David Hoffman and the new improved OIG Office of the Inspector General get a Gold Star

Chicago Inspector General.jpg I was overjoyed by the outstanding Meter report by the O.I.G. Please read the report from the all new Office of the Inspector General. This report is in the extended entry. You might need a pdf. Adobe reader to enjoy. Nice job Mr. David Hoffman and his entire staff. Reports like this give credibility that was missing in the prior Administration. The City of Chicago Taxpayers are been well served by the all new and professional Chicago Office of the Inspector General. I think it is time Chicago Taxpayers rise to the occasion and double the O.I.G. budget. I have more on the meters soon; it involves an Alderman’s son. Patrick McDonough]]>IGO-CMPS-20090602.pdf

12 Replies to “David Hoffman and the new improved OIG Office of the Inspector General get a Gold Star”

  1. June 2, 2009

    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
    Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters were worth nearly twice as much as the $1.15 billion Mayor Daley got when he rammed through a 75-year lease in a few days without analyzing what the system was worth, the city’s inspector general has concluded.

    A steep schedule of rate hikes and operational problems ranging from over-stuffed and improperly calibrated downtown meters to broken pay-and-display boxes have turned the deal into a nightmare for motorists.

    » Click to enlarge image Inspector General David Hoffman (inset) says the city’s 75-year lease of parking meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC was a financial disaster. He’s recommending a 60-day City Council review period.
    (Sun-Times photos)

    But Inspector General David Hoffman says the lease was a financial disaster as well.

    After a five-month analysis, Hoffman has reached the “conservative” conclusion that Chicago Parking Meters LLC paid the city $974 million less than the system would have been worth to the city if it raised rates by the same amount and kept the meters for the next 75 years.

    Instead of buying Daley’s “hurried, high-pressure” argument that the money was needed to fill a gaping, two-year budget gap, Hoffman said the City Council should have conducted its own independent analysis. And aldermen should have considered alternatives, such as a shorter lease with parking meter revenue divided evenly between the city and a private contractor, he said.

    A 30-year lease with rate hikes 25 percent lower than those tied to the lease would have produced as much as $396 million, the report states.

    “The bottom line is, there was no outside, independent consideration of whether it was a good idea to do this,” Hoffman said Tuesday, arguing that the City Council is “at fault for this as well.”

    “If you’re getting a low-ball offer, maybe you still sell because you need the money. But, they didn’t even figure out what the comparative number was.”

    Apparently aware that Hoffman was prepared to lower the boom, Daley launched into a vigorous defense of the parking meter lease before the inspector general’s report was even released.

    Without the $150 million cash infusion used to plug a two-year budget gap, Daley said he would have been forced to lay off 2,300 city employees or raise property taxes by 18 percent.

    “If we didn’t have this money, you’d better believe we’d be in the tank,” the mayor said.

    Chief-of-Staff Paul Volpe, who was dispatched to the inspector general’s office to rebut the report, called Hoffman’s claim of a $974 million loss for Chicago taxpayers “ridiculous.”

    “While he calls the parking meter transaction a ‘dubious financial deal,’ I would suggest to you that … many of the report’s central claims are, in fact, dubious,” Volpe said.

    Noting that aldermen were briefed on the parameters of the deal in February, 2008, Volpe said, “We do not force things through City Council. … Members of the City Council had enough information … that they were willing and able to pass a budget that included $150 million in revenue from this transaction. It is insulting to suggest that the City Council made that decision irresponsibly and without the proper information.”

    Running for cover from angry motorists, the Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on an ordinance that would mandate at least 15 days of legislative review before the sale of any city assets valued at over $100 million.

    Hoffman argued that’s not good enough.

    He’s recommending a 60-day City Council review period — and an independent cost-benefit analysis — after lease terms have been decided, but before companies have placed their bids.

    And he recommended that the mayor be prohibited from including lease revenues in the budget before the deal has received City Council approval. That’s what happened in the parking meter deal approved by a 40 to 5 vote.

