It's one thing for motorists to vandalize Chicago parking meters to vent their anger over the steep schedule of rate hikes tied to the 75-year, $1.15 billion deal that privatized the city's 36,000 meters.Notice the spokesperson for the private parking meter operator is a former press secretary to Mayor Daley. Look for a revolving door of people in the Ballard administration to land lucrative jobs with ACS if the City-County Council approves Mayor Ballard's 50-year lease deal with the politically-connected company.
It's quite another to abscond with the entire pay-and-display box.
The Chicago Police Department is investigating a rash of recent thefts of the 200-pound pay-and-display boxes installed across the city to replace individual meters and make it unnecessary for motorists to stuff their pockets with quarters.
"There have been approximately 20 [boxes] taken, of which four have been recovered," said Police Department spokesman Roderick Drew in an e-mail response to the Chicago Sun-Times.
All of the thefts have happened since Sept. 17.
"The thefts have occurred citywide, with nearly half in Area 5. Area 5 detectives have been working with LAZ Parking [the private parking meter operator] to address this issue. Residents who witness vandalism or suspicious behavior should call police immediately. It is not known how much may have been taken from the stolen pay boxes."
Avis LaVelle, the former mayoral press secretary now serving as a spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters LLC, would only say that, "Theft or destruction of meters or pay boxes is a serious offense and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The parking meter deal has been a political nightmare for Mayor Daley and aldermen who granted lightning-fast approval of the deal.
Steep rate increases that forced drivers to stuff their pockets with quarters would have been bad enough. But broken and frozen pay-and-display boxes -- there are some 3,000 citywide -- and overstuffed and improperly calibrated meters that overcharged motorists made it even worse.
Motorists were initially so incensed by the rate hikes tied to the deal, they vandalized and boycotted meters, leading to a dramatic drop in on-street parking.
Parking meter revenues have since recovered nicely, but the equipment nightmare apparently continues for the private contractor.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Chicago Experiences Rash Of Stolen Electronic Parking Meters
reports that at least 20 of the electronic machines that weigh 200 pounds each have been stolen in recent months: