Thumbs-up: To a plan to curtail the use of red-light cameras. A proposal by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, that would reduce the number of cameras passed through a House committee this week. McSweeney’s proposal, House Bill 322, would prohibit non-home rule communities from enacting or enforcing red-light camera ordinances. A similar proposal by McSweeney was killed by state Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Democrat who has since resigned and pleaded guilty to charges that he took $70,000 in bribes from a red-light camera company. Anyone who’s ever received one of these unwelcome surprises in their mailbox knows how aggravating and unfair it can be to be pulled into a system where they are presumed guilty unless proved innocent. Any safety benefits these cameras provide appears secondary to the money that companies and local governments collect from fining people – and without having to prove who was driving. We’d like to see red-light cameras and the corruption that has supported them go away altogether, and we hope this measure succeeds.
Thumbs-down: To unacceptable backlogs. The 2010s in Illinois government were largely characterized by fiscal uncertainly – including more than a full year without an actual operating budget – resulting in backlogs of bills and administrative duties that left state agencies often unable to do even the bare minimum in terms of public service. Things are slowly trending in the right direction, but repercussions continue to reverberate, as evidenced by a recent lawsuit in which plaintiffs said they have had to wait three years for Firearm Owners Identification cards and gun licenses to be processed. No government service should take that long to administer, from a gun license or boating license to a Freedom of Information Act request or deed recording. The courts will decide the merits of the case. The plaintiffs put the blame on allegedly illegal fund sweeps, while the defendant agencies say they don’t have the authority to reallocate the money in question and shouldn’t be held liable. But regardless of the outcome, we’re frustrated by continued consequences of gross legislative and administrative incompetence.
Thumbs-down: To another programming error, this time with an app that caused chaos in the counting of votes in Monday’s Iowa caucuses and threw the results into doubt for much longer than is acceptable. Election technology has backfired before, but the Iowa Democratic Party has some explaining to do after the huge buildup to the 2020 caucuses, then the infuriating wait for the outcome. There’s a right and wrong way to conduct statewide caucuses. Iowans had better look long and hard to find the right way once again.