Red-light cameras really going for the green

More cameras mean fewer T-bone crashes and more rear-end collisions. In other words, the safety issue cuts both ways. But the revenue issue goes in a single clear direction — from your wallet to City Hall's pocket. So it's not about the safety. It's about the cash.

I'm not going to get into a bickering match with the Emanuel administration on traffic stats. Last year, the mayor became incensed with Tribune reporters who questioned him, saying there had been a 60 percent decrease in traffic deaths near Chicago's red-light cameras.

"You guys have continued to repeat wrong information because it doesn't fit your storyline," Emanuel said back then, angrily thrusting his "study" at a reporter.

I shouldn't say he actually "thrusted," since I wasn't there. But when he talks like that, he's capable of thrusting. The main thing is that he challenged the Tribune to analyze his report.

Guess what? The Tribune analyzed the report. And after it was analyzed, a City Hall official was compelled to admit that the mayoral claim of a 60 percent reduction in fatalities was based only on an informal analysis.

"Study is a bit of a term of art," said Scott Kubly, managing deputy commissioner in the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Hmmm.

In Chicago you can drive like a crazy man, running countless red lights. As long as you pay, City Hall won't tell the secretary of state. So your dangerous driving will be just between you and the Rahmfather.

Don't worry. He won't tell. Just remember to pay.

It's not about safety. It's not about the color red or yellow. It's about the green.

That's what buttock-revenue-enhancing red-light cameras are all about. They squeeze and they squeeze and they get what they want. The money.

And that's as distracting as City Hall's hand on your behind.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

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