    “Putting potential revenue in a budget from a huge transaction that has not yet occurred makes it harder for proper deliberation to take place,” the report states.

  2. June 2, 2009

    IG report: city parking meter lease left money on table and was rushed through without enough scrutiny
    Posted by Dan Mihalopoulos at 2 p.m.; updated at 3:59 p.m. with Daley administration response

    City Hall’s inspector general today blasted the Daley administration’s parking meter lease as “a dubious financial deal for the city” that was rushed through with “no meaningful public review.”

    In a report issued this afternoon, Inspector General David Hoffman said an analysis by his office found Chicago officials entered into the long-term lease of the parking meter system “for a price that was 45 percent lower than its value to the city.”

    Under the deal, a private company gave the city an upfront, lump-sum payment of $1.15 billion for the right to operate—and collect money from—the 36,000 meters across Chicago for 75 years. Daley and his aides repeatedly have defended the deal, noting that the winning company offered the highest price to the city of any qualified bidder.

    But Hoffman said the city relinquished future parking meter revenues conservatively estimated at $2.13 billion. As part of the deal, the city agreed to implement dramatic parking rate increases at every meter.

    The report also harshly criticizes the City Council for quickly agreeing to ratify the deal by a 40-5 vote in December. The vote came only two days after Daley announced the deal. You can read about that debate here.

    “There was no meaningful public review of the decision,” Hoffman wrote.

    Paul Volpe, Daley’s chief of staff who spearheaded the deal back when he was chief financial officer, today said city officials “strongly disagree” with Hoffman’s “misguided and inaccurate” report. Volpe also said some aldermen were routinely briefed as the deal was coming together.

    “We do not force things through City Council,” said Volpe, who also appeared to suggest Hoffman is out of his league in analyzing the deal. “I’m sure the inspector general or his team have never conducted a project like this.”

    At a news conference today before Hoffman released his report, Daley again told reporters that the parking meter lease and other privatization deals are essential to helping offset a growing deficit in the city budget.

    Daley acknowledged that people are “frustrated” by repeated technical problems with the parking system since a company led by New York-based Morgan Stanley assumed control of the meters in February.

    But he quickly shot down the suggestion from some aldermen that the city should break its deal with Chicago Parking Meters LLC.

    “If we didn’t have this money, you had better believe we would be in the tank,” the mayor said.

    Hoffman said city officials should have examined other alternatives, such as a shorter-term lease that split parking revenues with the private operator. A 20-year deal that divided revenues equally with the city would have generated an upfront payment of as much as $444 million. That would have plugged the budget gap while averting the “large long-term loss” the 75-year lease is causing, according to the report.

    Another option suggested by Hoffman would have led the city to agree to a lease with less severe rate hikes. At most meters around the city, the privatization deal meant an immediate 400 percent rate increase, with the cost to park at some downtown parking spots rising to $6.50 an hour by 2013.

    “At the least, these alternatives merited consideration in a regular, democratic, deliberative process,” the report says.

    In response to public complaints, a council committee Monday preliminarily approved an ordinance that would require a 15-day review period for many privatization deals. Today, Daley said he has no qualms with the measure, suggesting that the council will give it final approval at tomorrow’s meeting.

    Hoffman said that short of a review period would come too little and too late to have an impact. He instead suggested aldermen hire an independent, outside analyst to review the costs and benefits before the administration receives bids on the future privatization of city assets.

    The report laid blame for the allegedly poor parking-meter lease agreement squarely on Volpe.

    An analysis conducted for Volpe’s office in April 2008 concluded that leasing the parking meters could fetch a bid of between $650 million and $1.2 billion. Although the winning bid came in at the high end of those expectations, Hoffman said that analysis failed to take into account the revenue that the city lost by giving up control of the system.

