And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it."
- William Shakespeare, King Lear
If you are to understand how and why Da Mare does what he does, you must first understand that he is not a mere mortal civil servant with more years behind him than in front. Instead you must see him as he sees himself; as the aging ruler of a small but powerful kingdom who is unable to extend his realm by invasion, and who has been denied his last, great shot at glory, riches and conquest on a world stage.
And so he now finds himself at the intersection of the two remaining, rarified pastimes in which only a king in his declining years can truly participate: the enrichment the royal family, and a fanboyish flirtation with fellow autocrats.
So what does alla that have to do with parking meters?
Come this way and find out…
First, the dalliance with other monarchs (from the New York Times via the Chicago News Cooperative...with a big h/t to Chicago's own Beachwood Reporter )
Abu Dhabi Shares Profits From Parking Meters
By DAN MIHALOPOULOS
December 6, 2009
When Mayor Richard M. Daley traveled to Abu Dhabi in February, his office announced that the trip was intended to sell Chicago as a place to do business. Left unsaid was that that Persian Gulf emirate was about to become one of the biggest investors in a deal to lease Chicago’s parking meters for 75 years.
The city signed the now-controversial, $1.15 billion lease with a new company called Chicago Parking Meters LLC in February, and city officials said two funds of the Morgan Stanley investment fund made up 99 percent of the new company, with “several other entities” sharing the remaining 1 percent.
In fact, a Chicago News Cooperative investigation has found that investment arms of the oil-rich Abu Dhabi government hold more than a 25 percent stake in the company that privatized the city’s 36,000 parking meters. German financial company Allianz also has a large minority interest, and the remaining 50.1 percent is held by partnerships assembled by Morgan Stanley.
The participation of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds and other international investors exposes the level of sophistication of the money behind the city’s parking meter deal. Mayor Daley and other proponents of the contract argue that it is too soon to know if the parking investors will enjoy solid returns, but the players in the Chicago parking company are known for their acumen for profitable long-term deals.
Indeed, when the government of Dubai recently encountered economic troubles, the financial markets looked to Dubai’s cash-rich neighbors in Abu Dhabi for help. And in the case of the parking contract, the parking meter company projects a net income of about $58 million in 2010 , after this year more than doubling what the meters had brought in for the city.
Mayor Daley said Saturday he did not discuss the parking deal with the new shareholders during his meetings with them in Abu Dhabi. “Who owns it, owns it, doesn’t matter,” he said. “There is no trickery here.”
Second, the girding of the Exchequer of the House of Daley (from the same article):
When the city announced the deal, it emphasized the role of Morgan Stanley, an old line Wall Street firm, in putting together the new company. Entities controlled by Morgan Stanley filed more than a dozen economic disclosure statements with the city in the days before the Council’s December 2008 vote on the agreement. Those documents did not show the complete ownership picture, but company officials revealed interests held by pension funds and insurance companies in Texas, Australia, France, Denmark and Sweden.
When the deal closed in February, however, a new batch of disclosure statements was filed with the city. Those documents, obtained by the Chicago News Cooperative last week, provide a significantly different picture.
And why is that interesting?
Because of who appears to have been getting their beaks wet the last time Morgan Stanley got all soul-kissing and snuggly over City of Chicago parking properties. From Division Street,July, 2008:
Today’s story about William Daley Jr.’s role in helping Morgan Stanley land business from Cook County sent me back to the Sun-Times’s look at “The next generation of Chicago’s first family” last month, which it called “The Daley Family: Version 3.0.” Let’s take a look.
Billy Daley Jr.’s Cook County deal is hardly the first Chicago door he’s opened for Morgan Stanley. That’s what they hired him to do. But his exact role in some lucrative arrangements remain shadowy.
For example, the Sun-Times reported in its series last month that “Within a year [of hiring], his employer signed a new deal with his uncle, Mayor Daley. Morgan Stanley got a 99-year lease to operate the city’s four underground parking garages. City Hall got an upfront payment of $563 million – the highest offer made.
Morgan Stanley told the paper in a statement that Bill Daley Jr. “was not involved” in any of the City Hall deals, but also refused to answer the paper’s written questions. And “In a brief phone conversation, Daley said he was too busy to talk and would call back. He didn’t.”
And finally comes the killer punch line (from the previous NYT story, with emphasis added by me):
Morgan Stanley officials declined comment, referring all questions to Avis LaVelle, the former press secretary for Mr. Daley who was hired by the parking company.
So how is it possible for Da Mare -- whose empire is a swath of land between and Howard Avenue and 138th street – to continue to pull off the amazing, nekkid plunder of the City’s assets year after year after year?
Because, as I have discussed here before, in Illinois politics there are only two rules you need to understand:
1. There is a list (No, seriously, there really is. Examples here, here and here.)
2. You are not on it.