Ignoring Chicago, Toronto Has a Big, Stupid Idea

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1384 .... March 17, 2017
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Ignoring Chicago, Toronto Has a Big, Stupid Idea

Joyce Nelson

Two weeks ago, the good folks of Toronto, Ontario learned that their elected officials at City Hall are considering selling off the Toronto Parking Authority -- which operates dozens of municipal parking lots as well as on-street parking. It's a big, stupid idea that indicates our "city fathers" apparently don't read, but also that they can't see through the latest scam being sold by some corporate lobbyist. It's as though the Innocents in Toronto City Hall have never heard of the parking meter scandal that ate Chicago and has become an unmitigated disaster -- even though more press has likely been given to that fiasco than to any other public-private partnership (P3) undertaken in recent... U.S. history.

To recap: in 2008, Chicago's then-Mayor Richard Daley convinced city aldermen to approve a 75-year lease by which the city's 36,000 parking meters were handed over to a private consortium led by Wall Street titan Morgan Stanley. In exchange, Chicago got a one-time payment of $1.2-billion.

Within a short time, it became clear that this was a bad deal, with parking meter rates suddenly increasing fourfold, and free parking in the evenings jettisoned by the new private owners. Obviously, Chicago's residents, accustomed to street parking, were forced to find other arrangements, while Chicago's retail and entertainment sectors were hit badly by the new rates, which caused a marked "decrease in economic activity."

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