    This finding echoed a report by a DePaul University professor H. Woods Bowman, a former
    Cook County official. Bowman’s analysis, first publicized in a Tribune article in February, concluded that the city could have raked in $1.54 billion by keeping the meters and getting the full benefit of the higher rates.

    Hoffman similarly implied that city officials let the opportunity of a quick payday seduce them.

    “The hasty, ‘crisis’ nature of the decision-making process meant that the short-term budget problems and the large upfront payment the city was receiving overshadowed all other legitimate, long-term, public-interest issues,” Hoffman wrote.

    The report made only glancing reference to the technical problems encountered in the transition of the meter system to private hands.

    Daley has argued for privatization deals by asserting that private companies are better equipped to serve functions such as operating parking meters.

    But Chicago Parking Meters LLC has become the target of widespread criticism as meters across the city broke down quickly, choked by the volume of coins required to pay the new, higher rates.

    And the cash-or-credit pay boxes installed to combat the problem of broken meters also have malfunctioned. Officials with the company still have not said why some 250 “pay-and-display” boxes in downtown Chicago stopped working last week.

    The mayor appointed Hoffman in 2005 to lead an office that is supposed to root out wrongdoing in city government. Hoffman has expanded the traditional role of the office by publicly issuing audits and reports such as today’s examination of the parking meter deal.

    His investigators spied last year on city garbage crews, alleging that truck drivers and laborers waste about two hours of every eight-hour shift.

  3. Daley under sold the meters by 1 billion dollars so he, and his whole family can get tens of millions of dollars in commissions and future jobs from Morgan Stanley. FUCK YOU MAYOR DALEY!

  4. Pat, when you moderate your fine forum here, please know that you need not have any respect for asshole Daley. He does not deserve it any more. If someone wants to use their free speech against this fucking bastard Daley as he finally falls from grace, so be it. I can’t wait til Daley either has a heart attack or his son gets indicted. I will be the guy you see on the news behind the newsman who taunts his indictment or his having a heart attack. I will be on youtube dancing on the rotten fu46ers grave! I am a respectful man, but my alter ego gets angry when I think of this phony mayor and how he has raped the poor. I think the feds are finally so disgusted with this piece of shit and we will see the flood gates opened on him.
    Response) I get very mad at what happened, but I sign my name at the bottom and you do not. I will allow your anger because people need to vent! Many nice people will get hurt because Daley mismanaged our city!

  5. What report on meter deal is really saying
    Mayor, Council should have put idea in park to study the details

    June 3, 2009

    BY MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist
    Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman became the latest person Tuesday to unload on the city’s $1.15 billion parking meter lease deal, calling it a “dubious financial deal” and unfortunately leaving the impression that taxpayers got cheated out of $1 billion in the process.

    So, let’s try to clear this up before it takes its place alongside other nuggets of misinformation that find their way into the public’s consciousness and can’t be dislodged.

    » Click to enlarge image Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown

    No matter what you thought you read or heard elsewhere, Hoffman did not, repeat did not, report Monday that the city of Chicago could have gotten an additional $1 billion more for leasing its parking meters.

    Nor did he say that the city should have received an additional $1 billion for leasing the meters. He didn’t say that taxpayers were cheated out of $1 billion or suggest that somebody made an illicit $1 billion profit.

    What he said was that the city leased the parking meter system “for $974 million less than its value to the city,” a narrowly drawn point that was being misconstrued as soon as he made it.

    Inspector general challenges Daley
    Hoffman was trying to answer the logical though somewhat arcane question of what the meters would have been worth to the city if they’d been kept in public hands. To do that, you calculate the anticipated revenue that the city is giving up for the next 75 years, which gets you into a fairly technical discussion about “discount rates” that goes over my head pretty quickly. Suffice to say, Hoffman and the Daley administration have a disagreement over the proper discount rate to use, and I’m not sure who is correct.

    It’s certainly a discussion worth having, and most important, it would have been a discussion worth having in public before Mayor Daley rammed the lease deal through the City Council in December.

