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Celeste Meiffren,
Illinois PIRG

Chicago Aldermen Introduce Privatization Reform

Chicago City Hall – Aldermen joined together today to introduce the Public Interest Ordinance on Leasing City Assets, a new ordinance that will provide greater taxpayer protection in any future Chicago lease deals and improve the ability for City Council Aldermen and the public to scrutinize future lease agreements.

“The parking meter mess isn’t just about broken meters and skyrocketing rates. It’s a wake-up call for the City Council to strengthen the tools they have to make sound fiscal and policy decisions,” said Alderman Scott Waguespack, chief sponsor of the proposed ordinance. “Today’s proposed ordinance will help do just that by requiring basic protections before any future votes by the City Council to sell of taxpayer-owned assets.”

At the event, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) released a new report that provided both analysis and history of Chicago’s lease asset deals. The report, Privatization and the Public Interest: The Need for Transparency and Accountability in Chicago’s Public Asset Lease Deals, includes policy recommendations on how to implement asset lease deals that protect taxpayers.

“No city in the nation has moved as aggressively toward privatization of public infrastructure,” said Brian Imus, Director of Illinois PIRG and an author of the report. “Chicago’s experience demonstrates the benefits and risks and the need to ensure informed analysis transparency and fair taxpayer return on any lease deal. Just because the city faces dire fiscal problems doesn’t mean public assets should be sold off to Wall Street investment firms for a discount”
                  
The proposed ordinance reflects many of the recommendations contained in the report. Among them are measures to help ensure the public receives fair long-term value for the assets that are leased and greater transparency is required at every step in the development of future lease agreements with private interests.

“It’s encouraging aldermen are ready to ensure their own accountability of these deals in the future. The problems associated with the parking meter privatization would have been avoided had an ordinance like this been in place last year,” said Imus.

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Illinois Public Interest Research Group (Illinois PIRG) is a non-profit citizen watchdog and advocacy organization. For more information, visit www.illinoispirg.org

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