Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bloomberg Wants To Privatize Parking Meters And Lose Money On The Deal

Parking meter privatization has been a disaster in Chicago (ever notice how so many disastrous ideas come out of Chicago? Neo-liberalism, mayoral control of schools, parking meter privatization, deep dish pizza - all from Chicago.)

So of course the Mayor of Money wants to bring that disaster here to NYC.

But John Liu writes in today's Daily News that that's a bad idea:

Despite City Hall’s disastrous track record with outsourcing contracts to large corporations, like CityTime to SAIC and the 911 emergency-call system to HP, Mayor Bloomberg apparently continues to believe in the myth that private companies always do a better job than the public workers already on the payroll.

Perhaps in an attempt to repair his bad record of farming out multibillion-dollar technology projects, the mayor is aggressively moving forward with what may prove to be the largest such project in New York’s history: privatizing the operations and maintenance of the city’s nearly 90,000 total parking spaces. If his plan proceeds, a private company would soon be servicing our Muni-Meters and collecting the money.

Preliminary proposals are due tomorrow, Tuesday, so New Yorkers need to know the facts today.


Over time, our parking system has consistently proven to be a hugely profitable business for the city. For this fiscal year, its operating revenues are projected to be $192 million — a 22% jump over the previous year — while operating expenses are projected to grow only 6%, to $67 million. The $125 million in net revenue the system earns for the city represents a profit of more than 65% — a profit margin that would make the CEO of any major company, even Bloomberg LP, envious.

What’s more, the 466 folks who the city has reported as operating and maintaining our parking system are good at their jobs. For this fiscal year, the average revenue generated per employee is projected to be a whopping $412,000. By comparison, in 2011, each JPMorgan Chase employee generated only $345,000 in revenue. So the city’s parking-system operation is hardly inefficient or bloated, at least compared to one of the world’s largest banks.

So why in the world does Bloomberg want to allow this tremendous public asset to be privately managed and operated? What is the evidence a corporation can squeeze more profitability out of the system? Perhaps the plan is to hike rates or shed employees. Perhaps it’s to look for a quick, one-shot cash infusion to close the $2.5 billion budget hole looming next year.

Either motive would be dangerous for taxpayers.

Maybe Bloomberg believes we need to bring more advanced technology to bear on our parking spaces. But the city hasn’t had any problem modernizing its parking system. Our Muni-Meters are state of the art and reliable, with more than 98% reported operability. We’re even exploring parking-rate innovations like using mobile phones to make it easier for drivers to feed the meter and find empty spots.

The mayor’s office says it is seeking to guarantee a minimum of $100 million in total annual parking revenue. But the parking system already generates $125 million of net revenues annually for the city. Why would we hand over our parking system to a private company in exchange for a $100 million guarantee and then let it share in the revenues above that? It doesn’t make any financial sense, not for the city or for taxpayers.

Bloomberg would know much of this if he just called Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor, whose predecessor orchestrated one of the worst parking-meter privatization deals in municipal history. Chicago, home to the nation’s third-largest parking system, is now grappling with a contract that gave that city relatively small change up front, $1.15 billion, in exchange for a 75-year deal that has made for skyrocketing parking costs for residents.

Estimates are that the vendor will make almost 10 times what Chicago got for the contract. Meanwhile, the vendor is sticking Chicago taxpayers with a truckload of hidden costs, charging the city fees, for example, when meters are put out of service to accommodate parades, street fairs, construction or handicapped-parking placards.

A horrendous deal, indeed.

I hope Liu can stop Bloomberg.

But Liu has already been destroyed by Bloomberg's friends in the media and the federal government with campaign finance fraud allegations.

Bloomberg, who himself admitted he laundered $1.1 million to the Independence Party outside of the legal route, somehow remains in office with full powers while Liu, accused but never charged with finance fraud, is neutered by the press.

No wonder the corporate media and Bloomberg's friends in power went after him.

He tells the truth about corporate cronyism, corruption and privatization - like with this parking meter privatization deal Bloomberg wants to saddle the city with.


  1. Unfortunately, my fellow ethnic white Queensites, while otherwise nominally suspicious of the Manhattanite leaings of Herr Doomturd, are so deadly afraid of the growing "Yellow Hordes" that they are willing to sail the municipal treasure Liu "up the river" to a chorus of Charlie Chan, eggroll and chopsocky jokes.Unfortunately, in the nation's most ethnically diverse borough, we really haven't come so far from the days of Archie Bunker.

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