As alderman of the 5th Ward, which covers liberal Hyde Park, it is Leslie Hairston’s role to point out the inherent unfairness of schemes that enrich a mayor’s cronies at the expense of ordinary Chicagoans.
So Hairston is now speaking out against the speed cameras which will be installed around the city this fall. In a test run, the cameras caught so many leadfoots that the Tribune estimates the program “could reap well into the hundreds of millions of dollars in the program's first year” -- beyond Rahm Emanuel’s wild expectations.
Hairston was one of 14 aldermen who voted against the cameras when they were approved by the City Council. Ninety percent of Hairston’s congested ward falls into the “safety zones” near schools and parks that are eligible for speed camera, and she was concerned that aldermen will have no say in their placement. Hairston’s ward is already heavily covered by parking meters, so speed cameras will be another disincentive to visit Hyde Park.
Now, Hairston believes the speed cameras are a money, a tax that will discourage middle-class motorists from driving in the city, and, eventually, from living in the city.
“I guess this is just going to be a city for wealthy people, that’s where we’re headed,” Hairston told the Tribune.
Hairston is half right. Chicago is going to become a city for wealthy people and for poor people, with few people left in between. We’re already seeing this. The most extraordinary finding of the 2010 Census was that the fastest-growing neighborhood in Chicago was the Loop, which is also one of the most expensive. Speed cameras will intensify that trend. Chicago will become a city of people who can afford the risk of driving a car, and of people who can’t afford cars in the first place.
The Expired Meter has a list of the first 12 of what will be 50 speed cameras installed by the end of the year. The first four will be turned on today. As a precaution, you might want to stop driving in these neighborhoods altogether.
Garfield Park, 100 N. Central Park Ave.
Gompers Park, 4222 W. Foster Ave.
Washington Park, 5531 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive
Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie Ave.
Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Humboldt Dr.
Douglas Park, 1401 S. Sacramento
Curie High School, 4959 S. Archer Ave.
McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Rd.
Jones High School, 606 S. State St.
Legion Park, 3100 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Abbott Park, 49 E. 95th St. Chicago
Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111th St.