Complete Failure: Chicago's Speed Camera Traps Fail To Bring In The Revenue Mayor Emanuel Counted Upon
from the fast-cash dept
Speed cameras, just like their red-light camera brethren, have been pretty well established as nothing more than revenue machines for local municipalities. Their application results in a myriad of issues, such as the fact that the cameras don't work, not to mention that the cameras don't work, oh, and the cameras don't work and the companies behind them might try to fudge the evidence if you dispute a ticket. The excuse for these cameras that don't work has always been that they are designed to make the roads safer under the theory that if motorists know that the cameras exist, they will be less likely to speed. That supposed justification is belied by two facts. The first is that some people who have tried to warn motorists that the cameras exist have been dragged to court for doing so, which sort of defeats the entire supposed purpose of the cameras. The second fact that disproves the justification is that Chicago just can't help going all Chicago on itself.
Local reporters have the glorious story of the latest Chicago budget crisis that has Mayor Emanuel scrambling for only one reason: Chicago motorists are way better behaved than he'd planned for in his previous budget.
You heard that right: Good behavior is bad for the budget. Real bad, reports CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine. CBS 2 has learned the speed cameras caught far fewer speeders than expected. According to the Mayor's 2015 Budget Overview, there have been "lower than expected violation rates."Think about the logic here for a moment: Rahm Emanuel wrote a spending budget for the third largest city in the country that relied on a certain revenue number from speed cameras. Where's the incentive for better behavior on the road in that? There is none. The fact is that Chicago drivers are far better behaved than the city expected. That's an outcome you'd think the city would be celebrating. Instead, it's considered a negative, because the speed cameras were never about safety, they were only a method to fill the city's coffers to the tune of milliions of dollars. That isn't so much public policy as it is an extortion racket that happens to have failed.
How much lower? Fifty million dollars lower. Emanuel's administration had figured on $90 million in fines to help balance this year's budget, but they can only count on $40 million. That's a $50 million shortfall, putting pressure on the next spending plan.
"It was a combination of the camera company’s salesmanship and the city's greed," says camera critic Barnet Fagel.You may not want to forgive the camera company their sales tactics, but how much do you really want to fault them? They're a large company beholden to nothing beyond the profit motive. They can't be expected to have the best interests of a city's population at heart. The Chicago city government on the other hand? Most citizens likely didn't elect Mayor Emanuel out of a sense of sadomasochism or the theory that we all just have a bit too much money in our pockets. Stories like these are among the reasons that Emanuel isn't considered invulnerable in the upcoming mayoral election.