Lawsuits, Stalled Legislation, And New Mayor. What’s Going On With Chicago’s Ticketing Reform?
By Elliott Ramos, Claudia Morell, WBEZ
During Chicago’s city elections, mayoral candidates were vying to fix the city’s broken ticketing, towing and debt-collection practices.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot herself campaigned on fixing the issue. She vowed to “ban the boot” and end license suspensions for non-moving violations, and to eliminate red-light cameras that didn’t have safety purposes.
That was in response to a WBEZ and ProPublica Illinois investigations that found City Hall’s ticketing and towing practices have had a harmful and disparate impact on Chicago’s low-income and minority communities. The news stories prompted City Clerk Anna Valencia to launch a task force in December to recommend fixes to the new mayor.
In the meantime, the city has been hit with multiple lawsuits, and Lightfoot even played a role in postponing state legislation that would have ended license suspensions for some tickets.
Ahead of the task force’s expected report, here’s a look at the current efforts to overhaul Chicago’s unfair ticketing and towing system.
Lightfoot taps the brakes on drivers’ license suspension bill
A measure in Springfield to end license suspensions for non-moving violations came close to passing, but was ultimately stalled at the mayor’s urging. Several weeks ago, Lightfoot asked the bill’s sponsors for more time to address the “totality of these serious issues in a holistic approach.”
According to ProPublica Illinois, Lightfoot sent a letter to lawmakers, assuring them that “[her] team is already devising a plan that moves our city away from balancing the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it. This change will require work in Springfield, and I am committed to partnering with you in this effort.”
The measure had the support of lawmakers from both parties, as well as advocacy groups such as the Chicago Jobs Council, the Woodstock Institute, and the ACLU of Illinois.
Lightfoot’s administration says it will work with lawmakers and advocates over the summer on the bill, in hopes of picking it up again during Springfield’s fall session.