Parking meter deal keeps getting worse for city as meter revenues rise

Source: Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times, May 14, 2018

Chicago’s parking meter system raked in $134.2 million last year, putting private investors on pace to recoup their entire $1.16 billion investment by 2021 with 62 years to go in the lease, the latest annual audit shows. Four underground, city-owned parking garages took in $34 million in 2017, while the privatized Chicago Skyway generated $99.9 million in cash, separate audits of those assets show. Not a penny of those revenues, once a mainstay for city government, went to ease the avalanche of tax increases imposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to solve the city’s $36 billion pension crisis. That’s because all three of those assets were unloaded by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who used the money to avoid raising property taxes while city employee pension funds sunk deeper in the hole. …


Parking meters, garages took in $156M — but city won’t see a cent
Source: Mick Dumke and Chris Fusco, Chicago Sun-Times, February 13, 2017

Chicago’s parking-meter system took in $121.7 million last year, while four underground city-owned garages reaped another $34.7 million — with not a penny of that money going to the cash-strapped city government. Instead, the $156.3 million pot of parking cash went to private investors who control the meters and garages under deals cut by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and rubber-stamped by the City Council. … Chicago Parking Meters — formed by banking giant Morgan Stanley and other financial partners — paid the city $1.15 billion to manage the meter system and pocket the money fed into it for the next 75 years. The city took in $23.8 million from the meters in 2008, the last year before CPM took over the system. In the seven years since, the meter company has reported a total of $778.6 million in revenues. It’s on pace to make back what it paid the city by 2020, with more than 60 years of meter money still to come. … The garage agreement has also sent a stream of money into the coffers of private investors. … Over the nine years of the deal, the facilities have generated $292.6 million in revenue for their private operators. … Last week, the rights to the garages were sold to a group of foreign investors.

A Tale of Two P3s
Source: Yvette Shields, Bond Buyer, July 7, 2016

Chicago’s first mistake in its much-maligned parking meter lease was its choice of asset. That’s one conclusion of a report released Thursday by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research that looks at public-private partnerships and compares the details of two deals – Chicago’s nearly $1.2 billion 75-year meter system lease and Indiana’s $3.9 billion 75-year lease of the Indiana Toll Road. The Indiana deal is held up as a model while the Chicago parking lease offers a roadmap of pitfalls to avoid. …

Did Indiana get right what Chicago got so wrong?
Source: Greg Hinz, Crain’s Chicago Business, July 7, 2016

One deal went sour almost immediately, and remains one of the most hated transactions in Chicago history. The other, just a few miles away, has had its bumps, but otherwise netted the public treasury billions it otherwise might have lacked. So what did Chicago do wrong when it privatized its parking-meter operation and Indiana do right when it agreed to a 75-year lease for its tollway system? That’s the question urban blogger and Manhattan Institute senior fellow Aaron Renn asks in a new paper. And his conclusions are worth a look as officials consider other potential public/private deals, such as building an express train from the Loop to O’Hare and adding new toll lanes to stretches of the now-free I-55. …

Former LAZ parking exec due in court this month on fraud charge
Source: Jon Seidl, Chicago Sun-Times, January 6, 2016

A former executive for the firm that manages Chicago’s privatized parking meters is expected to appear in federal court later this month to answer to claims he helped steer a contract worth $22 million for meters in Chicago to a favored company, records show. Prosecutors have filed an information charging Felipe Oropesa of Marietta, Ga., with one count of fraud. Oropesa, the former vice president for government relations for LAZ Parking, was set to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Martin on Wednesday, records show. His arraignment was instead rescheduled for Jan. 22.

LAZ Parking Fires Executive Under Investigation In Bribery Scheme
Source:Kenneth R. Gosselin and David Owens, Courant, June 20, 2015

Laz Parking has fired its Atlanta-based vice president of government services who is the subject of an FBI investigation over alleged bribe-taking. The company said Saturday that it had conducted its own internal investigation and decided to terminate the employee. The Courant is not identifying the former employee because no charges have been filed against him. The FBI is investigating whether the former executive was paid $90,000 in bribes to steer a contract to install and maintain privatized parking meters in Chicago.

