One citizen's take on the Dick that makes Chicago tick.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It seems like Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader are the only reporters doing any real investigating around City Hall these days. And they keep coming up with some damning information regarding Chicago's parking meter privatization. An absolute MUST read if you live and/or park in Chicago: The Parking Meter Fiasco: Part III - The Insiders.
But our latest investigation—piecing together public documents, records of City Council hearings, interviews with elected officials and financial experts, company profiles, and previous news reports—reveals that there’s a lot more to the story:

- Not only did William Blair advise the city on the deal—it came up with the idea in the first place. Then it provided the city with the only estimate it ever received of what the system was worth and coordinated the bidding process.

- Two other financial services firms and three law firms were brought in to assist. All were given no-bid contracts for the work, and all appear to have political or personal ties to the Daley administration (which is not unusual for the way the city of Chicago does business).

- The financial advisers were each paid a share of what the city made in cash on the lease deal. William Blair received 0.375 percent of the payout, or about $4.3 million, according to records obtained from the city through a FOIA request. The others, Gardner Rich and Ramirez & Company, each received 0.0625 percent, or $722,813. The attorneys’ fees added up to another $1.3 million. All told, the city paid its legal and financial advisers more than $7 million for their work on the deal.

- At the same time they were helping the city prepare and conduct the bidding process for the parking meter lease, all of the financial firms, including William Blair, were working on other multibillion-dollar deals with the company that emerged as the winning bidder, Morgan Stanley. The overlapping relationships are in violation of the city’s own contracting rules.

- Partners in two of the three law firms hired to work on the deal had previously donated money to Mayor Daley’s campaign. City rules ban contributions to the mayor from employees of city contractors but don’t apply to law firms.

- Together the lawyers and financial advisers—not anyone in city government—determined who would control the parking meter system for the next several generations and how much money they’d make off it. But as private entities, none of these firms are required by law to disclose to the public how they arrived at their plan. And none would talk to us for this story.

I urge you to read the whole article. It is long, but it is worth every minute. While you're at it, read parts 1 and 2 of the Reader's series about Dick Daley's parking meter lease.

I wonder if Daley is shocked by the trouble this parking meter debacle has caused him. I hope he cries about it every night while praying Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't read the Chicago Reader.

photo via Chicago Sun-Times

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