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Elections 2010, Illinois 7th Senate, Illinois Politics

Seeking to Avoid Future Chicago Parking Meter Fiascos, Senator John Mulroe Pushes Bill to Require Local Referendum on Asset Privatization Schemes

(Chicago, IL) – October 14, 2010. Reacting to the unyielding public fury over the lease of Chicago’s parking meters, which includes recent thefts of meter boxes, State Senator John Monroe (D-Chicago) is making a public push of recently introduced legislation that would require a local public referendum on all proposals to privatize municipal assets.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3949 filed on September 16, would apply to all new and renewable municipal leases.

“Selling an income-producing asset like the parking meters at a discounted rate was a bad deal, and I would like to pass legislation to give the people a voice in the decision-making process. Clearly people are very upset—and justifiably so,” Mulroe said.

The Chicago city council approved the parking meter deal in 2008 after having only 72 hours to review the proposal.

Mulroe, who was appointed to his seat after the resignation of long-time senator and political power broker James DeLeo (D-Chicago), said that he would push hard for the legislation requiring municipalities to put privatization proposals with long-term consequences on the ballot.

In addition to assets such as parking meters, Mulroe’s proposal would also undoubtedly apply to Chicago’s Midway Airport, which Mayor Richard Daley has unsuccessfully sought in the past to privatize.

Mulroe’s legislative proposal also conveniently serves a political club against his general election opponent, Alderman Brian Doherty (R-41) who voted for the much maligned meter lease deal and who is seeking to deny Mulroe a full senate term.

“My opponent’s vote in favor of the parking meter deal is a failure of leadership because he knew it was going to hurt the people of Chicago,” Mulroe said.  “I would like to put these kinds of decisions in the hands of the voters from now on and allow for public debate about the merits of these proposals.”

Mulroe was referring to a December 2008 statement from Doherty who acknowled that people were getting “nickel-and-dimed” by the deal.

Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, owned in large part by Morgan Stanley, has raised rates on Chicagoans while reaping windfall profits.

“We deserve more from our elected officials,” Mulroe added.  “I think being vigilant in making sure this doesn’t happen again is common sense, and we need more common sense in the State Senate.”

The prospects for Mulroe’s bill are uncertain.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.



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