Aldermen to call for watchdog probe, possibly red light refunds (VIDEO)

July 21, 2014

John Byrne, Clout Street, Chicago Tribune

A group of Chicago aldermen is planning to call on City Hall’s top watchdog to launch an audit of the city’s red light camera system with an eye toward issuing refunds to anyone who has been wrongly ticketed.

Today, Ald. Scott Waguespack said he and several colleagues want Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to begin an exhaustive review of the citywide network of red light cameras in response to a Tribune investigation showing evidence that wild swings in the number of tickets issued at dozens of intersections since 2007 were caused by faulty equipment, human tinkering or both.

The 32nd Ward alderman said City Council colleagues also will call on the Chicago Department of Transportation to get a handle on what’s happened with the cameras.

“We want to see if we can have (Ferguson’s office and CDOT) review every intersection” that has a camera, Waguespack said.

“We want to find out what went wrong, and we want to see refunds where the ticket was wrongly issued. That would be the way to do it. The basis would be refunds in cases where tickets were wrongly issued,” he said.

Waguespack, a member of the City Council Progressive Caucus that often calls on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to move slower on enacting initiatives so aldermen can better get a handle on the financial impact to Chicagoans, said he and others have been complaining to city transportation officials for some time about the short length of the yellow lights at some camera-controlled intersections

“We’ve already asked CDOT about the yellow lights and they were like ‘Don’t worry about it, everything is cool,’ ” Waguespack said. “Well, clearly it wasn’t.”

The alderman, whose ward includes parts of Bucktown, the Ukrainian Village, Roscoe Village and Lake View, said he has been hearing over the past few days from constituents incensed by the Tribune’s findings on the problems with the red light cameras and the city’s apparent ignorance of the cause of the wrongly issued tickets.

“People are upset with the lack of a response from the city: ‘How could they not know what’s going on with the cameras?’ The refund issue has been a big concern too,” Waguespack said.

“It’s more about money, not about safety.” (VIDEO)