Mayor's last-ditch effort to save Detroit would privatize 88,000 streetlights - CSMonitor.com
Privatization is a murky option because city councils can be pressured to sign deals that prove detrimental in the long run, says Evan McKenzie, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Inevitably the details are buried, and the details are everything,” Professor McKenzie says.
He points to the deal former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley made with Morgan Stanley to sell off the city’s 36,000 parking meters. The city council was given little time to review the contract, which promised the city an immediate payment of $1.15 billion in exchange for owning and operating the parking meters until 2083.
It was only in the deal’s wake that the public learned the meters were grossly undervalued. Today, the city does not benefit from or control the continued rate hikes imposed by Morgan Stanley, and the situation is considered one of the greatest blunders of Mr. Daley’s legacy.
McKenzie warns that Detroit should learn the lesson from Chicago and “not grasp at straws.” “The history of these short-term fixes is very dismal,” he says. “If you privatize a previous public function, people no longer have political control over it. Then you have a monopoly.”