Urban Cycling Movement Is ‘About To Be Taught A Lesson’

Bruce Rauner On Unions

Rauner anti-union? That’s ‘horse manure,’ he says in Elgin

Bruce Rauner in Elgin

Bruce Rauner in Elgin

Those who object to his proposal to halve municipalities’ share of state income taxes fail to understand his full plan, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Friday, when he also fired back at anti-union labels.

Joining a union should be a personal choice — not a required one — and voters should decide if they want to implement right-to-work laws in their municipalities and counties, Rauner said during a 15-minute speech at the Elgin Public House in downtown Elgin.

“I never advocated that the entire state of Illinois go to right-to-work, but we also have to compete,” he said, pointing at Indiana and Michigan, which already have such laws, and Wisconsin, expected to follow suit next week.

“If you believe that unions are important, you should have them. You should be able to control what goes on in your economy.”

The notion that he’s anti-union is “horse manure,” Rauner told the largely friendly crowd.

But Garrick Balk, a teacher for Elgin Area School District U-46, objected with loud heckling.

“The way he’s talking, the unions are to blame for the financial disaster the state is in — and that is just a blatant lie,” Balk said.

Rauner’s income state tax proposal was met with outcry by mayors across the suburbs, including Elgin, who said their cities unfairly stand to lose millions.

Any local loss of revenues would be offset by reforming prevailing wage laws, which can increase costs by 25 percent, as well as collective bargaining and pension payment requirements, Rauner told the media after his speech.

“(Local municipalities) will not be needing as much general government support from the state,” he said.

Prevailing wage laws, which require nonunion employers to pay local union wages, cost Elgin an additional $1 million per year, Councilman Terry Gavin said. A 50 percent cut to the city’s share of income tax would amount to about $5 million, officials said.

Rauner exhorted residents to make phone calls and write letters to special interest groups.

“We’re going to transform our government and take away special interest groups that have a stranglehold on Illinois,” he said.

About 50 or so protesters, mainly representatives of firefighter, teacher and labor unions, stood outside the restaurant chanting slogans like “Right to work has got to go.”

“He’s going after the unions’ right to organize,” said Ed Hansen, vice president of the Elgin Association of Firefighters Local 439.

Marty Dwyer, a member of Laborers’ Local 582, said Rauner’s plan points the blame at the wrong sector. “How come the working people are taking the brunt of all this?” he said.

Elgin native Jeff Jensen, now a Chicago resident, said he agrees with Rauner, whose speech he called “fantastic.”

“It should be a reasonable expectation that belonging to a union should not be contingent on whether you have a job,” he said.

The governor has the necessary vision, energy and enthusiasm to get the state in better fiscal shape, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said.

Chicago plans to eliminate 50 more red light cameras

A red light camera at Ashland Avenue and Diversey Parkway is one of 50 that Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Sunday will be removed. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

A red light camera at Ashland Avenue and Diversey Parkway is one of 50 that Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Sunday will be removed. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the removal of 50 red light cameras Sunday, just days after his challenger in the April 7 runoff election promised to end the scandal-ridden program altogether.

The mayor also announced plans to change ticketing rules so that first-time offenders could get a “mulligan” by enrolling in an online traffic safety class to avoid paying the $100 fine. The mayor and other officials did not offer specifics about how such a plan would work or how it might affect city revenue.

Emanuel has staunchly defended the program amid a series of Tribune investigations that exposed his administration’s failed oversight, unfair and inconsistent enforcement, and unsupported safety claims. The mayor has been gradually removing cameras since the Tribune’s series started, but the latest move would still leave Chicago with more than 300 cameras around the city.

Sunday, he said the city will remove 50 cameras at 25 intersections. No more tickets were to be issued based on what cameras saw at those intersections as of 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 6, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

Sunday’s announcement comes amid increasing political pressure on Emanuel – much of it from African-American voters whose help he needs for re-election – to curtail a program that has raised more than $500 million in $100 ticket fines since it began in 2003.

Even the co-chairman of the mayor’s re-election campaign, Secretary of State Jesse White, publicly advised the mayor to “rethink” his stance on the controversial program following Emanuel’s failure in the Feb. 24 election to avoid a runoff with Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, chairman of the City Council’s transportation committee, told the Tribune he got a call from Emanuel’s office last week saying they were “crunching numbers” in an effort to announce reforms to the program. Beale, who is co-sponsoring an ordinance to re-evaluate the program, said he heard nothing from the administration prior to the election.

