Monthly Archives: April 2013

Opinion: Emanuel’s Parking Meter ‘Fix’ Could Make Things Worse

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces changes to the parking meter lease deal at a press conference Monday. Photo credit Ted Cox/DNA Info Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have done the impossible.

He may have actually made Chicago’s reviled parking meter lease deal even worse.

At a press conference Monday morning Emanuel announced a settlement in the ongoing legal battle between the city and Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM).  Initially, it sounded like the city had indeed arm twisted some mild improvements to the universally despised deal out of CPM.

But as details of the proposed settlement emerged over the course of the day, Emanuel’s allegedly new and improved parking meter lease deal looks like it could make things even more challenging and expensive for Chicago drivers.

City Reaches Settlement On Parking Meter Lease Deal

An old fashioned parking meter from before the meter lease deal was passed in 2008.

Making lemons out of lemonade.

That’s the tone Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel set when he stepped to the podium Monday morning to announce changes to the city’s universally derided parking meter lease deal.

“When I was elected Mayor, I said this was a bad deal, but promised to do everything I could to make improvements on behalf of the taxpayers of this city,” said Emanuel. “So, my administration fought to ensure not one tax dollar was paid that we didn’t need to pay. After thorough and ultimately constructive negotiations, I am proud to say that on behalf of the taxpayers of Chicago, we were able to successfully reach agreement with CPM to make some necessary and positive changes to this contract.”

Emanuel announced changes as result of a settlement with Chicago Parking Meters which includes free parking at meters on Sundays, a pay by cell phone option, and CPM’s agreeing to accept the city’s numbers when it comes to payments tied to street closures. The Mayor claims this will save city taxpayers $20 million a year or a billion dollars over the life of the lease.

“As one resident told me, ‘you shouldn’t have to pay to go to church’,” said Emanuel. “Whether you go to church or not, everyone deserves a break from feeding parking meters in our neighborhoods on Sunday.”

Evanston Offering Amnesty On Parking Ticket Late Fees

Let’s make a deal.

That’s what the City of Evanston is saying to drivers who owe on unpaid parking tickets according to a recent press release.

Evanston is willing to waive all late fees on parking tickets issued in the seven years between September 30, 2005 and September 30, 2012.

Scofflaws must pay their ticket debt in full by June 30, 2013 in order to qualify.

The city says it’s a one time offer. Otherwise, Evanston plans reinstating the late fees and using the Illinois Local Debt Recovery Program to get their money.

Much like Chicago, and other municipalities, towns can submit the debt to the Illinois Comptroller’s office which will subtract the outstanding debt from your state income tax refund.

Illinois Senate Passes Bill To Raise Speed Limit To 70 MPH

WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

This past week, the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would raise the speed limit on certain stretches of state expressways and highways from 65 to 70 mph.

The current speed limit of 65 is a bit slower than other, surrounding states like Missouri and Kentucky. Proponents of the bill believe this speed limit parity among neighboring states is important according to WGEM TV.

City Extends Red Light Camera Contract With Troubled Vendor

Delays in the bidding process for the city’s red-light camera contract has led the city to indefinitely extend its current contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, city officials said Friday.

The original deadline for the submissions of bids was to be April 15th, but that was later extended. On Thursday, the deadline was pushed back again to May 10th.

As part of the bidding process, the Department of Procurement Services told potential vendors that the delays mean Redflex’s contract will have to be extended — again.

“While we anticipate awarding a new contract in July of 2013, it should be assumed that the City will continue to operate under a transitional contract with the current vendor for a limited period of time as the new vendor completes the changeover and assumes full operation of the system. The transitional contract with the current vendor will allow for operational continuity,” the memo to vendors states.

Last fall, Redflex’s multi-million dollar contract to run the city’s red-light cameras came under scrutiny after the Chicago Tribune reported that John Bills, the former Chicago Department of Transportation official who oversaw the program, had received trips and hotel accommodations from the company.

Read more at: DNA Info Chicago.

Geek On Outside The Loop Radio Thursday Morning

The Parking Ticket Geek is scheduled to be on Outside the Loop Radio Thursday morning at 10 AM.

The Geek stops in to chat with OTL host Mike Stephen to discuss the $100,000 parking ticket story, changes to school zones, year-round city stickers and more.

Tune in at 10 AM to WLUW 88.7 FM.

Bill Allowing School Bus Traffic Cameras Clears State Senate

The Illinois Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow school buses to be equipped with traffic enforcement cameras to catch drivers who illegally pass a stopped bus.

Senate Bill 923 would allow municipalities and their school districts to install cameras on buses in order to fine drivers $150 to $500.

The fine would apply to motorists who disobey the law by driving past a stopped school bus that has its lights flashing and stop sign extended while loading or unloading children.

Supporters say equipping buses with cameras would stop a common and dangerous offense. But others see the plan as just another way government is using cameras to raise revenues.

Vehicle owners caught on camera would face a fine of $150 for the first violation and $500 for every subsequent infraction. Much like red light cameras or Chicago’s pending speed camera program, the tickets would be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

Chicago’s Traffic Improving, Study Shows

According to a new report, Chicago drivers are experienced less traffic congestion last year.

Chicago drivers may find it hard to believe, but a new study says Chicago’s traffic congestion significantly improved in 2012.

INRIX, an international provider of traffic data, released its Traffic Scoreboard Annual Report on Wednesday, which shows congestion on the city’s many roadways has dropped by 23 percent in 2012.

According to the report, Chicago drivers spent 30 hours stuck in traffic last year, compared to 37 hours in 2011 — a seven hour difference.

This decline has dropped Chicago from its list of top “10 Worst Cities for Traffic in America.” The city was 8th in 2010, 10th in 2011 and now slides into to the 12th-worst traffic city.

Unfortunately, the reason for the improvement is not good news.

According to Jim Bak, INRIX’s Director of Community Relations, Chicago drivers can credit the city’s generally weak economy and high unemployment rate for the traffic improvement.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

NBC 5 Discovers Parking Meter Company Rakes In A Lot Of Dough

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

NBC 5 investigates Chicago’s parking meter lease deal.

They discover, to the shock of everyone, that Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, the company which won a 75 year contract to operate the meters by paying $1.16 billion in 2008, is making a ton of money.

Tribune Editorial Cartoonist Wins Award, Dislikes Meter Lease Deal

An example of Scott Stantis's great cartoon work. Image credit: Scott Stantis/Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis is very good at what he does.

That’s probably why he was recently awarded top honors for editorial cartoonists by the Society for Professional Journalists.