Monday, February 04, 2013

New York Wiser Than Chicago And Indy: Scraps Parking Meter Privatization Plan

Former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith, a former executive for ACS, no sooner arrived in his new position as a deputy mayor for New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg than he began peddling an idea to privatize the City's parking meter assets just like he convinced Indianapolis' idiot mayor to do the same to benefit his former employer. Fortunately, Bloomberg axed Goldsmith after his embarrassing domestic violence arrest for allegedly beating his wife (who subsequently filed for divorce), allowing people within his administration without a buck to make to more closely scrutinize privatization proposals and, lo and behold, they came to the conclusion that simply modernizing the city's current meter assets was preferable to privatization. The Wall Street Journal reports on New York's wise decision:
New York City is scrapping plans to privatize management of its street-parking system, the latest sign of growing wariness in U.S. cities of initiatives to address budget woes by selling off the rights to run meters and lots. 
The decision by the nation's largest city comes amid a backlash in Chicago, whose 2008 deal to lease rights on 36,000 parking meters to private investors for 75 years for about $1.2 billion was the first parking privatization by a major U.S. city. Chicago residents and policy makers—including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose predecessor presided over the deal—have criticized it for selling the rights too cheaply and for including clauses that have ended up costing the city additional funds. Pittsburgh and Los Angeles also have put privatization plans on ice.
New York officials said last summer that hiring a private operator for meters for the city's 85,000 paid on-street parking spaces could speed innovation. City officials were careful to say any deal would be different from Chicago's, where control was handed over to the investors. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration insisted the city would retain control over key operational decisions, especially pricing and hours of operation.
But the city's Department of Transportation has decided instead to move ahead with meter-modernization efforts of its own later this year, a spokeswoman for the mayor said. "In order to proceed with this venture, a private operator would have to demonstrate that they could significantly improve on the city's financial and operational performance," a city official said. "It was just not clear enough to us that this was possible."
What New York is doing is precisely what those of us who didn't stand to personally profit from a parking meter deal advocated that Indianapolis should do instead of giving away the asset and profits to a private company. That plan wouldn't have made tens of millions of dollars for Ballard's pay-to-play contractor friends so it was dismissed out of hand. ACS/Xerox and its attorneys are making a shit load of money, while throwing a few crumbs to Indianapolis taxpayers, a good sum of which Ballard turned around and gave away to his largest pay-to-play contributor, Ersal Ozdemir, to build his Broad Ripple garage.

The WSJ says the city of Los Angeles also recently nixed a plan to privatize city-owned parking garages due to concerns over "potential rate increases and other concerns." In addition to the criticism leveled at Chicago's corrupt privatization deal hatched by former Mayor Richard Daley, the WSJ mentions Indianapolis' privatization pushed by Goldsmith.
Indianapolis privatized its system in 2010. Aaron Renn, a prominent blogger on urban affairs, criticized the Indianapolis deal as a misuse of public assets, but he said it is "certainly more successful than Chicago," with smarter contract stipulations.
Apparently Cincinnati's mayor has become as corrupted as Indianapolis' mayor. Officials there are moving forward with a privatization plan according to the WSJ in order to close a $34 million budget deficit. Cincinnati can't afford its two new sports palaces and fund basic city services so they're starting to sell off city assets like Indianapolis.

1 comment:

garybrewer said...

Greg 'the snowman' Ballard (named for his non-snow removal tactics) should be tarred & feathered for what he did with the parking meters.
He's ruined any hope of Saturday afternoon leisure activities downtown, such as the various festivals at Military Park. We don't all have government or military pensions for parking garages, or 'free-perks' based on one's government job.
Previously, local Union musicians often played downtown events regularly - not anymore. The inconvenience of having to constantly leave the job to feed the meter, and the fear of getting towed have done away with that. In fact, you can no longer even park outside the Union building even in the evening (until 9pm?!) except Sunday without paying. And if a 'special' event is going on downtown, even the employees are subject to exorbitant fees. Want to go to a concert or special event in the various parks or downtown? Good luck getting in & out of the venue to feed the meter every few hours. His solution? Well, just pay with your credit card. We'll take your money any way that's convenient for you, as long as we get it. No more free rides.
Instead of trying to strip Indianapolis of what's left of it's small-town charm & trying to turn it into a global city, how about focusing your attention on the residents HERE. If i want to see Chicago, I'll go to Chicago. But, at least they don't bulldoze their past there, all in the name of 'progress'.