Monthly Archives: September 2009

Parking Meters And The 2016 Olympics


Even with all the feel good hullabaloo surrounding Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid, I’m a bit surprised.

But it seems that a lot of the national coverage of Chicago’s Olympic bid can’t help but mention our fair city’s ongoing problems with the parking meters.

It’s not too much of a stretch for the local media to mention it, but for the likes of the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg to discuss our parking meter issues as if it was common knowledge nationally.

Bloomberg’s piece focused on our parking meter situation claiming in the headline “Chicago Olympics Bid Bruised by Failure to Watch Parking Meters.”

Bloomberg’s piece ostensibly contends Chicago’s parking meter privatization deal may help torpedo Chicago’s Olympic dreams.

I mean, if you our city can’t handle a huge project like privatizing one of largest parking meter systems in the country, how can you handle something the size and scope of the Olympic games?

Years ago when traveling if you mentioned you were from Chicago, inevitably Al Capone’s name would jump from their mouths. Thankfully, in the ’90′s, the iconic Michael Jordan supplanted Scarface as our most recognized citizen. With Jordan living a relatively quiet life of retirement, perhaps Oprah is now the Windy City’s #1 most recognized symbol.

Is it possible now, that when you’re out of town and mention where you’re from that people will now say, “Oh yeah, parking meters, right?”

Go Rio!

Graphic courtesy of the Chicago Scooter Club

LAZ Parking Meter Enforcement Ready To Resume


LAZ Parking’s parking meter enforcement crews are ready to hit the streets again.

That’s right, as we mentioned about three weeks ago, and after being on “voluntary” hiatus since April, due to the tremendous amount of problems related to the parking meter lease deal transition, meter enforcement personnel is hired, trained and ready to go.

According to multiple sources within the Department of Revenue and City Hall, about two dozen parking enforcement staff, armed with bright orange envelopes, are just waiting to start slapping parking tickets on any cars that allow their parking meters or meter receipts to expire.

When the parking meter lease deal was approved in the city council back in December 2008, it allowed for the new lessee, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM), to hire their own enforcement. LAZ Parking, CPM’s contractor for street operations, will handle the enforcement.

Even though ticket revenue will go to the city, it is the fear of strong enforcement that encourages motorists to keep plugging the parking meters and pay boxes with quarters.

The only holdup is a go ahead from the city.

According to sources at City Hall, CPM has officially made the request or will be making the request shortly, to resume enforcement as soon as possible. Presumably, they’re waiting for the thumbs up from city hall, which means they’re waiting on Mayor Daley.

Additionally, sources say CPM has plans to quickly expand their initial enforcement squad, with even more ticket writers whom are going through training now.

This initial wave of new enforcement people will constitute close to a 10% increase in enforcement personnel writing tickets on city streets.

Expect this new enforcement push to begin as early as October 1, or within the next 30 days or so.

UPDATE: Just spoke with Matthew Darst, First Deputy Director for the City of Chicago, who refutes our story.

“They haven’t requested it (reviving enforcement), we haven’t done any training and we haven’t provided them with any ticket books,” said Darst. “I haven’t had any discussions with Chicago Parking Meters in that regard and they would have contacted me.”

When asked why training would be necessary for parking enforcement employees who were already trained and just barely begun to write tickets at the end of March on behalf of CPM, Darst said. “We would have required them to be retrained. That’s too much time to have passed to not have them retrained.”

UPDATE #2: Avis LaVelle, spokesperson for CPM adds via e-mail, “CPM is not enforcing parking violations at this time and there is no indication when enforcement will start.”

We stand by our sources and our story.

Never Use A Gun To Fight A Parking Ticket

BBgun parking ticket crop

Here’s some friendly advice from the Parking Ticket Geek.

Never, ever, bring a gun to fight a parking ticket.

According to Chicago Breaking News,  85 year old Peter J. Reilly, of Huntley, northwest of Chicago, was pissed about a $250 ticket he received.

It seems he was ticketed for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. So he decided to bring a gun to “pursuade” the police to throw out his ticket.

He aimed the gun at a Huntley police sergeant behind bulletproof glass, refused multiple requests to drop the weapon, but was subdued.

Turns out it was a BB gun.

Released on $100 bond, Reilly has to return to court at the end of October.

What’s the lesson for today?

Let me repeat. NEVER bring a gun to fight a parking ticket.

