So for Alderman Mell to exclaim in the media, “I love the red-light cameras,’’ is to misunderstand the problem many of us have with the lack of transparency and oversight of the privatization of city services. Newspaper investigations have alleged bribes, and reported unexplained spikes in tickets and a $7.7 million windfall for the city this year from the 77,000 tickets issued under the yellow light change. This controversy resulted in a review by the Office of the Inspector General.
"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,’’ 33rd Ward aldermanic candidate Annisa Wanat said. “As representatives of 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 contracts for the red-light camera program.
The Office of Inspector General's report says the city transportation department’s mismanagement resulted in inconsistent ticketing, which negatively affected public safety, and decreased public trust.
It seems the public outcry over the tickets and subsequent investigations are getting the city to take some of the right steps toward transparency and oversight, but stating “I love the red-light cameras’’ shows Ald. Mell just doesn't understand the public trust placed in her to ensure her constituents’ hard-earned tax dollars are spent responsibly.