Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicago Experiences Rash Of Stolen Electronic Parking Meters

Chicagoans have been angry with Mayor Richard Daley ever since he leased the city's parking meter system to LAZ Parking for 75 years at a price tag of $1.2 billion and proceeded to jack parking meter rates, which were already high, after replacing old parking meters with modern electronic meters. The Sun-Times reports that at least 20 of the electronic machines that weigh 200 pounds each have been stolen in recent months:

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.

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.
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.


Concerned Taxpayer said...

Speaking of stealing...today there are numerous water trucks & trailers watering the new Lilly trees and flowers on the westside. They are all from the Linkel Co.
They are refilling the tanks at a city hydrant by WTFD 881. There is NO meter on the hydrant.
That means the TAXPAYERS are being billed for watering the plants.

Had Enough Indy? said...

So, according to the proposed Indy-ACS agreement, who has to pay to replace stolen meters?

Paul K. Ogden said...

And look for the Star to say nothing about the local revolving door here in Indianapolis...

artfuggins said...

Maybe Jackie Nytes will vote for it and then get a good job working for the parking meter company.

Concerned Taxpayer said...


interestedparty said...

The plants are on public grounds. I don't know who else should pay. When I have a plant in my yard, I pay to water it. Some of us appreciate a place looking nice and being cared for. And are grateful for the donations of plants and free labor. And, I know, no one asked you if you wanted plants there instead of weeds or dirt, but no one asks me either if I want a police car to patrol my street. Some things just go without saying.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Is this what we have to look forward to? Thanks, AI.