IVI-IPO Files Suit Over Parking Meter Lease

“Somebody oughta sue the city over this,” is what came out of the mouths of countless barstool pundits at every watering hole throughout the city when the parking meter lease deal first kicked in.

Today, somebody finally did.

That somebody is the Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO).

“We didn’t see anyone else stepping up to file suit, so we did,” said Owen Brugh, spokesperson for IVI-IPO. “Someone needed to do it. Someone has to stand up and say this deal is lousy.”

The lawsuit was filed this morning in the Circuit Court of Cook County by Clinton A. Krislov of Krislov & Associates, LTD, a firm that often litigates with the city.

The lawsuit actually is filed against City Comptroller Steve Lux, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Illinois Comptroller, Daniel Hynes stating in the plaintiff’s Petition For Leave to File Complaint, “Petitioners’ complaint challenges the City of Chicago Comptroller’s, the Illinois Secretary of State’s, and Illinois State Comptroller’s expenditures of public monies relating to the City of Chicago’s illegally and unconstitutionally privatized parking system.”

The complaint goes on to claim that the lease agreement with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC  “unconstitutionally obligates the City to expend public funds in order to police, enforce and maintain the privately held and privately controlled parking meter system.”

According to the complaint, this is a violation of the Illinois Constitution which states “public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.”

Additionally, the plaintiffs contend that the city cannot legally lease the parking meter system since it’s on the public street.

“The public way is not transferrable,” says lead attorney Clint Krislov. “You just can’t lease out the public way.”

The lawsuit goes on to contend the agreement illegally delegates police power over a privately controlled property. In other words, police and Parking Enforcement Aides (PEA) by writing tickets, are enforcing payment of what is essentially private property according to Krislov.

“It’s like the police patrolling a private parking lot,” contends Krislov.

Finally, the complaint says the agreement “illegally binds successive City Council’s powers to regulate the City’s on-street parking meter system, for an excessive 75-year term.”

“You can’t tie up future administrations and the City Council for 75 years,” says Krislov. “75 years represents generations of people… it’s too long.”

The City of Chicago Law Department had very little comment on the lawsuit but in a prepared statement, spokesperson Jennifer Hoyle said, “We have obtained a copy of the IVI-IVO’s lawsuit regarding the parking meter concession agreement. We have not been served with this lawsuit and it is not clear to us whether or not it’s actually been filed. However, based on our initial review we believe it is wholly without merit, both factually and legally. We do not believe it’s appropriate to comment in any further detail about this potential litigation, except to say that we will aggressively defend this transaction in court if the suit is filed.”

When asked about the lawsuit’s chances of prevailing in court, Brugh seemed realistic about the possibilities.

“It’s hard to say at this point,” said Brugh. “If there wasn’t a chance of winning we wouldn’t have moved forward. Maybe this will spur other people to take some action.”

12 Responses to IVI-IPO Files Suit Over Parking Meter Lease

  1. John Adams says:

    Finally! FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY! I’m ecstatic. Actually, I’ll be ecstatic if and when this gets overturned.
    In the meantime, I’m happy something is happening.
    -John Adams

  2. concerned tax payer says:

    How many other cities lease out there parking, and street cleaning along with street repair. Wouldn’t that be the same issue.

    And if the IVI-IPO wins this case wouldn’t that mean that the PEA’s and a few of the police in Chicago would be in the unemployment line.

    I like it
    SUE SUE SUE the hello out of them …..

  3. DoR Employee says:

    If IVI-IPO wins…….

    The City Takes back 100% control…instead of only having 25% control of the meters right now.

    I hate to say it…..but the suit won’t work.

    No one sued when Daley leased the Parking Lots to Standard parking.

    No one sued when the Skyway was leased out.

    No one sued over Midway

    And Big deal….I don’t write meter tickets anyhow.

    I can to 90 a day with everything else.

  4. Illinois Patriot says:

    Between this, the town hall meetings and God knows whats next, I think the public is starting to stir and we are not happy with our leaders!!!

