The problem with talking about Chicago Politics is that corruption is so pervasive that’s its almost impossible not to think about it and connect graft and payoffs to virtually everything. We probably should tread carefully, however when we consider the latest “sale” of parking infrastructure.
My contacts on both sides of the deal say that the city did well. They covered their budget (although I could think of other ways to do it, it was probably politically impossible to cut it much more), have a few bucks in the bank, are past a “crisis” for at least the next five years, and have gotten the headache of trying to run a parking program in that most intense of all political environments.
My heart goes out to the parking administrators in the Windy City. They have to run garages, provide on street parking, write citations, and collect money in a municipality that has grown like topsy over the past 150 years. Every move they make, every change desired, every new idea is reviewed and picked apart with the mindset that is filled with an alderman’s desire to keep his or her constituents happy. Raise fees, buy new equipment, change a policy, wow – at least one of the city’s 50, count em FIFTY aldermen have something to say about it.
Plus, most of the citations are written by the police, and that’s a strong lobby in “the city that works.”
The solution they selected may be for the best, no matter how much they got, money wize. A private firm can make businesslike decisions and then carry them out. Equipment replacement can be done economically and quickly. Staff can be hired, trained, replaced when necessary, and paid without the involvement of the political establishment.
Plus, when the parking system is returned in 75 years (a very short time, I’m told, in the life of a great city), they will have the most modern equipment, infrastructure in place to run it, and a populace used to an efficient and businesslike parking system.
All in all, not bad…