When Government Meets Business

June/06/2013 5:41AM
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Then Mayor, Richard Daley, needed money to run Chicago. He didn’t want to raise property taxes. Chicago has the highest gasoline prices other than California and Hawaii. They have city and county taxes that cause the high prices. The city taxes everything that moves. Daley couldn’t risk one more tax.

So the mayor decided to sell the parking meters. He got a billion upfront for a 75 year lease.($1.15 billion) The money is gone, but the lease continues.

The buyer is making money, tons of money. They do it by charging prices comparable to those charged by parking garages. They keep the meters operating and they collect from people who owe for overtime. They run it like a business. Probably by using half the payroll the city used to manage the same business. The city could have done some of these same things, but no government run enterprise does.

Now the public is up in arms over the cost of parking. It’s become a big political issue. The public wants the mayor, Rahm Emanuel to kill the deal Daley made.

Daley made a deal that looked good to him and the city council, they spent the money, and now they don’t like the deal. The buyer took all the risk, writing the city that billion dollar check up- front. They had to manage the business well to get a return on that investment. They are, and now everyone is mad.

Good luck breaking that contract, Rahmbo. Business is better at negotiating deals with government, better at running things the government can’t run, and also better at writing binding contracts. So, what will it cost the city to break this contract, two billion or three? Where will that money come from? The very broke state of Illinois?

Rahm just negotiated a deal for reduced parking on Sundays. Buth the meter company agreed too quickly and the Chicago Tribune worries that they snickered the city again and Rahm doesn’t know it yet. The Trib is probably right. Wait and see.

Once again, this proves several things. First, the only thing government does well is spend money. Second, no government anywhere in this country should be running anything, even parking meters. Third if voters have to pay a fair price for anything that they having been getting a bargain for over many years, they will vote someone out of office if they have to pay that higher price for long. Fourth, before that person gets voted out, he/she will compound the problem through a series of acts dumber than the initial act.

Why does business always beat government? That’s easy. It’s a little thing totally foreign to government. It’s called accountability.

Whoever is responsible for running the parking meter business in Chicago has a profit goal. If he doesn’t meet or exceed that goal, he will be out of work

Who is out of work in the city for making a mess of public parking?

It’s like Congress calling Apple in for using the tax laws they passed to pay lower taxes. Business wins again. Government looks stupid and hapless, and Apple looks smart for using the government tax code to save billions in taxes. Nothing happened, just like it won’t happen in the Chicago parking meter issue. In the Apple case, Congress wishes Apple would voluntarily run the business stupidly and in the Chicago case Emanuel wishes the same. Give us back some money so we, government, don’t look stupid.

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