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The [Wednesday] Papers

COLUMN_QT2.gifWe're still having issues with QT, none of which are the fault of legendary Chicago journalist Zay N. Smith.

Nonetheless, he soldiers on in service of the people.

Today's column here.

Red Flexics
"Accusing Chicago's red-light camera vendor of covering up a 2-year-old breach of ethics until a Tribune investigation brought it to light, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office on Tuesday threw out the company's bid for a lucrative new speed camera contract," the paper reports.

And take your cameras with you!

"The city also raised serious doubts about the future of Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.'s role as the longtime operator of Chicago's red-light camera program that since 2003 has generated some $300 million in fines for the city and $97 million in revenue for the publicly traded company, according to city records."

While the underlying ethics violation - a $910 hotel tab - doesn't sound like much, the city noted that Reflex's failure to report the violation prevented it from taking its own look at the official in question as well as determining whether he should remain in a management position.


"The inspector general's office is looking at much broader allegations of wrongdoing involving the company's relationship with the former city manager in charge of the red-light program, said Sarah Hamilton, Emanuel's chief spokeswoman.

That official, John Bills, the former managing deputy commissioner in the Transportation Department, eventually retired from the city and went to work as a consultant to the Traffic Safety Coalition - run by a political ally of Rahm Emanuel and funded by . . . wait for it . . . Redflex.


As the Tribune notes, the move could imperil Reflex's contracts elsewhere. For example, the Sky Valley Chronicle out of Washington State picked up the story this morning and reported this:

In September 2011 reported that a campaign to convince Albuquerque, New Mexico voters to support those controversial red light ticketing cameras on the October 3rd ballot had been bankrolled by Redflex - the same company that profits millions from the fines and the same Redflex company that Monroe's city leaders signed a contract with for the cameras to be deployed on Monroe streets.

KOB-TV Channel 4, New Mexico's first TV station discovered from campaign finance reports that Redflex, the company that operates the cameras, donated $45,000 to the initiative "Safe Roads Albuquerque."

Safe Roads Albuquerque had mailed a flyer asking voters to support the red light cameras. The station reported that all but $50 donated to the campaign came from Redflex.

The Chronicle reported at that time that this appeared to be consistent with what citizen activists in Monroe and other cities were saying: namely there is virtually no local grass roots support for the cameras, and whatever support there is for the cameras must be generated by city councils who are more interested in money than safety issues, critics say, and the camera companies themselves.

In every city in Washington State where voters have had a chance to express their opinion they have registered an overwhelming no vote on the cameras.

Redflex took in $17.5 Million in the last five years up to Sept. 2011 from red light runners in Albuquerque, according to the KOB-TV report.

Redflex is also a finalist for contracts in Baltimore and Youngstown, Ohio and is sponsoring its own study for the poor village of Monroeville, also in Ohio. (Gee, I wonder how that will come out.) Canton said no. I'm sure there are more markets in play, but that's what sources close to Google told me this morning.

Fiber Optics
"A group of attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday to demand new hearings for scores of imprisoned men who claim their confessions were extracted through torture at the hands of Chicago police officers," AP reports.

"The lawsuit gives new hope to more than 100 people who filed claims of torture with a commission of inquiry before its work was halted this summer due to state budget cuts. Only six of those cases have been referred to a judge for further action."

The work of that commission has been partially restored, but it remains woefully underfunded.

Fiber optics in Aurora, though.


Also, friends and family of Burge victims on the South Side will soon get the news faster that their loved ones are screwed!

Night Shift
"A 'midnight raid' at the Cook County morgue by the county's top watchdog turned up more embarrassment for an office garnering bad headlines this year - one staffer was sleeping and two others were watching a Bruce Lee movie," the Sun-Times reports.

As I reported back in June in the item Master Morgue Mopes, the place was never the same after they hired Bill Blazejowski.

Now here's some new exclusive surveillance footage captured just before the latest raid:


After All, It's Illinois
Please tell me they aren't getting paid.

Cubbie Math
Cubs Reduce Ticket Prices By 2 Percent.

A) Which matches their chances of having a winning season

B) To be offset by 2% more foam in everyone's $8 Old Style

C) Now affordable to the 2%, not just the 1%

Debate Wrap
Obama Sucks More Aggressively.


More at @BeachwoodReport.


Frankly, it sounded to me like he was whining incoherently all night. On the other hand, Romney's positions are incoherent so it's a wash.

Rookie On The Run
In Fantasy Fix.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Seeing red.


Posted on October 17, 2012

MUSIC - Madonna vs. Moderna.
TV - Sundays With The Military-Industrial Complex.
POLITICS - Private Equity In The ER.
SPORTS - Suspicious Betting Trends In Soccer.

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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