LAZ Parking Exec on Administrative Leave After Report of FBI Probe
Source: NBC Chicago, June 18, 2015

The firm that manages Chicago’s privatized parking meters has put an executive who fell under federal scrutiny on administrative leave. Federal agents have been investigating the LAZ Parking executive on allegations he took kickbacks to steer a contract for meters in Chicago to a favored company, the Chicago Sun-Times first reported earlier this week. The executive allegedly received $90,000 in bribe payments to steer the contract for parking meters in Chicago, which produced gross revenues of $22 million and monthly service fees, according to an affidavit. The FBI filed an affidavit in February to search two email accounts tied to the executive, who called the allegations “news to me” and declined to comment when a reporter first contacted him. ….

Possible bribery probed over deal to supply Chicago’s privatized parking meters
Source: Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, June 18, 2015

The FBI is investigating whether an executive at the firm that manages Chicago’s privatized parking meters was paid $90,000 in bribes to steer a contract to install and maintain the controversial meters across the city. The alleged kickback scheme was laid out in an FBI search warrant affidavit filed in February seeking access to two email accounts tied to the vice president of government services at LAZ Parking, the firm hired by a Morgan Stanley-led business consortium in 2008 to manage the privatized meters in Chicago. According to the 17-page filing that was made public recently, the LAZ executive met with the president and CEO of another firm, identified only as Company A, at a Florida restaurant in late 2008, as the city’s much-maligned $1.2 billion deal to lease the meters for 75 years was being finalized. At the meeting, the CEO offered to give kickbacks to the LAZ executive in exchange for steering the contract to install the parking meters to Company A, according to the affidavit. They also made a “side agreement” for additional bribes if other business, such as extended warranties on the meters, was given to the company in the future.

Feds focus on LAZ executive for alleged parking meter bribe
Source: Jon Seidel, Chicago Sun-Times, June 16, 2015

Federal agents have been investigating an executive with the firm that manages Chicago’s privatized parking meters on allegations he took kickbacks to steer a meter contract to a favored company, according to a court record obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. FBI agents filed an affidavit for a search warrant in February to search two email accounts tied to an executive of LAZ Parking who allegedly received $90,000 in bribe payments to steer the contract for parking meters, which produced gross revenues of $22 million and monthly service fees. The Sun-Times is not naming the executive because he has not been charged. When reached Tuesday, he said the allegations in the FBI affidavit were “news to me” and declined to comment further. The FBI declined to comment….

While the city is strapped for cash, the private parking meter company makes millions of dollars more
Source: Mick Dumke, Chicago Reader, May 6, 2015

As Mayor Rahm Emanuel searches for money to cope with the city’s grave financial health, the private firm that controls Chicago’s parking meter system collected another $131 million from city drivers in 2014 to wrap up its most lucrative year yet, according to a financial audit posted Tuesday on the city’s website. Chicago Parking Meters LLC has now hauled in $633 million in revenues since it took over the street parking system six years ago, audits show. That’s more than half the $1.2 billion the firm paid the city for the system, and CPM gets to keep the meter revenues for 69 more years.

Hundreds ticketed in error despite using ParkChicago app
Source: John Byrne, Chicago Tribune, July 7, 2014 

The new mobile parking payment technology being rolled out by the company that leased Chicago’s meters has led to more than 300 tickets being issued in error to cars parked legally in the past 10 weeks.  Since the ParkChicago smartphone app was launched in mid-April at a few hundred parking spots in the West Loop and expanded to other neighborhoods, 317 cars have been ticketed that still had time on their meters, according to Scott Burnham, spokesman for Chicago Parking Meters LLC….The smartphone pay option was a key part of the tweaks Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled in April 2013 to the widely reviled meter lease brokered by his predecessor, Richard M. Daley. The ability for drivers to add more time to their meters without walking back to their cars was part of what Emanuel termed “making the best of a bad situation” with regard to the city’s $1.1-billion, 75-year deal with Chicago Parking Meters LLC. The ParkChicago app was launched with a few hundred spots in the West Loop, and Langsdorf said it has since been rolled out to all 36,000 metered spaces across the city. Roughly 50,000 people have registered to use it, Burnham said. City Hall paid $6.5 million during the past year to Chicago Parking Meters LLC for parking meters taken out of service, the Tribune reported last week. That’s roughly $500,000 more than Emanuel’s administration predicted when it renegotiated the meter deal last year….

