I jumped like white on rice when I caught an email from the Competitive Enterprise Institute with this title: New Report Highlights Public Private Partnerships Successes, Failures. The rice became popcorn when I read the article. Not one word about parking, but plenty about highways and sewer plants. I dropped a note to the author, Marc Scribner, and asked him to comment on Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and LA. Here is his response:
With respect to the parking meter concessions in Chicago and Indianapolis, I think both will be net-positive, although I would have preferred far more creative and market-oriented privatization (divestitures) over concession agreements. That said, taking the parking meter administration burden off of taxpayers’ shoulders is a very good thing, despite the serious deficiencies of both agreements. With respect to the situations in Pittsburgh and LA, these both involve media-manufactured controversies. The reporting in the mainstream press has been awful. Concession agreements are far more similar to normal government outsourcing contracts than to actual privatization, which the media failed to effectively grasp and explain to the public.
Succinct. But there you have it. Yes, these are not true partnerships as basically the city removes itself from the process and its major involvement is to cash the vendor’s check.