City, State Sued Over Parking Meter Lease

August 19, 2009

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Photo by Steve Koo.
A Chicago advocacy group is suing to overturn the city's controversial parking meter privatization deal.

The Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization filed the suit Wednesday in Cook County court.

According to the lawsuit, the $1.15 billion privatization deal is illegal and unconstitutional. Illegal because, among other things, it says the city lacks the authority to lease public streets.

Attorney Clint Krislov alleges it's unconstitutional because...

KRISLOV: ...the city says, 'We haven't given up our powers to write tickets.' But the tickets are fundamentally charges for violating a private contract.

That violates a section of the Illinois Constitution that stipulates public money must only be used for public purposes, Krislov said.

The suit also names the Illinois Secretary of State and Comptroller for their roles in suspending drivers' licenses over unpaid parking tickets.

The city signed the lease last winter to help ease a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

Critics call it a short-term fix that was hastily shoved through City Council.

A representative for the city said in an email that the lawsuit is "wholly without merit, both factually and legally."

She declined to comment further.

Representatives for both Secretary of State Jesse White and Comptroller Dan Hynes declined to comment on the suit.

A spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, the company that holds the lease, also declined to comment. The company is not being sued.