Crain’s Reports How Meter Deal Affecting Development


It seems the rest of the media is starting to wakeup to the long term effects of Mayor Daley’s parking meter lease deal.

This time it’s Crain’s Chicago Business, which in today’s issue, examines the problems real estate developers and businesses are starting to see from the meter lease deal.

Just to rehash, if the city has to remove a parking meter for some reason (loading zone, change in the public way, new real estate development, etc.) the city is on the hook for that lost revenue to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM).

The city can find some new spaces to meter, make changes to hours of operations or rates on certain meters, or cut a check to CPM.

So, with the city being brutally broke ass and all, it’s very possible real estate developers eliminating metered parking spaces for the construction of a new building, will have to come out of pocket to cover the lost revenue to CPM.

This is, of course, is troubling to developers and other business owners.

While Crain’s is a little late to the game here, as this site and Mick Dumke & Ben Jorvasky at The Reader have covered these looming issues, well…months ago, it’s nice to see more light being shed on this particular issue.

It would also have been nice if Crain’s could produce some concrete examples for their piece to make the point a bit more convincingly. But, c’est la vie.

But, welcome to the bandwagon all the same guys!

The piece is called “Who’ll feed meters that go away?” and you can read it in full at the Crain’s Chicago Business website.

CBS 2 Gives Red Light Camera Advice


Early last week, Ed Curran, the technology reporter for CBS 2 News, put together a nice little video segment called, “How To Beat — Or Live With — Red-Light Cameras.”

He covers a lot of ground in just a few minutes, explaining much about how red light cameras work, strategies for avoiding red light camera tickets and how different technologies (GPS and cell phone apps) are being used to help alert drivers.

It’s pretty much a digest version of what we’ve covered here, so it’s not very in-depth, but it is decently accurate, informative and with the advantage of being video.

Check out Curran’s video news report on red light cameras here.

Photo courtesy of CBS 2.

The Geek’s Weekend Traffic & Parking Hot Spot Guide


It’s another weekend of street festivals and  events, which of course means street closures, traffic backups and parking headaches. The Parking Ticket Geek has the lowdown on what areas to avoid driving and tips on where to park if you plan to attend any of these events.

It’s a pretty tame weekend, but with a few high  impact closures.

EVENT: Lakeview East Festival of the Arts

WHERE: East Lakeview/Boystown

CLOSURES: Broadway from Belmont to Roscoe

Great festival. Looks of great art and artists. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

However traffic in that area is going to SUCK! Parking is difficult normally. Stay away, unless you want to attend. I’m going to try to hit this fest early.

EVENT: Randolph Street Market Festival

WHERE: West Loop

CLOSURES: Randolph St. from Ada to Ogden

Never been to this one. Sounds a bit too  artsy/crafty for me. Mix in a few antiques and I’d rather go see Barney the Dinosaur live.

Both parking and driving should be manageable.

EVENT: Chinese National Day Parade

WHERE: Chinatown – Sunday only


Parades always mess traffic up. Parking is always a challenge down there, but not completely chaotic.

Sounds like a fun parade, except that it’s to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Unfortunately, as someone who strongly dislikes Communists and repressive, tyrannical governments, I will not be attending.

Professor Geek Joins Teach-A-Thon Tonight

Vocalo's Luis Perez

Vocalo's Luis Perez

The fine folks at, WBEZ’s rebellious little brother, is hosting Teach-A-Thon Friday and for some reason has invited that nitwit the Parking Ticket Geek to give some tips on beating parking tickets.

Teach-A-Thon will take place at their Cameo Studio, on the ground floor of Chicago Public Radio’s HQ at Navy Pier located at 848 E. Grand Ave.

I’m told lot’s of smart, accomplished experts will give short but informative lessons or demonstrations on a myriad of subjects from 3 PM to 8 PM.

However, the Geek will be spewing his idiotic ravings about 5:30 PM, but will be on the air with host Luis Perez a few minutes before that to discuss the parking news of the day.

can be heard over the air at 89.5 FM or streamed live from the Vocalo website.

Video: Paybox Clocks Still Slow

Yeah, that’s right.

The clocks on the new Cale parking meter pay boxes are still not keeping the correct time.

We chronicled last week in the Mystery of the Missing Meter Minutes.

Our friend Ryan sent us the video he took of the digital readout of one of these Pay & Display units turning over to the next minute.

