Mayors seeing red over county camerasCounty plan angers Southland officials
Thursday, June 10, 2010
by Becky Schlikerman
An outcry from officials Wednesday has sent Cook County commissioners
scrambling to smooth over their move to install red light cameras
throughout the county without the local municipalities' knowledge.
The red light saga began last week when county commissioners approved
a contract with two firms to install, maintain and operate the cameras
that catch traffic violators at 20 intersections on county-maintained
roads - with a majority located within a municipality's boundaries.
"They've crossed over jurisdictional boundaries," said Palos Hills
Mayor Gerald Bennett, whose town is in line to get one of the cameras.
"This is an uninvited intrusion."
If the county wants to ticket drivers in Palos Hills, the Cook County
s heriff's police should do some of the dirty work, Bennett said.
"If there's an accident, maybe we'll ask them to take care of it," he
The Cook County B oard's approval of the contract last week supported
a 2007 ordinance to establish a program for red light cameras on county
That ordinance included a list of 30 potential intersections
throughout the county - eight in the Southland - to receive the cameras
for a pilot program, but the county never discussed the plan with the
"I haven't heard anything from the county about putting cameras in my
town," Matteson Mayor Andre Ashmore said. Matteson already has red
In Tinley Park, where there are also red light cameras at some busy
intersections, the sentiment was echoed.
"We should have had some discussion with the county to see if it was
justified and if Tinley Park needed that camera," Police Chief Michael
That list, to boot, was rife with errors, misidentifying the location
of several intersections. The most glaring of which put Lake-Cook and
McHenry roads in Hickory Hills when it is actually about 40 miles north
in Buffalo Grove.
"Cook County regrets any inaccurate listing of villages and will
move to correct same," said Chris Geovanis, spokeswoman for county board
President Todd Stroger, in an e-mail .
Meanwhile, Geovanis said the county isn't stepping on the
"We are not required by State (sic ) law to seek formal municipal
buy-in at intersections under Cook County jurisdictional control," she
said in the e-mail.
Despite that sentiment, the backlash Wednesday prompted county
officials to spring into action.
Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) co-sponsored an amendment
to the 2007 ordinance to allow municipalities that are not interested in
being a part of the program to opt out.
That amendment is set to go before the county board Tuesday.
Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park) sent a letter to
the state's attorney's officeseeking an opinion on whether the county
has the right to install cameras within a town's borders.
SOUTHLAND INTERSECTIONS ON THE COOK COUNTY RED
LIGHT CAMERAS LIST
- 87th Street and Roberts Road, Hickory Hills and Justice
-Vollmer Road and Central Road, Matteson
-103rd Street and Roberts Road, Palos Hills
-Greenwood Road and 154th Street, South Holland and Dolton
-167th Street and Kedzie Avenue, Hazel Crest and Markham
-Sauk Trail and Orchard Drive, Park Forest
-143rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue, Bremen Township
-171st Street and 80th Avenue, Tinley Park