  5. Facts says:

    Just a quick thought about IVI IPO’s motivation: While it may be entirely altruistic, there could be other motives for the lawsuit. IVI IPO has labeled themselves as a “watchdog group,” but they really are a PAC, or a political action committee. As such, they seek to garner attention to generate funding to support their special interests. This suit, regardless of its merit, will surely do that.

    Based on your piece, the City looks like it has chosen to remain quiet on the suit for now. While we don’t know the City’s reason, my guess is that it’s probably the appropriate response based on Supreme Court Rules. Technically, attorneys should not be airing their cases and trying them publicly. There’s always the risk that it will prejudice a case. Plus, it’s probably a bad strategy. Why tip off your opponent?

  6. KaySees says:

    After the court date on August 28, the first case management conference for this case (according to the website of the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court) isn’t until January 28, 2010. don’t expect any resolution for this one, either way, for a long time. The 75-year lease could expire before this one’s finished.

  7. Peter Parker says:

    Guys,

    Only the lawyers will get any money out of this lawsuit. Doesn’t the City lease the bus shelters and all advertising rights on the streets? What about the Skyway? Wasn’t that built with public money and sits on public land?

    TicketMaster:

    Aren’t the meter tickets issued for violating City ordinances and doesn’t the City get all of the ticket money? The tickets are issued for violating a City proscribed time limit that is only measured by the parking meter.

    Finally, the suit claims that the lease agreement “unconstitutionally obligates the City to expend public funds in order to police, enforce and maintain the privately held and privately controlled parking meter system.”

    The City can easily argue that the 1.2 billion it got for the system offsets the expense.

    Result: Lawyers get paid, nobody wins.

    Besides, where is the City going to come up with the money to pay back? Looks like they have already spent about half of it.

  8. SS says:

    “Besides, where is the City going to come up with the money to pay back? Looks like they have already spent about half of it.”

    If the city spends the other half next year, what will we do for the next 73 years??!!

    “How many other cities lease out there parking, and street cleaning along with street repair. Wouldn’t that be the same issue.”

    I see cleaning and repair as different. Those are services, not 75 year abdications of public property.

    “And if the IVI-IPO wins this case wouldn’t that mean that the PEA’s and a few of the police in Chicago would be in the unemployment line.”

    No, PEA’s would still issue tickets over city controlled meters. And I’m not sure the police are even writing tickets anymore.

  9. Ticketmaster says:

    Peter Parker,

    You are correct on the fact that if a vehicle is issued a citation for expired meter, the city gets the money.

    SS,

    Meter enforcement is only one small aspect of what we cover. Truth be told, we do better going down the side streets in the neighborhoods writing other violations.

    DoR is also right. Nobody said anything about the Skyway, Parking Garages, Midway, so why should the courts do anything here. This deal is to big, and to expensive to be voided. I hope everyone remembers this come the next Aldermanic and Mayoral election.

  10. IVI-IPO is a PAC, but it is also a membership organization. I encourage anyone who is interested in good government to join — not only does it support their work but members get to vote on endorsements, and they will be doing a full slate of endorsement votes for the upcoming elections. And they also do endorsments — based on member votes — for Mayor and Aldermen. I have been a member for several yeasr now. Membership is $35 per year, less for students and low-income. You can join at:

    http://www.iviipo.org/membership.html

  11. ejhickey says:

    May I suggest a proposed settlement to the IVI-IPO lawsuit. Rescind the lease and give the control of the meters and their revenue back to the city. As for the $1.15 billion payment , I suggest converting that sum into a long term loan from Morgan Stanley to the City of Chicago. the interest rate should be the same as the Fed Funds rate. In other words , ZERO! As for the length of the loan, 75 years sounds good.

    This would not hurt Morgan Stanley since they have received taxpayer funds as part of the bailout and continue to get cheap money from the Fed. Plus it would allow MS a chance to do something good for the City and gain a tremendous amount of goodwill. This is a chance for them to repair their reputation. Any objections? No? OK , case settled! That was easy.

  12. [...] is the second lawsuit so far, to come out of Chicago’s parking meter privatization, and there are rumblings of the [...]

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