$13.5 million due — There’s another way to look at it

Yesterday we reported on our home page and on  Facebook, that the company that leased Chicago’s parking meters had sent a bill for $13.5 million to the City of Chicago for Disabled parking. Today we report that Mayor Rahm refuses to pay the bill. Its in the contract that Chicago owes the money, but then, this is Chicago…Caveat Emptor

If you drill down in the noise level you find that the $13.5 mil is not the total that Chicago Parking Meters was stuck for, it was actually almost $18 million, the rest CPM was contractually obligated to pay.

This may be the first time that anyone has actually kept track of the amount of ‘free’ parking that is given to handicapped parkers. What we could be saying is that cities the size of Chicago like New York, Houston, Los Angeles, London, are giving up beau coup bucks to provide ‘free’ parking to the handicapped.

Yesterday, it was reported that Mayor Rahm was incensed that there was so much cheating going on with handicapped placards and was developing a plan to stop it in the windy city.  Now he has to pay the bill for the service.

If you give something for free, particularly something of rather great value, you can rest assured that there will be those that take advantage. My question is, as has been raised on these pages numerous times in the past, why do we give free parking to handicapped persons?  Immediately we have created a black market in handicapped permits. Policing the process is difficult, if not impossible. And spaces that are needed for handicapped persons are filled by nincompoops who don’t need the service. The Handicapped tell me that they want access, not charity.

Let the handicapped pay for their parking, but while doing so, devise a system so they get say another half an hour added on the end of their parking period. This would give them extra time to get where they are going and return and would also immediately do away with the main benefit of bootlegged handicapped permits, free parking.  Also perhaps a few on street spaces could be reserved for handicapped.

I wonder when some politician will look at the upwards of $20 million going missing from the parking revenue and start to wonder how to attack this ‘third rail’ of politics, free parking for the handicapped. I know many will think that charging the handicapped is something devised by Simon Legree in between twirls on his slimy mustache.

But the result is that spaces the handicapped would normally have are taken by others, and they have no place to park, free or not. It makes no sense.

Whether Chicago will wiggle out of paying its bills remains to be seen, however maybe now that they understand that parking costs something, they will take a harder look at the problem and come up with a reasonable solution. No, wait, these are politicians. What am I thinking.



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4 Responses to $13.5 million due — There’s another way to look at it

  1. Richard Gardiner says:

    I have been handicapped for over 15 years and have a handicapped card I hang from my mirror. As best as I can remember I have never even thought about not paying a handicapped parking meter – I always do. Perhaps the meters should be rigged to allow honest people the opportunity to pay the meter if they are simply late. I realize that many, perhaps even you, will say that is simply naive but not all people are cheats and crooks. If the meter rate is reasonable I bet a lot of people would pay it if they are late and their time has lapsed. If you don’t agree just count this up to the Christmas season.

  2. Keith says:

    By state law here, placard parking has been free for years, with the most recent revenue loss for our city estimated at $over $1 million per year. However, our legislature changed that law in 2007, requiring all to pay except wheelchair bound folks and leaving the details to individual cities. It was to go into effect Jan 1, 2008, but has yet to be implemented.

    We’ve been in a negotiation process with representatives of the ADA community since then, trying to get a solution that is beneficial to all and will pass the City Council . The issue for those displaying ADA placards is, for most, access and not cost.

    The good news is that a four hour limit may go before council sometime in 2012.

  3. “Policing the process is difficult, if not impossible”

    Why is this impossible? Every person on foot patrol who writes tickets has a handheld computer. They type the ticket into the handheld machine which enters the information into a database where the tickets can then be paid online. There are millions of dollars at stake here. Every handicap placard has an ID number that is associated with a license plate. How hard would it be to use the same handheld computer to hook into the database and input a handicap ID number that matches to the license plate? If it doesn’t match, issue a ticket, if it does, then leave the car alone.

    • Przemek says:

      I only use the stall for people with diibailsties if I absolutely need to. I have problems with my knees and there are days I can sit and stand without help. But other days, I really need the railing to get down and back up again.One shopping mall in my city has a public bathroom where all the stalls can accommodate people with diibailsties and people with babies and small children. I think the designers of that bathroom had the right idea all restrooms need to be accessible to all people. Not only would it be convenient, but it would end these tireless arguments about who has the right to use which bathroom.

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