CHICAGO – The investigation is widening into whether Chicago's red-light camera system resulted in traffic tickets to motorists who didn't deserve them, with an official saying the city is nearly doubling the number of questionable tickets it is examining.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported in a story published Sunday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the number of tickets under review for possible refunds has climbed from the 9,000 a city official said were being looked at last month to 16,000.
The announcement comes after the Chicago Tribune revealed that its own investigation of found that the red-light camera system may have issued thousands of tickets under questionable circumstances. The paper found that at a dozen intersections that saw the most dramatic spikes, there were more than 13,000 questionable tickets.
The investigation has created a furor at City Hall, with the city's inspector general's office launching an investigation at the urging of several aldermen. Meanwhile, federal charges have been filed against a former city official accusing of accepting cash and other gifts to steer city contracts to the red-light-company – since fired by Emanuel – that started the program in the city more than a decade ago. The mayor has promised to give motorists an extra chance to appeal tickets and to refund any of the $100 tickets that were issued improperly.
City officials have not explained the spike in the number of tickets, but Quinn told the Sun-Times on Saturday that they could have been the result of a number of factors, including "construction, weather and special events."