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Public tells Quinn to halt speed-enforcement cameras

Gov. PQuinn. File photo.  (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Gov. Pat Quinn. File photo. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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Updated: March 1, 2012 9:50AM

Gov. Pat Quinn has a week to decide whether to put the brakes on a bill allowing Chicago to install speed-enforcement cameras — and so far the public feedback he’s received is overwhelmingly opposed to the measure.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent months lobbying Quinn to sign the bill authorizing speed cameras near city schools and parks.

It turns out the public has been doing its own lobbying.

The governor has received 224 phone calls, letters or on-line communications on the bill, and more than 91 percent were against the new law, according to Quinn’s office.

Emanuel shrugged off the negative response.

“All the data show that, when you put the cameras in, people comply. It’s the right thing to do. I didn’t think it was going to be popular. The question is, can I save lives?” the mayor said Monday.

The bill that passed the Legislature last fall only applies to Chicago. It would allow the cameras to be mounted within one-eighth of a mile of city parks and schools and authorize fines of between $50 and $100, depending on how fast the motorist was speeding.

Near schools, the cameras would operate between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday, and near parks they would be turned on an hour before parks open and off an hour after they close.

Quinn has until Feb. 6 to veto the measure. If he takes no action, the law takes effect later this year.

Emanuel said he understands the controversy generated by mailing $100 tickets to motorists caught on camera speeding down neighborhood streets.

But the mayor said his police superintendent and schools CEO came to him and said Chicago has a speeding problem “unique from other cities” that’s endangering kids.

“If popularity or perception were my only issue, I’d be sitting in my office doing a lot of nothing,” he said.

“That’s not what I’m worried about. My goal is the safety of our children.”

For the umpteenth time, the mayor denied that he views speed cameras as a cash cow for the city. That is precisely what red-light cameras have become.

Quinn has been cagey about his intentions with the speed-camera bill, repeatedly dodging questions from reporters. Earlier this month, the governor wouldn’t show his hand, saying simply that he was doing “a lot of research” on the topic.

Contributing: Dave McKinney

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