Two big items are up for vote during Wednesday's city council meeting: Mayor Rahm Emanuel's speed cameras and proposed Infrastructure Plan. The meeting could prove to be Emanuel's biggest so far. Here's a breakdown of the two.
Speed cameras: Emanuel wants to retrofit about 300 red-light cameras with speed sensors at intersections near Chicago schools and parks. The mayor says the new cameras are essential to protecting the lives of children, but critics think it's a way to ticket residents and make money for the city.
In response to criticism, Emanuel further softened some provisions of the proposed ordinance. For the first 30 days after a camera is installed in a safety zone, drivers will only get warnings. Afterward, fines will climb from $50 for cars traveling 6-10 miles over the posted limit in the safety zone to $100 for cars traveling 11 miles or more over the limit.
The cameras were approved this week by the City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety.
Infrastructure Trust: The plan meant to improve Chicago's crumbling infrastructure would be funded by private donations through partnerships made by Emanuel and wouldn't be subject to public scrutiny. The $7 billion plan is intended to improve city streets, water systems and schools, and spend big bucks to renovate Chicago Transit Authority stations.
If the Trust is approved, the City Council still would vote on land and money projects, but wouldn't necessarily get to review projects funded by the Infrastructure Trust.
Seven aldermen voted this week against the ordinance, which ultimately passed through the Finance Committee. One of them, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), said the plan deserves "far more scrutiny than possible in the few days aldermen had for review."
"Exactly who are these private 'partners' coming to our 'rescue?'" Hairston wrote in a public letter. "As with the parking meters I also voted against, I see too little transparency, accountability, oversight or evidence to justify a leap of faith."