Is Recycling the Next Parking Meter Fiasco?

The word "privatization" tends to provoke eye rolls from Chicagoans who disagree with how the city handled the 75-year parking meter deal.

But none more than Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who called for a moratorium Thursday on Chicago privatization deals until there's a more transparent process in place to review them.

"Privatization has been one of the most insidious forms of making Chicago's needs secondary to other interests," Hairston said.

She specifically pointed to a pending recycling deal that would give Waste Management a 10-year contract for most of the city's blue-cart service. During a press conference Thursday, Hairston said she couldn't get answers from city departments about whether the deal has been signed by anyone.

As part of the deal, the city would be divided into six zones. Waste Management would handle four of them, Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Local 1001, said earlier this month.

In 2008, Mayor Daley agreed to lease Chicago's parking meters in a controversial 75-year, $1.16 billion deal to help amend the city's budget woes. The Taste of Chicago also was recently on the table for privatization.

Hairston, who opposed the parking meter deal, claims the city is similarly trying to push recycling through the system. She said the privatization of city services means giving away assets, shortchanging local businesses and charging more for reduced services.

The deal aims to provide curbside recycling to more than 350,000 homes without it, but Hairston favors keeping recycling in house to save city jobs.

The recycling deal would need a two-thirds vote by the City Council to move forward.

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