Still No Word From Illinois Attorney General
16 Months Since AG Opened Meter Lease Deal Investigation
That’s when Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan opened a consumer fraud investigation into the Chicago parking meter lease deal.
At the time, the AG seemed curious to see if consumers had been defrauded, and if the “transaction and implementation” of the new meter system was on the up and up. So Madigan’s office issued subpoenas to the three main players–Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (the company that got the lease), CPM’s majority stake holder, Morgan Stanley, and LAZ Parking, the operational partner for the meter system.
But it’s been 16 months since those subpoenas were issued and so far, not another peep on the subject from Madigan’s office.
By contrast, when David Hoffman was the Inspector General for the City of Chicago, and while admittedly not a consumer fraud investigation, the IGO took approximately six months to scrutinize and prepare its report on Chicago’s parking meter privatization.
So we tried reaching out to the Attorney General’s press office to check the status of the investigation.
After over six weeks of multiple calls (to both office and cell phones), messages left with staff, voice mails, and a handful of e-mails to AG Press Secretary Robyn Ziegler, we finally gave up and began directing our energy toward contacting Deputy Press Secretary Scott Mulford.
Mulford, after a few phone messages and a round of e-mails over a pair of weeks finally responded on behalf of the AG’s office.
“At this time…we will decline comment on the parking meter matter,” said Mulford.
When pressed further on the curiously long time the investigation seemed to be taking, Mulford’s only elaboration was, “Robyn and I can tell you that time lines are not attached to matters that call for a thorough examination by our office.”
Looking for some perspective and insight into the investigative process that takes place within the AG’s office, we tracked down former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan to ask him a few questions.
But Ryan, who was the Illinois AG from 1994 to 2002, and now a professor at Benedictine University, respectfully declined to comment.
Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) raised a proverbial eyebrow when reminded about the time elapsed since the Attorney General’s initiated its probe.
“I would have expected they would have come out with a statement they were still looking into it,” said Waguespack. “A statement would have been appropriate.”
Not surprisingly, Avis LaVelle, spokesperson for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, one of the entities being investigated, had no comment on the status of the AG’s investigation either.
Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th), one of the five no votes against the meter lease deal in the city council, was perhaps the most vocal council member about the implementation and botched initial transition of Chicago’s 36,000 parking meter system.
From all accounts it was at Hairston’s behest that Madigan’s office began looking into the potential consumer fraud issues related to the meter privatization. But even Hairston hasn’t heard back from the AG’s office.
“All I can tell you is Lisa Madigan, promised me her office would look into these issues,” said Hairston.
Madigan, running for a third term as Illinois Attorney General, may also be weighing a run for Mayor of Chicago according to the Chicago Tribune.
In the meantime, quarters will continue to drop into parking meters and pay boxes on the streets of Chicago, and time marches on for another 73 years.