A decision to relax rules on when a speed camera ticket can be issued met with a procedural hurdle at the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, with several council members squabbling after the vote on the measure was postponed.
Using a parliamentary procedure called “delay and publish”, whereby two aldermen can delay the vote on an ordinance, the vote on the speed camera bill was delayed by Ald. Jason Ervin. This decision means that the ordinance will not be voted on until at least the July city council meeting.
The new measure would eliminate a $35 ticket for photographed drivers exceeding the speed limit between six and nine miles per hour and instead set the threshold for receiving tickets at 10 miles per hour over the limit.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had spoken out forcefully against the vote but suffered a legislative defeat when the measure narrowly passed the finance committee by a 16-15 vote on Tuesday, setting up a potential vote of the full board on Wednesday.
Instead, it was Ervin, who voted against the measure in committee, who used the “delay and publish” maneuver to delay the vote on the bill.
Aldus. Anthony Beale, who introduced the order, argued against the move, saying that since a vote had already been delayed once, it could not be delayed a second time. Lightfoot allowed the “defer and publish” maneuver to continue, saying it was within council rules.
In response, Beale and Ald. Raymond Lopez began moving to “defer and release” several other measures that emerged during the council meeting, leading an exasperated Lightfoot to confront the two lawmakers.
“(Are you going to) play this game on every item that pops up?” Lightfoot asked.
“Yeah,” Beale replied.
Arguments over the new measure sparked heated debate among lawmakers, with Lightfoot sending out a press release criticizing the 16 city council members who voted in favor of raising the ticketing threshold.
‘The City Council’s Finance Committee has voted to sanction higher speeds around schools and parks when it seems every day there is another death on the road from speeding and reckless driving’ , Lightfoot said in a statement. “It is simply unconscionable that after losing 173 Chicagoans to speeding-related fatalities in 2021, some aldermen are acting with such little regard for public safety.”
Lightfoot said the fines generated by the cameras help pay for infrastructure, after-school programs and other budget items.
Beale says the measure would help the city’s black communities, which he says are disproportionately affected by speed cameras.
“Most of this money is on the backs of those who can least afford it in black and brown communities,” he said.
Aldus. Susan Sadlowski Garza says there’s a camera in her neighborhood on Indianapolis Boulevard that’s raised thousands of dollars on its own, and she’s seen no change in driving habits despite the threat of speeding tickets of speed.
“This camera makes over a million dollars a year and it’s not going down,” she said. “If it changed people’s driving habits, we would see those revenues go down.”
Yet there was much opposition to the movement, including from 38e Ald district. Nicholas Sposat.
“I’m very passionate about this and I’m very concerned about the safety of children in my community,” he said.