Sadly when you apply “generally accepted accounting practices” GAAP to the State of Illinois’ budget it is to put it bluntly “bankrupt”. And you can apply GAAP to Chicago, and many other municipalities and they too are bankrupt.
That being said, long about 2008, a friend of mine representing a “Red Light Camera” company used his expansive network of friends, relations and neighbors… many of whom were politicians to entice local government into buying hundreds of these cameras for so-called “safety” reasons. The cameras would act as a watchdog when police couldn’t be around. Using what seemed at the time to be space-age electronics, the cameras would snap a picture of your license plate if you went through a stale yellow or maybe strolled through a right on red intersection. With that picture your plates would be looked up and you got a nice little $100 fine in the mail. It should be noted the fine doubling to $200 in 30 days. The politicians pitched it as a safety measure. If you violated the law and got a ticket maybe next time you would pay more attention. It was supposed to reduce accidents too… not just tickets as one would expect. Bottom-line, these red light cameras were a bonanza. And in a cash poor state like Illinois, they were being put up everywhere… I mean everywhere. My friend the camera man, was making a small fortune because his company and he took a percentage of proceeds rather than a flat fee. With all the money rolling in every politician was smiling from ear to ear as their budgets were balancing.
But it wasn’t long before the public became sick and tired of getting fines everywhere they went and a public outcry could be heard from Chicago to Springfield. People were getting multiple tickets in their own neighborhood at intersections that rarely had accidents. The public mobilized and began attending City Council meetings protesting the cameras. In the mind of a greedy politician this seemed like a victim-less fine. It was done all electronically. No police. But the public was outraged and after getting both ears full of screaming City Councilmen and Mayors began taking down the more egregious cameras… ones that clearly had no safety concerns but probably were high volume intersections that made lots of money.
But Chicago was not as fast to take down cameras. They were bankrupt and needed a source of revenue and so they claimed as they always do that “out-of-towners would pay the brunt of the tickets not residents. Most residents don’t have cars. So that allowed Chicago to keep ripping off the public. And so years passed and millions flowed into the city’s bank account.
Chicago and much of Illinois being corrupt, not only didn’t take down cameras… they played a dirty little trick on the public. They reduced the amount of time that a yellow light would last. So instead of maybe 3 seconds they reduced all the red light camera intersections to maybe 2.5 seconds. My time might be inexact but my example is 100% correct. By reducing the time, they could get more tickets. What a sinister thing to do in my opinion. Anyway, this went on for years and more cash flowed into Chicago’s bank account until one day, the local newspaper got wind of the story and went and stop-watched intersections and discovered this outrageous example of government corruption was not a rumor but was true. I have to say a city’s leadership that would allow this to happen regardless of their knowledge should be grounds for impeaching the Mayor. In the end all the money that was collected as of some date in the past was mandated by the Courts to be returned. Thousands of tickets were thrown out and money returned.
Despite all the turmoil and bad feeling towards these cameras they still exist in many cities. And here is the true crime against residents. SINCE 2008 THE GOVERNMENT HAS COLLECTED 1 BILLION DOLLARS IN RED LIGHT REVENUE. YES I SAID 1 BILLION. Imagine what the 1 billion could have done for the economy, for the poor, for needy… Well if you doubt me here is the article. https://www.illinoispolicy.org/reports/illinois-red-light-cameras-have-collected-more-than-1b-from-drivers-since-2008/. please.