If you haven’t been following the news from Chicago, the latest laff-fest is the comedy of errors over the city’s leasing its metered parking to a third party in an attempt to finesse its way around its budget problems. John Kass comments:
Daley’s people must have taken polls on the street parking fiasco. But you don’t need polls to know folks are angry. They’re upset that they have to spend 28 quarters to park for two hours downtown, and pay increased rates on city side streets even in the neighborhoods.
In Beverly Hills, Calif., among the priciest real estate in America, it costs only $1 an hour to park your Bentley, Ferrari or Rolls-Royce. In Chicago, you’ve got to dig just as deep to put your clunker on Archer and Kimball so you can run in and get a taco.
And if you think folks are angry now, just wait until it starts snowing.
Picture that you’ve just paid for a couple hours of luxurious street parking. You take your little parking stub from the fancy machine and place it dutifully on your dashboard.
Then you walk away. Then it starts snowing. The windshield gets covered with snow. City meter readers won’t be able to see the little parking stub showing that you paid. This leaves city meter readers two distinct options:
They could climb over the piles of snow and kindly scrape off your windshield, then put their tender bare hands on the frozen glass to warm it, just so they can see through it and find the parking stub.
Or they could just give you a ticket.
“It’s going to be a nightmare,” one veteran cop told me. “I don’t think they figured that out.”
Using a parking meter system that works perfectly well in Atlanta here in Chicago? What could possibly go wrong?
BTW this story has everything we’re seeing played out on the national stage: the culture of apology, aldermen who don’t read the bills they’re voting on, handouts to financiers (in this case Morgan Stanley).
As a final point perhaps I should mention that I don’t approve of leasing the people’s assets to private concerns as a matter of general principle. There may be exceptions but toll roads, parking meters, and state lotteries don’t fall under them.
The Sun-Times headline on this story: Mayor Culpa
“They messed up the computer system and they messed up the billing. Check it out, Mayor Daley. What happened to the money? I want an answer right now.”
Like most who stepped to the mike, she didn’t get one, only a mayoral promise that his people would get back to them.