    That was the broader point Hoffman was trying to make Tuesday — that if we’re going to do these megabillion-dollar deals that give up control of public assets for generations, we might at least slow down and analyze what we’re doing, consider all the consequences and explain it to the people. And maybe next time, don’t pass a budget based on revenue from a deal where nobody has seen the details.

    If we had done that, somebody might have anticipated the ramifications of longer parking hours and higher parking rates and all those quarters, which would have been a good reminder that our parking system has to be about more than simply generating the most revenue.

    In attacking the already highly unpopular parking meter contract, Hoffman took another giant step in the evolution of the city inspector general’s office from internal police agency into a full-fledged General Accounting Office-type watchdog. Actually, it now does both, making Hoffman probably the greatest single challenge to Daley’s power and authority, and bringing him — intentionally or not — into the political scrum.

    Daley hasn’t learned from mistakes
    Naturally, Hoffman’s report raised the hackles of the mayor, who immediately sent forth his chief of staff Paul Volpe to defend the lease deal, trying to differentiate the financial considerations from the operational problems that have plagued the private takeover.

    Volpe fought back by calling Hoffman’s effort “misguided and inaccurate” and by explaining how the revenue allowed the city to plug a $150 million hole in this year’s budget without further program cuts or tax increases. Actually, Hoffman had pointed out upfront that he understood that the need for the revenue was also a legitimate consideration.

    “We are not saying that because there was a $1 billion difference, the city should have not leased the asset,” Hoffman said.

    When I told him his report had left the opposite impression, he told me that was our mistake in the media, so I promised him I’d try to clear it up.

    Hoffman acknowledged the obvious –that the best way to judge how the private marketplace valued the 75-year lease of the parking meter system is what the highest bidder agreed to pay — $1.15 billion. He said his report was not suggesting anything improper about the bid process.

    Proving, though, that the Daley administration has not learned from its mistakes, Volpe denied there was any lack of transparency or heavy-handedness in the city’s approach to winning Council approval of the parking lease deal two days after it was announced.

    “We do not force things through City Council,” Volpe declared.

    I’m sure many aldermen will be happy to learn that.

  6. June 3, 2009

    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
    Under fire for giving quickie approval to the problem-plagued parking meter privatization that raised rates sky-high, the City Council agreed today to insulate itself from future criticism — by slowing down asset sales.

    If Mayor Daley tries again to sell a city asset valued at over $100 million, aldermen will have at least 15 days of legislative review. The $1.15 billion parking meter deal was approved in just two days.

    RELATED STORIESEx-governor brought in amid parking-meter flap

    A separate ordinance would require the city to post the lease and quarterly reports on the internet.

    Prior to the final vote, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) accused Inspector General David Hoffman Hoffman of overstepping his bounds when he concluded that the city would have gotten nearly $1 billion more if it had raised rates and kept the meters.

    “The next thing we’re gonna hear is that our inspector general is gonna tell Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella how to run the Sox and the Cubs because our inspector general knows all,” said Stone, who’s had it in for Hoffman ever since the inspector general targeted Stone’s ward superintendent in an investigation of absentee vote fraud.

    Stone also denounced the slowdown legislation as political cover for aldermen who approved the parking meter deal by a 40-to-5 vote, even though any two of them could have postponed the vote.

    “Now, you want to cop out because the newspapers have criticized it. Any member of this body who’s now standing up and saying, ‘I didn’t have enough time’— you’re copping out. Stand up and say what you did and be proud of what you did because you made a good deal,” Stone said.

    Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who has led the charge against the parking meter deal, said she was “offended” by Stone’s lecture.

    “I’m proud of my vote because I voted ‘no,’ “ she said.

    As for Hoffman’s report, Hairston said, “You may want to make fun of it, but it’s no joking matter. And it’s no joking matter when it’s my quarters that are going into that machine and I am not getting the minutes I am promised. It’s no joking matter when thousands of citizens are putting their hard-earned dollars in those machines and they’re not getting their time.”

