Update: the mayor spoke briefly with a Tribune reporter this afternoon.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to be out for a photo opportunity this afternoon at a school, but for the fifth straight day he won't answer questions about a Tribune investigation that revealed a series of suspicious red light camera ticket spikes around the city that stuck thousands of drivers with $100 fines.
Since the Tribune first detailed the problems with the ticket system on Friday morning, the mayor has had six public events on his schedule, but has not taken questions from reporters. At a Friday groundbreaking for a building construction project on Wolf Point downtown, the mayor declined to address the revelations about the ticket anomalies, saying "Today is about the jobs."
On Monday, Emanuel held a private meeting on violence with law enforcement officials at Chicago Police Department headquarters following the fatal weekend shooting of 11-year-old Shamiya Adams. Television crews were allowed to film the scripted opening remarks, and some TV reporters were given one-on-one interviews with the mayor afterward.
The carefully controlled events are typical of the media-savvy mayor, who holds several public photo opportunities each week to get coverage of projects he wants to be associated with in neighborhoods around the city.
Predecessor Richard M. Daley routinely held three or more wide-ranging news conferences per week in connection with his community appearances. By contrast, Emanuel typically takes questions once a week.
The Tribune found clear evidence that since 2007, dozens of suspicious ticket spikes throughout the city were caused by either faulty equipment, human tinkering or both. City officials said they didn't know about and cannot explain the anomalies, despite a requirement that the camera vendor check for them on a daily basis.
A group of aldermen has begun drafting a letter to city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, asking him to perform an audit of the whole red light system with an eye toward identifying people wrongly ticketed so they potentially can be issued refunds.
The Emanuel administration has acknowledged the explosions of tickets should have been detected and resolved as they occurred. But the administration declined to take questions on the issue Monday. Instead, a city transportation spokesman issued a statement saying that "out of an abundance of caution," the administration on Monday had itself contacted Ferguson "to seek his help in evaluating the program's performance and examining management practices moving forward."
Emanuel aides did not respond to questions or return phone calls. Reached by phone Monday, Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld declined to comment.Copyright © 2015, RedEye