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Council effort to regulate privatization bogs down

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MIDWAY.JPG
The air traffic control tower at Midway Airport, one of Chicago's assets seen as a candidate for privatization. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)


A City Council bid to slow down any privatization deals seems to be getting a slowdown of its own.

Introduced last November by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), the Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance has been bottled up in Ald. Dick Mell's (33rd) Rules Committee, even though a majority of the City Council members have signed on as co-sponsors.

The ordinance would require a hearing on privatization proposals involving an asset valued at $250,000 or more. It also would require a cost-effectiveness study, competitive bidding and other reforms.

Until now, plans to privatize services or assets have tended to stay under the radar until the last moment, keeping public scrutiny to a minimum.


The ordinance would prevent the city from slipping barely noticed privatization deals into votes on the entire city budget.

Supporters of the idea, including the Better Government Association, Illinois PIRG, AFSME, the League of Women Voters and other groups, would like to see it get moved to another committee, where it would have a chance of getting a hearing and a vote so it could move to the Council floor.

Backers say the ordinance is important because the city remains interested in new privatization deals. The decision to privatize the city's parking meters under former Mayor Richard M. Daley is widely considered a disaster, but no one is ruling out future privatization deals, including for Midway Airport.

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