Drivers who sneer at red-light cameras gained two supporters of their disdain in the Republican candidates for Kane County Board chairman this week. But longtime opponents of the cameras said Thursday they believe Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns' support for legislation designed to make the devices obsolete is just a political gimmick.
With word that State Sen. Chris Lauzen would host a gathering of supporters at the site of one of Geneva's two red-light cameras, Burns issued a written statement in support of two pending pieces of legislation in Springfield. Both bills are sponsored by State Sen. Dan Duffy, whose district will incorporate portions of Kane County starting in 2013. Together, the proposed laws would eliminate red-light camera tickets issued for illegal right turns and extend the timing of yellow lights by one more second. Duffy believes that additional second is the true method of improving intersection safety.
Burns chastised Lauzen for just now coming out strong against red light cameras, and explained his own previous support for the devices.
"The most dangerous intersections in Geneva required a new way to enforce the problems we've seen for years," Burns said. "There is no room to post a police officer at these two intersections, so we explored ways to address the dangerous situations. The red light cameras were approved by the city and county, and the permit authorizing the technology was granted by the county with a three-year sunset clause, meaning it expires in less than a year. It's unlikely that a request for a permit extension will be filed by the city."
But Peter Breen joined Lauzen Thursday at the camera by the entrance to the Geneva Commons shopping center to say Lauzen is the only true Republican opponent of red-light cameras in the chairman race. Breen is the founder of banredcams.com.
"Chris' opponent, the mayor who placed the cameras at this intersection, has a long record of using red-light cameras to raid the pocketbooks of the people of Kane County," Breen said. "That mayor is the one who railed against the county board for limiting his previously unchecked ability to hammer folks in Kane County with right-turn-on-red tickets. That mayor is the one who thinks so little of the plight of small businesses that he would welcome customers to one of Geneva's largest shopping centers with a red-light camera."
Duffy also joined Lauzen. Duffy said he became convinced red-light cameras were another entry point for political corruption in Illinois during a meeting in Senate President John Cullerton's office that followed Duffy's initial public concerns about the cameras. Duffy said he walked into the office and was greeted by the lobbyists for the red-light camera companies who were looking for suggestions about how they could write legislation that would make the cameras more acceptable to the public.
"In analysis after analysis, red-light cameras are about revenue, not about safety," Duffy said.
Lauzen pledged to co-sponsor Duffy's camera legislation.