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Duffy had second ticket at the same light; Plus, a Statehouse roundup

Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* As we discussed yesterday, one of the leading proponents of banning red-light cameras was called out yesterday for not telling the truth about his own red-light ticket. Senate President John Cullerton showed video of Sen. Dan Duffy clearly running a red light. Duffy responded

“That was an interesting play there. Obviously the president of the Senate and the red-light camera companies are doing everything they can to intimidate me,” said Duffy, who said he won’t stop trying to abolish red-light cameras, even though a Senate panel rejected the idea Monday.

From the Tribune

“Just another tactic trying to stifle my speech and my concerns,” said Duffy.


Duffy agreed he deserved a ticket and said Monday that he never claimed otherwise and questioned why, other than politics, the Senate Democrats would air his video.

“I’ve also gotten speeding tickets before. I didn’t say we should repeal all speed limits in the state of Illinois,” he said. “I don’t know why this is there as an example. This is obviously trying to target me. Why would, out of all people, would they bring my ticket up and show my film?”

He never claimed otherwise? From yesterday’s Daily Herald

Duffy said he wrongly received a ticket from a red-light camera in Schaumburg. He said he stopped behind the line and inched forward before making a turn because a utility box obstructed his view. He said he wanted to fight the ticket but said it would have cost more than $1,000 to fight the $100 ticket.”

He’s been telling reporters the same story for at least a month now.

* Anyway, as I told subscribers this morning, Duffy didn’t just get one red-light ticket. He got two. Here’s the video of the first offense for comparative purposes…

Yesterday, I was given a video which was used for Duffy’s second ticket. The second alleged violation occurred just two days later at the very same stop light


* The Senate Republicans are questioning whether the use of the video is legal. From an e-mail…

(625 ILCS 5/11‑208.6)

(g) Recorded images made by an automatic traffic law enforcement system are confidential and shall be made available only to the alleged violator and governmental and law enforcement agencies for purposes of adjudicating a violation of this Section, for statistical purposes, or for other governmental purposes. Any recorded image evidencing a violation of this Section, however, may be admissible in any proceeding resulting from the issuance of the citation.

The explanation

When asked if the use of enforcement video from an individual’s red light camera ticket was legal, Duffy replied, “My staff is researching that.”

Cullerton’s staff obtained the video of a vehicle registered to Duffy rolling through a right on red turn lane in Schaumburg back in early 2009, via a Freedom of Information Act request.

“It is legal if it is used for legal proceedings or government proceedings,” explained Rikeesha Phelon, spokesperson for Cullerton’s office. “Duffy has been very public about his opposition to red light cameras. That’s why we used this video.”

* Related and a legislative roundup…

* Red-light camera ticket nets double charge

* Senate votes to lift ban on building new nuclear plants

* Illinois Senate approves bill to allow new nuclear power plants

* Ill. Senate passes bill permitting new nuclear plant construction

* Court to rule this month on state’s abortion notification law

* Tobacco wraps considered drug paraphernalia under Ill. Senate bill

* SJ-R Opinion: Don’t roll back new FOIA rules

* Lawmakers tinker with FOIA law, your right to know

* Make restaurants display calorie counts?: The bill, sponsored by Deborah Mell (D-Chicago), would require fast-food chains to include calorie amounts for menus posted at counters and drive-through lanes. Her push comes as at least one national chain, Panera Bread, began putting calorie totals on its menu boards.

* Keeping nursing homes safe

* Speed limit talk another example of poor planning: Consider current discussion of increasing speed limits to 70 mph. Why wasn’t this brought up months ago when lawmakers debated increasing truck speed limits to 65 mph to match cars?


  1. - Red Means Stop - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 10:08 am:

    How can Sen. Duffy have any credibility on the red light camera issue?? If he truly supports “reform” — and not just getting out of his own tickets — he should find a sympathetic colleague in the Senate to carry the water on his legislation. Otherwise, every time he opens his mouth, he’s going to sound like a hypocrite.

  2. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 10:19 am:

    one of the leading proponents of banning red-light cameras was called out yesterday for not telling the truth about his own red-light ticket.

    Since when should we listen to someone with negative experience wishing to reform something so others don’t also have negative experiences?

    Geez people, why do you think someone opposes something?

  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 10:21 am:

    VM, as I explained yesterday, when legislators have negative experiences this often results in legislation.

    The problem is not that he got busted and then introduced a bill. The problem is that he loudly proclaimed his innocence.

  4. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 10:36 am:

    Politicians can get lawyers to donate services for nominating challenges, but not traffic court?

    It almost seems like Duffy is acting the buffoon to undermine efforts to curtail or eliminate red-light cameras.

    The guy simply refuses to take responsibility for his personal conduct, so all his complaints sound like he’s just a bitter and irresponsible person who thinks he shouldn’t be held accountable for obeying the law.

