Monthly Archives: May 2009

ALERT!: Cubs Home Night Game Tonight

Cubs vs. the L.A. Dodgers tonight. 7:05 PM start.

C’mon Cubbies, let’s get some momentum on this streak.

Remember, Belmont Sheffield Music Festival going on down the street.

Driving and parking torture. Stay the hell away from Lakeview.

WGN TV Reports On Madigan Subpeonas

WGN’s Erin Mendez reports on Lisa Madigan’s probe of the parking meter lease deal.

Tunney Aide Resigns Over Fake Parking Placard Controversey

Zodak Yonan has quit.

If you don’t recall, Mr. Yonan, a contract worker for the 44th Ward Service Office,  got caught using a fake parking placard that had the city seal and text that said “44th Ward Official Business.”

Late Friday evening, according to the Tribune’s Clout Street blog, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney faxed a statement to the Trib, explaining that “Mr. Zodak Yonan recently informed me of his decision to retire from our service office.”

Yonan has been working for the ward for over 20 years and is 84 years old, and truly deserves to retire.

Weekend Traffic & Parking Hot Spots

Lots of fun things to do are going on this weekend.

But summer festivals also means street closures, bad traffic and even worse parking conditions in these areas.

Here’s a quick rundown.

May Fest: Brats, kraut and beer at this traditional German festival in Lincoln Square. Lincoln Ave. closed between Western, and 1 block east.

Mayfest is FREE, has great German music and food and benefits the DANK Haus, Chicago’s German cultural center.

The Geek and family go every year. You should go too. Schnell!

Belmont Sheffield Music Festival: This is a pain in the butt, poser music festival for 20 somethings to consume their weight in beer, and dance to no name bands on a dirty street. Plus it closes down a MAJOR thoroughfare, Belmont, from Sheffield to Clark.

From a traffic perspective, with the Cubs in town, this will turn Lakeview into the parking chaos capital of the city.

It’s absolute hell. I would prefer the latex gloved finger of my doctor probing my prostate than going to this bunk festival.

Do-Division Festival: Another hipster doofus festival, but not anywhere near as painful as Belmont Sheffield. Infinitely cooler.

Although it does close down Division St. between Ashland and Leavitt. Park far away and walk.

New York Times Weighs In On Chicago Parking Debacle

It seems Chicago’s clown like antics with our parking meter lease deal, having reached circus style heights, is getting the attention of our friends in the Big Apple.

The New York Times‘ Susan Saulny, writes about the absurdities of Chicago’s parking challenges in Saturday’s edition.

When you go out for your Saturday morning coffee, you can pickup the NY Times at Starbucks or better newsstands everywhere, and/or get a taste of Saulny’s article, Long a Driver’s Curse, Chicago Parking Gets Worse right here.

Attorney General Drops Bomb Friday Afternoon

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened up an investigation into the “transaction and implementation” of Chicago’s parking meter lease deal, according to our friends over at the Chicago Reader.

According to Mick Dumke’s Clout City post, this investigation is looking into whether consumers have been defrauded, and into the transaction and implementation of the new meter system itself, Dumke writes, quoting Madigan spokesperson Robyn Ziegler.

Ziegler says, the investigation issued subpoenas to Morgan Stanley, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC and LAZ Parking, but “We’re not investigating the city of Chicago.”

Hmmmmm.

Perhaps, at least part of the investigation is related to something this website reported several weeks back, when this website analyzed the terrific expose the Reader originally wrote on this subject.

Based on the documents procured by the Reader, Morgan Stanley seems to have misrepresented itself in it’s bid documents, claiming to be the sole vendor in it’s bid proposal, but ends up creating a separate entity called Chicago Parking Meters, LLC that is actually a consortium of investors, led by Morgan Stanley.

In fact, by the Reader’s time line, and searching the Illinois Secretary of State’s Corporate database, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC did not even exist as an entity when they submitted their bid or when they were announced as the winning bidder.

CPM, LLC did not come into existence until December 3, 2008 according to the State of Illinois, even though the bid’s were opened on December 1st and they were announced as the winning bidder on December 2nd.

There is obviously more to it than just this, but, this seems like something that may pique the Attorney General’s interest.