    After the Council vote, Daley launched into a rambling defense of the parking meter deal to rebut Hoffman’s report.

    To counter the claim that the deal was rammed through in record time, the mayor stood beside an over-sized time-line that dates back to June, 2007, when the city hired a third-party financial adviser to lay the groundwork for the parking meter deal.

    “To those who want to second-guess, I ask, ‘Where were you?’” the mayor said.

    As for Hoffman’s claim that the city left nearly $1 billion on the table, Daley said, “It would be like someone saying, ‘I could sell my house last year for a million dollars. He puts it on the market today, it’s only worth $350,000 or $400,000.”

    Hoffman has recommended a 60-day City Council review period — and an independent cost-benefit analysis — after lease terms have been decided, but before companies have placed their bids.

    And he urged aldermen to prohibit the mayor from including lease revenues in the budget before the deal has received City Council approval. That’s what happened in the parking meter deal.

    Ald. Manny Flores (1st) introduced an ordinance that incorporates some of those changes at today’s Council meeting.

  7. Hoffman: “We stand by our report.”

    UPDATE AT 1:51 p.m. Mayor Daley responds

    Posted by Dan Mihalopoulos

    Mayor Richard Daley today issued a vigorous defense of his controversial deal to lease the city’s parking meters to a private company, even as the City Council took steps to protect themselves from continued fallout over their quick approval of his plan.

    The mayor was not in the chamber as the council debated a measure to require more time before approving such lease deals. But he appeared afterward to address a new report by city Inspector General David Hoffman suggesting Daley and the aldermen moved too fast without considering whether the city could make a better deal.

    “Like anything else, you can issue any type of report,” Daley said. “I can criticize anything. Constructive criticism [is] accepted. But all of a sudden you’re challenging all the financial people about this financial area. If you want to, so be it.”

    Asked if he had appointed the inspector general to issue such reports, the mayor shrugged and replied, “Today, everybody can do anything they want, I guess.”

    Inspector General David Hoffman issued a one-sentence response to Daley’s comments today: “We stand by our report and encourage people to read it.”

    Daley said he had no problems with the 15-day waiting period before future votes on such privatization deals: “They can have 20, 30 days. I don’t care.”

    He rebutted criticism that he rushed the council to vote on it.

    “This started in 2007,” Daley said. “This wasn’t an idea just picked out of a hat … This has been talked about almost for two years.”

    The mayor seemed to take particular offense to Hoffman’s criticism of his top advisers. He also defended William Blair & Co., the financial consultant that concluded the city would do well to get an offer of $1 billion for the parking meter system.

    “I will put [chief of staff] Paul Volpe here and [chief financial officer] Gene Saffold against anyone in regards to competency. I will take William Blair and all the people we hired – talk about competent people – look at all these people.”

    Volpe conceded that the city chose its financial analysts on the deal without seeking bids for the advice. “There are very few firms that are qualified in this particular area,” Volpe said, noting that William Blair also advised the city on the privatization of its downtown parking garages.Chicago Skyway toll road.

    Posted by Dan Mihalopoulos at 12:25 p.m.

    Spurred by the ongoing parking meter snafu, Chicago City Council today approved a measure that would require a 15-day review period before a vote on future proposals to privatize city assets.

    But the measure unleashed a broader debate about the new report by city Inspector General David Hoffman criticizing the mayor’s office and the council for moving so quickly to approve leasing the city’s parking meters.

    Aides to Mayor Richard Daley briefed aldermen on the agreement only one day before the council ratified it by a 40-5 vote in December. Ever since, aldermen have been hearing complaints from people about the higher rates and ongoing problems with the new meter system.

    “It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback,” said Ald. Edward Burke (14th), chairman of the Finance Committee. “This (deal) was not exactly something done in the dark of night.”