  5. Pingback ArchPundit | Big Red Light Camera Is Out to Get Senator Duffy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    […] Senator Duffy though, has a different view of the issue. […]

  6. - ABCBoy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    Rich Miller:
    The problem is not that he got busted and then introduced a bill. The problem is that he loudly proclaimed his innocence.

    This is a classic logical flaw. Just because somebody is factually incorrect about his own circumstance or that he’s a hypocrite, it doesn’t invalidate the overall argument. The merits of the arguments remain.

    Of course, we’re dealing with POLITICS here, and logical arguments don’t always win. Politically speaking, Rich is right–it’s a problem. The red light cause needs a more perfect messanger for it to be effective.

    Back to the actual issue:
    …shall be made available only to the alleged violator and governmental and law enforcement agencies for purposes of adjudicating a violation of this Section, for statistical purposes, or for other governmental purposes.

    That language is so over-broad it’s scary. So basically, if a politically motivated government employee wants to use surveillance video to skewer a political opponent, they can.

    That is PRECICELY the “big brother” aspect of those cameras that is one of the issues at play here.

    I’m not a fan of the red light cameras. I think the safety benefits are dubious and it’s mostly a power/money grab. But at the very minimum the “use” should be narrowed to merely adjudicating the alleged crime, using it as meta-data for larger traffic safety studies, and possibly to police/prosecutors/defense if it happens to catch any other non-related crime in the video frames.

    Cullerton’s abuse of this statue underscores the problem with the statute.

  7. - train111 - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:10 am:

    This whole red-light camera discussion is pretty interesting. It is a very emotionally laden topic with charges and counter charges coming from both sides of the issue.
    A quick look at the Board of Elections website shows that Redspeed IL LLC, the one who put up a number of the cameras in the western burbs, has ponied up a little over $50,000 in contributions to various politicians over the past 3 or 4 years. Redspeed’s motive is probably pretty much the ‘cut’ that they get out of every ticket issued — plain and simple. You send your check right to them, and they send the municipality their portion of the money. (A ‘real’ traffic ticket has you sending your money to a court, or a government agency, not some private for profit firm) Obviously that ‘cut’ is big enough that they have cut checks for many lawmakers campaign pots (including $1,500 for John Cullerton late last year)–including committees that represent local mayors and aldermen-not just state legislators.
    Local politicians–My community has 5 of these cameras at various intersections. Redspeed did make a $500 contribution to my mayor, but I do not assume it is quid pro quo in any way. I was at a city council meeting some time back when a couple from out of town came to complain about the $100 ticket they had gotten. The mayor and city council tore them to bits. They (the council) seemed pretty ‘peeved’ that their meeting would be disrupted and their time taken up by people complaining about a traffic ticket. They also seemed to almost unanimously feel that ‘public safety’ was the reason for the camera. However the camera that I drive past every day on the way to work, is there for right hand turns from a side street onto a main artery, but does absolutely nothing to address the left hand turn in the opposite direction at a tricky intersection (the intersection is curved and you can’t see approaching traffic when making a left turn very well) where numerous accidents, including some fatal, have happened–so it makes me have serious doubts how much ‘public safety’ is really a motivator behind the cameras.
    There are so many subtle motives here. I do not believe that one town’s motives represent that of another town. This ‘controversial’ baby is sure to be around for quite a while though especially with state budget cuts putting the ’squeeze’ on municpal budgets.
    Just some ramblings I guess


  8. - ABCBoy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:17 am:




    Man, I wish this blog had spell-check. Never did have phonics in school.

  9. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:19 am:

    ABCBoy, Firefox has a built-in spell checker.

  10. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:24 am:

    ===Cullerton’s abuse of this statue underscores the problem with the statute.

    What did Cullerton abuse? All the Senate Dems Campaign Committee did was seek videotapes that are public records.

  11. - Gregor - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    Duffy screwed up, no question. His proposed legislation however is sound. I know I keep saying that, but I think someone should. That Cullerton hit him a little below the belt is well, part of playing the game. You don’t cry about that, you learn from it. Cowboy up and admit your mistakes, D-man.

    If I was advising Duffy, I’d keep at this from a populist perspective and answer back with publishing exonerating videos of others, victimized from outrageous cases. Make the November ads about: “those guys are in bed with the camera companies for revenue, not safety”. Keep publishing the revenue data, keep publishing the accident stats. Hit the talk radio shows and make the case that these things are wrong.

  12. - ABCBoy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:55 am:

    RE: Firefox–excellent.

    What did Cullerton abuse? All the Senate Dems Campaign Committee did was seek videotapes that are public records.

    You don’t see the problem in what he did?

