The [Friday] Papers
1. I was tipped to these Chandler Bigelow nuggets:
"His mother is the director of Chateau des Enfants, a private school in Lugano, Switzerland," his New York Times wedding announcement reports. "His father is a vice president at the Cronheim Mortgage Company in Morristown, N.J."
"Encouraged by former Tribune Chairman John Madigan, a family friend, he applied for an entry-level job in Tribune's finance group in 1998," Crain's reports.
2. I won't use names because I didn't ask permission, but this came over my Facebook Feed yesterday:
[JOHN DOE] is wondering whether this Lake Shore Drive traffic jam is Obama's fault.
I'd be happy to attach names to anyone who wants to claim well-deserved credit.
4. "Even city lawyers are now conceding that Chicago's parking meter deal amounted to a sale of public property," Mick Dumke reports for the Chicago News Cooperative.
"In the nearly 18 months since Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration handed off day-to-day management of the meters - and the millions of dollars in revenues they produce every month - city officials have stressed that the public still owns the street parking system. They've said that the city merely forged a 'public-private partnership' with Chicago Parking Meters LLC by entering into a 'concession agreement' for the next 75 years.
"'The concession agreement is an agreement to operate the meter system over 75 years,' Gene Saffold, the city's chief financial officer, said last year. 'It is neither a sale nor a lease.'
"But in a recent court filing city attorneys describe CPM as the owner of the meters, even as they characterize the deal as a boon to local taxpayers.
"'The fact that the Concessionaire now owns the parking meters and receives the meter fees does not eliminate the public benefits,' attorneys write in a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the legality of the deal."
Last week, Dumke and Dan Mihalopoulos reported that "financial documents raise new questions about whether the city negotiated the best deal it could for leasing away one of its most lucrative assets. Chicago Parking Meters is on track to take in more than $73 million in 2010, according to Standard & Poor's, one of the agencies. That is more than three times the roughly $20 million a year that the city had reaped from its meters before the privatization deal."
But bear in mind that the parking meter controversy isn't just about whether the city could have struck a better deal; it's about what's in the public interest. And it just might be in the public interest that meter rates are set not just to maximize profit, but with other factors like the impact on small neighborhood businesses and life's little conveniences for residents as well as the kind of accountability that (at least theoretically) comes with public ownership.
In any case, I think the meter mess has become such a flashpoint for the mayor not just because of the extra cost of parking but because it so epitomizes the way he does business in a way that makes all us feel like chumps.
5. "City workers have been attempting to catch an alligator that was seen on the Chicago River banks on the North Side Thursday," reports.
Bankruptcy judge orders Chandler Bigelow's private stock liquidated.
9. A Tribune two-fer in The Week in WTF.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Delivering verdicts daily.
Posted on August 6, 2010
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