    Another longtime Daley loyalist, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), echoed top mayoral aides who questioned Hoffman’s standing to analyze the deal.

    “He’s not an MBA. He’s not even a CPA,” Stone said.

    Stone said aldermen who voted for the deal but now said they made a mistake are “copping out.”

    “Be proud of what you did. Because you made a good deal,” he said.

    Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who voted against the deal, shot back at Stone.

    “I’m proud of my vote because I voted no,” she said.

    Hairston blasted the Daley administration for not providing aldermen with more information about the deal. “I was taught to read and I was taught to ask questions,” she said.

    “A lot of people are looking back and wondering if they made the right decision,” said Ald. Rey Colon (35th), another of the five who voted against the parking meter lease.

    Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he wishes he had not voted for the deal. “We have shirked our responsibility to really examine these deals closely,” Moore said, praising Hoffman.

  8. June 3, 2009 (WLS) — One day after a report is made public blasting Chicago’s billion dollar deal to lease the city’s parking meters, Mayor Daley angrily defended the controversial agreement.
    He disputed claims the city council rushed into the deal.
    The city received just over a billion dollars from the LAZ corporation for the parking meter lease.
    On Tuesday, the city’s inspector general said the lease was worth much more.
    Story continues belowAdvertisement
    The mayor repeatedly described the parking meter lease as a quote “very, very responsible agreement”. He called the inspector general’s report “second guessing”…and accused critical aldermen of being less than truthful about their knowledge of the deal before it was closed.
    “I understand people’s right to criticize the decisions we make. That comes with my job. But we also have a right to challenge their conclusions,” said Mayor Daley.
    The mayor said the city’s 36,000 parking spaces were, at best, worth the $1.15 billion price tag paid by the private company that leased them for seventy five years.
    On Tuesday, Inspector General David Hoffman reported the system’s value to the city was over $2.1 billion and that the city council should have been given more than two days to approve the deal after the winning bid was finalized.
    The mayor used charts to demonstrate how his staff arrived at what it believed was market value and told reporters the cash-starved city really needed the money.
    “Without the new parking meter plan we would have been forced to raise, first of all, pot taxes in this year’s budget,” said Daley.
    “When this deal came down, I specifically asked is this the best possible deal? I was told yes. Apparently it was not the best possible deal,” said Ald. Ed Smith, 28th Ward.
    Earlier, the city council approved an ordinance requiring a 15 day review for any future lease deals. But Alderman Edward Burke claimed his colleagues knew about the meter deal at least 10 months in advance.
    “This was not exactly something done in the dark of night,” said Ald. Edward Burke, 14th Ward.
    Since privatization, the parking system has been plagued with broken equipment and overcharges. Alderman Joe Moore sees an opportunity to break the lease.
    “Their opportunity was to provide the city with working parking meters at the rates that are clearly advertised and that hasn’t been done,” said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.
    But the mayor says the deal has worked well and took responsibility for any operational problems.
    “The only mistake we made, we should have done a transition, maybe three months,” said Daley.
    Aldermen Flores, Riley, and Dahl introduced an ordinance to require a 60-day period for lease deals. In response to the talk of a possible attempt to break this lease, the contractor has hired the Winston Strawn law firm headed by former Governor Jim Thompson.

  9. Daley’s Parking Meter Deal: Shortshanks’ House of Cards?
    John Kass
    June 4, 2009
    Under siege for imposing his huge parking meter increase that has finally enraged his docile subjects, Mayor Shortshanks on Wednesday got behind his castle walls.

    Actually, he stood near a series of large charts and graphs at Chicago’s City Hall, arranged like so many gigantic playing cards to protect his flanks, and so they had something of the fortress look about them.

    One chart was a confusing time line. Another a confusing line graph. One featured a weird squiggle. As I’m a professor of The Chicago Way, allow me to translate what the mayor’s charts really mean:

    “It’s Not Mayor Daley’s Fault! The aldermen did it! Blame them!”

