Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel killed the proposed deal to privatize Midway airport on Thursday, September 5, 2013, because one of the two remaining bidders dropped out, ending the potential for a competitive process. Competitive bidding is a common-sense way to get a better deal. Indeed, it is one of several basic safeguards that Illinois PIRG has advocated since the notorious parking meters deal, and the Mayor should be applauded for insisting on a competitive process.
As noted in the Chicago Tribune, “the momentum began to give out in the final days of August, when one of two finalist groups shocked the city administration by pulling out of a process that began nine months ago.
"At that point, it was no longer a competitive process, so the city has chosen not to continue," said regional planning executive Peter Skosey, chairman of Emanuel's Midway Advisory Panel. "We were charged with ensuring a competitive, fair process, and if one piece of that is broken, you have to pull the plug."
While we're glad that the Mayor insisted on a competitive process for Midway, taxpayers deserve to have this and other safeguards as a routine part of any potential privatization deal. He went one step further by publishing a explanation of his decision that endorses most of the important principles that the City should have as policy regarding privatization deals. Curiously, he stopped short of calling on the City Council to adopt the proposed Privatization Transparency and Accountability ordinance, which is languishing in the Rules committee despite having a majority of Council members as co-sponsors. We've urge the Mayor to use his considerable influence with the Council to spur it to action, just as some Aldermen did recently in the op-ed pages of the Tribune.