Candidate Del Valle wouldn’t defend parking meter contract
By lisa donovan Staff firstname.lastname@example.org December 31, 2010 5:00PM
Miguel Del Valle
Updated: March 16, 2011 12:01AM
If he’s Chicago’s next mayor, Miguel Del Valle says he’ll sue over the city’s controversial parking meter privatization deal and ask a judge to nullify it.
“This situation is simply untenable for our residents, our businesses — for our city,” Del Valle said Friday at his campaign office in West Town.
Del Valle said he’d specifically sue Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, the winning bidder for the city’s parking meter franchise. Del Valle said his goal, ultimately, would be to renegotiate the contract.
“I want to bring them to the table — but the only way I think that can happen is through the courts.”
He believes the deal was unconstitutional because it allows a private firm to carry out police duties, including issuing parking tickets. Attorney Marni Willenson, who is working with Del Valle on the matter, explained: “You can not sell the right to control your city streets, consistent with the Illinois Constitution.”
The groundwork has already been laid in a lawsuit filed last year by the Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization over the 75-year, $1.15 billion deal that privatized Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters.
The suit, which was filed against the city and the state, says that because the deal is “unconstitutional” government entities shouldn’t shell out another dime in taxpayer money to execute the agreement.
Del Valle woud like the city to flop sides and join IVI-IPO as a plaintiff and then add Morgan Stanley as a defendant.
The year-old parking meter deal has raised questions about leasing municipal assets. Much of the city’s windfall from the deal evaporated this year as Mayor Daley and the City Council raided the city’s reserves to close a gap in 2011’s $6.1 billion budget.
Del Valle said he recognizes that if he sued and won — meaning the deal would be invalidated — it could mean the city would have to write a big refund check to the private firms involved in the deal.
To do that, he said he’d look at long-term bonding, but said taxpayers should recognize, too, that the parking meter system would then be returned to the city’s hands.
Rahm Emanuel, also a mayoral contender, has declined to weigh in on the deal, but has vowed to never to sell city assets to pay down operating costs.
A spokeswoman for candidate Gery Chico issued a statement Friday saying: “Gery thinks the parking meter deal was the worst since the Louisiana Purchase, but any candidate who suggests we can renegotiate it without giving back money the city already spent is simply deceiving voters. It was a bad deal — plain and simple — made worse by the fact that now the money is gone.”
In November, Chico filed a “citizens ordinance” that would establish an “irrevocable” trust to hold the $76 million that remains from the meter deal. His plan calls for interest from the parking meter trust would be used to replenish the reserves.
Carol Moseley Braun has said she, too, wants to undo the parking meter deal. “As an attorney she believes she can re-open the contract,” said Renee Ferguson, Braun’s spokeswoman. “She believes that since Morgan Stanley wants to continue to do business with the city of Chicago she’s sure they’d have an interest in sitting down and re-opening the contract.”
Meanwhile on the campaign trail, some big names in Chicago’s African American community will lend their names — and “millions of dollars in support” — to Braun, according to her campaign.
Frank Clark, Pauline Montgomery, Cecil Butler and John T. Hooker will serve as co-chairs of her campaign finance committee. They join current finance committee co-chairs, Elzie Higginbottom and John Rogers.