The City Council ratifies the parking meter deal
Photo: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune

December 4, 2008

Rushed through the City Council with virtually no debate or public scrutiny, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deal leased Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters to private investors for 75 years. The city got a one-time sugar rush of $1.2 billion, but the investors made back that money in 10 years, while residents watched meter rates go up even as the meters themselves frequently broke down. It wasn’t a good look for Daley, and the press and citizens never let him forget it. Seeing the political fallout rain down, other cities, including Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, urgently retooled similar deals.