Listen very carefully and you can hear the official time from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)  telephone time service. The NIST operates our nation’s atomic clock.

“I have the time from the NIST telephone time service playing in the
background,” said Ryan via e-mail regarding his video. “I’ve noticed a maximum error of plus or minus 750 milliseconds when I compare the telephone service to the shortwave broadcast every so often.”

Remember, despite the current meter clock inaccuracies, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, has added two extra minutes to your parking receipt to make sure you don’t get an expired meter ticket.

Great stuff Ryan! We really appreciate it.

If you have any funny or interesting photos or videos, send them our way to:

Zekman Exposes Illegal Sales Of Guest Parking


CBS 2′s Pam Zekman is at it again.

This time she’s hanging out in the neighborhood around Comiskey Park busting people illegally selling their residential parking permit guest passes.

Here’s the scam.

Residents around both Comiskey & Wrigley Field, qualify to receive residential parking permits so they can park on their street when ball games are going on. But they also can purchase temporary guest passes so their friends can park nearby when legitimately visiting the resident.

But some residents get clever and try to sell these passes to often unwitting Sox and Cubs fans.

But, this is illegal and carries a $500 fine if you are dumb enough to do this and get caught.

Zekman nails two people selling guest passes.

You can watch Ms. Zekman’s video report right here.

Here’s a tip.

If you ever see Pam Zekman headed your way with a TV camera, turnaround and haul ass.

Photo copyright and courtesy of CBS 2/WBBM TV

60+ Attend Red Light Camera Rally


With the inevitable evening darkness slowly overcoming a beautiful red and yellow sunset this first day of autumn, small groups of people began to cluster in the parking lot in west suburban Lombard.

But this wasn’t just any parking lot, it was the parking lot in front of RedSpeed Illinois, one of the state’s largest providers of red light camera services to area municipalities.

In twos and threes, they began to converge. Some talking and laughing, while others made the final modifications to their handmade signs. All in all, there were between 60-70 folks, mostly from the surrounding suburbs, who came out to show their support and hear some speeches promoting the end of red light cameras in Illinois.

The event was organized by Peter Breen, a Republican candidate for the Illinois State Representative in the 41st district, and anti-red light camera proponent who kicked off the rally by introducing state Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington), who has pre-filed a bill to repeal all red light cameras in Illinois and hopes to begin debating the bill in the General Assembly this coming January.

“These cameras are unfair, unjust and make hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the backs of honest citizens,” said Duffy. “It’s been proven over and over and over again it’s not about safety but about revenue.”

Gary Mallek, an attendee from Addison agreed with Duffy’s assessment saying, “If they (towns) get hooked on the revenue we may see more and more cameras popping up at intersections.”


“We were sold something for safety, but what we were given was an ATM,” Breen said encouraging attendees to contact their government representatives on this issue. “This measure cuts across party lines, racial lines and economic lines. We say red light cameras are unsafe, unwanted, unnecessary.”

Brian Costin, founder of Schaumburg Freedom Coalition, a group that helped get red light cameras shutdown in Schaumburg, agreed with Breen and encouraged attendees to take the time to find out the accident data on local red light camera intersections to see if their is a history of accidents, injury or death to even rationalize that camera location.

Barnet Fagel, an Illinois representative for the National Motorists Association and expert on red light cameras, has his own pet name for the devices.

“I call them Ben Franklin printing presses,” Fagel said to the crowd. “Instant replay is fine for sports but not for this. Red light cameras take away your 6th Amendment right to face your accuser.”

Brendan Kitz of Downers Grove and Chloe Smith of Lombard, two soon to be driving teenagers on hand for the rally, were there less for the politics but more out of concern for being ticketed.

“I’m getting my license soon, sometime this week,” explained Smith. “Red light cameras are a real worry.”

Adam Andrzejewski, a Republican hopeful for Governor had harsh words for the legislators who passed the original laws allowing red light cameras in 2006.

“An overseas company passed out $60,000 throughout the Illinois General Assembly to get special legislation passed,” said Andrezjewski. “Senator Kirk Dillard stood on the side of RedSpeed, got a $500 check from RedSpeed and cashed it.

Breen encouraged everyone at the rally to keep abreast of this effort via his recently launched website,, which he promises to be a solid resource on the red light camera issue in Illinois.

“We’ve had a summer of protest,” said Breen. “Today begins the autumn of real reform.”