At today's Chicago City Council hearing, aldermen debated and approved two measures that will together mandate a public accounting of how asset privatization revenue is being managed and also require a 15-day review period before a full vote on any privatization agreement ...
At today's Chicago City Council hearing, aldermen debated and approved two measures that will together mandate a public accounting of how asset privatization revenue is being managed and also require a 15-day review period before a full vote on any privatization agreement exceeding $10 million in value. The votes came a day after Inspector General David Hoffman lambasted the Daley administration for accepting too low a price for the city's parking meter lease and failing to conduct an independent valuation prior to the deal.
While the measures received overwhelming support, several members of the old guard expressed some skepticism at the meeting. Ald. Ed Burke, for instance, noted that any two members could have used parliamentary maneuvers to delay the December vote on the parking meter lease. "This isn't like something that happened in the dark of night," he said. "It's not like it was a secret."
But Ald. Berny Stone really stole the show, accusing his fellow council members of "copping out" and railing against Hoffman's report. Of course, Stone acknowledged he hadn't read the report. He even wondered out loud about its contents: "Did he [Hoffman] take into consideration interest earned over the lease period? ... We don't know what he took into consideration. ... He probably doesn't even know what the value was." Stone added, "The next thing we're going to hear is our inspector general is going to tell Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella how to run the Sox and Cubs. Because the inspector general knows all!" The whole spectacle was pretty embarassing (but hey, at least he was awake). Listen to his remarks:
Immediately following Stone's speech, Ald. Leslie Hairston took the floor and pushed back against Stone's defense of the Daley administration. "Now we have been told by [Daley Chief of Staff Paul] Volpe that we could not understand the transaction," she said. "So it's not that we didn't want the information, it's that they wouldn't give us the information." She went on: "I actually read all 43 pages of the inspector general's report. And I actually know what's in it. And you may want to make fun of it -- but it's no joking matter." Listen:
Finally, Ald. Manny Flores, the chief sponsor of the asset sale transparency ordinance, reminded everyone that his bill is not simply about making sure council members have the relevant information before such deals are approved -- it's also about fulfilling a responsibility "to engage and inform the public":
The measures approved today are both good steps forward. But you can be sure we haven't heard the last of the parking meter debacle.