Monthly Archives: March 2013

Parking Meter Company A ‘Parasitic Business’?

Parasites.

That’s what  NBC 5′s Ward Room columnist, Edward McClelland, calls Chicago Parking Meters, LLC,  the company which controls the city’s 30,000 metered parking spaces.

In a recent column, McClelland calls CPM a “parasitic business.”

McClelland, references a recent Salon piece by political commentator Michael Lind:

Lind was criticizing what he called the Rentier class — financiers who make money not by selling goods and services, but by “their natural or artificial monopoly power to extract excessive tolls, fees and other recurrent payments from the rest of society, including productive businesses.”

The typical rich American, Lind argued, “should be an innovative industrialist or technologist, not a Wall Street financier or a guy with a parking-meter monopoly.”

McClelland wholeheartedly agrees with Lind saying the 75-year lease for $1.16 billion is essentially a monopoly which CPM will exploit to the tune of billions of dollars over the term of the agreement.

While some of what Lind and McClelland say is undoubtedly true, their blame is completely misplaced.

Companies exist to maximize profit for their owners or investors. For the two writers to be surprised when a company like CPM behave in this way is naive and nonsensical.

Their ire should be directed at former Mayor Richard Daley, his administration and the alderman who voted for the crappy parking meter lease deal in the first place–not CPM for finding and executing a lucrative business deal.

Here’s McClelland’s full piece, “Chicago Parking Meters LLC, Parasitic “Business”.

State Law Would Prohibit Dogs In The Driver’s Seat

This dog owner would be fined $25 if a bill in Springfield passes

There’s a bill in Springfield that would make it a ticket-able offense for a dog to sit in the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle or on the lap of a driver.

That’s right. In fact it would carry a $25 fine according to DNA Info Chicago.

While the bill has passed out of the Transportation Committee to the full Illinois House of Representatives, bill co-sponsor Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) believes it faces strong opposition there.

This bill is very similar to a bill introduced and then voted down in the Illinois State Senate last May.

Move Your Car, Street Cleaning Season Starts Monday

Make sure you pay attention to the orange signs warning of street sweeping starting Monday

In Chicago, spring doesn’t really begin until April 1.

While spring technically began March 20, many Chicagoans will mark the official passing of winter into spring on Monday when the city’s Winter Overnight Parking ban ends and street-cleaning season begins.

The Department of Street and Sanitation’s full fleet of 50 sweepers will hit the streets at 9 a.m. Monday to begin attacking the leaves, litter, dirt and other junk that has been accumulating curbside since November.

“The first cleaning and last cleaning of the season are always the most challenging,” Streets & Sanitation spokeswoman Anne Sheahan said. “The first because of all the debris that has accumulated during the winter. The last [in November] because there are so many leaves on the street.”

Street cleaning restrictions on side streets run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and take place about every four to six weeks depending on the area of the city. On most main streets, street sweeping occurs weekly from 7-9 a.m.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Mayor Says No Need To Delay Speed Cameras Because Of Red Light Camera Scandal

Move along, nothing to see here.

That’s essentially what Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters Thursday in regards to moving forward with the city’s planned speed camera enforcement program.

Emanuel was asked at a press conference whether the city should half implementation of the speed camera program due to all the controversy surrounding the city’s red light cameras.

“They’re totally unrelated,” Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Tribune: Problems With Redflex Go Back Years

A red light cameras stands watch at Damen & Division in Wicker ParkThe Redflex scandal shouldn’t be a surprise to insiders at City Hall.

At least that’s what the Chicago Tribune is contending in a story which claims problems with Redflex Traffic Systems and the city’s red light camera contract were being pointed out as far back as 2006.

It seems after Redflex was awarded a contract expanding the size and scope of the city’s red light camera program in 2007, one of its biggest competitors, American Traffic Solutions, began complaining about what they perceived as special treatment for Redflex.

Illinois Ranks Second In Red Light Camera Enforcement?

It’s actually a bit of a surprise.

When it comes to red light cameras, Illinois is not the number one state in the U.S. for this type of automated enforcement.

Actually, Illinois ranks second in states with the most number of towns with red light camera enforcement programs.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which tracks this sort of thing, 70 municipalities in Illinois have active red light camera programs.

California comes in at the number one spot with 77 municipalities (along with five counties or other state parks). The Sunshine State of Florida ranks third with 66 towns, Texas follows in fourth place with 63 and Missouri rounds out the top five with 33 municipalities with RLCs.

While the IIHS only counts the total number of municipalities and counties using red light cameras, it does not count total cameras deployed. If they did, Illinois might rank number one.

The reason is, the City of Chicago has the most RLCs in the entire U.S. with 384. That’s more cameras in one city than the total number of cameras in entire states.

Perhaps Illinois can re-double its efforts and snag the number one spot from the Golden State.

This actually may not be too difficult as the IIHS list is missing at least five Illinois towns that currently do have active RLC programs (Rosemont, Hillside, Chicago Heights, Justice & Park Ridge) and possibly more.

IDOT Plans Overnight Lane Closures On Dan Ryan Expressway

In preparation of the reconstruction of the Metra Bridge over the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94), the Illinois Department of Transportation will have overnight lane closures from midnight to 6 AM Monday and Tuesday night and next week.

These closures will include the full closures of the express lanes between midnight and 5 a.m. inbound and midnight and 6 a.m. outbound between 43rd and 67th Streets.

Those same lane closures will take place again next week starting Monday night, April 1st for four nights until early Friday morning, April 5th.

Double-Parked Driver Gets Shot In The Head

Don’t double-park or you may get a bullet in the head.

That’s seems to be the moral of the story from an altercation on the South Side around 4 AM Sunday morning.

According to a report in Huffington Post Chicago, a driver was double-parked on a side street in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood when another driver approached and tried to drive past.

Although some reports say there was enough room for other cars to pass, the driver of one car got in a heated argument with the double-parked driver and his female passenger.

The gunman shot the driver while he was outside the car. The gunshot victim then ran into an alley before being picked up by an ambulance.

Perhaps, there is a lesson in this story.

Video: Fixing Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

The Reason Foundation, a think tank which promotes free market solutions to society’s problems, produced a video of a presentation on a study on how to solve Chicago’s traffic congestion issues.

The study, based on market-based solutions, actually came out last year, but Reason only posted the video in the last few months.

The study suggests a combination of user fees, electronic tolling and new financing methods to reduce congestion and the number of hours drivers spent stuck in traffic. The two researchers say congestion costs the local economy billions of dollars every year.

If you have a half hour to kill, it’s certainly an interesting and enlightening look at Chicago’s traffic situation.

City Of Chicago Parking Taxes Going Up & Down

Parking garage at 220 N. Wells. Photo courtesy of Spot Hero.com

Good news and bad news for drivers who park in Chicago parking lots and garages.

That’s because city parking taxes are both going up and down, under a new proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel according to the Chicago Tribune.

Currently, if drivers pay $12 or more to park in a garage or lot they are on the hook for an additional $5 parking tax.

If the parking fee is under $12, there is no additional tax.

Emanuel’s proposal is to charge a 20% tax on all parking fees.

This means motorists who utilize low cost parking and have avoided paying tax, will now have to start paying some taxes while those rates in the middle will see a decrease.

Drivers with high parking rates will see an increase in the total tax they pay according to the Tribune.

The city says it takes in $122 million a year in parking tax revenue, but expects the new tax structure to neither increase nor decrease the amount of parking revenue it takes in each year.

According to the story, Cook County is also considering a change in the way it levies taxes on parking.

Here’s the Chicago Tribune story, “Parking taxes could go up for some.”