same South Side neighborhood, said they had done nothing improper.
Bills oversaw the red-light program from its beginning in 2003 until he retired in 2011. It became Redflex's largest traffic camera program in North America, raising about $100 million for Redflex and more than $300 million in ticket revenue for the city.
In response to Tribune inquires, the company told the newspaper and City Hall that the whistle-blower allegations had no merit and that an internal investigation found only one instance of an improper hotel reimbursement for Bills, at the Arizona Biltmore. But the company hired a second law firm to take another look.
That investigation, led by former federal prosecutor and city Inspector General David Hoffman, found that the whistle-blower's allegations did have merit.
Redflex said earlier this month that Hoffman found the company paid $2.03 million to its Chicago consultant, with some of the money intended for Bills. The company also acknowledged that it plied Bills with 17 company-paid trips from 2003 through 2010, including airfare, hotels, golf outings, rental cars and meals.
"The arrangement between the city program manager, the consultant, and Redflex will likely be considered bribery by the authorities," said a summary of the Hoffman findings publicly released March 4 by the company to the Australian Securities Exchange. The summary said company officials misled City Hall and the Tribune.
Redflex acknowledged last month that it is sharing Hoffman's work with law enforcement. The chairman of the Australian company and the top executives of its Phoenix-based subsidiary have all left amid the unfolding controversy, and Redflex stock has plummeted.
Emanuel's administration referred the matter to the inspector general and barred Redflex from bidding on the city's speed camera program after the Tribune's initial report. Last month after the company acknowledged its problems were more widespread and that it was sharing information with law enforcement the mayor banned Redflex from renewing its contract to run more than 380 red-light cameras when it expires in June.
#7 Jul 29, 2013
Our View: Red-light cameras a bad deal for taxpayers
SouthtownStar editorial July 26, 2013
The SouthtownStars study of eye-in-the-sky red-light traffic camera performance in the Southland leads to several truths.
If the cameras only valid reason was to make traffic safer, maybe it works or maybe it doesnt, but incremental improvements in safety have come at a hefty price.
Some communities raked in millions from tickets the commercially managed red lights have generated. But other municipalities learned there are sharks in the water and those sharks have better contract lawyers.
Under the agreements, red-light camera companies make their money from monthly service fees and per-ticket fees, and the municipalities haul in leftover proceeds depending on how many of red-light tickets are issued. The losers seem to have been extravagantly naïve. Vendors of the technology have figured out how to frontload amazingly fat maintenance fees for technology that seems to require towering amounts of maintenance.
A cash cow with a large appetite is no bargain.
For those public officials who insist that making a quick buck was never the point, we are not only dubious, we think its a your-nose-is-growing Pinocchio moment.
Palos Heights and Evergreen Park have made no money. Hazel Crest, Orland Park and South Holland have only received a fraction of expected red-light revenue. Palos Heights has earned no money since 2009. Redflex has made $209,730.
Since 2009, Hazel Crest has taken in $101,000 but sent $240,000 to the vendor, RedSpeed. South Holland has taken in $131,000 since 2007, but paid $809,000 to Redflex. Others have made spectacular dividends. Chicago Heights has made $2.3 million since 2009; Country Club Hills took in $3.8 million since 2009, and Worth has made more than $2.6 million since 2007. Oak Lawn made more than $3.2 million in six years.
Every deal is different. Every experience unique. Some communities can connect decreased accidents to the cameras, but making millions of extra dollars on tickets does not automatically translate into safety. Mostly, its just more cash to spend.
We are tempted to sympathize with the municipalities that lost money, but we cant. They were suckers, and this is what happens to suckers.
We save our sympathy for citizens who foot the bill.
#8 Jul 30, 2013
They must return, all the money they received. It is only fair and right.
#9 May 16, 2014
Firm linked to red light bribe case identified
Defendant's lawyer rejects federal allegations that recommendation of Crestwood contractor was part of a scheme
Former city official John Bills, center, leaves court Wednesday after his arrest on a federal bribery charge.(Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 13, 2014)
By John Chase and David Kidwell, Tribune reporters
, May 15, 2014
An ex-City Hall official charged with taking bribes from Chicago's red light camera company recommended the firm hire a personal acquaintance as a subcontractor, his lawyer said Thursday, but he rejected federal allegations it was part of a scheme.
In charging John Bills with illegally steering the city's contract to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., federal prosecutors this week said Bills gave Redflex the name of a subcontractor to be used as a potential conduit for bribes. Authorities did not identify the company, only referring to it with the initial "A."
But on Thursday, Bills' attorney identified that company as Network Electric Inc., of Crestwood, and said Bills knows the owner.
"I believe they were acquaintances, yes," said the attorney, Nishay Sanan. "I know they knew each other. Redflex was in need of a subcontractor, and they asked John if he knew anybody and he suggested that company."
Sanan said there was nothing inappropriate about the recommendation of Network Electric's CEO James Johnson, and Bills never suggested anything improper.
The federal complaint does not allege the company or its owner did anything wrong. Johnson and officials with Network Electric did not return calls and messages for comment.
Federal prosecutors allege Bills schemed with Redflex officials from before the 2003 inception of the red light program until after his retirement in 2011. In return he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash spent on a vacation home, a boat and a Mercedes convertible, along with dozens of trips and a condominium near the company's Arizona headquarters, authorities allege.
