Mayor Emanuel’s Infrastructure Trust passed the City Council on Tuesday with only 7 dissenting votes. And if you’re 25 today, you’ll be 126 when this complicated deal expires. As proposed by the mayor, and enthusiastically endorsed by alderpersons as philosophically different as Mell and Moore, this deal might rebuild crumbling infrastructure and transform physical Chicago. It might. But it might not. Details are so sparse, and oversight of the process is so sketchy, that nobody – including those enthusiastic aldermen – really knows what the Trust actually is. What it isn’t, Mayor Emanuel assures us, is another parking meter selloff.
Hal Dardick, City Hall reporter for the Tribune, and Dan Mihalopoulos, who recently joined the Sun-Times, offer their deep understanding of this story.
And Dan tells us about his recent story about the consortium of private interests that leased the Millennium Park and Grant Park garages for about half a billion dollars during the Daley years. Turns out one of the provisions of that deal forbade any private operator from opening a public garage pretty much anywhere east of State Street, so there wouldn’t be competition. But the Aqua Tower opened its new spaces a block away and a buck cheaper, so the consortium has sued the City for $200 million. As Hal points out, this is the downside of profit-oriented corporations taking over public assets. They want to make money, as you might guess.
Also on the show, a tip of the hat to Elizabeth Brackett for her informative Chicago Tonight interview with Jim Kirk, the just-installed Executive Editor of the Sun Times. It’s an optimistic, positive conversation that gives one confidence in the company’s future. It’s worth watching.