City Hall Seethes Over Parking Meter Meltdown

Wednesday’s major meter malfunction has some very angry people down at City Hall.

First, Mayor Daley expressed his displeasure Thursday. In what he described as “a computer glitch,” and the way that the new lessee has handled the parking meter transition, he squarely placed the blame for all the problems on the shoulders of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.

This most recent problem has also given alderman more ammunition to try to re-write history, and cancel the parking meter lease deal.

This list of aldermen includes 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore who says, “this is probably the worst vote I’ve cast in my18 years as alderman,” in an interview with CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole.

Ald. Moore and others, believes these performance issues are possibly a breach of the contract, and may give the city the wiggle room to get out of this deal.

Unfortunately, none of the aldermen can answer how the $1.15 billion paid to the city for the 75 year lease deal, could be repaid.

Other citizens are wondering if the new lessee is going to cut as check to the city for all the last parking ticket revenue that was lost during the meter malfunction.

Local blogger, The Angry Chicagoan, wrote an open e-mail to aldermen:

Alderman,
Most of the Loop was without parking meters therefore the city could not issue any tickets all day. I assume that LAZ will be reimbursing the City of Chicago for the lost revenue in the same manner that the City must reimburse LAZ for lost revenue if meters are removed – something like 5 times the actual lost revenue.

Additionally, the fallout from this fiasco has Dept. of Revenue employees checking Pay & Display units around the city.

Parking enforcement aides (PEA’s), were instructed to check every pay box they came across in their ticket writing excursions throughout the city.

In light of yesterday’s problems, we were given maps of meter locations and instructed to check out each and every meter and report all problems right away,” explained PEA Ticketmaster. “Needless to say, some of our ticket counts dropped like a rock today, and may even continue tomorrow. I guess that is good news for the citizens. My own personal opinion, the city should just stop writing meter tickets for 30 days, give LAZ that much time to fix the bugs.”

While a moratorium on writing meter tickets for 30 days might be the logical thing to do, in light of all these issues, my guess would be this cash starved city would NEVER do that.

A girl can dream though, can’t I?

Pay & Display Meters Seem To Be Working Today

I guess no news is good news.

Downtown Pay & Display boxes are working today.

The Geek Talks To Channel 2 News

Tonight at 5, that intellectually impaired goof, the Parking Ticket Geek, talks to Vince Gerasole of CBS 2 News, to talk about yesterday’s downtown Pay & Display snafu.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to the video if you were still working at 5 PM and missed it, like me.

Some Friendly Advice For Chicago Parking Meters, LLC

Hey there CPM!

Pull up your bar stool, and let me by you a beer. You look like you really need a drink.

Look, I know you’re new in town.

Perhaps you don’t now how things work here in Chicago.

So far, you’ve made a lot of mistakes, stepped on a few toes, and generally, if you don’t mind me saying, pissed off nearly everyone around these parts.

In fact, everyone around here pretty much hates you and/or thinks you’re a clown.

So sit down, and let me give you some friendly advice on how to make amends, be a better neighbor and get back on the right track here in Chicago.

Get Your Equipment To Work Correctly

C’mon man! If you’re gonna call yourself Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, and you install state of the art computerized Pay & Display pay boxes, they need to work.

I know single head traditional parking meters are so passe’, so let’s say…2008. But at least they worked when you dropped in a quarter.

Yesterday, was a major fiasco. A real screwup.

But you’ve been having problems with these units all along, with reports of Pay & Display machines not accepting credit card payments at many locations.

Get them to work!!!

You’re probably spending millions of dollars to install these machines. Get the manufacturer that sold you these machines back here and MAKE THEM WORK!

Communicate Better

Hiring Avis La Velle is a good start. She’s personable, intelligent and will be a great spokesperson for your company–if she can last that is.

But your company’s ability to communicate and interact with the public via the media has been horrendous from day one. Calls to your spokespeople, management and corporate officers consistently go unreturned. Your people ignore the media and therefore the public. That is unless you’re brought before a City Council hearing or frog marched to a press conference, hat in hand, to apologize for your many, many missteps.

