CHICAGO - Annisa Wanat, candidate for Alderman in the 33rd Ward, issued the following statement on the Office of the Inspector General's Report on the Reg-Light Camera Program as well as the response from the Department of Transportation. An investigation by the Chicago Tribune and subsequent requests by the Mayor and City Council prompted this review.
"One of the reasons I am running for City Council is to fight the waste of taxpayers' money through the irresponsible privatization of public assets. As representatives of the taxpayers, aldermen need to be vigilant in identifying both ill-conceived contracts, such as the parking meter fiasco and the mismanagement of contracts, such as the Redflex contract for the Red-Light Camera (RLC) Program.
The Office of Inspector General's (OIG) report released today states that the Department of Transportation's (CDOT) mismanagement resulted in inconsistent ticketing, possibly affected public safety, and definitely decreased public trust. Although the OIG noted that CDOT's management of the contract with the new RLC vendor, Xerox, has improved, the report included management recommendations for CDOT - including rejecting violations for yellow lights under the three-second threshold. CDOT also issued a statement outlining steps it is taking to implement these recommendations, including raising the yellow light violation back up to three seconds.
Although these are steps in the right direction, the OIG report states that in order to quickly respond to the public on this matter, its review was limited in scope and it did not complete a 'comprehensive audit.' For example, the OIG did not audit individual violations (the city retained another firm for this review) nor was it able to definitively conclude why the ticketing anomalies occurred in the first place.
As a result of this limited OIG review, questions still remain. Was anyone in city government held accountable for the mismanagement of the Redflex contact? Why was city not transparent about the change in standards regarding the timing on the yellow-light violation? How much money did it cost taxpayers for another firm to review individual tickets? As a result of this review, has the city revised its policies for contact oversight or are other government contracts still costing the taxpayers money because of gross mismanagement?
We still need to see a more comprehensive OIG audit or a public hearing on the RLC Program (such as the one already requested by 18 aldermen in July) in order to explore these questions. Although neither would address the final unanswered question, either would be a step in the right direction by prompting increased oversight of city contractors, greater accountability for our tax dollars, and as a result, improved public services and increased trust in city government."