Monday, February 11, 2019 || By Igor Studenkov || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The intersection of 17th Avenue and Roosevelt Road, which could be getting a red light camera. | Google Earth
Red light cameras will likely be in Broadview soon. During a Jan. 22 meeting, the village’s Board of Trustees voted 4-1 in favor of a contract with Chicago-based SafeSpeed, LLC to install the cameras at key intersections throughout the village.
The locations have not been finalized yet, but the intersections of 17th Avenue and Roosevelt Road; 25th Avenue and Roosevelt Road; and 17th Ave. and Cermak were mentioned by Mayor Katrina Thompson and several trustees as having long-standing traffic issues. Thompson said that the installing red light cameras would be more feasible than having police cars sit at the intersections all the time.
But trustees John Ealey and Judy Brown-Marino argued that, given the controversy about the use of red light cameras throughout the Chicago area and SafeSpeed’s connections with the Giglio and Del Galdo law firm, which serves as the village’s attorneys, Broadview shouldn’t approve the contact.
SafeSpeed was founded in June 2007 by Nikki Zollar, Chris Lai, Khaled “Cliff” Maani and Omar Maani. Maani is Khaled’s son and controls his ownership stake through the privately held BOC Enterprises, Inc.
Prior to co-founding SafeSpeed, the younger Maani spent at least three years as a part-time law clerk for Giglio and Del Galdo, according to a two-part report published by Wednesday Journal and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark in January 2017.
In June 2009, Michael Del Galdo, one of the firm’s owners, was added as SafeSpeed’s member list in an annual report. Three months later, the company filed an amendment removing his name. At the time, the Chicago Tribune reported that his name was removed the same day Berwyn was scheduled to vote on a camera contract with SafeSpeed.
“Red-light cameras operated by Chicago-based SafeSpeed LLC have issued more than $26 million in tickets along a local four-mile stretch of Harlem Avenue since 2014,” the Landmark stated. “The privately held company’s cameras in River Forest, Berwyn and North Riverside issue citations at rates that far surpass even the busiest cameras in Chicago.”
The report also pointed out that SafeSpeed, as well as entities affiliated with the company, along with the company’s co-owners, contributed generously to west suburban members of the Illinois General Assembly.
During the Jan. 22 meeting, Thompson said that the contract grew out of discussions she had with Broadview police chief Kevin Eugling. She said that she was initially opposed to it, but Eugling convinced her that the cameras would improve safety. The mayor said that he met with and researched several potential vendors and recommended SafeSpeed.
Lai attended the meeting to give an overview of his company’s services. In response to questions about how long Broadview would be locked into a contract, he said that there was a cancellation fee if the village backed out less than a year into the contract, but after that, it simply has to give a 30-day notice.
Lai said that camera installation and maintenance will be covered by a $500 monthly fee. Residents who get ticketed will have an opportunity to review the surveillance footage at a video kiosk the company will install at Village Hall, and if the tickets are thrown out, it would refund the fee directly to the residents.
Throughout the presentation, Lai made several references to a study SafeSpeed conducted of what the Broadview Police Department judged to be the village’s most dangerous intersections. Lai pulled from three years’ worth of state crash data and his company conducted video surveillance of the intersections for 24 hours. The intersection of 25th Avenue and Roosevelt was the only one Lai mentioned during his presentation.
Thompson said that the study was discussed in detail during an earlier Police and Fire Committee meeting, and trustees received copies of the study. Lai said that although the crash data wasn’t particularly alarming, the crash activity that exists nonetheless impacts traffic.
During the meeting, several residents who spoke during the public comment period expressed reservations about putting red light cameras in Broadview while Ealey specifically questioned their effectiveness.
“All across the state, people are getting rid of their red light cameras,” he said. “I haven’t heard [of us having an] epidemic of accidents, people getting hit by cars here in the village. Even though we got state highway, we don’t get that much traffic.” Ealey also took issue with the village paying $500 per month.
Jones said he “wasn’t a fan” of the red light cameras, which is why they weren’t introduced while he was the village’s mayor. But he felt that, given the seriousness of the village’s traffic issues, the cameras were at least worth trying out. “And the good thing about situation, is we have options,” he said. “If it doesn’t work, we get rid of it.”
Trustee Verina Horne took a similar tact, saying that, while she had some reservations, she wanted to have some data collected beforehand.
“I’m not a fan of assumptions,” she said. “We don’t know until we collect the data, have the broad numbers. Until we collect information, we don’t know.”
Trustee Judy Abraham said that she felt the opportunity to collect data and improve safety made the contract worthwhile.
Brown-Marino, meanwhile, blasted what she described as the ambiguity in the contract’s language, saying that it didn’t specify any locations. She also raised several common criticisms of red light cameras, arguing that they are too punitive and are “another way to squeeze money” out of Broadview residents and businesses.
Thompson said that Brown-Marino’s assertion wasn’t true. When Brown-Marino attempted to point out the connection between SafeSpeed and Del Galdo, Thompson said that the trustee’s three minutes to comment were up and called for a vote.
When Village Clerk Kevin McGrier held a roll call vote, Ealey protested Thompson’s action, arguing with McGrier about its appropriateness. Amid Ealey’s protest, McGrier held the vote, counting Ealey’s vote as “present,” since, McGrier said, Ealey didn’t actually vote. VFP
Correction: A previous article incorrectly used red light cameras and speed cameras interchangeably. This is not the case. This article has since been updated to reflect that correction. VFP regrets the error.
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