Even yesterday, when you knew there were major issues, instead of getting in front of the problem, and announcing to the public via the news media, there was a problem, you let the media discover the problem and report on it. It made you look really bad.

If you had announced there was a problem, explained what drivers should do, and asked the city not to issue tickets until your techs fixed the machines, you would have gained our respect.

If you were smart, you would have told everyone that downtown parking was FREE today because of the sheer number of inoperable meters and scope of the problem, you would have been a hero.

Talk to us. Talk to Chicago. We’re nice people.

But when you run and hide like cowards, we get angry.

Adopt The Park Magic In-Car Meter

This is a no-brainer.

If you don’t know already, Park Magic, is an in-car meter system, much like the I-Pass system for our tollways, that allows drivers a great deal of flexibility in paying their meters.

parkmagic-unit.jpg

Park Magic allows drivers to use their cell phones to pay for metered parking, instead of using quarters at regular single head meters or paying for parking a block away at a Pay & Display unit.

If you’re into your third glass of wine at dinner, and running late getting back to your vehicle, just call the Park Magic automated service line and add another 30 minutes of time to your meter. You don’t even have to leave your table.

I also know that CPM would pay less transaction costs to process a Park Magic payment, than you would pay to your credit card processor, when drivers use their credit and debit cards at Pay & Display units. So it actually would put more money in your pocket.

The convenience of a Park Magic as a payment method, would be just one more incentive for Chicago drivers to park at your metered spaces.

Considering all the problems you’ve been having with broken conventional meters and now with Pay & Display units, why wouldn’t you want to adopt Park Magic?

Lower Meter Rates

I don’t know if you know this, but drivers are boycotting your parking meters.

It’s pretty easy to see. Where there used to be streets filled with parked cars at meters, in some areas, parking ghost towns have popped up. Tumbleweeds blow down the street, unimpeded for blocks before running into an actual parked vehicle.

You need to lower parking meter rates.

Seriously.

Not everywhere. But in many places.

Let me explain.

$1.00 per hour parking rates work great in Lakeview. Increased rates in this popular shopping and nightlife area have reduced parking congestion, made parking easier, and without drastically reducing the number of cars utilizing metered spots. Turnover has improved. Business owners are happy.

However, that same $1.00 per hour rate in other areas, is chasing drivers and prospective customers for local businesses, from driving and parking in neighborhoods that are less popular than Lincoln Park, Lakeview and the Gold Coast.

Let’s put it this way. Apartments in Lakeview command higher rents than South Shore, right?

So why are meter rates the same in both places?

It’s simple economics.

Lower rates in less trafficked areas and you’ll increase revenue.

Sound counter-intuitive? Not if you consider that currently, no one is parking at blocks and blocks of meters in some neighborhoods. Lower the rates to 50 cents an hour or even 25 cents an hour in some areas and many drivers will start parking there again.

25 cents an hour is greater than 0 cents per hour.

I learned this in 2nd grade. How can this simple mathematical axiom escape the financial geniuses at Morgan Stanley?

If your company voluntarily lowered rates in some places, not only would you increase revenue, but you would win over many, many motorists who right now, truly hate your guts.

Refunds

Too many of your parking meters take our quarters, but don’t register any time in return.

And even when we call your customer service hotline to complain and report the problem, we’re told “we don’t give refunds.”

Start giving refunds.

Allow your customer service operators the ability to send out CPM debit cards with, let’s say a whole $1.00 of value on them. Of course, they only work in your Pay & Display machines and no where else, but it would assuage all the crazed, pissed off motorists.

It’s like at when you’re having a nice dinner one night, and you have to wait too long for your entree to come out from the kitchen. Mention it to the manager, and all of a sudden a round of free drinks hits the table.

Before, you would probably not return to this joint for another meal. Now, drinks in hand, good will restored, you’re not only coming back, but telling all your friends how well you were treated.

Same thing here. Change your policy. Issue refunds. Win over the hearts and minds of your parking customers.

CPM old buddy, I hope this little talk has help straighten you out.

If you’re going to be around for the next 75 years, we’re all going to have to learn to get along.

But, this next round of drinks are on you, because I’m broke.

Plus, I need to save up my quarters for parking.