Natarus's Red Light District

Former alderman claims camera

By Steve Rhodes
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 1:52 PM CDT
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Add another wacky entry into the annals of former Ald. Burt Natarus, perhaps best known for championing an ordinance that would have required horses downtown to wear diapers: 

He got red-light cameras installed near his condo in an intersection that had virtually no accidents.

"I put it in there," Natarus told the Chicago Tribune. "It's a very dangerous intersection . . . They roll right through that thing."

State and city records, however, show that the intersection at Kingsbury and Ontario, just steps from where Natarus lives, was virtually accident-free in the two years prior to installation of the cameras in 2007.

The cameras have resulted in 18,000 tickets, illustrating the Tribune's finding that your suspicions are true: red-light cameras aren't safety devices but revenue agents.

Natarus doesn't much care.

"In other words you have to wait for an accident for something to happen?" he told the paper.

Well, when you are prioritizing where in this vast city to put a limited number of cameras, yes.

Meanwhile, city officials say Natarus had nothing to do with placing the cameras there.

"They're crazy," Natarus says.

Perhaps. Burt would know, he goes to the meetings.

But what's really crazy is that it's nearly impossible to tell whether the cameras are working.

Besides asking Burt Natarus, that is.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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