Daley defends parking deal

January 11, 2010 9:57:20 AM PST
Mayor Daley got both cheers and jeers on Tuesday night as he talked to residents about the city's massive budget problem and that parking lease deal that's come under fire. But there was no big apology for that parking plan.

"I want to thank the press, they finally found these meetings. Let's give them a round of applause," said Daley.

Mayor Daley started out blasting one of his favorite targets -- the media, even though we have covered many of these meetings before.

Then he spelled out Chicago's budget crisis for 2010, a $520 million deficit brought on by the recession, lower revenue and higher expenses.

The mayor again defended the city's controversial parking deal lease, saying without the $1.15 billion dollars the city got for it the budget shortfall would be much worse.

Many angry drivers came to the South Shore Cultural Center on Tuesday night expecting to hear an apology, but the mayor watered down what was in his speech.

"I take responsibility for that. The implementation was not good at all from city's side," said Daley.

And earlier, when ABC7 asked him about it, he took aim at the media again.

"I said it in May, but you didn't report it, you thought it wasn't worth it," said Daley.

In fact, ABC7 did report his apology in May.

"It should have been a longer transition. It should have been a three-month transition. That's one thing we learned...everything else worked out. It should have been a three-month transition into it, because the parking meters were not in best of shape," Mayor Daley said as reported by ABC7 on May 19.

"I didn't really expect one. No, the horse is out of the barn on that," said Alicia Martin when asked if she heard an apology from Daley on Tuesday night.

Dozens of South Siders went up to the mike, griping about potholes, flooding and everything but the budget.

Carol Smith put the mayor on the spot with her question about why the city is once again looking at shutting down five neighborhood mental health clinics.

"What is this about? I want an answer right now," said Smith.

On that, nothing but silence from the mayor.

The Mayor was gung ho about the Olympics, trying to assure the crowd that no government money has been spent on bringing the 2016 games to Chicago. But he made no promises about the future.