New round of traffic tickets issued to mayor’s security detail

Three speed-camera tickets, two speed-cam warnings and one red-light ticket over the last 14 months have rivals accusing Mayor Lori Lightfoot of a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach to traffic safety.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot exiting an SUV after after for a news conference in Gresham in May 2021.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot exiting an SUV for a news conference in Gresham in May 2021.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was accused Tuesday of “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy amid revelations that some SUVs whisking the mayor around the city have received more tickets for speeding and running red lights that have gone unpaid.

Three speed-camera tickets and one red-light-camera ticket have been issued over the last 14 months to vehicles driven by Lightfoot’s security detail, according to Crime Watch Boystown, a website devoted to crime-related issues. There were two speed-camera warnings, as well.

None of the fines had been paid as of Friday, CWB reported.

In addition to those most recent violations, two SUVs no longer used by the mayor’s bodyguards also have unpaid speed-camera and red-light tickets, the website reported. One vehicle is now on the list that city crews use to boot and impound vehicles with outstanding tickets, according to Crime Watch Boystown.

In response to the story that referred to the mayor as “Lori Leadfoot,” the mayor’s office noted that Lightfoot has “repeatedly stressed” to her security detail that, “Running red lights is never acceptable.”

However, vehicles assigned to transport the mayor and trail behind are also instructed to remain “in formation while en route,” the mayor’s office said.

The fines will remain unpaid until the “administrative process” is completed to “determine whether the [accused] party is responsible,” the statement said.

“Individual members of the Mayor’s Detail are responsible for payment of tickets incurred while they are driving,” the mayor’s office said.

Mayoral rivals were quick to pounce. They weren’t waiting for an explanation of the new round of tickets, some of them issued in school safety zones with “school children present.” 

Last week, a divided City Council helped Lightfoot dodge an embarrassing defeat on the volatile issue of how fast motorists can drive before getting a speed-camera ticket. By a vote of 26-18, the City Council kept the ticketing threshold at 6 mph over the posted speed limit.

“@chicagosmayor sets rules but doesn’t follow herself, like issuing mask mandate while partying maskless in crowds, having a security team while CPD beats are short officers or lowering speed cam mileage while racking up speed & red-light tickets that go UNPAID,” mayoral challenger Paul Vallas tweeted Tuesday.

Mayoral challenger Willie Wilson said “being a leader means leading by example.” He demanded that Lightfoot pay those tickets out of her own pocket.

“People have lost faith in her. She’s got one set of rules for the elite and another one for the citizens. That should not be,” Wilson said. 

“When I become mayor, we’re gonna get rid of those speed cameras. It sends the wrong message to citizens. At first, she said it was for safety. Now, she’s saying it’s for the budget. It’s totally wrong.”

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) led the charge for the higher ticketing threshold.

He called the new round of unpaid tickets issued to a security detail — which was increased substantially under Lightfoot’s watch — a sign of the “double standard” applied to his political nemesis.

“This is do as I say, not as I do. … It’s totally hypocritical that we’re asking the taxpayers to pay to balance the budget, but she can’t even pay her fair share to balance the budget,” Beale said. 

“That’s what these tickets all about. It’s not about public safety because, apparently, her and her drivers are throwing public safety out the window, as well.”

Beale was not at all swayed by the fact that one of the speed-camera warnings uncovered by Crime Watch Boystown was issued on Nov. 5, 2021 — while the mayor’s SUVs were riding through Washington Park at 39 mph on their way to Comer Children’s Hospital, perhaps in response to an emergency.

Four months later, a still-unpaid speed-cam ticket was issued to the mayor’s detail in the same general location, CWB said.

“There’s no excuse. I mean — do the people get an excuse? No. The people don’t get an excuse,” Beale said.

“If it was something that she was conscious about, not only would she have had her people slow down, she would have paid the fines and fees. But to boot people and she gets away with it while people are being booted every day? That’s totally hypocritical.”

It’s not the first time Lightfoot’s detail has been accusing of flouting the rules imposed on Chicago motorists.

In November 2020, the Chicago Tribune reported Lightfoot’s detail had racked up 13 speed-cam and red-light-camera tickets during her first 18 months in office, but 10 had been dismissed.

At the time, the mayor’s office defended the dismissals on grounds that the bodyguard detail protects the mayor and her family “at all hours” and that the lead car and tail car are “trained to stay together at all times.”

As the mayor’s office said then: “Any and all red-light violations or speeding tickets dismissed by the city were done so when the tail car following the lead car became separated.” 

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