Jeff Smith 11:59 p.m., Feb. 8
Strange Political Bedfellows: Brian Maienschein and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
What does GOP Assembly hopeful and ex-San Diego city councilman Brian Maienschein have in common with Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel?
Maienschein enjoys the political backing of Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc, a controversial "red light" camera outfit that is rolling out a new high-tech version of its automatic traffic ticketing system across the nation.
And Emanuel is the reported mastermind behind a scheme to vastly expand Redflex's business in Chicago.
Maienschein's campaign disclosed in a filing with the California Secretary of State's office on Saturday that it had accepted $1,000 from Redflex the day before, April 20.
As for Emanuel, the Chicago Tribune reported last month that a close political ally, Greg Goldner of Resolute Consulting, is now a top Redflex strategist who stands to earn a sizable chunk of money from the mayor's new traffic program.
According to the paper, Redflex is "is well-positioned to make tens of millions of dollars from Emanuel's controversial plan to convert many of the red-light cameras into automated speed cameras."
"The mayor had a bill introduced in Springfield in October to let him transform much of the city's existing network of nearly 200 red-light cameras into the equivalent of automated radar guns near schools and public parks," according to the Tribune.
"With the Chicago police chief and schools CEO fronting the effort, Emanuel pitched the plan as a child-safety initiative and rolled to a quick victory at the Statehouse, despite questions about the statistics the mayor used to justify the push.
"Goldner and Kasper both said they never talked to Emanuel about the camera issue.
"But by last fall the interests of Resolute, Redflex and Emanuel had officially converged — though it would be nearly impossible for the public to know.
"The Emanuel administration has repeatedly denied Tribune requests for public records related to the speed-camera push, releasing a small fraction of the requested information months after the mayor's bill was passed by state lawmakers."
The Maienschein contribution is far from the first involvement by Redflex in San Diego politics.
As we reported in January 2008, the company was a client of a lobbying outfit founded by Tom Shepard, the political consultant closely allied with San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders and newly independent mayoral candidate and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a former Republican.