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Schaumburg makes camera opt-out official
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/14/2010 12:01 AM

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Though there was already little doubt about Schaumburg's negative stance on Cook County's proposed red-light camera program for the suburbs, village officials Tuesday felt it important there be no doubt at all.

Trustees voted unanimously to opt out of the program, taking advantage of the option grudgingly offered by the county board after two weeks of heated debate last month.

Schaumburg Village Attorney Jack Siegel said the simple, clear resolution he drafted for trustees' approval differed greatly from the long legal fight he was already preparing for in early June.

"It's made all the difference in the world," Siegel said. "I'm delighted it worked this way.

"Unfortunately, I can't put my grandchildren through college now," he joked, referring to the higher legal fees both sides would have paid had there been an impasse last month.

The Cook County Board originally identified 30 potential intersections in the suburbs for 20 red-light cameras to be used for a one-year test program. Six of the potential sites were in Schaumburg, and the county had already estimated collecting $2 million in fines from the entire program in 2010.

County officials argued they had jurisdiction to install the cameras on these county-owned roads in the suburbs, even though suburban police departments are responsible for patrolling them.

Schaumburg officials praised the village's own county board representative, Commissioner Tim Schneider, for leading the charge that led to the 9-4 vote in favor of the opt-out option on June 15.

County commissioners in favor of the red-light camera program relied on a Cook County state's attorney's opinion that they did have the authority to overrule the suburbs' wishes if they chose.

"I think they're wrong on that, legally," Siegel said Tuesday. "But they probably had to take that position if push came to shove."

Siegel also represents Arlington Heights, which approved an identical opt-out resolution last month. Three of the potential red-light camera sites were in that village.