Archive for December 2008


December 15, 2008

Senator Tom Coburn has just released his government pork report, here are some highlights…

  • $188,000 for Lobster Institute in Maine, home of the “LobsterCam”
  • $1 million for bike paths on Louisiana levees while levees await basic repairs
  • $2.4 million for a retractable shade canopy at a park in West Virginia
  • $24.6 million for the National Park Service’s 100th year birthday in 2016 – 8 years early
  • $3.2 million on a blimp the Pentagon does not want
  •  $367,000 wasted by a Texas school board on items like an inflatable alligator and under-the-sea waterslide, among other things
  • $5 million for a bridge to a zoo parking lot in St. Louis
  • $9,000 for a non-functioning airplane-shaped gas station in Tennessee 
  • $300,000 for specialty potatoes for high-end restaurants

Read the whole report here.



December 3, 2008

This is pretty funny stuff.

Morgan Stanley is taking over the public parking business in Chicago.

From the Wall Street Journal…



Chicago Banks on Private Parking

City Raises More Cash From Public Assets With Tentative $1.16 Billion Deal for Meters



CHICAGO — The city tentatively accepted a $1.16 billion bid Tuesday for the rights to manage its parking-meter system, handing a Morgan Stanley-backed group a concession that continues the city’s strategy of privatizing its public assets.

Final approval of the deal, which will be decided by a city council vote on Thursday, would establish the first private concession for a publicly owned U.S. parking system, according to Mayor Richard M. Daley. Similar deals over the past three years have seen Chicago pocket nearly $5 billion from leasing the Chicago Skyway, downtown parking garages and Midway Airport.

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Associated Press

Drivers will pay sharply higher prices to use Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters if a privatization deal is approved.

Mr. Daley said at a news conference that the fresh funds, to be paid up front for a 75-year concession, will help the city avoid seeking federal government help to balance its budget. “We’re creatively working to protect our taxpayers for years to come,” he said at a news conference Tuesday.

The winning bid was submitted by Chicago Parking Meters LLC, a group that includes Morgan Stanley and LAZ Parking. The city plans to set aside $400 million of the money for the long term; $325 million will help balance the budget through 2012; $100 million will go to social programs; and $324 million will be used to stabilize the city’s finances until the economy improves.

Net income from Chicago’s roughly 36,000 parking meters totaled $18.9 million in 2007, according to the city. For more than two-thirds of the city’s meters, the current per-hour rate is 25 cents. By next year, that rate will soar to $1, the first price increase at those meters in more than 20 years, the city said. The rate will gradually increase for five years, to become on par with the rates of other cities. Afterward, rates are expected to increase with inflation and must be approved by the city council.

The agreement also calls for all meters to receive upgrades to allow cashless payment options by the middle of 2011, faster than what the city had promised.

The increased fees should free up spots downtown, enabling more drivers to find street parking, said Joseph Schwieterman, a professor of transportation at DePaul University here. The ability to pay by credit card should allow more flexible — though pricier — rates as drivers are given alternatives to paying with quarters.

By turning parking meters private, however, the city runs the risk of irking some citizens by taking away a public good and pricing it at a point, potentially, where many can’t afford it, Mr. Schwieterman said. Nonetheless, he said, other cities may copy Chicago’s moves of privatizing public assets.

“For cities, it may seem like free money,” he said.

The city has taken privatization steps to balance its budget, which for 2009 had included a projected $469 million shortfall. Even after the meter deal is closed, Chicago projects annual deficits of $200 million until 2012.


Looking forward to seeing Morgan Stanley bankers in meter-maid outfits, I wonder if Armani makes them.

Brother…Can you spare $4 billion?

December 3, 2008

I remember when I was a young an irresponsible college undergrad, needing cash at the end of the semester because I neglected to budget accordingly…

Mom…could you send me $100, I ran out of money.

I hated making those phone calls, but now I don’t feel so bad. General Motors just stated that they need $4 billion to make it to the end of December.

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