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posted: 2/23/2013 8:00 AM

Suburbs on the fence over Redflex scandal

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  • Redflex is on the outs in Chicago over a corruption probe.

    Redflex is on the outs in Chicago over a corruption probe.
    Daily Herald File Photo


Red-light camera vendor Redflex's fall from grace in Chicago hasn't escaped the notice of local mayors and police chiefs whose municipalities have contracts with the troubled firm.

But it's unclear if the scandal involving inappropriate perks will affect the company's future in the suburbs.

Chicago is dumping Redflex in the wake of evidence a retired city transportation manager received perks such as vacations from a company executive.

Redflex officials said they are cooperating with the city's inspector general and are conducting an internal investigation into the alleged improprieties. Meanwhile, high-level shake-ups are ongoing at the company, which operates 384 cameras in Chicago.

Redflex has contracts with a number of suburbs, including Aurora, Carol Stream, Geneva and Gurnee, although the Geneva cameras will be discontinued next month subsequent to a decision by the Kane County Board.

Carol Stream's contract with Redflex expires in December, Police Chief Kevin Orr noted, adding that he was sure the Chicago problems would figure in renewal discussions.

The village contacted Redflex regarding the scandal, and "we received a letter from the CEO explaining their situation and their desire to basically fix it. and put in procedures so something like that doesn't happen again," Orr said.

On the whole, "from our standpoint, we have no issues with them ... they've always worked well with us and we've worked well with them," he added.

When it comes to fixing cameras and processing violations, Redflex has come through, Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas said.

But there's more than just operating the system.

"When the contract comes up for renewal (in 2014), one thing we will have to consider is the character of the organization," Thomas said.

"We'll have to see what they did with the executive (accused of misdeeds), what organizational changes were made and what oversight there was to make things right."

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said the village's contract with Redflex is handled by an independent committee so it's not a matter of an individual at the firm influencing a public employee.

So far, the company's performance has been satisfactory. "The program's been tweaked over the last few years," Kovarik said. "They've always worked with us, they've come to us with ideas for improvements ... it's an amicable relationship."

Chicago makes up 13 percent of Redflex's business. The city's contract with the firm will end in July.

"This company has pledged to take corrective action regarding unethical employee conduct in Chicago," Redflex Holding Global CEO Robert DeVincenzi said in a statement.

He added the company had fired Executive Vice President of Business Development Aaron Rosenberg "because our internal investigation revealed that he was violating company policies. Our inquiry is continuing and other corrective actions will be announced in the near future."

Rosenberg was the executive in the hot seat for the perks, which included trips to the Super Bowl and spring training, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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