Parking Meter Politics Heat Up Mayoral, Aldermanic Races
From a political perspective, this year’s mayoral and aldermanic elections in Chicago may hinge on the normally innocuous issue of parking meters.
After Chicago’s parking meter system was privatized by Mayor Daley in December 2008, and created a slew of problems that have left eight out of ten Chicagoans angry over the deal according to a Chicago Tribune poll conducted in July, parking meters make interesting politics this election cycle.
Just yesterday, Newsradio 780 and other media outlets reported on how parking meter pay boxes were being installed where they never existed before on Touhy Ave. due to Chicago’s parking meter privatization deal.
So after 50th Ward alderman Bernard Stone essentially told complaining business owners to stop whining, Debra Silverstein, who’s running against Stone in the 50th, decided to pounce on the issue.
“There are a lot of unresolved questions,” said Silverstein. “How can the meter company pull meters from one location and put them in another without input from the alderman? Did the company determine Touhy Avenue would be a more profitable location? This sets a dangerous precedent and if the changes happened with his blessing, Ald. Stone needs to ask himself whether he wants to work for Chicago Parking Meters LLC or the people of the 50th Ward.”
On the Mayoral side of the things, this issue is even hotter.
Outside of Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) who briefly contemplated a run for mayor, Jay Stone, (son of Bernard Stone), was the first mayoral candidate to make the parking meter lease deal a campaign issue.
Former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely-Braun is also strongly opposed to the meter lease deal according to ABC 7 News.
“One of the loudest messages we’ve been hearing is that the parking meter deal is a disaster,” said Carol Mosely-Braun, former U.S. senator and candidate for mayor.
Mosley-Braun said the companies that leased the system for nearly $1.2 billion is now trying to sell it for $11 billion. She went on to say the City Council led by the Daley administration was “snookered and scammed.” But if she’s elected, Mosley-Braun said she will direct the city attorney to join lawsuits to alter the deal.
“I’m going to get this deal reversed. I’m going to get this deal out of the way and get a fair deal for the people of Chicago,” she said.
Gery Chico, another Mayoral hopeful seems to think the $1.16 billion in proceeds from the meter deal have been misspent according to ABC 7′s report.
“The question is where did the money go,” said Chico. “The fact we were told $400 million would be there and today’s there’s $76 million, there’s something wrong with that.”
Despite approaching the two year anniversary of the inception of Chicago’s meter lease deal, expect the political ramifications to being fresh on the minds of voters and on the lips of politicians.