Sneed exclusive: Rahm to install countdown clocks for red-light cameras

SHARE Sneed exclusive: Rahm to install countdown clocks for red-light cameras

Rahm’s red-light redux . . .

Click! Flash! Pop! Sneed has learned that countdown timers and extra transparency will be part of a batch of reforms to the city’s red-light camera program Mayor Rahm Emanuel is green-lighting.

• Translation: Expect the installation of countdown timers at every city intersection with a red-light camera to alert drivers — as well as pedestrians – when the light will turn red.

• The stats: There are already countdown timers at 132 red-light camera intersections, and they will be added to the remaining 42 intersections that don’t have them.

• The transparency: A group of aldermen is drafting an ordinance that would require the city to consult the community before installation, removal or movement of red-light cameras.

• Backshot: The timers and ordinance are parts of a package of reforms that the city Department of Transportation is working on to change the program, which was launched in 2003 during the regime of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

• During his time in office, Emanuel has fired the red-light camera program’s original vendor, removed cameras at 16 intersections and asked the inspector general to review the program.

The cameras have become a major mayoral campaign issue. Emanuel insists the cameras improve road safety; his opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, says they are a scam to make money.

Garcia, who appears to suffer from a case of flip-flop in regards to the city’s red-light camera program, pledged Thursday to end it the first day he sets foot into office.

As a Cook County commissioner, Garcia voted for more red-light cameras in the county, then came out against them, then said he would keep some of them, and now says he’s against them again.

Hot flash!

Sneed is told former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, who has been described as President Barack Obama’s political godfather, will endorse Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor, according to Garcia’s spokeswoman Monica Trevino.

The grace of Gaga!

There is a back story to singer Lady Gaga’s decision to jump into the icy waters of Lake Michigan off the back of her actor fiance Taylor Kinney during the 15th annual Polar Plunge benefiting Special Olympics Chicago.

• To wit: She was being a lady.

• Translation: “Lady Gaga showed up unexpectedly and had no plans to try to upstage actor Vince Vaughn, who had agreed to do the event months ago,” said event coordinator James “Skinny” Sheahan.

“Vince Vaughn was set to go in first and she was insistent not to do anything to show that up — so she went into the water with the second batch, piggyback with her boyfriend,” said Sheahan, who said she stood out — sporting a baseball cap and her signature bright red lipstick.

“She went into the water backwards; went underwater, which is very dangerous for more than two seconds, yet continued to jump around in it coming out with her blond hair full of ice; and then posed for pictures with a young man with Down syndrome still soaking wet in 15-degree temperatures.”

“That was pretty amazing!”

• Gaga postscript: Her French bulldog, Asia, also was in tow — but did not become a plunge pet, Sheahan said.

• $$$ postscript: The plunge, which netted $1 million bucks when TV host Jimmy Fallon jumped into the lake last year, netted $1.3 million this time.

An obit bit . . .

The clergyman & the columnist: Sneed was reminded of someone who would have lauded University of Notre Dame’s great transformer Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, who was memorialized Wednesday at a funeral mass in South Bend, Indiana, had she not predeceased him: His late, great friend, advice columnist Eppie “Ann Landers” Lederer, who never seemed to have enough words to praise him during our chats together. Hesburgh was a world leader on social issues. Imagine their conversations.

Sneedlings . . .

Calendar date: Join Ald. Jim Balcer (11th), a Vietnam War vet and U.S. Marine, and those gathering at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Vietnam War memorial at State Street and Upper Wacker Drive to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Marines landing at Da Nang, Vietnam . . . Friday’s birthdays: Shaquille O’Neal, 43; Peter J. O’Brien, 86; Connie Britton, 48, and Rob Reiner, 68.

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