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After new report on Rahm and red lights, Garcia promises to end program on ‘Day One’

Mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia promised Thursday to end Chicago’s red-light camera program on “Day One” after a report surfaced connecting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a lobbyist for the city’s new red-light camera operator.

But Emanuel’s campaign said Garcia can’t keep his story straight.

Emanuel’s former congressional aide, John Borovicka, was hired in October 2013 by John C. Corrigan & Associates as a subcontractor to lobby on the firm’s behalf, according to International Business Times. The firm had been hired in February of the same year by Xerox State & Local Solutions, Chicago’s red-light camera operator, IBT reported.

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

And it took 18 days after Borovicka was hired by Corrigan for the Emanuel administration to give the $44 million red-light contract to Xerox, according to IBT.

“We got new evidence this week that the red-light camera rip-off has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with profits,” Garcia said at a news conference. “The program is just one more way the mayor takes our money and gives it away to his corporate backers. It’s time to end the red-light rip-off. I will do it on Day One.”

The mayor’s campaign said Emanuel began to re-think the red-light program on his own first day in office.

“[Emanuel] quickly threw out the corrupt camera operator, took down 32 cameras at 16 intersection, and immediately engaged the inspector general to review the program,” Steve Mayberry, a spokesman for Emanuel’s campaign, said. “These systems, which are used in hundreds of cities around the world, save lives and keep police on the beat taking on gangs and guns rather than writing speeding tickets.”

The mayor’s campaign also accused Garcia of changing positions on the red-light program. It pointed out Garcia once voted for a red-light camera after taking a contribution from a red-light camera operator, and he said in a Sun-Times questionnaire he “would keep only those traffic cameras that can be fully proven to have reduced accidents.”

Garcia said Thursday he will end the red-light camera program entirely, regardless of its contract and the potential costs to the city, because “we have a responsibility to ensure the welfare and safety of Chicagoans.” He said the cameras reduced T-bone accidents but increased rear-end accidents.

He also promised to explain how the city could make up for the lost revenue — and fund its pension shortfalls — next week.

“If we have to swallow medicine, I will be very honest and candid with Chicagoans about why we’re doing that,” Garcia said.