Posted at: 02/11/2013 5:19 PM
Updated at: 02/11/2013 5:47 PM
By: Christine VanTimmeren
The company in charge of Rochester's red light cameras is under investigation. News10NBC brought that to the attention of city leaders and some of them hadn't even heard about it yet.
The company is called Redflex Traffic Systems. The investigation is going on in Chicago. News10NBC wanted to know what it means for the city's contract with the company.
Redflex Traffic Systems have been providing and maintaining red light cameras in Chicago for a decade. According to the Chicago Tribune, the company gave thousands of dollars in free trips to a former city official who oversaw the program and now the city inspector general is investigating.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday he will get rid of Redflex in July when its contract expires. Rochester City Council approved a contract with Redflex in 2009, which paved the way for red light cameras around the city.
News10NBC talked with a number of city leaders Monday. The city's finance director hadn't even heard about the investigation into Redflex until News10NBC's Christine VanTimmeren told him.
But the resounding response was, what's happening in Chicago is happening in Chicago and it doesn't affect the city's decision to continue working with the company.
News10NBC's Christine VanTimmeren said, “Are you guys going to take any more steps or investigate yourself to make sure something like this isn't happening here?”
“I honestly don't know the answer to that question because this was a total surprise to me that happened in Chicago. First, I was made aware of it was when you brought it to my attention” Brian Roulin is the director of finance for the city. He wasn't a part of the committee that choice Redflex to manage the red light cameras, but he would know if city leaders had been involved in a situation similar to Chicago's.
Roulin said, “I'm not really worried about that happening here. It just doesn't seem that it would.” He says the city's ethic's policy forbids it. "That policy says that we cannot accept gifts that are valued at $25 or more from any of our vendors we work with.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, the chairman of Redflex's parent company resigned amid an intensifying investigation into allegation of corruption in its Chicago contract. Investigators believe Redflex gave a city transportation official thousands of dollars in free trips to the Super Bowl and other sporting events.
City Councilmember Carolee Conklin said, “I can assure you if anyone in Rochester had tickets to one of those, I think it would have raised a few red flags.”
Roulin adds given the fact they are just hearing about the investigation into Redflex, he believes the city's legal department will look into it further. "I would bet that just knowing people here in Rochester, they will ask some more questions and poke around and see what they can find.”
News10NBC did contact the Rochester Police Department to see if they had heard about the investigation and what their plans were.
They said they had heard about it but decisions about red light camera vendors falls entirely with the city.
According to city documents, proposals were accepted from four different firms in 2009. After being reviewed by a team of city leaders, they determined, based on qualifications, cost and experience, Redflex was the best option. The agreement they made is through December 1, 2014.