Monday, October 6, 2014

Chicago's Budget Deficit Speeding Unsafely

             As I was driving through the city to get to tennis practice, I noticed a yellow sign that caught the corner of my eye.  I slowed my car down abruptly because it was a warning sign for a speed camera ahead.  In the city, I have noticed these cameras being installed at an accelerating rate.  People aren’t naive towards the city’s goal to generate a giant clump of revenue from these speed cameras, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel is justifying their purpose for the sake of Chicago’s youth and it’s safety.  On the official site of the city, the program is even referred to as “Children’s Safety Zone Program”.  It is typical for politicians to smother their financial aspirations in layers of excuses to avoid public scrutiny, but nobody can argue against something that is destined to increase child safety of an already dangerous city, right?  Wrong. Not only are these cameras using the city’s children as a cover-up to generate revenue for Chicago’s large budget deficit, but they are causing a decrease in levels of safety as well.
            The city's speed cameras' cause were promoted by assuring their locations to be where children are abundantly present, which implies locations such as parks and schools.  Once again, I drove passed that sign that I had encountered two days earlier that says, "Speed Limit: Photo Enforced Ahead".  This time I decided to stop and take a picture of it.  It is located on Ashland, a busy street where drivers are commonly speeding.  I noticed that the sign rests on the ground below and is in the midst of the shadow of a large bar sign.  The speed warning sign, highlighted in it's yellow school bus color, is supposed to serve the purpose of protecting children nearby.  Although, I look around the area that encompasses me and I fail to see any children present.  It seems to not be evident enough to the Department of Transportation that this sign is placed next to a bar, certainly an uncommon hangout spot for young children.  Nearby on Clybourn, another money machine preys on drivers that are nowhere close to any site affiliated to children.  Just by focusing on the areas that encompass the speed cameras all around the city, it's easy to notice they are being strategically placed with the sole ambition of generating revenue.
            Rahm Emanuel promised that portions of revenue would be used to fund youth organizations, but the money has only been applied to the city's budget deficit.  The Department of Finance is in charge of managing ticket payments made by drivers, which is why Chicago's financial issues receive prominently more attention than any other matters.  One department suffering from the efficiency of these speed cameras is the Chicago Police Department.  According to the Sun-Times, Supt. Garry McCarthy was in need of cutting the department's budget by $190 million.  Since the efficiency of a speed camera for generating revenue outweighs that of a police officer, the city feels that to reduce the budget deficit it can cut the funding of a department that is crucial for the safety of Chicago's youth.  Doesn't this mean that these speed cameras are putting kids in more danger than before?

1 comment:

  1. Misha,

    This is a masterful deconstruction of the city of Chicago's revenue-generation and budget priorities. The inclusion of your own photo only strengthens this sophisticated essay.

    However, if I had to nitpick, I would say that you need to cut the length of the post, and get to the opportunity costs issue sooner in the writing. It's almost buried as of now. Also, think about linking to the anchor text at the very top of your post.