Matt Taibbi blasts Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his short term money grab from selling off NYC’s parking meters:
Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg in New York has decided to do his own version of the Chicago infrastructure bake sale; the city announced that it is putting up nearly 90,000 parking meters for lease. They’re expecting to get over $11 billion in upfront money from the deal, which is great news if you’re Mike Bloomberg, who gets to use that money to patch current budget holes instead of making tough cuts or raising taxes. The news is less awesome for the next half-dozen New York City mayors, or for the citizens of New York, who now will get to spend most of the 21stcentury grappling with its increasingly monstrous deficits with a major tributary from the city’s revenue stream shut off.
Taibbi wrote about the Chicago deal in his book ‘Griftopia’, blowing apart the notion that the deal was somehow good for the city. His recap:
In Chicago’s case, Mayor Richard Daley sold 75 years of meter revenue – worth an estimated $5 billion – for $1.2 billion. So he gets 20 cents on the dollar for the city’s parking meters in 2008, and then in 2009 the city still has a budget problem that’s now worse, because there’s no parking meter revenue anymore, ever. Meanwhile, a bunch of private investors rounded up by Morgan Stanley – these bankers go on road shows here at home and abroad to places like Geneva and the UAE to hawk discount American infrastructure to foreign billionaires and sovereign wealth funds – get to enjoy the fruits of raised rates. In some Chicago neighborhoods, the meter rates went from .25 cents an hour to $1 an hour in the first year of the deal, and then to $1.20 after that.
This really is a case of socializing risk and privatizing profit – in both NYC and Chicago, tax payers money went in to building and setting up the parking meter system, then received benefit from the revenue as it went straight back to the city. Now, private investors can get in on the incredibly lucrative business without the worry of investing in infrastructure or giving a better service to customers. It’s not as if the parking meter business has to worry about competitors either – as long as people live in NYC or Chicago, they will need to park. Heaven forbid the major cities raise taxes on the wealthy in order to close their budget deficits – instead, they’re screwing regular people by jacking up meter rates and starving the city of funds for future generations.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.