Friday, May 10, 2013

Way too late to show caution

The current parking meter mess almost makes me nostalgic for a scene like this 1959 Miss Parking Meter. Photograph provided by Chuckman Chicago Nostalgia

There are certain government officials who give a knee-jerk “no” vote whenever any measure comes up that involves a sports stadium.

For some, they are bitter that their opposition to a new stadium for the Chicago White Sox some two decades ago passed anyway. That’s a long time to hold a grudge.

BUT FOR OTHERS, they saw the negative reaction caused by that deal. So they think a “no” vote now will somehow show they are being responsible and protective of the public interests.

I’m skeptical of such logic – which to me makes about as much sense as the aldermen who this week made a point of expressing opposition to attempts to alter the deal the city has with Chicago Parking Meters LLC.

That is the entity that operates the parking meters on city streets. It is the entity that paid Chicago a respectable sum of money a few years ago – in exchange for gaining the rights to the meters and all their money for decades to come.

Of course, Chicago blew through that cash within a year; and now has nothing to show for all the upcoming years that an outside entity will take in billions from those people who pay the parking fees to legally leave their cars on city streets.

THAT IS THE motivation behind Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s desires to redo the deal. He wants to be able to take credit for getting something back for city taxpayers (the ones whom a new Chicago Tribune poll says don’t love him quite as much as they did a year ago).

He apparently worked out a deal by which we’d be able to park for free on Sundays, provided that the hours of the day the rest of the week be extended during which tickets could be issued to those people who don’t bother to feed the meters.

Personally, it strikes me as being way too little. Chicago parking meters are going to be an issue that will be a political joke for decades to come – most likely for the rest of my life (and I don’t anticipate departing this Earth anytime soon).

Maybe the aldermen think they’re gaining our support by the fact that they wouldn’t give Emanuel’s “deal” a rubber stamp of approval. Because that’s what didn’t happen when the City Council met this week.

ALDERMEN COMPLAINED, RANTED and whined about how they suspected that this was just a scam to let Chicago Parking Meters LLC make even more money. Such as how requiring the meters to be “fed” in those areas just north of the Loop (River North, Streeterville) could bring in more money than would be lost by offering free Sunday parking.

They might be right.

But if the aldermen think they’re suddenly being responsible public officials, they’re seriously being delusional. Because there isn’t anything they can do these days to fix the mess that has been created.

That actually is the one point on which I will give Emanuel some credit. He admits this is a bad deal that can’t be fixed.

ALDERMEN ARE ACTING as though there is a “fix” to be found!

And I think the mindset of most Chicagoans when it comes to street parking is set – regardless of any amendments to the deal that might be made in the future.

About the only thing that can be said about street parking is that it isn’t quite as expensive (in most cases) as parking in a downtown garage.

Although I suspect I’m not alone in being among the ranks of people who turn to mass transit to get about the city. Parking the car is just too darn costly!


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