Fast lane: Potential challenger to Mayor Rahm Emanuel racks up tickets from city
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Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who’s weighing whether to try to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel next year, already has done her part to boost City Hall’s finances.
Records show that, since 2013, the three vehicles registered to Gainer’s Lakeview home have been ticketed nearly 200 times for speed-camera, red-light-camera and parking violations.
Gainer’s family has paid more than $16,500 in fines over the past five years for a long list of infractions the city of Chicago has issued against their 2008 Toyota Highlander sport-utility vehicle and two BMWs — a 2011 BMW 328xi and a 2015 BMW 228xi.
All three vehicles are registered to the North Side Democrat’s husband Dennis Kibby at the home Gainer and Kibby bought for $1.2 million in 2013, according to state and county records.
Gainer wouldn’t answer questions about the tickets except to say by email, “These are family cars and all tickets have been paid.”
The tickets work out to an average of one violation issued by the city every 10 days and more than $3,000 a year in fines for Gainer’s family between the start of 2013 and the end of March. That’s according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of city records that shows the fines for the three vehicles included:
• $3,690 for expired parking meters.
• $3,284 for more than 30 speed-camera tickets.
• $3,000 for the 15 times the cars were cited for failing to display a city vehicle sticker.
• $2,044 for 17 red-light camera violations.
• $1,440 for the 22 times the vehicles got ticketed for expired licensed plates.
• $975 for the 13 times they were cited for being in no-parking zones.
• $650 for 11 times instances of parking on streets in violation of street-cleaning bans.
• $250 in March, when the 2011 BMW was cited for being in a disabled parking zone.
The 192 tickets racked up by Gainer’s family since the beginning of 2013 dwarfed the total of all violations against vehicles owned by Emanuel, the rest of his potential challengers and their spouses, the Sun-Times found. Everyone else in the still-evolving mayoral field and their spouses had a total of 62 violations during the same period, Chicago Department of Finance records show.
Emanuel — who says he’ll seek a third term in the February 2019 election — owns only one car registered in Illinois, a 2009 Mercury Mariner he bought nearly a decade ago.
The car has been cited for eight violations that resulted in Emanuel paying fines. The infractions included six parking tickets, one ticket for a red-light camera violation and another for getting caught on camera going six to 10 miles an hour above the speed limit.
A residential permit parking violation assessed against the mayor’s personal car was dismissed in 2014, according to data on the city’s website.
Emanuel usually travels the city in a two-car motorcade. In 2014, ABC7 Chicago reported that the mayoral motorcade was ticketed nearly two dozen times in about two and a half years, including violations for running red lights or speeding near schools and parks where his administration has installed cameras to improve safety.
The two vehicles now in the mayor’s detail have gotten just one red-light violation in recent years — in September 2015. Two parking tickets issued that same year were dismissed, city records show.
Besides Gainer, the potential challenger with the most tickets was Lori Lightfoot, who was Emanuel’s chairman of the Chicago Police Board until shortly before she announced her mayoral bid earlier this month. Lightfoot and her domestic partner Amy Eshleman own two vehicles — a 2014 Toyota Highlander and a 2006 Mini Cooper — and have paid up for 32 tickets. Nearly half of those were for parking violations.
Since the start of 2013, city cameras captured the couple’s Toyota speeding 11 or more miles an hour over the posted limit six times, and the Mini Cooper was cited for one speed-camera violations. The couple also paid fines for eight red-light-camera tickets on their two cars in five years.
A campaign spokesman for Lightfoot declined to comment.
Dorothy Brown, the longtime clerk of the Cook County circuit court, announced last month that she was entering the 2019 mayoral race despite a federal corruption investigation that has roiled her office. Since Brown bought a 2016 BMW in June 2015, the car has been ticketed 10 times, including three times city cameras caught it going at least 11 miles an hour over the limit.
Since 2013, a 2004 Jeep co-owned by Brown and her daughter, Detris Brown, has gotten three citations from the city, one for a red-light violation.
Brown’s campaign spokesman didn’t respond to messages.
According to the Illinois secretary of state’s office, former Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy and his wife don’t have any cars registered in their names. Nor does McCarthy’s security consulting firm, GFM-Strategies, which he formed after leaving the police department in 2015.
Former schools chief Paul Vallas, who announced May 2 he’ll challenge Emanuel, also doesn’t have a car registered in his name. He moved back to Chicago in the past few months, after years living in the south suburbs and out of state. His wife Sharon’s car has been ticketed five times for running red lights, once for speeding 11 miles an hour or more over the limit and twice for parking violations.
Willie Wilson — a losing candidate in the 2015 race who’s running again next year — and former Chicago Public Schools principal Troy LaRaviere also don’t have any vehicles registered in their names, according to state officials.
Gainer was first elected to the Cook County Board in 2010 and won the Democratic nomination for a third term in March from a district that includes much of the North Side lakefront and the Northwest Side. She told the Sun-Times last month she’ll decide “pretty soon” whether to run for mayor.