Illinois Viewpoint: Red-light racket coming apart

By the time the ticket collection noise reaches the warning stage — the pay up or the state of Illinois will deduct your red-light ticket fee from your tax refund — I always enjoy sending a note back telling the municipalities of Hillside, North Riverside, Berwyn, and River Forest, where over the years I have collected a small handful of such tickets, to go at it, that they will never see a dime directly from me.

“You are running a racket that has nothing to do with safe driving and is all about stealing money from citizens.”

That’s the note I send. I never get an answer. But that’s OK. The satisfaction is in stating clearly that cash-strapped towns and villages have turned to a scheme to immorally extract money from ordinary people. Yep, these towns have exploding police and fire pensions to pay and this is at the top of the list on how they are making those ballooning payouts.

I sympathize with the financial squeeze these burgs are in. We cover their budget processes. The pain is real. Property taxes are maxed. Sales taxes are softening. Non-home rule towns are limited in what else they can pile fees onto.