According to the complaint, when Redflex was trying to get the city contract, Bills recommended the firm hire "Company A, which was owned by Subcontractor A." Sanan identified them as Network Electric and Johnson.
Redflex hired the Bills-recommended firm "to ensure that Bills supported Redflex in its efforts to be awarded the city of Chicago contract," according to the complaint.
After Redflex won the contract, "Subcontractor A" attended a celebratory dinner in June 2003 in Los Angeles with Bills, an ex-Redflex official who is now cooperating with investigators, and other Redflex employees, the complaint states. That night, according to the complaint, Bills said it was "time to make good" on being paid for helping Redflex win the contract.
After mentioning he wanted $100,000 or $200,000, Bills suggested two different ways Redflex could pay him, the complaint stated. One way was for Johnson to overbill Redflex and then Johnson would get the money to Bills, the complaint said.
Authorities do not allege that Redflex or Johnson acted on Bills' suggestion. Sanan said Bills denies any allegations in the complaint that Johnson or his company would act as a go-between for bribe payments.
"It's just not true," Sanan said. "He said,'Here's somebody I know' and that's it, but there was no money moving back and forth between Jimmy Johnson and Bills."
Authorities allege that Bills' other suggestion for receiving bribes was acted on when Redflex hired Bills' friend Martin O'Malley to the new role of Chicago customer liaison.
O'Malley served "as a conduit to get money to Bills in return for Bills' help in getting Redflex the city of Chicago contract, and for Bills' help in ensuring that Redflex's contract would potentially be expanded and renewed in the future," authorities alleged.
O'Malley's attorney did not return calls for comment.
#10 May 16, 2014
State election records show that Network Electric donated $6,100 between 2000 and 2004 to the 13th Ward Democratic Organization, a campaign fund controlled by Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan. Bills was a longtime top precinct captain in Madigan's political operation.
Only one other political donation from the firm is reflected in state records a $1,500 contribution to former Mayor Richard Daley's campaign fund in 2001.
The Tribune first disclosed the questionable relationship between Bills and Redflex in the fall of 2012, triggering a scandal that led Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire Redflex as the city's red light vendor.
The FBI must visit Blue Island and investigate the Red Light Camera contract. There is a reason Mayor Peloquin and his gang always refused a "Whistle Blower Ordinance". The corruption continues.
#11 May 16, 2014
Hey Bills---when the Feds go after a case, they usually get a conviction like 95% of the time...unless you dont care about going away for 10 years, you best start naming names...you're fast talking attorney sounds good on TV, but in the end you're the one who'll do the time---think that gf of yours you were funding will wait for you?...nah, not unless you got more cash to give her...start talking---this is a Federal Case, not state or county stuff, so you have no friends. Daley and Madigan cant save you.
#12 May 16, 2014
Silence is Golden
#13 May 17, 2014
It's time to make GOOD.
#14 Jul 18, 2014
Proposed class-action lawsuit seeks millions of dollars of Redflex profits
By Jason Meisner
July 17, 2014
A Northwest Side man filed a proposed class-action lawsuit today seeking at least $100 million from the scandal-plagued company that ran the citys red light camera program, claiming that an alleged bribery scheme exposed by the Tribune should nullify the companys profits.
Matthew Faulkner filed his federal complaint on behalf of anyone who paid a fine for a red light violation issued by the city from 2003 to 2013 when Redflex Traffic Systems administered the program. Attached to the lawsuit were documents showing Faulkner paid a $100 fine in early 2013 after his Nissan Infiniti was recorded going through a red light at the intersection of 76th Street and Stony Island Avenue.
The complaint outlines the Redflex scandal that erupted in October 2012 after the Tribune obtained a two-year-old internal Redflex whistleblower memo by an ousted vice president that detailed the alleged bribery scheme, including lavish company-paid vacations for former city transportation official John Bills.
Bills, a longtime City Hall insider who headed the citys red light camera program until 2011, was arrested in May and charged by federal prosecutors with plotting to steer the contract to Redflex before the first ticket was ever issued in 2003. Bills coached Redflex officials in a series of clandestine meetings and helped them grow their program into the largest in the country, authorities alleged.
In return, prosecutors alleged, Bills received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash spent on a vacation home, a boat and a Mercedes convertible, along with dozens of trips and a condominium near the company's Arizona headquarters.
As such, Redflexs $100 million (+) in revenue since 2003 generated under the corrupt contract represents ill-gotten gains that have unjustly enriched Redflex and should be disgorged, Faulkners lawsuit said.
Bills has denied any wrongdoing and is awaiting trial. Neither Redflex nor any company officials have been criminally charged, though the city canned Redflex last year in the wake of the scandal.
Faulkners local lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.
#15 Jul 18, 2014
Every dollar Blue Island received from their Red Light Camera should be returned with interest. And a apology.
#16 Jul 18, 2014
Hold tight. You will get your money back.
#18 Aug 13, 2014
Peloquin, is out there. Make him pay. He shove these cameras down our throats.
#20 Aug 14, 2014
Scam after Scam; deserves Jail Time.
#21 Oct 15, 2014
The Blue Island red light camera is illegal. When will all money be refunded? Call Mayor Vargas and demand a refund.
#22 Oct 23, 2014
We wonder what he knows about the Blue Island scam?
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