    1) I don’t think this is the case, but if it was the Senate Democratic “campaign committee” as you say, then it’s a political entity, not a governmental entity.

    2) Just because it’s obtained by an FOIA, it’s very narrow in scope in terms of who can obtain it:

    “…shall be made available only to the alleged violator and governmental and law enforcement agencies…”

    So there’s an implicit admission that it’s sensitive and at least quasi-private information.

    3) Using it for “..other governmental purposes,” is incredibly vague and ripe for abuse–let alone releasing it to the PUBLIC. That’d be like saying it’s OK for a government employee to poke around somebody’s private tax records or sealed criminal or court records for vague “government purposes” and then being OK with that government official then releasing it to the public for political gain.

    Sure, this case is minor and merely embarassing for Duffy. But this is an over-step and shows how this is ripe for abuse. We’re talking Richard Nixon stuff here, and I’m not OK with that.

  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    ===We’re talking Richard Nixon stuff here===

    RMN did not use a state Freedom of Information law to gather info on his enemies. Just sayin…

  14. - ABCBoy - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 12:15 pm:


    But it doesn’t alter the underlying point. This statute was used by a spiteful politician to dig up dirt on their political foe.

  15. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===But it doesn’t alter the underlying point.===

    Yes, it does. Nixon used illegal means. That was the problem. Your comparison is more than a little hyperbolic.

  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 12:18 pm:

    What I mean is, if it’s wrong to use LEGAL means to ferret out information that a political opponent is lying, then what the heck kind of world do you want to live in?

  17. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    === for statistical purposes, or for other governmental purposes ===

    OK, the videos weren’t used for “statistical purposes” so the issue becomes what “for other governmental purposes” means under this statute. I do not believe that “other governmental purposes” would be to stifle free speech and debate of legislation by legislators pertaining to such cameras. That would be such an unduly broad interpretation of the law as to render that protection meaningless.

    Is it for informational gathering by governmental agencies, or is it for “gotcha” politics, with elevating the infraction to that of a felony or misdemeanor, instead of an administrative fine?

    Doesn’t look like the revealing of the tapes complies with the intent of the law under these circumstances.

    And I agree, the vehicle on both occasions didn’t come to a stop. “Gotcha” applies here. Twice. But certainly, the video was not released in accordance with the intent of the statute.

    This goes beyond intent of the measure to “Big Brother” stuff.

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    ===stifle free speech===


    How the heck do you get that out of this?

    Point one: We have a sitting Senator who went out of his way to not tell the truth about his infractions.

    Point two: It was discovered via the FOIA that the Senator was not telling the truth.

    Point three: The FOIA’d video was used in a public hearing to show that he had not told the truth.

    Where is this stifling free speech? Frankly, if you want to stop people from legally obtaining this info, then you’re the one who wants to stifle free speech.

  19. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:02 pm:

    A lawyer might chime in here, but does the law also allow the recording to be accessed once they have been utilized in a public hearing? The point being here that Duffy appealed the case apparently and if the law does allow that, it would also be available publicly, not just for governmental purposes.

    When you read the end of the paragraph this is unclear to me:
    ====Any recorded image evidencing a violation of this Section, however, may be admissible in any proceeding resulting from the issuance of the citation.

    Frankly, if it is used in a court hearing, it should be public then. I’m not sure how the law sees this case though.

  20. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    Maybe Dan Duffy will keep his yap shut for awhile and stop embarrassing himself. But that’s probably too much to hope for.

  21. - Samwise - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 2:21 pm:

    Duffy told the Daily Herald more than a month ago he got a red light ticket. The story you linked is from Feb. 16.

  22. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 3:09 pm:

    In his defense, its clear from the video that Senator Duffy did touch his brakes, which is “braking.”

    Now he just needs to work on that whole coming-to-a-complete-stop thing.

  23. - Park - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 5:28 pm:

    This whole posting is unhelpful and establishment friendly. I don’t care if the clown ran 10 red lights straight in a snowstorm if he’s for better government (don’t mind him losing his license for it though). In Chicago, Daley’s turned into a total revenue wacko, but we’re supposed to defend whatever orwellian moves he makes? I say go Duffy.

  24. - eyesonyou - Tuesday, Mar 16, 10 @ 6:02 pm:

    Senator Duffy wasn’t pushing to eliminate the cameras before he got bagged twice. His push to end the use of cameras after the tickets show his arrogance. It’s a blatant abuse of power and he should be censored.

  25. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Mar 17, 10 @ 7:46 am:

    So if I FOIA these videotapes, I can receive them in spite of the provisions of the law? But I’m not “government” so would they say no?

    What “government purpose” did release of this tape accomplish other than “gotcha” politics. And yes, he did run the lights. But lost in the outrage of running the light is the question I posed, what was the “government purpose” here?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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