Private Meter Readers Wrote Hundreds of Thousands of Tickets, Data Shows
Source: Mike Brockway, DNAinfo Chicago, December 31, 2013

For the past few years, city parking meter enforcement crews have had a private team of ticket writers helping them do their jobs — and helping fill the city’s coffers with millions of dollars in additional revenues. The team actually works for Chicago Parking Meters LLC, the private company that took over control of the city’s 36,000 metered-parking spaces in the infamous 75-year deal that jacked up parking rates and lengthened the hours of enforcement all over the city. But part of the deal the company made with the city gave it the right to help enforce the meters — by writing more tickets than the cash-strapped city’s own parking enforcers could do otherwise. In fact, the company has very quietly issued hundreds of thousands of tickets for expired meter violations since 2010, city parking data obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows. Meter teams working for Chicago Parking Meters now write nearly one-third of all tickets issued citywide for expired meter violations, the data shows. A company spokesman said the private crew actually works for LAZ Parking, which Chicago Parking Meters contracts to maintain and enforce the meters….

Emanuel’s parking meter plan clears key vote
Source: Alex Keefe, WBEZ, June 3, 2013

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s changes to the much-hated parking meter privatization contract are now headed for the full City Council, after easily clearing a key committee vote on Monday. The plan passed out of the Finance Committee on a 15 to 6 vote, despite some aldermen’s concerns that the changes could lead to another windfall for Chicago Parking Meters LLC, which runs the city’s 36,000 metered spaces. Under Emanuel’s proposal, the city would save about $25 million a year from lowered reimbursement costs it pays to CPM whenever a meter is taken out of service, whether for street construction or a festival.

Parking Meter Revenue Up $30M in 2012
Source: Dick Johnson, NBC 5 Chicago, WMAQ -TV, May 7, 2013

Mayor Rahm Emanuel expected to introduce negotiated settlement with Chicago Parking Meters to the City Council… Chicago officials on Tuesday said commuters paid nearly $140 million to park on city streets in 2012. That’s more than $30 million more than was paid in 2011 and $115 million more than parkers paid in 2008, the last year the city managed the meters before turning them over to Chicago Parking Meters LLC in a 75-year, $1.2 billion privatization deal….Just $1.5 million remains of the $1.2 billion the city received.

Company’s 2012 Parking Revenue Still Unknown
Source: Carol Marin and Don Moseley, NBC 5 Chicago, WMAQ -TV, May 7, 2013

Chicago settles parking meter payment dispute, mayor says
Source: Karen Pierog, Reuters, April 29, 2013

Chicago settled a payment dispute with a private company operating the city’s parking meters that will greatly reduce money owed by the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Monday. Under the deal, Chicago will pay Chicago Parking Meters LLC $8.9 million, instead of the $49 million the company demanded in compensation for out-of-service meters due to street closures and other reasons covering a two-year period that ended on March 31. The agreement will be presented on May 8 to the city council, which will have 30 days to review it, according to a statement from the mayor’s office….

Parking Deal a Windfall for Private Company
Source: Carol Marin and Don Moseley, NBC 5, April 23, 2013

It costs a lot to park in Chicago. Of that there is no denial. The private company that oversees on street parking in Chicago has seen revenue increase by 368 percent since 2008. That was the year the Daley administration pushed through a controversial plan to relinquish the city’s hold over 36,000 parking meters in exchange for a $1.2 billion payout. In 2008, the last year the city collected parking meter revenue, it totaled $23.3 million. In 2011, the last year figures were available, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC took in $109.3 million, according to figures released through a Freedom of Information Act request….

Chicago Parking Meters LLC, Parasitic “Business”
Source: Edward McClelland, NBC Chicago, March 26, 2013

Salon’s Michael Lind — the best political commentator in America, IMHO — made an oblique reference to Chicago’s parking meter in a column entitled “Defeating useless rich people.” Lind was criticizing what he called the Rentier class — financiers who make money not by selling goods and services, but by “their natural or artificial monopoly power to extract excessive tolls, fees and other recurrent payments from the rest of society, including productive businesses.”…Chicago Parking Meters LLC is a perfect example of a Rentier outfit. The company essentially paid the city a $1.1 billion bribe for a 75-year-long monopoly on a publicly-owned resource….