As good news/bad news situations go, it’s hard to top legislation — innocuously labeled “Mandates-Various” — signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the end of July.
News reports at that time highlighted language that put very sensible restrictions on campaign donations from red-light camera companies to local officials and on local officials from being paid for any services rendered to a red-light camera company.
What those reports didn’t mention was language that also required the Illinois Department of Transportation to reinstall any red-light camera systems at intersections where they had been removed due to intersection construction.
Due to scandals around corruption on the part of local officials — like the late state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who’d pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a red-light camera company official in exchange for being the industry’s “protector” in the state legislature and others — the state had soured on red-light cameras.
IDOT slow-walked approving new ones, ordered some removed, and had begun a practice of not reinstalling them after construction without making a municipality reapply to have them.
The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office also stopped going after red-light camera ticket scofflaws through its Local Debt Recovery Program. It seemed like the days of red-light cameras in Illinois were numbered.
But language was added to the “Mandate-Various” legislation as a Senate floor amendment, mandating the reinstallation of red-light camera systems following construction, and it passed both houses with all of the Landmark area’s state reps and senators voting in favor.
North Riverside’s paid lobbyist, Chris Nybo, told the village’s elected officials at a recent meeting that he had, in fact, helped draft that language. That was very good news for North Riverside, which has taken in an average of $1.7 million in red-light camera fines since 2014, and for red-light camera companies, who continue to rake in profits.
It was very much less good news for Joe and Jane Motorist, who will continue to be dinged $100 for rolling through red lights while making right turns and playing Russian roulette with traffic signals while trying to make left turns as lights change.
It continues to be policing for profit at its most cynical. The fact that politicians and political parties can’t also profit from campaign cash and “consulting” deals from those firms doesn’t make it feel any better.