This just in from the “wood floats” department: the Tribune has a survey which finds that most city residents don’t want speed cameras, and that even those who do don’t buy Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s line that the devices are intended to protect children.
According to the survey, 54 percent of Chicagoans are against installing the cameras in what the mayor euphemistically calls “Child Safety Zones.” And 69 percent believe the Child Safety Zones are actually Money Sucking Zones.
The disparity between those results suggests that even some of the 43 percent of voters who said they back cameras nonetheless harbor doubts about the mayor’s stated reasons for wanting them. Just 22 percent of those surveyed agreed with Emanuel that the purpose of his speed camera program was to protect children.
“This is what irritates me about government,” said poll respondent Denene Young, of the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side. “It doesn't have anything to do with children. This all sounds like a bunch of malarkey, as my grandmother used to say.”
Despite the public’s opposition, the City Council passed the speed camera ordinance 33-14, with many aldermen rising to make emotional speeches about the need to protect children.
“What tipped me over the edge was when I had an eight-year-old kid hit on the way to Aldridge Grammar School,” 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale said. “That camera would have caught that driver who injured a kid in a hit-and-run accident.”
And 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno cited a promise he’d made to a high school girl who had been struck by a car.
“I’m not going to go back to the student at Clemente High School in the eye, and told her I’d support this bill in Springfield, I’m not going to go back and tell her I voted ‘no’ for nefarious reasons.”
Aldermen haven’t had much credibility in Chicago since the Gray Wolves scandals of the early 20th Century, so it’s no wonder the public isn’t buying it. A 2009 Tribune survey found that 59 percent of Chicagoans like the red light cameras, which wrote $69 million worth of tickets in 2010.
“Chicago was in the sixth year of its red-light program in 2009, raising the possibility that over time city residents could similarly warm to speed cameras,” the newspaper wrote.
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