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Mayoral Candidates Spar Over Parking Meters

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 4, 2011 3:40PM

Photo by ehfisher
Gery Chico and Carol Moseley Braun attacked Mayor Daley's controversial deal to lease the city's parking meters to Morgan Stanley bank on Monday, while drawing contrasts to each other.

Braun called the deal a fiasco and a financial disaster, while pledging to undo it if elected mayor. Braun said that she would sue to undo the deal, saying that she believed that case law supported such a suit. And while Braun said that the city got "snookered" in the deal, Chico, who has called the parking meter privatization the "worst since the Louisiana Purchase," said that undoing the deal wasn't possible and would force taxes to go up. "Before we perpetuate any more hysteria, trying to grab a headline because the meter rates just went up ... let us not mislead voters because it's a campaign season into believing that something's there when it's not," Chico told the Tribune.

Braun said that she's found the funds within the city's budget to repay the more than $1 billion to leaseholders that it would cost to get Chicago out from under the lease without raising taxes. Chico, however, says that no such plan exists. "Have you seen the plan?" he asked. "There is no plan." Speaking in less hyperbolic terms, Miguel del Valle also took issue with the parking meter deal in an editorial published in the Huffington Post. "As mayor, I will instruct the city's lawyers to not fight an existing lawsuit to invalidate the meter contract, and will an bring additional suit against Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, the Morgan Stanley-owned private company that bought the meters," del Valle wrote. Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization, which has endorsed del Valle, has filed suit challenging the agreement on constitutional grounds.

While Braun and del Valle talked about undoing the parking meter lease through legal and constitutional means, Chico referred to his background as an attorney to explain why he thought a lawsuit would not be feasible. “I’m an attorney. I’ve talked with a lot of people about this parking-meter deal. If I thought there was a way to approach undoing this deal, getting our money back, I’d be the first," he told the Sun-Times. "I’m not going to pander and say things to make the news. I think it is outright irresponsible to let you, the voter, the taxpayer, believe that I am going to file some wild, fraud lawsuit and hope to have a big payday to pay those people back.”