“It is beyond me why it has taken them so long,” Beale said during a Tuesday interview. “But I know it is a very hot issue in my community and it is not going away any time soon.”

But Emanuel’s office has yet to explain the causes for dozens of wild spikes in tickets at intersections around the city that unfairly tagged tens of thousands of motorists. An inspector general’s review in response to the Tribune stories was stymied by a lack of city records.

The Tribune also revealed how Emanuel’s administration quietly lowered the threshold for issuing red light tickets last year, tagging drivers for an additional 77,000 citations despite the fact that yellow light times in those cases were below the federal minimum of 3 seconds. Emanuel suspended that practice following Tribune inquiries but declined to refund drivers the nearly $8 million in revenue captured by the six-month change in ticketing standards.

In December, Emanuel’s transportation chief, Rebekah Scheinfeld, promised to re-examine the effectiveness of the program following a series of Tribune stories that questioned the camera’s overall safety benefits and revealed that cameras may have caused an increase in injury-related crashes at many intersections.

The Tribune study conducted by researchers with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute belied Emanuel’s claims that crashes are down 47 percent at red light cameras overall. The claim was based on faulty statistics and dubious science, according to national traffic safety experts.

The study found only a 15 percent reduction of the more dangerous T-bone injury crashes, offset by a 22 percent increase in rear-end crashes that resulted in injury. The cameras had no safety benefit at intersections that never had much of a crash problem prior to their installation, according to the study, raising questions about why they were installed in the first place.

The Tribune also found that Chicago’s yellow light times are dangerously short and out of step with other major cities, citing national research and experts who said longer yellows significantly reduce crashes and red light citations.

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune


Chicago's Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

Chicago’s Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

It was not very long ago when this drivel was posted in the RedEye newspaper. I guess that someone on the mayor’s staff or perhaps at CDOT thought they had things all wrapped up. But things change.

Now we read more meaningful things coming out of places like the Chicago ChainLink Forum:

Reply by Jeff Schneider 8 hours ago

Public transit in this state primarily serves Chicago.  The Republican power base is downstate and in the outer suburbs.  His position is completely logical from a political point of view.

This was said in response to a rather stupid article published in Crain’s Chicago Business written by one Ron Burke. The article is what one would expect to be written by someone who heads up a group which is nominally a lobbying arm for those who use mass transit. But aside from that reality it makes little sense and is the type of drivel that keeps driving a wedge between the current reality and the feeble minds of bicyclists.

Sorry guys who serve as the lapdogs for the Urban Cycling Movement your crap arguments are starting to sound tired and hackneyed. Rahm Emmanuel is a politician and he understands that losing an election to a novice like Chuy Garcia over something as unpopular as red light cameras is foolish.

Pragmatism and not Idealism is going to rule going forward. If the Urban Cycling Movement has any hope of getting things done in the next four years, it is going to have learn how to ‘play nice‘. Talking and sounding like a Socialist is not going to cut it. You will need to learn to make sense.

Even European Socialists like those in Germany are pragmatic enough to understand the concept of ‘sustainability‘. Evidently the Americans who claim to speak for Urban Cyclists slept through that lecture at university. Everything is going to be measured against the likelihood that its cost will not be inflated by an ‘unfair bidding process‘ and whether or not the work will have a ‘maintenance revenue stream‘ that is not tied to personal income taxes.

We are going to be entering the era of nothing gets done that cannot be justified by a CPA or CFO. Public works projects are going to have to meet the acid test of ‘is it in service of the majority of the population in the area for which it is targeted‘.

The one single biggest failure of the Urban Cycling Movement is that the membership has managed to lose sight of the numbers. Somebody at PeopleForBikes or some other fount of ‘happy talk‘ has oversold the notion that one-third of Americans ride bicycles. It of course depends on what you mean by the statement. But I am more than certain that most Americans do not think of bicycles as basic transportation.

Yes, many pull their bikes from the rafters in their garages on the 4th of July and head over to view the fireworks. But very few are fastidious enough to ride the bike to the hardware store to bring home a water heater. And yet we attempt to make believe that women want to ride their three kids to the grocery store in a cargo bike to do the weekly shopping. Nope, not reality!

We are aware that this happens and applaud it but when in comes to getting the word out and stating the case for infrastructure it is unwise to overstate the case. And for goodness sake do not try to write articles that are intended to make the case of increased bicycle infrastructure in downtown Naperville by sounding alarmist. That is plain silly and irresponsible.