Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Midway privatization falls through - GOOD!

The Daley administration announced the collapse of the $2.5 billion privatization of Midway Airport to Midway Investment and Development Corporation (MIDCo), an entity made up of Citi Infrastructure Investors, Vancouver Airport Services (YVRAS), and John Hancock Life Insurance Company.

This is great news for the people of Chicago. It gives us a chance to rediscuss the privatization policies of the Daley administration. Let's put everything on the table, all the facts and figures (something a coalition of labor and community groups demanded April 20 in a city hall protest) before something else gets sold off.

We need a real democratic discussion about how to fix the city's financial mess, not something rammed down our throats by Daley and his corporate cronies.

Privatization is not good financial policy nor is it good public policy. It seeks short term gain, but sacrifices long term revenues. It ends up costing the public more for the same services at an inferior quality. That's what happens when you apply the principle of maximum profit to public services.

One elected official described privatization as selling off the furniture to pay the rent.

The $2.5 billion Midway deal was rushed through city council last fall in one week with practically no discussion. Council members were livid, yet still voted for it 49-0. This was repeated with the parking meter privatization fiasco.

Among the many big problems with that deal that never really got widely discussed in public was the promise by the city to assume $10 million a year in police and fire protection. This would have essentially eaten up any net profit from the deal!

At the time, Lisa Schrader, deputy CEO for the city said, “The mayor [Richard M. Daley] feels strongly that city governments have to be creative in these economic times,” Schrader added. “That’s why the city pursues these deals.”

The "creative financing" always takes away from the city's working families and never from the wealthy and economic elite. The Daley policies of privatization follow the neo-liberal model that are crashing and burning everywhere. Instead we need policies that promote the role of government and build up the public sector.

And here's a suggestion to pay for public services: tax the rich!

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