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City council committee signs off on Emanuel's revised speed camera plan

A Chicago city council committee has cleared the way for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to install speed cameras near parks and schools. The hearing Wednesday began moments after aldermen were handed a revised copy of Emanuel's ordinance.

Among other minor changes, the new plan includes a lower fine for drivers caught by a speed camera going six to 10 miles over the limit. They would have to pay a $35 fine, instead of the $50 originally proposed.

Ald. Margaret Laurino of the 39th Ward chairs the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee.

"We now have before us a substitute ordinance, which addresses many of the concerns expressed by members of the city council, including myself," Laurino announced at the start of the hearing.

The amended plan does not change the proposed $100 fine for drivers photographed going 11 miles or more above the speed limit.

The 46th Ward's James Cappleman was among the aldermen to question the mayor's claim that the speed camera push is all about safety for kids.

"The residents, they fear that this is more a way of getting more revenue rather than addressing safety," Cappleman said.

Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward raised a question about power.

"Will the aldermen be able to veto a camera installation?" Tunney asked Emanuel's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein. "Just yes or no."

"Yes or no? The answer would be no," Klein replied.

Klein said the administration will consult with aldermen about their wards, and form a speed camera advisory committee that includes a couple aldermen.

"We have a culture in this country, and in Chicago, that it’s sort of okay to speed," Klein told aldermen later. "But shoplifting, we don’t have a permissible amount of shoplifting, for instance."

The plan is expected to go before the full city council next Wednesday.

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