Thursday, July 31, 2014

My response to the CTA's response to my Ventra lawsuit

In response to my suit, CTA is claiming that they produced "most" of what I asked for.  
Here's the thing: Illinois FOIA law doesn't say I'm only entitled to "most" of these records.

What CTA gave me was the instructions for Step 2 of the RFP process, the contract signed between the CTA and Cubic, along with some peripheral contract documents.  

What they didn't provide---the bids they didn't select and contracts and invoices for the CTA's advisers on the deal---should matter a lot to anyone who thinks it's important to look closely at deals like this.  

CTA basically wants us to take their word for it that they got a good deal, without disclosing any real info about how the bidding process went down.

I don't know how we can be expected to do that in light of the Redflex bribery scandals, the patronage culture in the City and the state, and all the other problems with City contracting.

Coupled with the fact that the parking meter deal's lead advisor --- William Blair --- also played the lead advisory role on the bidding process that gave us Ventra, there is more than enough reason to question whether the CTA ultimately made a competent decision, and we can't do that without the records.

...especially now that Pace and Metra are stuck with Ventra, too.

P3 deals all over the world (link round-up 7/31/14)

Yesterday, I filed a lawsuit concerning a P3 deal in Chicago.

Since this is usually a blog about comparative global trends, here's what's happening all over:


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm suing the CTA over the Ventra bid

Earlier today, I filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority over records concerning the bidding and evaluation process that led to Ventra.

You can read about it here and here.

I will have a lot more to say in the coming days and weeks about this. In the meantime, you can check out my previous work about Ventra over at Gapers Block.

Obama touts P3 deals, but have Ventra and the parking meter deal worked out for Chicago?

Two weeks ago, President Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, an executive action designed to make it easier for state and local governments to enter in Public-Private Partnerships (PPP or P3). Supposedly, it would also help bypass the need for federal funds blocked by perpetual conservative opposition to raising taxes.

This should come as no surprise. Two years ago, I wrote about the Democratic and Republican Party's advocacy of P3 deals on a national level and Congressional attempts to create an national infrastructure bank.

I have also written about recent P3 deals in Chicago before, most notably with the Chicago Transit Authority and some of the dubious circumstances leading to the recent Ventra fare payment system.

Ventra comes in the wake of the equally-unpopular leasing of the Chicago Parking Meter system to Morgan Stanley in 2009, and 2006 leasing of the downtown Chicago parking garages.

All three deals were brokered by Chicago-based private equity firm William Blair, which has touted them as successful P3 case studies.

If Obama really wants a new wave of P3s to save America's future, he should take note of the major recent pitfalls in his own home city of Chicago.

But since the last two mayors have been Rahm Emanuel and Richard Daley, don't expect him to even mention the Chicago-style P3s any time soon.

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