Hoffman speeds past accountability

March 2, 2014 

State Rep. Jay Hoffman is a lawmaker who clearly knows his seat is safe.

Hoffman, D-Belleville, wants to extend a controversial speed camera law from just Chicago to the rest of the state -- even though he says no community in his district asked for the change.

If Hoffman had asked his constituents if they wanted him to introduce such a bill, the majority of people undoubtedly would have said no. Speed cameras are hugely unpopular with motorists; neighboring Missouri is fighting several lawsuits involving the cameras.

And motorists in the metro-east know what a disaster red light cameras have been for East St. Louis. The city thought it would cash in on fines, but instead it has been fighting the vendor to get paid.

This is the kind of bill that could get a lawmaker voted out of office -- if he represented a swing district. But Hoffman is comfortable in a solidly Democratic district and knows he is not at risk.

Still, why go off on this tangent? Illinois has many pressing issues that need to be addressed, prime among them whether to extend the "temporary" income tax increase and how to bring state spending in line with expected revenue.

Hoffman's explanation that the law should be applied equally throughout the state is lame. Chicago gets special treatment all the time from lawmakers and we don't remember Hoffman ever complaining about equality before.

The answer probably rests in Peoria, a city that really does want the cameras. Maybe its representative was afraid to introduce a speed camera bill in an election year and asked Hoffman to do it instead. That would make more sense than Hoffman's explanation.

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