Citing the Reader’s recent cover story on the parking meter lease deal, alderman Joe Moore and four of his City Council colleagues are planning to introduce a resolution this week calling for additional hearings into how the agreement was struck.
“The rush to approve the agreement and the resulting chaos in implementing the transfer of the parking meters to Morgan Stanley and LAZ Parking has raised serious questions about the process leading to the lease agreement and the inexcusable deficiencies in the implementation of the agreement,” the resolution says. It asks that Paul Volpe, Mayor Daley’s chief of staff and former chief financial officer, and officials from Morgan Stanley and LAZ Parking appear before the council to answer questions about the bidding process and the financial analysis that went into the deal.
More hearings are necessary, the resolution emphasizes, because “despite concerns expressed about the lack of time to fully consider the agreement, the City Council overwhelmingly approved the measure.”
“It’s a vote I’ve come to regret,” Moore says. “I don’t know if we can overturn the agreement, but certainly we can shed light on the implementation of it, which has been abysmal. I think this was a consequence of the rush to get this through.”
Moore notes that aldermen were pressured to approve the deal in the face of a budget shortfall. “At the time we voted on it we were told there could be another round of layoffs if we didn’t approve it,” he says. “But I still think we should have waited at least a couple more meetings and taken a closer look.”
Here’s the full text of the resolution:
RESOLUTION FOR HEARINGS REGARDING
THE AGREEMENT TO LEASE
CITY OF CHICAGO PARKING METERS
WHEREAS, In February 2008, the City of Chicago issued a request for qualifications inviting firms to present credential for leasing the rights to the City of Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters; and
WHEREAS, In March 2008, ten firms submitted packets setting forth their qualifications for leasing the city parking meters; and
WHEREAS, Only two firms ultimately submitted official bids for leasing the parking meters—Morgan Stanley and the Macquaire Partnership; and
WHEREAS, On December 2, 2008, Mayor Richard Daley announced that the City of Chicago entered an agreement to lease the parking meters to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, a newly created entity led by Morgan Stanley, for $1,156,500,000; and
WHEREAS, The agreement called for a graduated increase in parking rates, with the greatest increase occurring in the central business district; and
WHEREAS, The agreement also called for upgraded parking meters that would accept both coins and credit cards eliminating the need for drivers to carry with them large amount of quarters; and
WHEREAS, On December 4, 2008, the Chicago City Council held a Special Meeting called by Mayor Daley for the sole purpose of authorizing the agreement; and
WHEREAS, Despite concerns expressed about the lack of time to fully consider the agreement, the City Council overwhelmingly approved the measure; and
WHEREAS, In February of this year, the City of Chicago finalized the agreement with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC and transferred day-to-day management of the parking meter system to LAZ Parking; and
WHEREAS, LAZ Parking immediately began posting rate increases on parking meters, first in the downtown business district and then expanding outward to the city’s residential neighborhoods; and
WHEREAS, As soon as LAZ Parking began to implement the new rates, City Hall and aldermanic offices were flooded with complaints from motorists who reported broken parking meters that were unable to handle the flood of extra quarters required by the new rates and the lack of adequate signage advising them of the new rates; and
WHEREAS, City work crews have been dispatched to repair the broken parking meters even though the agreement clearly assigns Morgan Stanley and LAZ Parking the responsibility for repair and maintenance of the parking meters; and
WHEREAS, The rush to approve the agreement and the resulting chaos in implementing the transfer of the parking meters to Morgan Stanley and LAZ Parking has raised serious questions about the process leading to the lease agreement and the inexcusable deficiencies in the implementation of the agreement; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, That the City Council Committee on Finance shall conduct hearings into the process leading to the parking meter lease agreement with Morgan Stanley, the deficiencies in the implementation of the agreement, and the steps that will be undertaken to remedy these deficiencies; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That officers in position of authority at Morgan Stanley, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC and LAZ Parking appear before the City Council Committee on Finance to address these and other concerns raised about the agreement, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That Paul Volpe, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and Chicago’s Chief Financial Officer, appear before the City Council Committee on Finance together with other city officials knowledgeable with the process leading up to the agreement to address issues surrounding the agreement, including, but not limited to:
· The criteria employed for determining the qualifications of the firms bidding on the parking meter contract.
· The financial analysis employed for determining what would constitute an acceptable bid amount.
· The reasons that only two companies ultimately bid on the contract even though ten companies submitted packets to have their qualifications reviewed.