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IVI-IPO Files Suit in Parking Meter Deal

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 20, 2009 3:20PM

Will swanksalot's photo be called as People's Exhibit B in the case of The People V. King Daley?
As promised, IVI-IPO filed suit in state court yesterday, (read the suit, PDF via The Reader) seeking to have the court declare Chicago's parking meter deal illegal and void. The suit lists City Comptroller Steve Lux, Secretary of State Jesse White and State Comprtoller Dan Hynes as defendants, and IVI-IPO and Aviva Patt as plaintiffs. (Patt is listed for purposes of standing - see Sierra Club V. Morton for an explanation of standing.) In a nutshell, the suit seeks to stop the the state and the city from spending taxpayer dollars on what IVI-IPO contends is a private obligation, based on Article Eight, Section One of the State Constitution, which states
(a) Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.
(b) The State, units of local government and school districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance.
(c) Reports and records of the obligation, receipt and use of public funds of the State, units of local government and school districts are public records available for inspection by the public according to law.

Clint Krislov, who is representing IVI-IPO and Patt, told the Sun-Times, "The streets are a public way that the city is not authorized to lease to a single entity...It ties up public assets and commits city council beyond the term of this future city council. To tie up a public way for an excessive period -- government doesn't have the authority to do that." While the city is collecting fines for parking tickets, Chicago (and therefore municipal taxpayers) is paying for enforcement of what IVI-IPO argues is a "privately-held and privately-controlled parking meter system." White and Hynes are listed in the suit because the state must spend funds "relating to its statutory duty to suspend Illinois State driver licenses arising from fines or penalties arising from the City's privatized parking meter system."

Whether IVI-IPO can convince the courts that obligations were incurred illegally remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it looks like IVI-IPO has a long road to travel in its ambitious suit; the state constitution is vague in how it defines expenditures of public funds, and the Illinois municipal code cited in the suit is equally vague, spelling out what a municipality may do, but leaving the door open when it comes to restrictions on what it may not do. And historically the Illinois Supreme Court has been pretty hands-off when it comes to restricting governments and their actions.