    Daley said as much, just after aldermen finished shrieking that the mayor in December forced them to approve the lease of the city’s 36,000 meters, causing them to take the blame when the private company jacked up the rates.

    The Boss of Chicago is also outraged about a damning report issued by Inspector General David Hoffman, which said the mayor’s parking deal was rammed through without public debate and that city government could have made almost a billion dollars more if Daley hadn’t privatized the meters.

    “Yes, people can criticize,” Daley said of those who say he rules with a wrought iron fist. “But for them to say they have no voice — that’s really unfair.”

    But true.

    Just then, the mayor did something odd. He moved off to the side and began arranging his charts and graphs, pulling them closer together, one forward, one back, so they’d have more stability. As he hunched over, yanking gently on the corner of a chart, I almost asked about the chart that was missing.

    The Hickenlooper Chart.

    A Hickenlooper wouldn’t confuse anyone. It would clearly show voters so angry over a ridiculously high parking meter increase that they give a complete political unknown 65 percent of the vote for mayor.

    It happened a few years ago in Denver. The unknown who got those votes is Mayor John Hickenlooper, now in his second term.

    The former geologist and Denver pub owner was minding his own beer-brewing business when Denver’s City Hall pushed a whopping parking meter increase to cover a budget shortfall, after years and years of wasteful spending. Sound familiar?

    Many didn’t give him a chance in the campaign, but he had a novel platform, the size of a quarter.

    When Denver meter readers would walk down the block, he’d run out and start pumping quarters into the meters to protect his patrons from parking tickets. He called the meter increase an example of “The Fundamental Nonsense of Government”

    The idea was soon featured in a political commercial that ignited his campaign. It is still on YouTube, and should be required viewing for any Chicago politician thinking about using the meter increase to end the Shortshankian Dynasty.

    “We do the commercial, sort of like ‘High Noon,’ though I’m not Gary Cooper,” Hickenlooper told me last year during the Democratic National Convention in his town. “We had a great actor, heavyset, sort of like Broderick Crawford, giving out parking tickets. And I walk on, to say how bad it was that the city raised the parking. And just before he writes a ticket, I put a quarter in somebody’s meter. It was a great commercial.”

    Back then, nobody was talking publicly about raising the meter rates in Chicago. Not even Daley.

    With taxpayers already angry about decades of political corruption and waste under Daley’s watch, the last thing City Hall should have done was to make the corruption tax easy to grasp for the voters.

    Like those 28 quarters in your pocket that you need to feed the meters downtown and pay for all the waste and the deals.

    These days, the mayor says everybody knew he was going to do it and they didn’t stop him.

    “This started in 2007,” Daley said. “This wasn’t an idea just picked out of a hat. This has been talked about for almost two years.”

    The bill was presented to the aldermen two days before they had to vote on it, without specific numbers and with virtually no debate. If they didn’t vote his way, Daley threatened to blame them all for a property tax increase.

    They were muscled by Shortshanks. His administration received $1.15 billion for leasing the parking meters for 75 years. The citizens got an Olympian tax hike in the guise of a parking rate increase, with more to come.

    At City Hall, after he was finished arranging them, Daley’s parking meter charts were balanced against each other, edges touching, offering support, like so many aces and kings and jacks balanced on a coffee table, making a castle of cards.

    The mayor was careful not to bump them. The last thing he needs is for them to all fall down.

  10. The guy or guys who vandalized the meters in Lakeview may get caught as the dirty stinkin coppers search area digital cameras. I am going to help with the vandals legal defense fund and I just know that I will not be alone. If they catch that person, he will become the poster child for all of us as we are all feeling the frustrations he must have been feeling in order to vandalize the meters. But we should not give up our liberty by causing damage to the meters just because the criminal Daley continues to rape us all. THERE IS A MASSIVE MOVEMENT BUILDING AGAINST THIS MAYOR!

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