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Alderman Pat Dowell Discusses Her Vote on on the Speed Zone Cameras and the Infrastructure Trust Ordinances

At the two most recent City Council meetings, I cast votes on two ordinances that will affect all residents of the city. I cast a no vote for the ordinance authorizing placement of speed cameras near schools and parks and voted in favor of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust ordinance. (See ordinance here.)

Last week, I cast a no vote against the speed camera ordinance (see ordinancehere.) because it fails to do what it proposes in a cost effective manner. The placement of the cameras is solely based on the data quoted to City Council members and that data does not necessarily indicate a specific need for the cameras.    

Under the camera ordinance, input from myself or constituents will not be used in determining the placement of the cameras. In other words if residents near a park or school know that speeding occurs on a routine basis, there is no mechanism to include that information when determining camera placement. Reducing the speed around parks and schools can be achieved just as effectively by the strategic placement of stop signs, speed bumps and other traffic calming strategies, which could also be done at a much lower cost. For these reasons I voted against the speed cameras.

On Tuesday, I voted in favor of the ordinance authorizing the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. This aggressive plan to invest in our obsolete infrastructure is not a privatization plan as some have called it. When it was first proposed I raised several issues concerning aldermanic oversight, the lack of conflict of interest rules, provisions for open meetings and freedom of information inquiries, and a requirement that transactions performed by the trust meet the city's minority- and women-owned business requirements. I outlined these and other reservations in a Chicago Tribune column I wrote earlier this month with my colleague Alderman Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward. (See Tribune Op-Ed. article here.) I am happy to say that voicing our concerns had an impact that led to revisions and negotiations.

Mayor Emanuel agreed to changes in the ordinance, which put an alderman on the Infrastructure Trust Board and guaranteed a City Council vote on all projects involving city money, assets or property. He also inserted a provision requiring trust-funded projects to follow city bidding procedures and another barring board members with a financial interest in a deal from voting on it. The Mayor also said he would issue executive orders requiring outside review of trust deals and finances. (See executive order here.)

Our neighborhoods have crumbling roads, dilapidated viaducts, and hundreds of miles of decaying water mains that are more than a century old. We must do something, but we don't have the money and city residents don't want to pay higher property taxes. The Trust is needed and will draw investment to Chicago. It also has the potential to jump start our economy and put thousands of people back to work. For these reasons and the future of our city, I voted in favor of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust ordinance.

 Sincerely,

 Alderman's Signature

 Pat Dowell

Alderman, 3rd Ward 

Posted in Neighborhood News