Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been caught in yet another embarrassing situation. This one, however, is more than just embarrassing – it’s maddening. According to an ABC-TV investigation revealed on Monday, Rahm Emanuel’s vehicles that run him around the city regularly have had repeated violations of the Chicago’s red light cameras - as well as Rahm Emanuel’s speed cameras. While everyday people face stiff fines for their violations and face getting “booted” and towed away if they don’t pay up, Mayor Emanuel has the clout and luxury of ignoring his Chicago street violations.
Embarrassing? Yes. Maddening? Definitely! Emanuel ran for mayor on safety for the children as well as others. He has promoted the unpopular red light cameras – and his newly installed and activated speed cameras - with his saccharin-sincere notion of safety, not money, being the issue behind his money-making cameras from one end of the city to the other. Obviously, if it is so dangerous for cars to go at an elevated speed past a park or a school and it is so dangerous for a car to zoom through a red light, why is he doing it?
While the city commuters are creeping through school zones and past city parks long after the children should be at home, the mayor is flying through school zones, past parks, and through red lights without a care in the world. After all, he doesn’t have to pay for the ticket. He doesn’t get “booted.”
The man who is raking in millions of dollars to run for mayor again has been chauffeured around Chicago in a two-car caravan that has run red lights about 20 times in the past two-and-a-half years. Is he running to fundraisers – like the one coming up in June with Bill Clinton - in these vehicles? Who knows? The mayor being flown around Chicago in these vehicles said in 2011 that the city cameras are “supposed to work as a deterrent.” Yet, the flashing cameras apparently haven’t done a thing to slow his travelling down in the name of safety.
Three months ago, the mayor’s entourage of vehicles was caught passing one of the city parks – Gompers Park – at more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Everyday citizens would be paying dearly for that infraction. Not the mayor. Two months ago, one of Emanuel’s SUVs sped through a school zone going 18 miles an hour over the posted school zone speed limit - and he claims to be concerned about the safety of the children.
During that incident, the mayor’s vehicle had its police lights activated. One can only image why since Emanuel wasn’t even in Chicago at the time the incident occurred. Emanuel was in Texas at the South by Southwest Festival - likely schmoozing. In another incident on the city’s South Side on Stony Island last April, both of Emanuel’s vehicles ran a red light. He was in town that time. All that can be linked to that location and the mayor’s activities at the time is his attendance at a South Side school's baseball game – not any type of emergency at all.
How bad is it? It’s incredibly bad. The report states that in the past two-and-a-half years, the city’s website proves that the mayor’s vehicles have had as many as 17 red light tickets. And worse, since it was Emanuel’s hard-fought reasoning of safety of the children to have the incredibly unpopular speed cameras, three speed warnings were issued to his vehicles. Additionally, a number of parking tickets have been reported as well. All told, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vehicles were eligible for the city’s infamous “boot” which keeps a car in place until towed and until the owner is dealt with.
According to a Sun-Times report, more than 622,000 drivers were fined more than $70 million last year alone. The red light cameras have faced a great deal of bad publicity for the city, Chicago-style politics being at the center of the controversies. The speed cams have, no doubt, met with great resistance since they were first announce. However, in Emanuel-style, they have been installed and are spitting out tickets to people who violate the low speeds near schools and city parks – except for Emanuel’s vehicles which have escaped the fines, via clout.
City records show that an everyday citizen would have paid more than $1,700 – not including costs involving the “boot” for all of Emanuel’s vehicle violations. The mayor, however, hasn’t paid a dime into his system. The reports say that now – only after this information has been released to the public – Emanuel is instructing his bodyguards to quit speeding and quit running red lights. If he was in the vehicles during any of those times the vehicles made the violations, he obviously should have told them then to knock it off. So much for the mayor's safety concerns for children or others. It’s obviously about the money the system makes – and now about the mayor’s image after getting caught.
Quite disturbingly, the mayor’s office said that it may be necessary for the mayor’s safety to break the rules of the road at times. But, of course, if an everyday citizen speeds up or runs a red light for safety reasons in Chicago’s dangerous neighborhoods, he better forget about being excused for safety reasons. A Chicagoan just better be ready to pay up if he runs a red light or drives too fast in a school or park zone to try to be safe in the city.