Now the Alderman Want to Help...

Some city leaders call for more public hearings on parking meter deal

By BJ Lutz and Anthony Ponce
|  Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009  |  Updated 2:26 PM CDT
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One More Thing About Chicago's Parking Meter Situation

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Alderman Want Hearings On Parking Meter Lease Deal

Some alderman are calling for more discussion and hearings on the parking meter lease deal that was rammed through City Council.

One More Thing About Chicago's Parking Meter Situation

Bob Sirott is fed up with the parking meter situation in the city and he has an idea.
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Some Chicago alderman said they're seeing the error of their ways.

The $1.2 billion parking deal as supposed to be the answer some of Chicago's financial crisis, but drivers say they've seen more tickets and boots and alderman say they're being bombarded with complaints.

Ald. Billy Ocasio (26th) is one of only five alderman that voted against leasing the city's parking meters --  a deal that was essentially rammed through City Council with little debate -- and now he and some alderman are admitting that their decision to lease was a bad one.

"Essentially we had a gun to our head. Having said that, I think we made a mistake. I made a mistake and we have to own up to it," said Ald. Joe Moore, who is calling for more public hearings to examine the lease.

Some of the new meters take credit cards, making it easier to pay the higher rates, but the older meters only take quarters, and few people carry enough quarters to buy any significant amount of time.

Other complaints rainge from broken meters that unfairly lead to tickets, to meters that don't give as much time as advertised, and to flat-out sticker shock.

"I haven't seen something that's hurt the people as much as this has," Ocasio said. 

Leaders also want to look at whether the private company -- Laz Parking -- is holding up their end of the deal.

And while Moore said he thinks it's time the Daley Administration and the City Council admit that they screwed up, Mayor Daley on Thursday was having none of it.

"It's well-intentioned, but how do you replace the revenue? That's the issue," Daley said.

The CEO of Laz Parking said that while they have had problems with some of the old, mechananical meters, the company recently tripled the number of employees addressing the problems. He added that the company is about to install almost 4,000 new parking meters that accept credit cards.

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