Chicago and the Privatization Scam

Anyone who still thinks Bob McDonnell has a good idea to solve Virginia’s transportation woes by selling off the liquor stores for $500 million—a price that seems pathetically low, considering that the stores generate $180 million annually to the general fund—should peek at what happened to Chicago and its parking meters.

Chicago parking meters went private in February. Chicago Parking Meters LLC, majority-owned by Morgan Stanley infrastructure investment funds, paid $1.15 billion for a 75-year lease to run the 36,000 parking meters.

It’s not much of a surprise what happened next.

Parking rates jacked way up. Broken meters. Ticketing cars parked at broken meters. Then, of course, accountability for problems shuffled off onto unelected people.

As documented by the Chicago Reader, this was a dirty shit deal from the start. But here’s the real kicker: A report by the city’s inspector general says the city would have raised $974 million more if it had kept the parking meters and raised prices.

So, let’s see. It works less effectively. It costs more. It invites unscrupulous actors. It gouges the people.

Yes, privitazation always solves everything!

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