AG Steps Into Parking Meter SNAFU

Madigan issues subpoenas

Saturday, May 30, 2009  |  Updated 7:45 AM CDT
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AG Steps Into Parking Meter SNAFU

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You've been issued a subpoena.

Those pesky privatized parking meters sure are getting a lot of attention.

Now, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation about how the whole deal went down.

"Our goal is to determine if consumers have been defrauded," Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler told the Sun-Times, emphasizing the city was not the focus of the investigation.

On the receiving end of subpoenas? Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, the winning bidder for the parking meter franchise; Chicago Parking Meters LLC and LAZ Parking, the operators of the franchise for CPM.

Problems have plagued the $1.15 billion privatization deal that handed over management of the Chicago's 36,000 parking meters.

On Wednesday, motorists were reportedly paying for their spots, but the boxes weren't printing receipts that are to be displayed on dashboards.  Some resorted to leaving notes on their dashes instead.

James Daras, 35, of Chicago, who parked his Chevrolet pickup on the 300 block of West Washington, called the number on the meter to report it broken so he could avoid a ticket. He said he doesn’t like the new meters.

"It’s not good at all, because it doesn’t work and it’s expensive," said Daras. Meter prices downtown have increased to $3.50 from $3 an hour.

Mayor Daley acknowledged earlier this month that City Hall had botched the privatization of the city’s parking meters by not transferring meters to the contractor more gradually.

The city's Law Department didn't comment on the subpoenas.

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