Being familiar with our story roster when it comes to traffic and speed cameras, the only logical conclusion that can be reached is that these devices have almost nothing to do with driver safety and almost everything to do with bringing in revenue for local governments. And, with the focus being on revenue as opposed to keeping human beings from harm, the mystery for all of the corruption surrounding how these camera contracts are awarded and implemented vanishes into a story of the age-old greed of the human being.

But to really see how spectacularly these cameras fail at just about everything, we can eschew the reports on safety and the lack of their impact for the moment and focus instead on how it’s quickly becoming clear that the cameras do a shitty job at the bringing-in-revenue part of the equation as well. We’ve seen already the staggering statistics on how many refunds have been issued for tickets issued by the camera system, but now the courts are getting involved as well. An example of this can be seen in Chicago, where a judge has ruled that camera tickets spanning back over a decade are simply void and that the city had violated the due process rights of the citizens under its care.

In a harshly worded ruling handed down late Friday, Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy kept alive a lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions dollars in refunds for motorists ticketed since 2003 after City Hall “skipped a step” mandated by the city’s own municipal code. The lawsuit filed nearly a year ago accused the Emanuel administration of violating the requirement to issue a second notice of violation before issuing a determination of liability against motorists issued speed-camera and red-light camera tickets.

The suit further alleged that the city failed to specify the make of the vehicle and that city notices indicate that late penalties will be assessed if payment is not received within 21 days of a liability determination, when a 25-day grace period is required by law.

I’m from and of this city and the notion that government officials didn’t bother to follow their own municipal codes and laws is so shocking that-haha, no it isn’t, my god this happens all the time. Still, the true nature of greedy government is on display here, with the city being so blinded by cartoonish dollar signs dancing before its collective eyes that it couldn’t see that the bullshit camera policy that it knew wasn’t being used for safety reasons wouldn’t even be able to pull in the revenue it wanted either, after the legal challenges.

And it’s not like the city even put in a real effort in this instance. The second notice of violation provision required by law is quite simple to follow. A first notice is handed out, after all, and this provision is shampoo in nature: rinse and repeat. It’s important, though, as it gives alleged traffic violators ample opportunity to contest tickets handed out by the camera overlords. Except, of course, the city clearly wanted to minimize the number of people contesting tickets, because that costs time and money, and this was all about generating revenue. This can be more clearly seen as the city haphazardly adjusted late fees for the tickets outside of the law.

Kennedy ruled that the three named plaintiffs in the case — Delyn McKenzie-Lopez; Themasha Simpson and Erica Lieschke — had “sufficiently alleged facts showing that the city’s retention of payments from determinations made without a second notice violates the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience.”

“The alleged practice of accelerating late fees without statutory compliance is sufficient to show a violation of the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience,” the judge wrote.

And this paves the way for the plaintiffs to request class-action status for anyone who received and paid these tickets since 2003. The city will likely settle that action, of course. After all, if it were happy to pay the family of a teenager executed in the street by police a couple of million to stay silent, it won’t think twice about making this whole thing go away.

But all of that does is affirm that these traffic cameras are good for nothing, as safety was never a concern and now the city is paying out as a result of tickets issues rather than collecting. Bang up job all around, Chicago.


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