The Debit Cam

Here at Ward Room, we want to do everything we can to help the city of Chicago balance its budget. We appreciate the need to install cameras that catch motorists making rolling right turns on red lights, or barreling past elementary schools at 30 miles an hour. We understand why it’s important to write parking tickets outside the 8 a.m. Sunday service at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue.

But just because the city issues a ticket doesn’t guarantee the scofflaw will pay. Out-of-town tourists are notorious for blowing off parking violations. And even Chicagoans have to be badgered with letters and license plate suspensions. As a last resort, the city boots cars and tows them to an impound lot -- a time-consuming process that requires the work of many pension-collecting employees.

That’s why Ward Room Laboratories has developed the next generation of traffic cameras: The Debit Cam™. The Debit Cam not only records traffic violations, it reads license plate numbers, and, using debit-card information collected by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, instantly charges the offender’s bank account for the fine.

It’s a win-win for driver and city alike. Motorists will never again have to worry about late fees doubling their fines. The Department of Revenue can lay off dozens of clerks and boot crews, saving millions of dollars, which will instead be paid to Ward Room, as a licensing fee for The Debit Cam.

It will still be possible to contest a ticket under this new system. You can take your case to Administrative Law Judge at any Department of Revenue office. If you win, the city will put the money back in your account. (But who ever wins a case before an Administrative Law Judge? They know who pays their salaries.)

Suppose your account doesn’t have enough money to cover the fee. Suppose you only have $54 left until payday. First of all, you should have thought of that before you ran the red light. The Debit Cam will read your license plate, then the Department of Revenue will mail you a notice -- for double the original fee. Just for making the city go to the trouble of using paper and postage.

As for you wiseacres who rub snow on your license plates in the winter, hoping to obscure the numbers -- these cameras use the same X-ray technology as airport scanners. If we can see through your clothes, we can read your license plate and get into your bank account.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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