Bill Wilson, 43, is running for village council in the fall election. He returned to Elmwood Place after living in southwest Florida for 20 years; there, he said, red-light cameras, speeding cameras, accident cameras and crime security cameras are commonplace.
"You get accustomed to it," Wilson said.
In Elmwood Place, the cameras didn't last long enough for anyone to grow accustomed to them. But apparently, they lasted longer than folks realized: On Thursday, Judge Ruehlman found that the camera company had continued to mail out citations for weeks after he ordered that it stop. He ruled Elmwood Village in contempt and said the cameras and equipment must be seized and stored until the case is resolved.
On a recent evening just before the contempt order, Holly Calhoun left her store, crossed the street and gazed up into a camera, wondering what, if anything, it was recording. Two men in a car stopped and asked what was going on. She told them she is opposed to cameras; they each gave her a thumb's up and drove off.Business, Calhoun said, has been slow to rebound; most people don't seem to believe the cameras aren't in full operation. Elmwood Place is caught in a speed trap of its own making. On the one hand, the village faces a crippling financial blow if litigation succeeds in forcing it to pay back all the fines already collected plus legal costs; on the other, Calhoun and others think if the village wins its case and brings back the cameras, the effects on business could be catastrophic. "I think it's going to become a ghost town," she said.